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My husband has no hobbies and no friends. How can I get our marriage back on track?

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Question - (15 February 2007) 20 Answers - (Newest, 7 November 2015)
A female Australia age 41-50, anonymous writes:

I have been married to a kind and loving man for 9 years. It's a good marriage, but like everyone we have our ups and downs. One issue in particular raises its ugly head every couple of years. My husband has no friends. He has no interests or hobbies, bar watching films or sport on tv. As you can imagine, this affects conversation between us, which largely consists of me telling him my news and him listening. A couple of weeks ago, i decided to not initiate conversation. There was practically none!

I have tried to talk to him about this, but he thinks that i should make friends with couples so that we can have mutual friends. I have suggested many hobbies he could take up, but there's always an excuse not to.

I don't know what to do about this: i feel guilty when i go out with my friends or spend time on my projects and interests, as he is home alone doing nothing as usual.

Please don't suggest that we find a hobby together; i hope he will find something that will bring HIM joy, and not do it just because i'm interested in it.

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A male reader, AwakenedHusband United States +, writes (7 November 2015):

Wow, great post from the female point of view. I am the guy (well, not the specific guy) that you're talking about. This issue has been weighing on my wife for YEARS, and I just now get it.

She works a very busy job and we have three young children, so time it tight. I have a higher need for affection than her, always have, so over the years I've asked, then chided, then demanded, then criticized her all in the attempt to get more time with her. I knew that I wanted more time with her, but I didn't know that I was doing all those negative things.

Now my relationship is at a crisis point. I came home last week expecting to be the "dominator" in an argument about how she needs to make more time for me. Instead, she crystallized how I've been overly negative and that my demands for her affection are simply unrealistic given our jobs, kids, commutes, puppy, etc. This made me look back at all of the conversations about this we've had over the years and I now realize that I've been slowly poisoning our relationship. This was a major turning point for me.

Now that I'm aware of what I've been doing I'm incredibly remorseful; I feel absolutely terrible and ashamed of how I've made her feel over the years. She did what she could to make me happy, and I always found the only negative aspect and came back at her with it. My neediness and negativity have (perhaps) ruined our marriage.

I've immediately stopped being anything other than accepting of her work schedule. I'm supporting around the house much more. Some internal switch has flipped and now I'm planning things and looking forward to time with the kids. (I'm also using them for much needed emotional support.)

I still desperately crave her attention and affection. Even worse, she's not sure she still loves me and needs some time to see how things shake out. She's stopped saying "I love you" and doesn't show any affection toward me, but she will say "I love you too" if I tell her I love her, and she allows (and seems to enjoy) my affection. Sex is off the table.

So now I'm tasked with becoming the man she originally fell in love with. I need to reconnect with my friends, find some hobby or passion, and be happy with my life. I need to accept that we're not in college anymore with equal schedules. I've stopped the negativity and love demands. So I can work on my self, and I can only hope for forgiveness and her love.

I'm incredibly remorseful for hurting the most important person to me, and very scared that I may have permanently damaged our relationship, perhaps even caused the end to our marriage.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (21 July 2014):

OMG! Help! I have the same situation and I am feeling like I can't breathe. He is suffocating me slowly and I can't eat because my stomach hurts all the time. I am always stressed out because like everyone has said "They are codependent" for me to supply his happiness. My husband was an airline pilot for 34 yrs and I am use to him being gone several days per week. I am very independent and I have lots of hobbies and friends. When he was out of town for work, I did not feel the need to "Check in", if I wanted to have lunch with a girlfriend, etc. I am severely depressed and unhappy. He spends all day on the computer, reading, or taking naps! He has become my greatest fear -- An Old Man! There is no real conversations between us and forget about a sex life! He has shown zero interest in sex for at least 5 years. He is 15 years older than me and I feel I still have so much life to live. I love him but I can't do this anymore! What is my solution? I am totally miserable and it has started to effect every aspect of my life; i.e., son, grandchildren, friends! He always tells me to go have fun and don't worry about him but how can I not? :(((( He is normally a quite guy to begin with but if I bring up these issues -- he pouts and gets his feelings hurt! He doesn't understand how I am feeling because he is so concerned with how he is feeling. I don't ever have any privacy either. If I go upstairs, he comes and finds me. If I go to the bedroom, he follows me! arrrgghhh

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (21 August 2012):

yuck...sounds terrible.

I'm unmarried...20 something...My mom is in a relationship like that. She's bubbly, loves shopping and cooking and has a ton of friends! her husband has no friends, and putters around the house waiting for her to come home of tags along with her...and it drives her crazy.

My problem? Well, I'm an ambitious person...and always taking a class, volunteering or out and about with many of my friends.

Any guy who has a life...will not date me, and if they do, they treat me poorly!

And all the guys who are future boring husbands...treat me the way I deserve to be treated.

I don't want to end up in a stagnant relationship like that.

But it seems it's one way or it?

I can't handle a relationship like that...some guys don't get it...they think that if they make enough money that they've done there job.

I imagine it must be boring and make you feel like life is over to be with a guy like that...and makes you feel you have another dependent on your hands and that if you die, there life will be over too.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (20 August 2012):

Wow! Anonymous this quote sums up my feelings exactly "Do you see? It's ME. I want him to have a life so that i don't feel pressured to BE his life" And someone else said it's boring. It sure the hell is. Every time I find a hubby he becomes instantly into that hobby. It's so annoying. Why cant he find his own? He has no friends. When I have a friend over or go out with one and he comes out with us, he talks their ear off about stuff that I have done. It's so embarrassing. He has worked for the same company for 20 years and not once has he done anything with anyone from his work. And the same with the sex I have to initiate. I don't want a divorce I just want him to get his own life, cause he can't have mine!

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A female reader, Lorri Australia +, writes (10 April 2012):

Hi again from Down Under

Just been reading other people's responses to your question, as well as looking online at similar issues, and realise (duh!) that my husband (and probably yours) is co-dependent. I reckon I was too, when we first got together, and for years until I went through intensive therapy. Probably still am in some ways, or at times. Hard not to be when your partner is totally dependent on you for his "good feelings". Anyway, I spoke with him about it, even though it was the wee small hours of the morning, and he agrees with the "diagnosis" and reckons he wants to do something about it. Till now, it's been me who's done all the inner work and personal development, so it's undoubtedly his turn, but whether he'll do it remains to be seen. Will keep you posted. Whatever, I know I can't do his work for him; hope he does work on it.

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A female reader, Lorri Australia +, writes (10 April 2012):

Hi there from Down Under

I totally sympathise and understand your situation. I've been married (second time around) 21 years and my husband has never had any hobbies or interests in all that time, other than watching sport on TV. Oh, and doing maintenance in the yard and house. Before we both retired, for a few years we ran a business together; one that was very successful, but the main part of it was about my interaction and performance with our clients, with him "behind the scenes" - that was strategically necessary for business purposes.

Any friends we have are mine (always have been), any "things" we do are at my suggestion, and conversation is limited to the "everyday" or in relation to the interests I bring to the relationship. He hasn't seen his kids (ages 30, 29 and 24) in over 21 years, and doesn't try to make contact with them (I do....but their mother has turned them against their father, as so often happens; sigh, so that's a non event).

I'm a vocalist and to enable me to perform publicly he learned keyboard so he could accompany me, and also taught himself how to manage the sound (PA) system. I'm grateful for all this, and for his love and and total devotion to me. But at the same time I feel very lonely at times, because it feels as though it's always up to me to provide whatever social activity, interests, etc, in which we participate. Conversations are pretty limited, because he's not interested in anything really. With my encouragement, he has read a couple of books in the last year or so, but till then hadn't read a book in the whole time I've known him (22 years). Not interested. Just happy to potter around the house/yard, read the newspaper and be with me, do what I want to do. Some might say that sounds ideal, but believe me it isn't. And of course I'm the one who has to initiate sex. Again, that's not something he's particularly interested in. I think I understand some of the bases for these traits, which naturally stem from childhood experiences and "messages", being super controlled by his parents and being sent to boarding school at a very young age. We've discussed my dissatisfaction with the situation many times, he gets upset and stressed, claims to understand my feelings, but nothing changes. I've even "pushed" him into therapy a few times, but needless to say there's been no change. I've given up trying to change him (at last !!!), but I so often feel quite desperate for an intimate relationship with him, which can't happen when he doesn't appear to have any opinions or passions (about anything other than me). In other words, I don't know who he is at all. I have (unkindly) compared him to a very efficient robot. I know that's not a nice thing to say, but sometimes that's how it feels to me.

My first husband was, needless to say, quite the opposite. Never listened to me, and was very self-centred. When I met X (won't mention my second husband's name) I guess I was bowled over by his interest in me, and the contrast between this and my experiences with my first husband. All of this sounds perfectly normal; we tend to choose the opposite in subsequent relationships !!!!

But this guy is intelligent, caring, conscientious, and of course I know I can't change him. I guess I'm just looking to connect with others in my situation; to not feel alone, and maybe get some tips.

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A female reader, Penalizer United States +, writes (4 March 2012):

I am right there with you.

I have a few friends, and family members who have interests in common with us...Texas history, guns, golf...but no matter what, my husband sits in his office on his computer and talks to the cats more than his wife, seriously. No jealousy here...just think it is completely unhealthy environment for our relationship.

He gets pissed when I ask if he would like to visit my family or be involved in whatever...has no interest what so ever. He has isolated himself and I'll be damned if I do the same.

Any suggestions or advice is appreciated.

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A female reader, Thumbelina Canada +, writes (22 November 2011):

I think a lot of us ended up at this post because we were desperately seeking help late at night alone with our computers. Now, my darling husand has a hobby (a sport), and he likes to write. All good. But he has a codependent personality like your husband does. He is very yin, and he depends on you for every decision, every opinion, every forward motion, probably even when it comes to sex.

It's weird for me, for sure, because I was HIM in my previous relationships! Then I had 7 years of therapy and learned to be a whole person. Like you, I love my husband. He is kind and good. But he can't formulate an opinion about anything and any time I express a preference he agrees. It's unnerving. He is happy being just us two in this cocoon, though sometimes it feels like just me...that is to say, lonely.

I truly think therapy is the only way to resolve these issues. Unfortunately, my husband (again like yours) won't hear of it. It's the only thing he is decisive about!

I think the answer for me, until he accepts that he -- and we -- need help from a therapist will be to seek out activities with other people. I need to rub up against folks and like Millyella suggested, don't just stay at home because he doesn't like going out. You MUST go out! Tell you what, let's do it together!

Stay positive. Maybe you can turn him into an excellent house husband!

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A male reader, Dagda United States +, writes (17 September 2011):

If you weren't flying the Australian flag, I'd have guessed that you and I were married. I have a number of reasons for having no friends or hobbies. As to the hobbies, I simply don't feel I have enough money to spend on them. I make a good living, but I'm not saving anything for the kids' college and have little for emergencies. So, any money I spend on a hobby is money I should be saving. As for not having any friends, well... we've lived in this community for 10 years. Most folks who've grown up here have their set of friends, they're not looking to add to their group. I have no interest in hanging out with co-workers - I spend enough time in the day with them. Truthfully, the little time I have, I want to relax and spend with family. If these things make me a bad guy, well, it's about all the energy I can muster.

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A male reader, Dagda United States +, writes (17 September 2011):

If you weren't flying the Australian flag, I'd have guessed that you and I were married. I have a number of reasons for having no friends or hobbies.

As to the hobbies, I simply don't feel I have enough money to spend on them. I make a good living, but I'm not saving anything for the kids' college and have little for emergencies. So, any money I spend on a hobby is money I should be saving.

As for not having any friends, well... we've lived in this community for 10 years. Most folks who've grown up here have their set of friends, they're not looking to add to their group. I have no interest in hanging out with co-workers - I spend enough time in the day with them. Truthfully, the little time I have, I want to relax and spend with family. If these things make me a bad guy, well, it's about all the energy I can muster.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (21 February 2011):

Get out of your marriage! I was suffocated by a man who had (and still has) no friends, no hobbies, nothing. He's an alcoholic and he never should have gotten married. He says he loved me but if he did he had a damn lousy way of showing it. I was afraid to leave. After almost 20 years of marriage I didn't see how I'd be able to support myself and my four children. I get child support and that's it. I will get a job eventually but for now I simply enjoy my freedom! How I was finally able to break free from my marriage is a very long story, but it involved me having an affair with another man. This man showed me that my marriage was killing me and I had to get out in order to survive. After I got out of my marriage I realized I had been depressed for years and that I had taken up many hobbies and causes (political) as a means of escape from a man who ignored his family and just sat around drinking and watching TV and lying on the floor sleeping at odd hours. I found out later he did gay porn for 6 years prior to my leaving him and I recently found out that he has been seeing gay men! He is gay but denies it. I am free at last and it feels great! If your suffocating in your marriage find some way to get out and live again!

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A male reader, Harshbutrue Australia +, writes (26 June 2010):

Ok listen to me I know the answer to your question and understand your husband as I am a man myself. Watching films and sports is a form of hobby, you are your husbands friend, men don't like having conversations and are generally uninterested about your news and don't like to talk about anything unless it is a personal achievement he has accomplished.

You might think to yourself "my husband isn't like that" but he is - deep down all men are.

Probably when you first met him he did seem interested in doing things to impress you and feigning interest in your gossip. That was so he could have sex with you, I assume thats now been done quite a few times, ok I've crapped on long enough now for your answer - GET DIVORCED.

Chances are you will be the beneficiary in the legalities and you can find a new young man who will be interested for a bit and repeat and repeat.

Woman rule the world now start reaping the rewards lady.

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A female reader, Olive Petal United Kingdom +, writes (13 August 2008):

I may be a bit late in replying but I could have written that article myself. In fact i only got to see it by desperatly typing in to google and doing a search for advice 'my husband has no hobbies and no friends'. I felt I must be selfish and awful to think this at first but over the years I have become a shadow of a person just in my marriage because its easier to stay than to leave. I come in from work and work my shifts so that i manage to get at least an hour on my own in the house to unwind etc, but he comes home, sits down, moans about having to walk the dogs with me, starts drinking and this never EVER changes. He built a shed to do carpentry in etc, never goes in it, he never ever goes to say golf or footy or anywhere with other men. He expects all the ideas of going out, holidays etc to ocme from me. he wants to come out with my friends, with me, but never with anyone he knows. He does not read books not like music, he sees our life as happy and routine - just the way he likes it. I have to be happy, career loving, a good houswife and lover - but I'm now retreating away by sleeping in a separate bedroom which is vast becoming my sancutary - I feign feeling tired just to escape upstairs - he even used to keep following me upstairs and hovering around when I was in the bath - he is bored and unmotivated -we have asked him why and he has told me himself he got lazy in his marriage and would change. I just need to be able to breathe I told him, i need an evening or part of a weekend to be me! He is suffocating me and i really am struggling for breath right now.

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A male reader, Schlemm United States +, writes (10 April 2008):

Schlemm agony auntHey, it's anonymous from 26 Feb 2008 again. If it ain't one thing, it's the other. The gf found herself something to do. She's working on a masters degree. Sounds great, except that now I'm at the polar opposite end of the spectrum. She's so completely involved in this masters degree that she VERY RARELY has time for anything else.

She hasn't cleaned her house since January. We've gone on dates maybe 2-3 times since then. Forget about intimacy.

The bad thing is, she likes to do her studying at my house... I guess because her's looks like a dumpster overturned in it (and NO, I'm not over-exaggerating). We "spend lots of time together" if you count her studying on MY couch while I'm watching TV in the bedroom or hanging out with my next door neighbors. Thank God I have a healthy social life.

Anyway, it's 4th and long, and I think I'm going to punt.



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A female reader, anonymous, writes (2 April 2008):

I can relate to this problem far too much. My BF expects me to do everything, including make him happy. I am his whole life. Unfortunately, I'm almost exactly the opposite - I have many hobbies and many interests. I want to be a whole person, not just the other half of a relationship.

I hope you can find a solution to this. I suggested therapy about 3 years ago, but he didn't think it would do any good. Since then, things have only gotten worst. Basically, its all over, except the fighting now. Even the sex is gone.

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (26 February 2008):

My girlfriend is the worst of both worlds - has no hobbies/friends (other than TV) AND dominates the conversation (with excruciating details) so much that I can barely get a word in most times. Sometimes I just don't get around to telling her stuff because I get tired of trying to interject between her rapid-fire talking. It seriously feels like I'm listening to a college lecturer sometimes.

It's the worst during the summer. She's a school teacher and is basically cooped up in her house all day not talking to anyone. I work in engineering and am constantly on the phone or talking to someone in person. Sometimes I just want to sit and be quiet at the end of the day, but she hasn't had any human interaction all day and needs someone to talk to. I told her I felt she needs other people in her life, but she says she doesn't want anyone else in her life - just me.

She hangs it over my head if I need to have a night or weekend to myself, saying "I'll be here all alone, bored, while you're out with your friends." I'm a social person and need time with my friends. I also have numerous interests - I'm NEVER bored.

It's just a difference of lifestyles, and you just have to ask yourself if you can deal with it. In the long run, I don't think I can.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (4 November 2007):


I feel your pain. Your description sounds exactly like my husband. I know exactly what you mean about coversation. I'm always talking, telling my husband about who I've seen, what they said/did, or whatever. He has nothing to say. He's just a big bore and must have a bad personality because no one wants to hang out with him.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (16 February 2007):

Hi, i am the original poster. Thank you both for your input. I feel that part of the problem with my husband and i is that he wants me to provide 'quality time'. If he has this 'quality time' with me, then he feels like he is doing something with his free time and doesn't need any other hobbies. In order for me to WANT to be close with him, i need to feel like i'm not doing all the work. I appreciate that couples need to spend quality time together, but not if it encourages them to not have any life/friends/hobby outside of the relationship. I want to spend quality time with an interesting man, who has his own interests and opinions.

At this stage, the idea of going away for a weekend together sounds like hell on earth. Me making the arrangements, me making the conversation, me working out how we'll get there, me deciding what we'll do when we get there....

Do you see? It's ME. I want him to have a life so that i don't feel pressured to BE his life.

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A female reader, AskEve United Kingdom +, writes (15 February 2007):

AskEve agony auntYou know what his problem is don't you? He's a couch potato and watches too much TV! If you can't get rid of the TV then book a weekend away, just the two of you. Take the initiative here and BOOK the weekend! (Even if you need to call his work to make sure he can have the time off, that way there will be NO excuses!) When you go, make sure you have left instructions that NO TV is to be in your room. He's just fell into a horrible "rut!" During your weekend away, do things together, go for walks, TALK, reminisce about things you both used to do at the beginning of your relationship. Let him know how you've enjoyed being with him and how you should both try and do this more often.

Let him know how much you love him and how much you enjoy not sharing him with the TV all the time. Tell him you'd love to be able to continue spending QUALITY time together, even when you get back home again. Going away for a long weekend may just be the bump start that's needed to let him see there's more to married life than a TV and sofa!

Here is a link which might be of some help to you, it gives you 5 ways to put that spark back into your relationship. Remember, relationships need to be worked at. It takes TWO people to make it work so he needs to put input in too.

Here's another link I suggest you have a look at - 10 ways to put the excitement back into your relationship.

Although you having your own friends and doing your own thing some of the time is good, it's not bringing you and him closer together and THAT'S what you want to be able to do here.

I really hope you try to get away for the weekend (with no TV) as I suggested, I really do think it will work wonders for both of you.


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A female reader, Millyella Ireland +, writes (15 February 2007):

Millyella agony auntWell, he certainly sounds like a very laid-back man!

Has he always been this way i wonder? When you met him first did he have interests and friends? Though in the first flush of love and attraction those things often fall by the wayside.

You can't make him find a hobby or an interest. If he really wanted to do that he would. As to making friends, he of course has to do that for himself. You can't make him do that either. But you can stop putting pressure on yourself to provide his happiness. Don't put your own hobbies and friends on hold to stay home if you don't want to. Perhaps if you are a little less available he might realise how little he has going on in his life?

There are no easy answers to this. But it's not within your power to do anything for him here. You must accept that, and also accept that he may not change, ever.

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