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We've been married a year and are in a rut! I need some advice

Tagged as: Marriage problems, Sex<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (18 April 2017) 6 Answers - (Newest, 23 April 2017)
A female United States age 22-25, anonymous writes:

Lately, our marriage has been on the rocks. We have been together for 5 years and we are days away from our 1 year wedding anniversary and there has been so much tension and hate lately. I feel like I can't do anything right. We had an argument not long ago about how everytime I make a special dinner for him I always seem to mess it up. I'm not a great cook and he has been a chef for 13 years. He also was raised by a single dad who cooked every single day. They were always amazing meals, I know, because we lived with his dad for a few months. He worked 2 jobs and still managed these amazing meals. I cook dinner almost every night, because I don't want him to have to cook when he gets home. Who really likes to do their job after they are off? No one. I have only been cooking since we started dating. Before that I had never cooked a day in my life. Everything I ate my entire life came from a cardboard box. I was raised by a single mom who never cooked. Nevertheless, I do mess up our dinners from time to time, at least once or twice a month. I'm not good a determining the right spices or cook times. Everything I make is from a recipe I diligently follow, but still I mess up. That was one argument. Another was about how I don't show enough affection. I don't hug him enough, I don't do enough cute things for him, I don't cuddle enough. All of which I can't believe, because I always hug him every chance. Ever so often I make little love notes and post them around the house for him to stumble upon. Several nights a week I let him lay down on me while we are on the couch and I mess with his hair. I don't get where he gets the idea that I'm not affectionate. I kiss him every time I leave for work and when he gets home. I always try to make them last longer than a peck, but he does a quick peck and is on his way to do something else. He pays more attention to our dogs and our plants than he does to me. He says I frustrate him so much and calls me a bitch during our arguments. I don't ever use name calling and I tell him that it hurts my feelings when he calls me that. He says he calls me that, because it's the truth. He says I'm snooty and that I overreact. I cry everytime we argue, or when he gets mad, and he can't understand why. We always make up afterwards, but the arguments are becoming more and more frequent. Our sex life has also deteriorated. We have sex like once or twice a month and I'm sure that might be why he is snapping at me more. The problem I have with sex is that I don't care for it. Our sex is bland and I hate looking at myself when we do it. I'm not fat, but I have put on some weight over the past couple years. My belly sticks out further than my butt, all be it I don't have a big butt. There are mornings though where I am all for it, but I turn over and he is no longer in bed. I come out of the bedroom to find him asleep on the couch. We go to bed together and he then wakes up early and goes into the living room, turns on the TV and goes back to sleep. He does this every single morning, without fail. We are in a rut and it seems as though we can't get out. I want this to work, I really do. What can I do to make this work? Please any advice would be appreciated.

View related questions: anniversary, last longer, sex life, wedding

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (23 April 2017):

I think he may not realize how tender you are. A long time ago I was in that position; my wife felt our fights much longer than I did and I didn't realize that for years into our relationship.

If you haven't, you should talk about sex, some calm time, not when you are about to have it. Tell him what you want! If he is a good lover, he will appreciate hearing it. Guys are visual, so he probably will not want to have sex in the dark; you should probably try to focus on him (or the joy of both of you) and not on your body's imperfections. (This is a good thing to get over-- as you age your body is going to have more issues!)

Also, I would not take sleep issues as an insult. Perhaps he has trouble sleeping and the TV helps him get back to sleep?

About 'bitch': some people grow up in families where swearing is very common; insults roll off their shoulders easily.

Perhaps your hubby is one of these and doesn't realize that the word stings you long after your argument?

Calmly talk about it and maybe also say to yourself that he doesn't mean it as a horrible insult.

Anyway, I want to say that it sounds to me like your problems are quite fixable and you will hopefully have a long and happy marriage! Best of luck!

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (19 April 2017):

What's different now from the previous four years within the relationship?

Lets address the cooking situation. If you live with a chef, you either let him do the cooking; or you ask him to teach you how to cook to his satisfaction. Everyone has their own level of skill. Some are mediocre and others are experts. I will presume he is smart enough to know that.

Most of us who learned how to cook started as kids, and learned from our parents and grandparents. I have watched cooking shows for years: Julia Child, Wolfgang Puck, and Bobby Flay to name a few chefs who have inspired my cooking. I practice, practice, practice. I love to feed people.

At first it was a chore, now it's fun. I have many cookbooks and even old recipes from family and friends. Chinese, Italian, French, Puerto Rico, Brazil, and Kuwait. I've watched and helped them to prepare meals; so I could steal their secrets. I want food to taste authentic.

Get a bottle of wine, light scented-candles, play some good music, and prepare meals together.

My now-deceased partner went to culinary school (lawyer by profession); and also taught me how to prepare many intricate recipes. We've prepared meals together many nights; and it was so much fun, and very romantic! We've invited friends who sat in the kitchen over wine, as we prepared meals. I do the same with my current boyfriend. He has a flare for Mexican and Italian dishes. I go nuts for his meat lasagna!

The cruelty and name-calling. Resentment fuels a lot of hostility between couples. It's not what's said, but what goes unsaid. He tells you things in anger with intent to scold and degrade you. You don't get what he's saying because the delivery is so toxic. He's expecting you to read between the lines; but batters you with too much degradation and poison.

He feels rejected and sexually-frustrated.

Sorry, but I don't believe it's just a one-sided argument. No one can hurl that much mean-speak and never ruffle your feathers. I'm sure it is a full-exchange. If you've been together as long as five-years; you know exactly which buttons to push. You may say fewer words; but you know a few sensitive areas or expressions to hit the right nerve. Pouting and passive-aggression is just as infuriating as out and out yelling expletives, and spewing swear-words back and forth. Anger isn't pretty. There are more controlled ways to express it; but there is always a reason for it.

The matter of affection and sex. He's frustrated with the affects of your body-image hangups; or issues mirroring the symptoms of body dysmorphia. If he wasn't attracted to it as it is, during the arguments, I think that would be one of his main points of attack. Your weight or your body. It isn't; so it is the fact you're pulling away from him that is setting him off. You're also in a state of denial. You don't own any responsibility in your marital-problems, and feel only a victim. You are, as far as verbal-abuse. You also withhold and deny him much of what a wife gives a husband. I am sure you have justified reasons.

We fear or hate what we don't understand. That's why effective-communication between couples is essential.

He's dumb-founded on what to do; so he is resorting to anger and aggression. Some stupid men do not know how to approach things emotionally, and react with anger instead. He wants real affection. Snuggling, head on his shoulder, cuddling, stroking, caresses, nibbles, and etc. He wants soothing and comforting only a woman can give. Stuff that you probably used to spoil him with without thinking. Before you started having issues about your body.

Now you feel ugly, and dole out little superficial acts of cuteness; that really don't express heartfelt or real affection. He's acting-out like a spoiled-child who has been deprived of his sweets and goodies!

There is never any excuse for verbal-abuse and violence. I am not defending nor condoning his bad behavior. It's that rarely is a male-perspective given to this kind of issue; without giving benefit of the doubt to both sides of the problem. I think you both love each other and hit a snag.

Once things turn in that direction; there is usually little to be done to fix it. He has now resorted to the worst behavior conceivable in a relationship; which makes it difficult to desire sex with him, or feel prone to give out spontaneous affection. You're not doing things from the heart; instead, you're intellectualizing things that should be simple and instinctive. It seems forced or mechanical. He's so frustrated that he's acting-out and won't just tell you he's hurt; because you don't like sex with him anymore, which makes him feel he's a terrible lover.

From a man's perspective; If you don't like sex, it has to be the quality of the sex, his penis, or you've lost sexual-attraction for your partner. He shows more affection and attention to the dogs and plants spitefully. He's digging at you to piss you off. He has gone a bit too far, and he's digging a whole he will not be able to climb out of. He is pushing you further and further away; and even counseling and therapy may be laborious if not very effective. He's too mean! Sexual-frustration is a pretty powerful emotion. It can also make you feel you're unloved. If you're married, you'll feel you've been deceived or caged.

You need a heart-to-heart discussion regarding both your needs. If you think removing sex from the menu is going to get you very far for two young people in their twenties; prepare for an uphill climb. You just can't take sex out of the marriage at such a young age; and not expect your husband to go crazy and show you total resentment. He might be mean, but he's still got feelings.

You are too timid to speak directly to your husband. He is too mean and aggressive to express his emotions. You two need a professional mediator to monitor and referee your discussions. You need to express what hinders you from be more expressive affectionately; and he needs to explain in detail what kind of affection he wants, including sex. Then you need to address where all this hostility is coming from; and determine if he requires anger-management counseling.

In this case, I highly suggest counseling for the purpose of learning effective-communication. You may want some side-therapy to deal with how you feel about your body. You apparently had a working relationship several years prior to marriage. You were both apparently treating each other better.

I know how seriously low self-esteem issues can hamper a woman's perception of herself, her marriage, and her husband. It will kill her sexual-desire, you'll feel depressed, unattractive, and useless. You'll even start to fail at the things you're really good at.

You have explained that you feel inept about your cooking skills, you feel you should perform better sexually, and look better in appearance. It has eaten away all your self-confidence. He has pounded you to a pulp; but isn't recognizing why you're different. So he's angry and bewildered.

I wouldn't rule-out considering a legal separation leading to divorce; only if the abuse escalates. You'll still need the therapy to deal with the emotional-trauma. His insults have gotten to you. You're starting to believe the horrible things he says to you; although you know they're not true, and he really doesn't mean them.

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A female reader, chigirl Norway + , writes (19 April 2017):

chigirl agony auntHere is my advice to you:

Stop cooking every single day. Im being 100% for real now. Just because he works as a chef does not mean he should not, or would not, cook at home. I know several who work as chefs. They love to cook, which is why they began to work in this profession to begin with. Let him do it at home as well. It might be he wants to! Have you even asked him? You just write as if you do it as an act of love, without him having asked you if you could do it.

Cooking every day is a lot of work, especially for someone who has little experience with it or who don't particularly enjoy it. Cooking dinner at home IS A HOUSEHOLD CHORE. It needs to be divided evenly between the couple.

I used to work in a kitchen also, albeit not cooking, but cleaning. Dishes, cabinets etc. What do I do when I come home? You honestly think I have a messy kitchen? My kitchen is spotless. I go mad if my kitchen is dirty, because I know EXACTLY how clean I want it, and after having worked with cleaning for so many years, it becomes part of my routine. I would hate it if my partner left a mess and insisted I would not be allowed to clean the kitchen up to my standards.

My guess is your boyfriend is annoyed because of the same reason. I think he wants to cook, to be honest. But I think he has no idea how to tell you.

I also think this is an issue of more small problems accumulating. He says you're not affectionate, when you say you are. And by your description, I must say I also think you are very affectionate. So we conclude he is mistaken in this. But he is still upset, so we need to ask why? There is something else bothering him then. Could be he seeks some other form of affection. In this case, it could be a matter of different love languages.

If you want to know what he feels is missing, look at HIS love language. What does he do? He leaves early in the morning to watch TV by himself and sleep alone. He probably has a need for more time by himself. This is only natural, not all people want to be together all the time. Are you always at home when he gets home from work? Do you do separate activities? If not, start. Go out of the house and do your own thing. Don't even mention anything to him about him needing alone-time, I think it would benefit you to go out and do your own thing regardless of his needs anyway. And then just give it time and see if it helps. Give it a month or two.

What else does he do? If you stop cooking/divide cooking chore between you, then that will be one less thing to argue about. Giving him alone time will perhaps mean he does not feel a need to leave the bed early in the morning.

Or perhaps he gets up early because he can not sleep well. Perhaps all you need is a new mattress. Not getting enough sleep will make anyone cranky and nasty.

But do not take any bullshit or abuse from him. If he gets cranky because you "messed up" dinner, ONLY COOK FOR YOURSELF. Really. STOP COOKING FOR HIM. PERIOD. Just stop. Until he sincerely apologizes. Then if he does it again, permanently stop, and never cook for him again, because it is proven to cause conflict in your marriage, and hurts you. So just stop it. And if he ever calls you a bitch again, leave the house. For real. This is not acceptable. If he can not talk to you with respect, you do not sit there and listen to him either. Have a bag prepared so you can just take it, have a place you can go to such as a friends house, or family, or even work. And just leave. Come back after an hour or two or a day or two, just as long time as you want. But draw the line. And WRITE DOWN the dates of when he has called you that name, or other name callings. Tell him you are writing it down. When he reaches 5, you will ask for a divorce. Because this is abuse. And you have enough self respect to not sit and take it like a punching bag. If he can not behave like an adult, he needs to either not be married, or he needs to seek therapy for his anger issues, and he needs to not be allowed to continue with this behavior.

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (19 April 2017):

Your marriage in your own words is on the rocks. My first advice avoid making any children before solving these problems. My honest opinion based on your post I think you should take into consideration divorce as he doesn't seem to love you anymore otherwise he wouldn't be so cruel with his comments. Anyway I am sure the aunts here will give better advice here.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (19 April 2017):

Right first of all if you want your marriage to work you are going to have to sit down and chat...ask him if he would prefer to cook the special meals as he thinks you cannot do it right ...about affection..ask him what he wants more of ,to me you sound like you do all you can its him being picky but like I said sit down and chat to him or it wont ever change or even last ..good luck

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A female reader, fishdish United States + , writes (19 April 2017):

fishdish agony auntIt sounds like you're showing affection in the wrong ways. I think it's thoughtful of you to try to make food for him but..unless he's specifically said so, you should let him take the reins on food. He's better at it, he obviously likes it enough to do it for a living, and he doesn't appreciate it when you do it. Why keep that as a point of contention? I like cooking for my man but I always feel I'm better at cooking by myself-no audience no judgment no expectations! And I'm less self conscious and anxious because of that. I always think I'm doing something nice but I think it brings more stress on me than appreciation from him so I also will probably take a step back lol! Anyway. As far as the rest, you don't have good sex because of all the fights and he needs to rebuild trust and intimacy. Tell him you're worried about your relationships future that you guys have gotten in some difficult to leave patterns and you just want to focus on being nicer to each other, figure out what the source of the tension is besides food. What does he need, when does he need the affection that he feels he's missing. Tell him what you need from him to move forward. If that doesn't work, couples counseling can give you the communication tools that could help bridge these gaps.

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