Men "not getting it"


#1

So, when does a guy not “getting it” go too far?

My dh as never been romantic, sympathetic or very understanding. Earlier this year he was diagnosed w/ anxiety/ depression, so that explains some things.

However, he does things that he thinks are perfectly normal, that I think are beyond not getting it. At my dad’s informal memorial service (more like a picnic - long story) my dh ignored me and hung out with my brothers. When I said something later, his reply was, “I’m sorry, but I haven’t seen your brothers for a long time.” Can a guy really be that clueless? To justify ignoring his spouse after her father’s death? I’m convinced he was not trying to be mean, he just didn’t know how to act.

He very frequently (almost every night) critiques the meals I fix and thinks I should just put up with it. He frequently corrects how I do things, but refuses to do them himself. At his company X-mas party he left me standing at the bar waiting for my drink. He got his drink and walked off. (a co-worker was there and chimed in nicely, “Did X just leave you here? I’ll wait and walk you back to the table.”)

Sadly, he gets angry or irritated if I mention these things. I really do try to be charitable if I bring it up. I even say, "It hurts my feelings when . . . " A common reply, is that I shouldn’t feel that way. :shrug:

So, how come some guys know how to treat a lady and others don’t? Is it learned, as in something his parents should have taught him but never did? Is it something we pick up by watching others but he’s never picked up on that? —KCT


#2

I’m not sure why some men don’t understand the basics of how to treat women.

I’m not saying I’m any Romeo, but I think I treat my wife of 12 years pretty well, and always try to take her needs/feelings into consideration.

However, this is not because I was taught this when I was being raised. If I ever treated my wife the way I saw my father treat my mother, I would probably be on my third marriage by now. I think it was a lot of seeing my mom crying all the time as a child, and thinking, " When I get married I will never treat wife like that".

What kind of a home was your husband raised in?


#3

Pretty dysfunctional. But he refuses to believe it has anything to do with the way he turned out or how he behaves. He says he is the way he is because that’s how he’s wired, not because of how his family behaved. Yet again, I’m left wondering, “huh?” How can he believe the way his parents treated him has nothing to do with who he is. —KCT


#4

I am really sorry for your situation and I am afraid that depression is probably the explanation of most of his behaviors. I also encourage you to read literature on how to live with depressed people. Living with a depressed spouse is one of the biggest challenges that we can be given to test the strength of our commitment to marriage.


#5

So it sounds like he at least acknowledges that there is something not right with him in this area, which could be a good step. As far as the “I’m just wired that way”, this is sometimes just an excuse for bad behavior. If he were willing to talk to a counselor or psychologist he could change and find that there are deeper issues (depression/anxiety).

My father, however, is a textbook case of Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. Which basically means he is totally oblivious of the fact that he can be a complete jerk to others, therefore sees no need to change (Ever watched “As Good as it Gets”). Everybody in the world is an idiot except him. From what I understand, this disorder is very difficult to treat.


#6

I agree. It took a really long time (two + years) before my husband and his dr. found the right combination of medication & dosage before he started being “nice” to me again. And even then who knows how long it will last? I have noticed signs recently that my husband’s depression is rearing its ugly head again. Although he’s been sick (allergies/head cold) for awhile (it takes him twice as long as most people to get over a cold). So it might just be that he’s tired of being sick and he will be fine when he gets over this cold. Its something that has to be monitored and to my husband the idea of having a chronic condition adds to his depression.

KCT I expect that the reason your husband is dealing with depression has much to do with the way he was raised (sometimes depression is caused by a chemical imbalance, but you mentioned a dysfunctional family). Is your husband in therapy? My husband thought therapy was not working for the longest time. He has wanted to quit therapy and the meds because he didn’t want to deal with all of it. He loves his parents and finds if difficult to accept that they weren’t perfect parents to him. You recognize that your husband’s homelife was dysfunctional but does he? How does he deal with it? Maybe he’s on the verge of accepting it. Sometimes its darkest before the dawn.


#7

He takes meds and sees a psychaitrist every other month for a med check up - not for counseling. We’re seeing a marriage counselor together, but dh insists he’s accepted his childhood and does not need to discuss it.

I pray and sacrifice. —KCT


#8

I recommend getting counseling above posting complaints about your husband over the internet. I think that I would be justifiably upset if my wife did to me what you are doing to your husband.

If you aren’t willing to get in a counseling session or two, I recommend getting the audiobook version of “Getting the Love You Want” by Harville Hendrix, and listening to it together.


#9

Hi KCT. If your husband has a true clinical problem with depression, he needs to have that treated and it may explain some of his behavior. That, however, does not preclude him from changing but he must want to change for the good of your relationship.

Most men (see my hand up also?) are never taught by their fathers specifically how to treat a lady. We model our marriage behavior on the marriage behavior of our parents, siblings and society. His frequent critiques, ignoring you, anger and frustration are part of the learned behavior he has had all his life. By the way, feelings are neither right nor wrong so it is OK for you to feel anyway you want to. It is how we act on our feelings that has morality.

What helped me to change and grow is a Catholic based marriage enrichment program called Marriage Encounter. Go to the main website here www.wwme.org for more info. The funny thing is, before my wife and I made our weekend, I thought that all of our marital problems were HER fault and that the weekend would finally prove me right. What it did was to show me how unfair I was and that our issues are never as important as our relationship to God and each other. I did not go into my weekend wanting to change - I changed my behavior because of how my weekend made me look at myself.

Got to run as I am meeting my wife and a couple of other encountered couples for dinner tonight. I will hold your relationship in our prayers this evening. Okay to PM me if you look at the website and have any specific questions.


#10

I am also married to a “clueless Joe” - fortunately, he is not usually rude to me (I don’t put up with it, and I point it out to him in a conversational voice when he’s making me nervous), but he is constantly rude to other people, without realizing it.

For example, he coughs and eats while speaking on the phone (even when speaking to his boss!); when riding on the bus, or at restaurants, he leans back in his chair and flings his arms behind him, into the lap of the person sitting behind him ( :blush: ); literally walks right into people while walking down the street instead of stepping aside to let them get by, swears in front of everyone, including his boss, my mother, and the minister of his church (I honestly think he has no idea those words are not for use in polite company), spits on the sidewalk, pees in the bushes instead of finding a bathroom, and just generally behaves like he was raised by wolves.

If I’m going somewhere like an office party or a Church gathering, I usually don’t invite him, unless there are going to be people there who already know him - but if it’s something that has to go well for me, then I go alone; I don’t bring him.


#11

I am truly amazed at how people post this about their own spouse. I am embarrassed for the both of you for how poorly you treat your husband behind his back. I would never have thought the Catholic Answers forum would be a repository for this brand of unfaithfulness. :frowning:


#12

I agree. In the last couple of years I’ve noticed a number of my behaviors and attitudes that were learned from my family. IMO, they were not positive, and I have attempted to change.

As I said above, dh believes that his upbringing has no bearing on who he is or how he behaves. (which perhaps is part of depression/ anxiety- I imagine rehashing his childhood to figure things out would cause even more anxiety.) —KCT


#13

Are support groups repositories for unfaithfulness? Sometimes people need to share. —KCT


#14

Well said. For almost 50 years my mother has just shutten’ up and taken it. Perhaps if she hadn’t felt so isolated, she could have dealt with him early on and changed things, at least a little. However, my dad went so far as to move her here from a different country to make sure she couldn’t be close to others.

This isn’t just a rant thread. You can’t deal with the issues unless you have the facts of the situation.


#15

This is no difference between this and common gossip. If you’d like to share, your husband should be able to give his side of the story. This way of “sharing” your perceived problems is particularly destructive as it reinforces your impression that most of these problems are his and not your’s collectively. People then confirm your side of the story, making it particularly hard for you to understand these problems as having contributions both from you and him (and there is virtually no marital problem that isn’t like that).

Again, if I found that my wife talked about me this way with strangers, I would find it deeply offensive. If you would be embarrassed if your husband found you typing this, then you should be embarrassed that you are typing it at all.


#16

He is fully aware that he does these things, and is not embarrassed by them at all.


#17

I didn’t ask if he was embarrassed by the things he did, I asked if you would be embarrassed if he found you telling strangers all your perceived shortcomings of him, behind his back. I’m surprised you cannot see how offensive that is; I strongly suggest you reread Proverbs 31 and attempt to speak only kindness (particularly toward your spouse), as it recommends.

Would you want him telling complete strangers how little his wife shows him compassion and love?


#18

Nobeerinheaven, your comments are uncharitable. There is a difference between looking for help/support and gossiping. One is helpful and the other is harmful. When you are only kind to someone who has hurtful or harmful behavior, you do them no favors. What the OP is doing, looking for some outside opinions and ideas is healthy, and in the end she really is doing her husband a favor by not politely overlooking his beahvior.

And I think jmcrae has a healthy and humorous attitude about her husband’s unusual behavior.


#19

I don’t know about jmcrae, but I wouldn’t be. It would mean he cares and is looking for answers. —KCT


#20

As Proverbs 11 reads, “A [woman] who lacks judgment derides [her] neighbor, but a [woman] of understanding holds [her] tongue. A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.”

How much less judgment does one exhibit in deriding not merely a neighbor, but a spouse? Additionally, the only “support” gained was similar stories about husbands making perceived mistakes, which contributes to a general consensus that these marital problems are “his fault.” Virtually no marital problem is ever one person’s fault, so that venting threads like this get started should be seen not as positive marriage support but unhelpful expressions of discontent. The women who participate are made far less likely to think that they are serious contributors to how their husbands behave, and are thus less likely to engage a compromise that changes both spouses behavior. Perhaps if the general tone of the discussion gave each of these maligned husbands more charity, I too would be more charitable in their defense.

Genuinely looking for marital advice is helpful only if that advice isn’t based on the presupposition that her husband is the problem (or “doesn’t get it”). When advice requests make that presupposition, they are dangerous as they perpetuate the incorrect idea that those problems really are his fault and not the couple’s fault, collectively. Yet they *are *the couple’s fault, not just his, which is why this seemingly-innocent request for advice was less beneficial than it initially might appear.


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