My husband and I have been married for almost 20 years. We’ve always had our share of problems, but we’ve made it.Last year during his mother ‘s illness and subsequent death, he was understandably extremely emotional. He told me he had never really loved me, that something had always been missing from our relationship.We did a lot of talking and over the last 9 months we’ve talked, gotten along better, the sex has improved a lot, but now he feels like maybe there’s something missing in him. He’s going through a malpractice suit on his mother ‘s behalf and recently went through a grueling deposition which seemed to take a lot out of him. When he came back, he seemed to just want to be alone, and even though we’re not fighting, it doesn’t feel right.I’ve tried to just give him space, even though all I want to do is talk about our relationship. Prior to this latest issue with the lawsuit, he said he felt happier, more comfortable with our relationship than he ever had before.I just feel like I’m doing all the giving here, trying to change myself into a better person, but I can’t help feeling like there IS something missing in him, whether its emotion, or the ability to love anyone. He’s always been very’in control’of his emotions, and I’m pretty much the opposite.I know you can’t make someone love you, but we do have a good life together and I feel like he’s never really going to be a happy person. Any advice at all? I don’t want this marriage to end
I understand how hard this situation must be for you. When I read your answer and saw how hard you are trying to improve yourself, I got the image of a woman pouring water into a sieve. No matter how much water you pour, it always spills out.Likewise, your husband seems empty, insatiable, disatissfied. It’s not exactly clear what his issue is. The fact that his feelings of emptiness, and that something is missing in his life, came about following the death of his mother means that his problem is related to her death. We just have to figure out how. The most obvious thing that is missing since his mother ‘s death is his mother!Since he is not tuned in to his feelings, he may not know that his feeling of emptiness is actual grief. If grief lasts more than six months, then we may actually be dealing with depression. And, one of the symptoms of depression is a feeling of emptiness and a loss of interest in life.In addition to grief, her death may have sparked feelings about his mother that he never resolved. Here’s what jumps out at me. If he felt deprived of adequate love from his mother, then her death would naturally awaken that sense of emptiness.As long as she was alive, he may have lived with the unconscious hope that one day she would come around and love him the way he always needed. Now that she’s dead, all hope is lost and he is left with an empty hole inside himself. My idea that he is depleted is further supported by the fact that the deposition seems to have drained him so terribly. It feels like he had to expend more energy than he has inside himself, which again sounds like he is empty and depleted. I would have to wonder if this is how he felt with him mother, like she sucked the life from him and didn’t give him enough nourishment back.If I were you, I would tell him that you don’t want to talk about the marriage, what’s missing, it’s future, and so on, until he addresses the subject of his loss. Help him to see that his loss may be tainting how he feels about you and the relationship.For this reason, he must not make any life changes until he becomes clearer on what exactly is going on inside himself. Help him to talk about how he felt and feels about his mother, and their relationship, past and present. Explain to him that if he felt deprived by his mother, then he would be left with a gaping hole inside himself. Tell him that no matter how much you give to him, it will never succeed in filling his void.Until he recognizes the origin of the void and works to heal those feelings, all your efforts will be nothing more than pouring water into a leaky ship. It would be good for him to begin therapy now as well. Please let me know how you both make out.