Had an interesting experience today with the wife...wanted some opinions on it.

As some background, it's quite clear that we have issues with our relationship - we've had a sexless marriage since our two boys were born (won't go into detail on that here, long post in that forum), and we were barely speaking to each other any more or share any interests. To compound it all we have very different backgrounds and careers - I'm an IT consultant, and she's a professional classically trained musician, and to make matters worse we have completely opposite schedules - I work Mondays - Fridays 8AM - 6PM, when she works (which is not always) it is nights and weekends.

From the very beginning we clicked because we were so interested in each other's very different worlds and we were both highly articulate and educated (we both have master's degrees in our chosen fields). But now I am wondering if we truly can ever understand each other.

To get to the experience, for the past several months her instrument has been (according to her) "sounding like crap". It is a professional quality instrument, very old (1860s) and there are only a couple places in the country that have the caliber expertise necessary to truly service it. Unfortunately, the closest place to us is six hours away by car. So, like a good, supportive husband I told her to take today to go down there and deal with it, I would deal with getting our boys to backup daycare (normally she's a stay at home mom during weekdays) and even booked her a hotel down there in case the music shop took longer than expected, and 12 hours on the road is a lot in one day anyway.

So, my normal hectic Friday workday, all the while I'm getting IMs and Facebook notifications on my phone - the shop fixed her instrument, sounds perfect again, elated. Great! Took only an hour. OK...so then off to a yummy lunch which she sends me photos of. A little annoyed since we haven't had a date night or meal out together in months, but whatever - she's got to eat. Then it's off to take a tram to the top of a mountain in a national park...photos abound in the feed. Glad that she is having some alone fun time, but at the same time feeling guilty for being annoyed again - I haven't had a day off since holiday season last winter, and am usually watching our boys all weekend while she is performing or pursuing her pastimes (more on that later).

So I pick up the boys from daycare, get them home and fed, quick FaceTime session with mom, then get them their baths and off to bed. She calls from the hotel and raves about her day, I'm too tired at this point to really care. The conversation wanders from topic to topic, we end up talking about sports that the boys should do, and I think of something I've wanted to bring up for a while - I throw out there that I'd like to take an adult Chinese kung fu class.

Silence on the other end of the phone. I think she needs an explanation - so I tell her that I've always wanted to (I'm Chinese but grew up in the US, for reference my wife is White), and that I think it would also be a great way to expose our boys to Chinese culture as well and be something "special" that they share with me.

First words out of her mouth (dripping skepticism) - "well, that's not very fair to me." Huh? At this point I calmly explain that as the professional musician in the family, she would clearly be the one to take our boys to music lessons, to give them guidance in that area, and that would be their special thing with her, and that I was totally cool with that.

Second words out of her mouth (still skeptical) - "I don't know...it sounds expensive". Yes, that is a consideration I say...we both know we recently moved across the country and have very little reserves left. Yet in the back of my mind I think about how supportive I have been of her chosen pastime - after having both our kids, she decided she would train for a marathon to get herself back in shape and as a personal goal. Many hundreds of dollars later in equipment (shoes, clothes, hydration packs) and entrance fees, time spent by me on weekends watching our boys so she could go for 13 mile training runs or races, she has finished many races (including a marathon) and I don't regret any of it. So where's that consideration for my personal goal?

Sensing the anger welling in my throat, I tell her that we'll talk about it some other time and should go to bed, and hang up. I of course continue thinking about it and wonder if she has always been this way.

And then I remember that every business trip I've had to take (and they aren't very often, which is rare for a consultant, my industry is lucky that it prefers teleconferencing to onsite workers) or late night or weekend I had to spend at work on sales proposals, I've always gotten the stink eye, whether it was for 2 days or a week. On the other hand, my wife has been away for weeks at a time, one time even a month while our first son was not even a year old, for music festivals (her work), and I never gave her any crap about it, because it was her work. And then I realized too that I was always secretly bothered by all her Facebook postings of living it up while out at these festivals, the pictures of late night dinners and sangria while I was stuck at home with two sleepless teething infants. Rationally I knew it was wrong to resent her for this, but the feeling was still there, and now even stronger realizing that she did not reciprocate.

And what is it that she doesn't reciprocate? I thought long and hard...I think it's basic respect for who I am and what I do for work. I thought of all the times after we were married when she asked me what I did during the day and tried to figure out what it was about, and could count it on one hand. Although I am hardly a professional musician, I played saxophone through high school and college and know my way around reading music and music theory. Whenever my wife would go on and on about how difficult a certain piece was or how asinine a certain composer was in writing for her instrument, I genuinely tried to listen and understand although my grasp was really just as a layperson. I remember one particular incident early when we were dating when I walked in on her practicing and I took a quick listen, and casually remarked that maybe she was tuned a little bit flat, and she totally lost it - she was the one with perfect pitch, had trained since she was 5, how "dare I" say such things to her (as a layperson I apparently had no right to have an opinion in this matter). Although she later apologized, I started to wonder if that attitude never went away.

I thought about all the times she huffed when I said I wanted to play computer games, to the point that I gave it up entirely. I thought about the number of times I got a tie when I very explicitly sent her an email with a link to a particular e-commerce site with some gadget that I wanted. The fact that she laughs when I watch anime and says they all look the same to her and she doesn't get any of it.

And to top it all off, she always seems to hold the income card over my head. Yes, I make more than 10x what she does on an annual basis, and every argument we have about finances she seems to think I use that as leverage over her in decisions. Yet every major purchase we've had in the past 7 years she's been the one to make the final decision - she was the one that flew out to our new state to go house hunting while I watched the kids and made an offer on our new house sight unseen to me, she was the one that picked the last two cars we bought (an Acura TSX and Acura MDX) despite my misgivings about using premium fuel.

So there is my longwinded deconstruction of the situation. In the end, I am wondering if we were just fooling ourselves, that interest in the Other is in the end just a passing fancy and not a true indication of long term compatibility. I look around at our circle of friends and like truly seems to end up with like...all my wife's musician friends are married to musicians, all my colleagues are married to other consultants, and it seems the lawyers go with the lawyers and the doctors with the doctors. And in the end, lack of connection leads to emotional and intimacy issues, to the point that we haven't done "it" more than a dozen times in the past four years.

Am I off base here? Are people as different as we are destined to truly never connect and understand each other? Am I being unreasonable in my analysis of the situation? Would appreciate any experiences, counterarguments or evidence showing otherwise.
ThankfulDude ThankfulDude
41-45, M
7 Responses Aug 15, 2014

Things have gotten much better...we've been talking daily for over a month now, and in some way shape or form I have brought up all these issues and we've been talking them out. 90% of them was simple misunderstanding, the rest are true issues that need to be worked on, but she has taken responsibility for the fact that she does take a lot of what I do for the family to enable her to pursue her craft for granted, and that she needs to be more aware of her spending habits and the fact that no matter what our individual income contribution is to the family that we are a team and have equal say in how we manage our spending. Frankly I think it was just several years of lack of communication built up into a lot of resentment and misunderstanding that needed to be talked out.

Has there been progress on sex, Melancholy?

And have her words been followed up by actions supporting her words?

Yup...just shared another story as an update on the forum :)

It appears as if you're very supportive. I can understand where you are coming from. I she's willing to see your side of things, you may be able to make it work. But it sounds as if she's a bit selfish based on what I've read. Good luck!

MelancholyDude, I suggest that you read lots and lots at http://therationalmale.com/
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Not that should believe everything you read there, but it would help you to look at your relationship through a radically different type of lens.
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Last month Newsweek reported that "Men Like Nice Women, But Not the Other Way Around"

http://www.newsweek.com/study-finds-men-nice-women-not-other-way-around-261269

This is annoying to both genders, and is actually more complex than the study. Nice men will tend to make far better fathers (nurture the children, provide stability), but women can lose their desire for them (or decide to enter marriage with little desire to start). They know they should keep the nice father of their children, but sometimes they don't desire him anymore. In other terms, in your marriage you have a high degree of compatibility as father/co-parent, and have a low degree of compatibility as a sexual partner.

Sign up for the class. Just do it. This can be your fitness project. Take your kids to appropriate classes when/if they're old enough. Y'all can do this together. You'll have fun. You will not regret taking the class.

Quoting from czzinc's recent post. I hope you are able to recognize how it applies to your marriage, and how you're wasting your time and breaking your own heart by trying to get love from a woman who does not love you.

"I am absolutely convinced that, in the vast majority of [SM] cases, there are just two causes that underpin a sexless relationship in mentally and physically healthy individuals. I am writing this because I believe that identifying the mechanisms that drive certain behaviours may be used to inform the most appropriate correction and treatment strategy.

The first is absence of love. Simply put, your partner does not love you. Although this may sound obvious, it can masquerade easily and may not be immediately apparent to those living in a sexless marriage. Here is why. Many incorrectly believe the antonym of love is hate. This is not correct. Hate is not the opposite of love; the opposite of love is indifference. Anyone who sees another person miserably sad, suffering and in pain and decides to do nothing about it is certainly not in love with them. Period. Your partner can be very civil and polite with you in many other ways, they do not have to hate you, or be physically abusive in order to show you they do not love you. They may be a good person, a good provider, or parent and may appreciate all the comforts they can attract in their lives by being with you, but they are not in love with you."

I personally disagree with czzinc in the "they do not love you" universality. I do agree with the "they are not in love with you" and "they don't love you the way you love them" or at a minimum "they do not love you the way that you need them to"

However one sees it, elkclan, the bottom line is that if they don't love you the way you define "love," they don't love you in any way you can relate to, so it's the same as their not loving you at all.

Maybe.... I mean my husband doesn't love me. I'm QUITE sure of that. But on the other hand there was a time during our marriage when he did love me and I'm also quite sure of that, but the sex was still awful and infrequent. I think in some of these companionable marriages they do still love each other - but more of a sibling love. Still that love is worth something. At least those people will have a better divorce than I will. :-)

Czzinc has his own issues at which I can only guess. If he chooses to believe his wife doesn't love him, then so be it - I wouldn't have a clue. Maybe she doesn't. But I don't think he can look into other people's relationships of which we only get one side and say the person whose side we've not heard don't love them. Don't FEEL love for them.


My mother is a narcissist and she swears up and down that she loves me (and my bro) more than anything in the world. It doesn't feel true to me. Her actions are not the actions of someone who loves us more than anything in the world (she's stolen money from both of us, for example). But on the other hand, maybe she does love us in the only way she knows how and for her that love is real. (I think we really are loved as objects or ideas of children or as a reflection of herself). That doesn't mean I trust her or rely on the motherly love (when I do, I'm always sorry) and that certainly doesn't mean I can have a normal relationship with her, but who's to say what she feels. I know that she acts in a way that does not tally with the way I feel and act about my son.

In the case of MelancholyDude, his wife certainly isn't acting like she loves him. That's for sure. And from his words, he's certainly feeling that lack of marital love.

I agree that it may be a sibling love or a friendship kind of love. However, it's not the kind of love that the refused feels or has every right to expect of their spouse. The sooner the refused realizes that their spouse does not and can not love them the way they desire and deserve, the sooner the refused can make informed decisions about actions to take with their life.

It's rare that people here seem to be married to refusers who are monsters. Most of the refusers described here have some very good characteristics. However, what they most lack is what is very important in relationships: the ability to hear and appropriately respond to their partners' pain with healing actions, not just by sitting there or making promises they never carry through.

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It's hard when you realise they don't care about your interests or you much at all.

Any marriage of such different people will always have it's difficulties. You seem to have done more than your fair share of giving leeway imho, and unless you're forgetting a LOT of things she doesn't seem to have given you any. Perhaps she considers having your babies as pay-off? It's not exactly a walk in the park - but she chose to do that, i'm sure you didn't hold a gun to her head, metaphorically or actually, so it hardly qualifies in comparison to the examples you've given.

Just one thing, if you're a layperson in music, and she's a professional, she'll be used to musical instruments being tuned slightly off-key for the sake of the pianist. It's tradition, with a solid basis in practicality. But probably you already know that and took it into account before making that comment to her before you married.

Oh, and i'm completely different to my husband. We're from different countries, different cultural backgrounds, he's from an older generation, he has a very expensive university education, and he'd travelled a lot. i had to leave school at 16 because my parents wouldn't support me to stay on, and although i got a couple more qualifications at night school i don't consider myself educated, and i hadn't travelled anywhere until i met him.
No, it didn't work. But i'm also submissive, and he isn't a dominant - so it was kind of doomed from the outset.
That doesn't mean that YOUR marriage is doomed, but i have a horrible feeling that if you try to even things up to a more level playing field she'll get hysterical and take your children and your money to the divorce courts for a clean sweep.

Thanks for the perspective. The kids were her idea mostly, I was ambivalent to having them, but now that they are here I love them to pieces and have no regrets of having them. I think at this point we need professional help, and if she is not willing to go to counseling i need to at least go myself and decide what to do from there. And yes if we get divorced i will be screwed, with our income differential she is sure to get both child support and alimony.

Talk to a lawyer about how a divorce would shake out for you. It may be better than you think.

Divorce would allow you to more easily get regularly screwed in a good way instead of getting not literally screwed by your wife, who's financially screwing you by using the money you earn to buy all sorts of things for herself, while discouraging you to use your money for anything pleasurable for yourself.