Patricia Redlich

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I Feel Invisible In My Marriage


I've been married for 15 years to a good man. But I've gotten to feel alone and invisible. Neither of us has ever had an affair, yet I have to admit that if someone showed me the attention and affection I crave, I could be tempted. No one is though.

My husband is a workaholic. He's also a very good son and calls in to see his elderly father each day after work. I scarcely see him on week-nights. I wouldn't even mind that so much if the rest of the time he showed more care for me. The most affection I get these days is a peck on the lips, and maybe a quick hug. Sex ended years ago and he's lost all interest. He says it's not me. He's just not interested in general. He is nearly 60 and has gained quite a bit of weight. I'm 50 and still slender. But his lack of interest has seriously damaged my sense of being an attractive woman. It hurts that he's not even interested in cuddling.

My husband does not act in an angry way with me, he doesn't drink and he is respectful. He just seems to take no heed of me, never going out of his way to do anything nice or special for me. I feel like a room-mate who just picks up after him and nothing more. I feel hopeless at the thought that this is the state of my marriage for the rest of my life. I don't want to have an affair but I do wish I knew someone who actually found me attractive. I don't want a divorce. But I don't want to feel sad and ugly forever.

I am stuck and hopeless.
Let's get a few things straight. Your feelings of loneliness and sadness are, unhappily, legitimate. So is your sense of being invisible. You have been abandoned as a wife. Feeling ugly, unattractive, undesirable, on the other hand, is straying into a false reality. That's just you, inappropriately blaming yourself for your husband's lack of sexual interest. Of course those feelings are understandable. But they are also misplaced. Your husband has even told you so. He's just lost interest in sex, not in you specifically. His disinterest says a lot about him, and absolutely nothing about you.

Yes, if someone fancied you, suggested an affaire, even wanted to run away with you, that would feel good, a neat shortcut to better self-esteem. It doesn't sound as though it would help you solve your problem. You don't want divorce, you want your husband to desire you. That may never happen, of course, but it's still what you want - right now anyway. More importantly, feeling vulnerable about your attractiveness takes the focus off the real issue. Your husband has reneged on his marital vows, broken the contract you both signed up to. Marriage isn't about being room-mates. It's about sexual love.

Your husband has opted out of his marriage - as surely as if he'd actually left home. He spends little enough time with you. More importantly, he puts no energy into your togetherness. He fails to treat you as a romantic partner - with little presents, weekends away, emotional conversation, thoughtful gestures, man and woman togetherness in all its nuances. And he pecks you on the lips instead of taking you to bed. He has left you. It's not that you are ugly. Your husband has somehow died inside. That is the problem you both need to tackle.

He's clearly a good man. He is not being deliberately nasty. He has changed, and that needs to be discussed. Silence, rather than the absence of passionate sex, is what kills a marriage. Maybe he started to have erectile problems. Many men respond to that with a combination of embarrassment and self-protection, turning away from sex rather than raising the issue with their wives. Maybe he needed a different kind of sexual response from you, failed to ask, and retreated in defeat. Maybe he needed more active affection from you. Who knows. Well, he knows - even if his knowledge is not entirely conscious.

I can see you don't like confrontation. But it's certainly better than being invisible. And it doesn't have to be nasty. Done properly, it's just another word for communication. Talk to your husband. Say it like it is. And ask for a real response.
Irish based professional therapist and journalist. Website By : Deise Design