I think it’s fair to say that I hear from a lot of wives who are trying to deal with their husband recently leaving them. Some are surprised by this turn of events and some are not. Some are confused as to the reason that their husband has left and some have been given very specific reasoning. Some even get a note that fully outlines all of the perceived shortcomings that caused the husband to leave. One very common theme in these notes is not showing the husband enough affection or giving him enough attention.
A common scenario is one like: “I have felt like my husband was going to leave me for a long time. So I wasn’t surprised when he finally did. Our fights are usually centered on one main issue – he feels like he loves me more than I love him. He feels like I do not just naturally want to show him affection and he feels like he has to beg for my attention. I have really mixed feelings on this. On the one hand, I want to make my husband happy and content. On the other hand, I’m a bit resentful at this because it’s like he’s a child keeping score. We are both busy adults and yet he gives me the impression that I need to constantly see how he’s feeling and doing – almost like a pet. It almost feels as if he needs maintenance. Sometimes, I think that he is only going to be happy with a woman who is all over him and who can’t do enough for him. He wants someone who is just going to constantly go out of her way to tell him how great he is. The great irony of this is that I do think that he is great. I love him. But I don’t feel the need to act as if we are teenagers who constantly have to fawn all over one another to prove our love. To me, this smacks of desperation and immaturity and it’s hard for me to respect it. I feel like he’s so needy that he’s a well that can never be filled and that is exhausting. At the same time, I love him and I don’t want to end our marriage. But how can we find the common ground where he feels he gets enough affection and I don’t feel that I’m having to work so hard all of the time while never making him happy?”
This Is A Common Situation That Can Be Fixed: This situation is very common when you have two different personalities. You sometimes find couples where one of them is very demonstrative and has no problem showing affection. Often, this spouse also likes a lot of affection and feels very comfortable both giving it and receiving it. And on you can have the other spouse on the other end of the spectrum – they typically know that their loves and appreciates them without being reminded of it all of the time. When these two get married, the demonstrative spouse can feel like he’s not getting enough while the more reserved spouse can feel as if no mater how much affection they give, it can never be enough.
If this conflict isn’t addressed and properly worked through, it can escalate to the point where one spouse feels that it will never be rectified, and as a result, might leave. I don’t believe for one second that this means that the couple can’t resolve the issue and eventually be more compatible. The key is to talk very openly and honestly about expectations and compromises.
Get Very Specific In Order To Find A Compromise: When the husband says he doesn’t feel that she “shows enough affection,” that is an extremely broad statement. Does he mean that they are not having enough sex? Does he mean that she doesn’t hug him, hold his hand, or give him verbal affirmation enough? Does it mean that he just doesn’t feel loved in general? Does it mean that he needs for her to show more appreciation for the things that she does? Showing affection means different things to different people. As silly as it might sound, sometimes you have to get very specific with this. You need to break it down to figure out what, exactly is meant and what exactly, is making him so unhappy.
Because the wife could already be attempting to do what she thinks is affectionate, be way off the mark, and still have a husband who doesn’t feel loved. So the result is that he feels unsatisfied and she feels that no matter what she does or how often she does it, then it’s never going to be enough. That’s why it really helps to break it down. Having a counselor to facilitate this can be quite helpful, but I know that not all husbands will agree to this.
If not, then I’d suggest giving it a couple of days and then reaching out. You might try something like: “needless to say, I’m very upset that you left. But I’m not surprised. This is an issue that has been troubling our marriage for a very long time. I want to solve this issue too. I believe that if we work together and in the right way, we can fix this. But living apart is all but assuring that we can’t fix it. Because I’m not sure how I can give you more affection when you’re not even here. If you were trying to get my attention, you did and I want to make this right. But I’m not sure that you’re leaving is going to do it. Would you be willing to see someone to help us to determine how to give us both what we want? If not, then we need to sit down and get very specific on what we both need and can comfortably give.”
It’s very difficult to predict how the husband might respond. He may be willing to get very detailed about what he needs without much intervention or it may take a little effort to pull it out of him. At the same time, once you determine what he needs, then you’ll want to also define what you can comfortably and genuinely give without feeling as if you are filling something without a bottom. There is usually a compromise here somewhere. You just have to find it.