I’m 32 and my wife is 31. We met at college and have been together for twelve years, married for five of those years. We have a fantastic two year-old son. She’s a white collar professional earning good money, while I am running my own start-up (a security company, mostly working in Afghanistan) and not bringing much in at the moment.
Back in college we were at it like rabbits, she looked great, the whole world lay ahead of us, etc.
I am 5’5″, 165lb, a decent looking bloke in good physical shape (albeit not as youthful as when we first got together). Because my work can often be done from home, I’m around the house a lot more than she is (she commutes) and I therefore do a lot of the housework and childcare; not more than my fair share, but certainly not less than.
She is 5’7″, 180lb, a good looking lady but has a fair bit of extra weight particularly around the middle (plus the usual effects of ageing, as per me). She works four days a week and has a long commute, and she is certainly an equal partner in housework and childcare.
So what the hell is the problem?
Well, it’s hard to summarise. I guess the key things I feel are:
(1) She very rarely – e.g. not even monthly – shows any interest in sex, or any other sexual activity. When we do it’s great, but it’s always me initiating it and most of the time I just get knocked back… to the point that I have basically given up trying except for the night before I deploy back to Afghan each time (just in case it’s the last one…!). Even that is far from guaranteed. That pre-dates the baby, and to be honest has probably been going on for at least six or seven years, though I’ve never really counted.
(2) Her weight, and her attitude to it, bugs me. I am less toned than I was aged eighteen, but still have a good physique and carry very little fat. I don’t pay for a gym or anything, I just watch what I eat and do basic home workouts. She has always been clear that she appreciates that, and wouldn’t like it if I chubbed up. She isn’t huge by any means, but bigger than she would like to be (and bigger than I would ideally like). But unless I basically say she’s perfect and I’d love her at any size, she tells me I’m being a horrible person. It’s not just the double standard that upsets me, it’s also the lack of self respect to recognise her hypocrisy and try to hold herself to the same standards she expects me to hold myself to. It particularly kills me that, having put on 30lb or so from when we first started dating, she got her weight way down for our wedding (and looked fantastic) “because you can’t look fat in all the pictures”, then immediately put it back on after we were hitched.
(3) Every single argument we ever have either ends with me admitting fault and apologising, or it doesn’t end. OK that’s an exaggeration, but it’s how it feels – certainly if it’s not absolutely bang to rights then I feel like the only way to get back to civilised life is to roll over and play dead. This is a relatively new thing, maybe the last three or four years. And it is seriously toxic! Sometimes I will literally cave on everything just to end the fight, but as soon as I’m on my own it all comes back up and I have a rant at the empty air, saying a bunch of hurtful things I didn’t say to her in person (though she probably said the equivalent to me).
Basically I am just quite sad at the turn our relationship has taken, and don’t know how to improve things. I have tried talking about these headline issues, and the smaller ones around them, but it immediately turns into a fight if I do, and the only way to end it is to concede that I’m “wrong”…
I love her, care for her, am faithful to her, and do my best to be a fully engaged and supportive partner in a marriage of two equals.
I just wish she could hear what I’m saying without flipping out, and that my wife could regain some of the characteristics she has gradually lost over the time we’ve been together. Of course we’ve both changed over that time, but where she’s pointed out changes in me I’ve tried to fix them; I don’t feel like she has tried to fix changes in herself, or even that she’s prepared to admit they have taken place at all.
Over to you, internet – cheer me up, please…!