Marriage and the Husband-Wife Relationship/Needing Advice


I'll start with a little about us by saying my husband and I have been together for  almost 10 years. We met when he was 22 and I was 20.  Had a great connection, and actually moved in together 3 months after our 1st date. He had a daughter from a previous relationship who I have legally adopted and been actively in her life since she was 2.  
    We have had our shares of ups and downs but always manage to get through them, but lately it seems like everything is to much and we don't connect anymore.  We just fight...or I should say I complain, he apologizes, and nothing changes. We just keep repeating the cycle.  We've had a lot of outside influence over the last year.  My family is practically falling apart.  My sister in law had a stroke, my brother is having heart problems, my mom just found out she had cancer a few months ago and is in chemo, my grandpa is getting sicker and sicker. My aunt who is in her 50's is taking care of everyone best she can by herself. We live about 4 hours from my family, and so we drive down on weekends to help out usually staying with my grandpa (who can't be home alone) while my aunt goes to work.  But we also usually end up doing things that they can't since we are the youngest.  Like yard work, running errands, my husband usually gets roped into fixing things that need fixed because he knows how.  So this means literally no break for us.  Mon-Fri is busy, and then weekends are busy, then back and forth.  We discussed moving but his job is contingent on his location. So here we stay.  I could go by myself but then I would only see him on weekends.   
Finical issues have come up.  We need a lot of repairs to our home. Which meant me going back to work (previously I stayed home and took care of the house etc.  and did some side jobs for extra money (photography)).  We live in a small town with limited jobs (my current one is only min wage) without a degree so I've also gone back to school to finish my education degree.  This way I can work something with a consistent paycheck and hours that fit with kids. But now I do full time school and full time work.   He was promoted to another company.  Which started out good. It was with a company he liked, doing something he loved, but it involved a lot of travel which leaves me and our daughter home alone much of time. He has a lot of pressure at work right now too because the company is not meeting its sales quotas, and they are backed up on service calls. (He does service more than sales, but they "can" get commission).  I can tell he is overwhelmed at work, but I am also overwhelmed at home.   
        Our latest fight was about him working more, when I told him he should go ahead and work weekends (which all the techs get weekends off always, so this would be him choosing to go in, not mandatory) to get caught up on work so they stop getting on him.  Which he replied he's only behind because I was mad he wasn't home more and helping out at home.  The issue is he doesn't seem to understand why I am mad.  Even when I use examples.  I understand he has to leave for work, but there are times that he has service jobs near home, yet he waits till 2-3 in the afternoon then leaves.  Meaning when I'm home and his daughter is home he is gone.  But he spent all morning "at home" by himself.  I've used that exact example and he always has an excuse (he was waiting on parts to come in, he had office work (which I've come home on lunch and found him sleeping not working....) and then just apologizes and says he's trying, but nothing gets better.  I'm not mad that he is gone for a week because the service call is in another state. That I understand.  Its when he is home, and the service call is right down the street.  I just want him to go in a normal 8-5 so that he is home with us.  Not "home" as in present at the house.  
     Then recently I found out he started smoking, and had been hiding it from me for almost 3 months.  We talked about it and he said its because he didn't want me to be disappointed and to get on him about it. I found out this is why he was leaving to run to the store for milk and taking an hour to get back because he was sitting in his car smoking and playing on his phone while I'm at home waiting, that way I wouldn't know he was smoking.  Or he says he's going to do one thing and then I find out now was really going to the smoke shop to BS with the people who work there. While its not cheating, I just feel really hurt, and distrustful.  And we were already having issues.
     I try to talk to him about it, but he just looks more and more beat down when we do.  Like I'm just another chore, pointing out more things he isn't doing right in life.  He doesn't ever discuss with me though, he just repeats I'm sorry and I'm trying...and then it gets left at that, and I stay mad and he stays distant and gone.  He's told me he is feeling like crap lately (like depressed) but its been almost of year of this.  I don't want to make him feel worse but I can't do everything by myself.
      I don't know what to do.  I feel stuck, and alone, and overworked, and overwhelmed but I can't stop because we have responsibilities.  But if we keep like we are I don't know if we will even like each other anymore. He says he loves me with all his heart and that he's doing his best to make me happy.  (but this is is how it always goes lately, me=mad he=trying but it is what it is). But if we stay like this we will just become two people living under the same roof paying the same bills, roommates not married.

Hi Christina,
If you read over what you have written, one thing will become clear to you, as it has to me - you putting pressure on him and trying to 'solve' the problems with him and your situation is not helping. In fact, it is only making things worse.
What you want is your husband to start responding positively to you and taking responsibility, but you have to allow him to do that. Let's be honest, would you want to be around someone who is always angry, critical, putting pressure on and making you feel worse? The normal reaction of a person in that situation is to make excuses, shut down and start to seek comfort elsewhere (including taking up habits such as smoking), and even feel depressed.
It may seem counterintuitive, but you need to break the pattern of negativity before you wil make any positive progress. So what I suggest is that you stop commenting on what he is doing, stop criticising, stop trying to solve problems, stop even talking about your problems. Just take the pressure off completely and imagine yourself as the loving, warm, no pressure person he would look forward to at the end of the day.
Try this for a while and see what happens.
I understand the pressure you feel and I also don't want you to think I am blaming you as what you have been doing is totally natural. But as you have seen this doesn't work - so try the opposite!
When you and your husband feel a lot better about each other, then and only then will you both develop the will to work together on resolving things.
I hope this helps.
All the best,

Marriage and the Husband-Wife Relationship

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Liam Naden


I specialise in helping couples save their marriage and rebuild it after major hurts such as an affair. Creating intimacy, removing hurt, dealing with sexual and communication problems. I have two relationship-saver programs and a free podcast which are available from my website and a free report, "The Five Keys to Saving Your Marriage Now" at


Relationship coach with own relationship coaching business. Author of several books on marriage and intimacy. I offer two relationship saving programs: "Stop Your Divorce" and "Save Your Marriage" which have helped many couples save their marriage and rebuild their love and intimacy.

Publications Amazon Kindle: Author of the ""Growing in Love for Life" series of ebooks for saving and strengthening marriage.

Master of Arts (First Class Honors)

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