Dear Dr. Yael,
Over Yom Tov I read an article in another publication entitled, “The Lonely Wife,” and I have to say that it described my husband to a “T.”
The writer wrote, “No, he will never make it into Forbes, but G-d bless him, he gets up every night for the baby and learns with the kids and loves them to pieces. Can you put a price tag on an exceptional father?”
My husband is an exceptional father, and a very caring husband. However, he barely makes a living and I work very hard to financially maintain our young growing family. Baruch Hashem, I am a very successful businessperson. I know that parnassah is from Hashem and I believe I have made peace with my husband’s parnassah struggles.
I am writing to you about another area of our lives – the fact that he can’t seem to be there for me emotionally. My husband will do everything for me. He will serve me breakfast in bed, buy me anything I need for the house, do tons of carpool etc. Our children do well in school and have great social skills. Yet, I have no one to talk to and am so lonely. There is the great void in my life that can’t be filled by other relationships.
In the article I read there were suggestions about developing outside interests and friends, but I want to be friends with my husband. I don’t expect him to be everything to me, but, Dr. Respler, we barely talk. He makes everything into a joke and does not know how to be serious and emotionally connect. When I ask, he tells me that he loves me, but I want more. I want him to want to spend time with me and I want to want to spend time with him. Please help us.
A Lonely Wife
Dear Lonely Wife,
This issue is more common then most people realize, which, I realize, does not change your situation, but should give you some comfort.
As we all know, men and women are wired differently and some men do not have the ability to emotionally connect. Many men are problem solvers and believe that their action speaks louder than their words ever could.
I wonder if you have ever sat down with your husband and talked about this issue. It sounds simplistic, but sometimes we do better spelling out what we need. Many people simply don’t know what another person needs or wants unless specifically told and although it may feel uncomfortable to tell someone what you want, it’s important to do so.
Ask your husband when it would be a good time to talk. When that time comes, tell him that you would appreciate him not making any jokes. Tell him that you love him and appreciate all that he does for you and the children, that he is an incredible father and that you credit your kids being so amazing because of his love and dedication. Then tell him that you are lonely and are not sure, but think it could be because the two of you don’t have meaningful conversations anymore. Explain that you are both very busy, but you need to for him to make time for you and to really listen when you talk. Say that you know he makes jokes to lighten the mood and you love his personality, but there are times when you need for him to be serious.
Do not expect an overnight transformation. It is very possible you will need to have this conversation more than once. It would seem that your husband uses humor as a defense mechanism, possibly stemming from you being the major breadwinner. For many men, the idea that their wives are the financial mainstay of the home is hard to accept, and your husband may feel inadequate – which will have an effect on your relationship with him.
I know this is not the answer you were hoping for. However, I also want you to focus on what your husband does for you and see if there can be another way to fill this void.
In either case, I wish you much hatzlacha and hope you will let us know if anything changes.