My common-law spouse and I have known each other for 14 years, together for six.
During the intense past months together, I've realized that his immaturity isn't going away. He's almost 50 and still doesn't understand things I consider basic, e.g., that joking is sometimes not appropriate (and more hurtful than funny). Or that sharing thoughts/feelings is a part of connecting. He also has really bad table manners!
He agreed to watch the show “Couples Therapy” with me and we're learning more about very grown-up ways to communicate. But I'm fairly certain that no change is coming, just more video games.
What I'm looking for is self-awareness and growth, in both of us, as we move through life together. What I'm finding is reluctance to change ("that's just how I am") and a partner I’m having trouble connecting with intimately. I’m not asking that he change as much as he thinks. Or am I?
Is it just a matter of accepting the old adage that women change and men don't?
If you hold onto the belief that women change and men don’t, you’ve already defeated your goals for his partnership “growth” by acting as the leader in this twosome.
You’ve described him as someone joking too much, doesn’t share thoughts/feelings and has bad table manners.
That puts you as the driver, him as the immature, uncouth dummy. How can you expect him to share and grow emotionally under the pressure of those putdowns?
I understand that the pandemic has made living together more pressured in many ways. But a focus on imperfections - especially after you’ve known him for 14 years - is a recipe for breaking up. Or is that what you’re seeking?
Meanwhile, examine your own precepts: “Joking” is not always just immaturity. It’s also a way some people find couple discussions an excuse not to keep being told what’s “wrong” with them.
Yet, he was open to watching “Couples’ Therapy,” from which you both learned more about communication. Did you encourage him and give him a chance to demonstrate that?
Also, was his “reluctance” about change a response to your insisting he adopt your mode of conversation, rather than a new way for both of you to share thoughts and emotions?
If he can’t express feelings in his own way, how can you two possibly share mutual intimacy?
Unless I’m misreading your whole approach, it reads like the current stress of the times plus your own dissatisfactions have stacked the deck against you staying in this relationship.
But, if this is your COVID-stress reaction to his imperfections (along with yours), trying to reach each other rather than teaching just him, can give you both another chance at making the relationship work.
I have an awkward situation. A friend just told me gossip that I hadn’t heard before and probably wouldn’t have due to what should be kept confidential.
But I feel terribly for the sister of the person involved. She’s a pretty good friend of mine and I’d normally love to show her my support.
But, since I’m not supposed to know the facts, and this is gossip that’ll likely spread and upset her, what should I do?
Do nothing, be natural. Do not start calling or connecting online with your friend more often than usual. Gossip that makes you “feel terrible” is obviously unpleasant. It’s up to her whether she wants to share it with anyone at this time, or not.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the daughters blaming their mother for her divorce (April 7):
“At 23, married four years, I had twins. I was too ill to care for them and decided on adoption by close relatives.
“They reconnected with us at 18, close only with my husband (their adopted father’s brother).
“We divorced after 29 years. Several years later one daughter reached out. I disclosed too much about my past plus her father's failings. He’d passed away two years earlier.
“She shared some of this with her twin (who’d written me off). Nasty texts, calls and messages from both have hurt me deeply.
“Now, I long for the days when the one daughter reached out to me for a walk. No trying to "fix" the unfixable. I should’ve asked a counsellor for the correct response.
“I can no longer enjoy time with her but never miss a moment to text or message my love when possible.”
Tip of the day:
Leadership in a relationship is meant to be shared, not one person’s teaching position.