Heartbreak

Top 4 Complaints I Hear From Men In Couples Counseling

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As a couples counselor, I hear lots of complaints from both men and women about their relationships.

Obviously, every relationship is different, but over time, I have seen certain themes emerge in couples' work.

Whether your relationship is going well and you’re curious about potential pitfalls, or your relationship is going poorly and you’re looking to see whether your problems are shared by others, this is a good post to share and discuss with your significant other.

Here are the top 4 complaints I hear from men in couples counseling: 

1. “She doesn’t seem interested in me anymore.” 

This can usually be divided into two categories, although they are really part of the same umbrella construct (which many women don’t realize). The areas are basically sex and everything else. Many men say that their wives no longer seem attracted to them or desire them at all, like in this post.

But probably even more men in couples counseling are upset that their wives no longer seem interested in them at all. They feel that their wives tune out their anecdotes about work, are uninterested in their opinion about parenting, and could care less about their interests outside of work, like hobbies. 

Often, they say that their wives barely look up when they come home and are glued to their phones after the kids go to bed. Some men feel like their wives wouldn’t care if they had an affair as long as they still met their childcare, housework, and financial obligations.

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2. “She is too anxious about/focused on the kids.” 

As I discuss here, it can be very difficult to cope with a partner’s child-related anxiety.

Approximately half the time, the men who complain about their wives’ hyperfocus on the kids or anxiety about them end up describing wives who probably suffer from clinical levels of anxiety. Half the time, though, they are just more laid-back men with Type-A wives who did not experience anything in their own upbringing that resembles the amount of attention that their wives pay to their kids, for better or for worse. (You can imagine then how well these wives get along with their husbands’ mothers.)

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3. “There isn’t any fun, we are constantly rushing and it always feels like a crisis.” 

This is the predicament I describe in my post 7 Reasons Why Your Wife Acts So Stressed Out All The Time.

In today’s culture, women feel a tremendous amount of pressure to do everything “right,” including parenting, homemaking, succeeding at a job outside the home or being a perfect SAHM, being in good shape, eating “right,” and so forth. Particularly in women already predisposed to anxiety, this can yield a home atmosphere that feels like boot camp or an operating room.

If you add in a resentful husband that tries to play devil’s advocate or be the “voice of reason,” you end up with cataclysmic results. Irrespective of the origin or explanation of this dynamic, men who have this complaint end up retreating from the home either physically or mentally, because they feel so stressed by the environment.

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4. “She has let herself go.” 

This isn’t one that I usually hear voiced aloud in couples counseling, but it is often below the surface of other complaints. (And if you want to see it verbalized, read the comments below this post.)

Many men, particularly those who are focused on fitness and health themselves, feel sad and disappointed when a woman that they felt shared their focus has, in their mind, turned into someone who could care less.

In reality, this complaint is often rooted in the first one: that the man is sad that the woman doesn’t seem to care about his opinion about her looks as she once did, and that he feels her body changes signify the end of her desire for him or prioritization of her sex life.

This issue, if it is not explored, can plant seeds that end up destroying the marriage long term. This is because when a woman is in the few years post-last-baby, she often literally could not care less about her weight or fitness level, because she feels that she is in survival mode, and this is normal and necessitates empathy in the husband, as I exhort here.

However, when the children reach elementary school age, many women who previously valued fitness will get back into it.

Unfortunately, if they remember that their husbands were unsupportive or openly critical during the period that they were solely focused on young children, they may end up taking their reclaimed hot bodies out of the marriage. Alternately, if a woman does not end up ever caring about fitness again and her husband prioritizes it greatly, this disparity can be a massive source of incompatibility long term, and that doesn’t mean that the husband is “shallow” any more than it would be shallow for any person to be upset by a partner not sharing a key interest/philosophy anymore.

If any of these complaints have been voiced by your or your spouse, and you are not in couples counseling, this may be the time to start.

These sorts of issues do not tend to resolve themselves without both partners opening themselves up to a hard inward look and owning their contribution to the problem. And until we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist Who Says, Don’t Wait Until A Crisis Point To Resolve Issues In Your Relationship.

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Dr. Samantha Rodman Whiten, aka Dr. Psych Mom, is a clinical psychologist in private practice and the founder of DrPsychMom. She works with adults and couples in her group practice Best Life Behavioral Health.

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This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.