My relationship has gone from, "Oh, my God Iím the luckiest girl in the world" to, "Why doesnít he show me affection anymore?"! To get a kiss out of him is a miracle and hugs turn into him trying to get out of it by tickling me or doing something stupid; and his excuse is, "I donít like doing it in front of people, Iím tired or the Simpsonís are on!" To be totally honest, I feel neglected, cheated, used and abused. I know Iím also suffering from depression and, from it, I have gained 18 pounds in the last four months! What is going on?
Itís customary for all relationships to go through a "honeymoon phase" initially, and most times people long to go back there since it is, in fact, a very special time. What makes it so special is that when you first meet a person and you are each interested in one another, you give all your interest and attention to this person. Itís often as if nothing else is more important. You make sure thereís time for each other, youíre mindful of being appreciative and complimentary and romance fills the air.
Unfortunately, for most couples it does just seem to be a phase. Life gets in the way. (For your information as well as the other readers, couples can recapture aspects of this phase by recreating the behaviors that they did during this time.) The trade off is that there is a stronger commitment between the two of you, as well as a greater comfort level. A "private" language or code develops in the relationship; special rituals develop between the two of you.
Any time there is stress itís going to impact a relationship. And it certainly appears that your relationship has been struggling with many difficult circumstances. Often, men react to stress by needing space or withdrawing. This, of course, would lead to you feeling neglected.
It is unclear as to whether your depression has resulted because of all that is going on or if it is yet another situation which must be dealt with in your partnership. And though nobody likes to be depressed or does so purposely, it does have a negative impact on all those around the person.
You also say that youíve gained weight. Again, I cannot determine if this is because youíre so unhappy or due to "letting yourself go" as you became more comfortable with your mate. Though we would like to think that we are loved for who we are, physical attraction does have a strong impact on how our mates react to us. It may very well be that your partner is negatively responding to your present physical appearance.
Clearly, it is difficult to determine exactly what the problem is, though as you present it there is a change from how things once were. That deems it requiring attention. You are going to need to talk to him. As I so often remind people when I work with them or write this column, make sure that you donít approach him in a harsh way. Rather, remind him that you love him, but that you are concerned with recent behavior. You can suggest that it might be the result of all the stress but that it might also be something in the relationship that needs to be addressed.
Remember that most men arenít real good at talking or expressing feelings. So keep it short and though it may be difficult, stay open to what he says rather than getting defensive. If itís a positive experience, youíll get a lot more mileage out of it.
Karen Sherman, Ph.D., (www.drkarensherman.com) is a practicing psychologist in relationships and lifestyle issues for over 20 years. She offers teleseminars and is the author of "Mindfulness and the Art of Choice: Transform Your Life" and co-author of "Marriage Magic! Find It, Keep It, and Make it Last."