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Relationships, especially long-term marriages, can be tricky to navigate sometimes.
There will always be ups and downs, ebbs and flows.
After all, a relationship consists of two people who are constantly shifting as we grow, and learn, and try to figure stuff out – both as individuals, and as part of a couple.
When there seem to be more downs than ups, however, and you’re dealing with constant irritability and outbursts toward you, you might feel really lost as to how to get things back on track.
You might even think that your husband or wife absolutely hates you.
Here are some questions to help you figure out what to do.
Why do you think they hate you?
First and foremost: what kind of behavior are they displaying to make you think that they’re feeling hatred toward you?
Have they said as much? Have they told you to your face that they hate you?
Have they made comments like they wish they had never met you?
Or is it their general behavior that’s making you feel like they can’t stand you?
There are a number of different behaviors that can indicate that someone doesn’t think too highly of us at any given moment. These can include:
– The silent treatment.
– Curt, sniping responses to everything you say.
– Passive-aggressive behavior (such as triggering you with things you dislike).
– Insults, constant criticism, and dirty looks.
– Staying away from home as much as possible (late nights at work, out with their friends, etc.).
– Outright hostility and anger.
Do any of these seem familiar? If so, there could be a number of different reasons why they’re being displayed.
Did something happen between you that hurt or upset them deeply?
Let’s face it: we all hurt other people sometimes, whether intentionally or accidentally. (Hopefully more the latter than the former.)
We are but human, beautifully flawed as we are, and we mess up. Quite badly at times, even.
When and if we hurt our loved ones, they usually end up forgiving us because they recognize that what happened was a temporary glitch.
They take the time to understand what it was we were going through at the time, and try not to take the hiccup personally.
But what happens when they forgive us (or believe that they have forgiven us), but the hurt lingers?
Sometimes, when a person gets badly hurt by a partner, it’s difficult to really let go of that pain and move forward together.
This can be something as intense as an affair or other betrayal, or something as seemingly insignificant as an offhand comment about their appearance.
If and when this lingering upset isn’t expressed, it can fester and grow.
Instead of being able to let it go and get past it, they might subconsciously add fuel to the fire.
They’ll think of all the other things you’ve said and done over the years, and reinterpret innocent behaviors as related to the thing that hurt them.
Have you talked about it?
This cannot be repeated often enough: talking about the situation you find yourself in is incredibly important.
After all, if you don’t discuss what’s going on, how can you find a solution?
People who prefer to avoid conflict often feel more comfortable just maintaining the status quo in an attempt to “keep the peace.”
But in situations like this, things really aren’t very peaceful, are they?
Outbursts, slammed doors, cutting remarks… all of these things can make you and other family members feel like they’re walking on eggshells, which isn’t a comfortable place to be.
Sadly, a lot of people allow this kind of behavior to continue unchecked for long periods of time because discussing potentially emotional or difficult subjects is scary.
There’s a risk that they’ll discover that their fears weren’t unfounded: that their partner does dislike them; that they do want a divorce, etc.
But knowing is so much better than the anxiety of being constantly braced for unkindness or neglect, isn’t it?
Could they be dealing with personal difficulties?
In addition to closing off because they’ve been hurt, a lot of people withdraw into themselves when they’re processing difficult experiences.
This might make them seem “emotionally unavailable” to the people around them, especially if this person is normally quite open and affectionate.
They may also have emotional outbursts that seem to come out of nowhere.
These can be difficult to contend with, as people tend to get defensive when others lash out at them.
This is understandable, but it’s also important to try to be patient with whatever it is your spouse may be going through.
Take some time to consider whether this could be the case with your partner.
Are they dealing with issues at work?
Or a sudden health concern?
What about possible tensions with extended family members?
Have they experienced a loss of some kind?
Try to set your own emotions on hold for a moment, and pull back to look at the bigger picture.
Humans are naturally wired to think that we are the center of all things, so it’s difficult to consider that a person’s behavior might have nothing to do with us.
In fact, your partner might be going through something really intense, but they’re unable/unwilling to discuss them with you right now.
For example, I once knew a woman whose husband was getting increasingly verbally abusive toward her. He was constantly irritable and just wanted to be alone, and she couldn’t understand why.
It took a family intervention for him to admit that he loved her dearly, but desperately needed to transition gender in order to live a life that was true to himself.
It was a difficult situation for all involved, but illustrates how some people can behave when they’re dealing with personal turmoil.
Taking some time to look at all the possible factors involved can give you greater insight about what’s going on with your beloved.
Then try to talk about it. Once again, we’re reiterating that communication is incredibly important.
That said, if your spouse is uncomfortable opening up to you, they may be open to talking with a therapist or counselor.
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Are they just not showing affection?
If your partner has withdrawn from physical affection, but is otherwise kind and decent toward you, then they may be struggling with the sexual aspect of your relationship.
If you’ve been together for quite a long time, their feelings toward you may have shifted from romantic to platonic.
This doesn’t mean that they love you any less, but rather they love you in a different way than they did when you two first got together.
Love comes in many forms, and the Eros that you experienced early in your partnership may have evolved to Pragma.
Most people like to think that the first bloom of romance that they felt when they first fell in love will last forever, but that’s rarely the case.
All things evolve and change, but the expectation to keep things romantic and sexual can put a huge amount of pressure on a person (or couple).
Once again, the answer to this is open, loving communication. Sure, it may hurt your ego if you find out that your partner isn’t interested in sexual intimacy anymore, but for some people, that’s actually a relief.
This is particularly true once people reach middle age. For many, a comfortable companionship with someone they adore as a good friend is all they need.
Others may not be happy with that situation, and might opt for separation or an open relationship instead.
All relationships are complicated, but they get a lot less messy when you can speak openly and honestly (and gently) with everyone involved.
*Note: There’s another reason why male partners sometimes shy away from physical affection: sexual dysfunction.
It can be humiliating for a man to not be able to perform sexually. If he’s dealing with this kind of frustration, he may be unwilling to discuss it with you, and would just prefer to avoid the situation entirely.
It can be very difficult to address this one if he insists that he doesn’t want to talk about it. You two may end up even more alienated, and the relationship may fall apart as a result.
If he’s dead-set on not talking to you about things, you can try to recommend couples counselling, or individual therapy.
Just brace yourself for resistance, if not outright hostility.
Are they trying to push you away?
Sometimes, people lash out at their partner or mistreat them intentionally in the hope that they’ll break off the relationship.
It’s a passive-aggressive move in which they feel absolved of being the “bad guy” in ending the partnership.
Furthermore, it’s often used by people who are afraid of conflict, or are people-pleasers.
If your marriage/partnership hasn’t been great for a while, and your partner has started to snap at you and/or lash out at you on a regular basis, this could be the reason.
They might feel unhappy and/or feel trapped, and they feel that this is the only way to escape: by pushing you away and making you so uncomfortable and upset that you’ll end things and set them free.
That way, they’re not stuck being the jerk who asked for a divorce.
Thing is, the people who pull this kind of behavior rarely understand the long-reaching consequences of their actions, beyond their own inevitable “freedom.”
They don’t think about how these behaviors will affect you in the long-term, e.g. the damage that their actions and words may have on your self-esteem, or your ability to trust.
…or they don’t care.
Is there a way to “fix” things and make them act positively toward you again?
Well, considering that there are ten million reasons why your spouse might be distant or unkind to you, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution here.
Ultimately – and you probably don’t want to hear this – it ALL comes down to communication.
Ask them to let you know honestly if you said or did something to upset them, and if so, what you can do to make amends.
You can do your best to be kind, patient, loving, and caring, but if all you get back from them is distance and disinterest, that really isn’t a healthy, equal exchange.
Talking it out at least allows both of you to explain how you’re feeling, how you got there, and the next steps that can be taken.
Since we aren’t a completely telepathic species, it’s pretty much impossible to know what another person is thinking and/or feeling unless they tell us.
And vice versa. Some of the worst misunderstandings happen when both parties assume they know what the other person is thinking, and then get defensive and project emotions in all directions.
Stay present and focused, and talk things out – either on your own, or with a relationship counselor, if need be.
You may be pleasantly surprised to discover that there is indeed a clear path through this: you just need to work together, openly and honestly, to get there.
Alternatively, you may find out that your paths are diverging now, and that’s okay too. A relationship that ends isn’t a “failure” in any way; it’s just reached the end of that particular cycle.
If you’re both miserable and there’s no way to adjust things to make both of you happy again, then it might be best to start anew.
Remember: Abuse is never okay.
This shouldn’t need to be said, but abuse from your partner is never acceptable, nor should it be tolerated.
If your spouse is being verbally, emotionally, mentally, or physically abusive toward you, please seek help.
Letting them know that this behavior needs to stop is a first step, but if it doesn’t stop, or if it escalates, get out. You may even need professional help to end it.
Call the police if necessary, get yourself a great therapist, and a lawyer (if needed) to help you move forward with plans that can keep you safe.
No one goes into a marriage or partnership with the goal of splitting up, but sometimes it’s the best option for all concerned.
Yes, people grow apart and change, and not always in the same direction, but that’s never an excuse for cruelty.
Sometimes, walking away is the best course of action, and there’s absolutely no shame in that.
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