He loves the charming qualities you possess that remind him of his mom—like your superhero parenting skills and incredible work ethic—but he doesn’t want (or need) two mothers.
Surprise! Staying committed to one woman for the rest of their lives isn’t husbands’ biggest concern. They did freely choose to get married, after all. But that doesn’t mean your man is fear-free about marriage. Issues like putting him second in your life and bashing him with your friends may scare him. “Husbands’ fears are rooted primarily in rejection and self-consciousness,” says licensed marriage therapist Carin Goldstein, creator of BetheSmartWife.com. Read on for eight common fears husbands have about marriage, plus expert advice on how to ease them.
He’ll be on the back burner.
With kids, jobs and more vying for your attention, it’s easy for a husband to feel like he’s second best. “As marriages progress, men often feel that all they’re good for is a paycheck,” says Julie Orlov, psychotherapist, speaker and author of The Pathway to Love. To remind your husband that he’s still important to you, Orlov suggests carving out 30 minutes of one-on-one time each day with no talk of kids, in-laws or money.
You’ll turn into your (or his!) mother.
He loves the charming qualities you possess that remind him of his mom—like your superhero parenting skills and incredible work ethic—but he doesn’t want (or need) two mothers. Likewise, there are probably a few things about your mother that get on his nerves. And many husbands worry their wives will inherit those characteristics, says Karen Sherman, PhD, author of Marriage Magic! Find It, Keep It and Make It Last. She suggests acknowledging the situation with something like, “I know my mother annoys you sometimes. Let me know if you notice me doing those same things.” It’s a simple way to allay this fear.
You’ll talk badly about him with your friends.
Mike of St. Louis, MO, felt that his wife Jessica was using her girlfriends as a sounding board when the couple was going through a rough patch in their marriage. “While I’m all for my wife having a shoulder to lean on when we’re fighting, I hate thinking she’s having a husband bashing-session with her buddies.” Our pals are our emotional support system, but running to them after every marital argument usually means you’re looking for them to side with you. “The problem with that is it reinforces what a ‘bad’ guy your husband is,” says Orlov. Instead, take the issue up with your spouse, recommends Orlov. You’ll learn more about each other and boost your bond.
You’ll use the bathroom with the door open.
Sounds silly, but this is a real concern for many men. Why? Without boundaries, he may start feeling like you and him are the same person, explains Goldstein. Nate from New York City says that he and his wife have made an effort to keep trips to the bathroom separate throughout their relationship. “You already live together—no one longs to be invited in while you grace the porcelain throne.” As Goldstein points out, “Closing the bathroom door can help you still feel like two separate people.” And it’s worth the work to keep the allure, she adds.
The sex will stop.
“How do you get a woman to stop having sex? Marry her,” jokes Dr. Sherman. Although marriage offers security, trust and a deep connection, the downside is it can make you lazy. Keith from Oklahoma City, OK, assumed sex would end because “I couldn’t imagine my parents or grandparents doing it,” he says. But he learned after a decade of marriage there’s no reason not to make love. “If you’re truly committed to making each other happy, sex is how you reward your spouse for putting in effort,” he says. But what if you’re exhausted? Dr. Sherman suggests getting your husband’s help with chores by asking him to pitch in when you need him and offering positive reinforcement (hugs, kisses and gratitude) when he helps. Or try being direct with him: “If you give me a hand, we’ll have more time for sex,” suggests Dr. Sherman.
You won’t have things in common anymore.
Chances are, you shared an interest that brought you together, and he doesn’t want you to give up that part of yourself. Orlov references an old saying: “Women marry men in hopes they’ll change, while men marry women in hopes they won’t change.” Knowing this, ask yourself what may be different about yourself since you got married. If you once loved running, why don’t you do it anymore? Because other obligations in your life are keeping you from it? Because it’s hard to keep up with your partner? Then, remember how much you enjoy your shared interests and push past resistance to do it again every once in a while, advises Orlov. The benefit of reconnecting with your husband outweighs the time and effort it’ll take to make it happen.
You’ll try to change him.
Just as he fears losing the bond that first brought you together, he doesn’t want you to change who he is now. “What you see is what you get” is a line that Dr. Sheman often uses with her clients. She explains that when you first date each other, you put your best foot forward, and when you relax, every trait comes out more. “A lot of women feel that they can change a man, and men rightfully resent that.” But there are issues, like smoking, drinking and relying too much on his mother (which is all too common!), that warrant addressing. When suggesting changes, “come at him gently and lovingly,” recommends Dr. Sherman. “If you go after him with what you don’t like, it’s sure to backfire.” And don’t hesitate to seek professional help for those larger problems.
Alone time will be non-existent.
Whether it’s to read the paper or watch the game with the guys, he’s afraid he’ll never have a second by himself as your marriage continues on. “It behooves both spouses to enjoy time on their own,” says Goldstein. “If he has a chance to reboot, he’ll be a better husband, so it’s a win-win for both partners.” Sure, you may resent him when he’s playing golf instead of helping you with the kids, but it only benefits your marriage when he comes home rested and relaxed. Goldstein says, “You’re only as good to the people around you as you are to yourself.” So be sure to do what you love on your own or with your friends, too.
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