February 27, 2024
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Newly Married and Disillusioned: Why Does My Husband Not Spend Time With Me?

Dear Dr. Chani,

As a newlywed, I have found that married life is very different from what I had expected. Over the past six months of marriage, I have become very sad and frustrated. I did not expect to feel this disappointed and lonely. I am wondering what to do to improve my marriage.

When I was dating, I imagined that once I was married I would enthusiastically settle into a newly married life. Since my husband was finishing up his education and I work as a teacher, I understood that we would both be busy during the week and we would not necessarily have a lot of time to spend together. Yet, I anticipated that we would get to talk in the evenings and especially over Shabbat. We used to talk for hours on the phone when we were dating so I figured that we would continue to have relaxing and personal conversations.

Yet, once our lives resumed to normal after our wedding, we barely had time to spend together. When there is free time, my husband usually hangs out with his friends. Every Thursday night, “the guys” go out to eat until past midnight, and on Shabbat night they get together to talk and drink. My husband tends to sleep late on Shabbat morning and eventually he goes to shul where he has a few more l’chaims. By the time we finish our lunch, he is exhausted so he falls asleep again.

I knew that my husband had great friends and that he enjoyed hanging out with them occasionally, but I did not realize that it would become a major aspect of our weekly lives. On Thursday nights and Shabbat evenings, I am stuck at home alone for hours at a time. I feel so neglected and forgotten about. I would have thought that spending time with me would be more important to him than going out with his friends.

In the beginning, I thought that I was being a “good wife” by smiling along and encouraging him to keep up with his social life. But eventually, I realized that it was too much for me. The issue intensified even more after I became pregnant and was not always feeling well. I spoke to my husband about it and asked him to stay home with me more often. He said he would try but that it is very important to him to maintain his friendships since “the guys” are like family to him.

It seems pathetic to me to have to beg my husband to spend time with me. If he would rather be with his friends, there is no point in guilting him into staying home. I am frustrated because my parents’ marriage was never like this. My father worked long hours but he usually spent time with us in the evenings and especially on Shabbat and Sunday. Family time was very important to him.

Is this normal for newlyweds? Is it because we are young and my husband still has friends with a lot of time on their hands? Will he ever grow out of this stage? What should I expect?

Sincerely,
Daniella


Dear Daniella,

You entered your marriage assuming that your husband would carve out time from his busy schedule to spend time with you, just like he did when you were dating. Your expectations about sharing quality time with him make sense, especially based on the model you saw from your parents. The question is why there is a disconnect between you and your husband and how to resolve it.

When a couple gets married, each partner enters the marriage with his or her own vision of what each aspect of marriage will be like. This vision is created based on your past experiences, needs and expectations. It can be influenced by what you saw growing up in your parents’ home, what you noticed in other people’s homes, your education, as well as your exposure to depictions of marriage in literature and visual media.

When you wonder why you need to beg your husband to stay home with you instead of hanging out with his friends, it is helpful to keep in mind that your visions of marriage may be very different. Although you might believe that your approach is “the right thing to do,” what is true for you is not necessarily true for your husband.

It is important to have conversations about your visions so that you will understand where each other is coming from. A significant source for people’s outlook on marriage is their parents’ home. Therefore, you can find out a lot about each other’s perspectives by reflecting on your experiences growing up. Try asking questions like, “What was your father like as a husband and as a father? In what ways do you want to be the same and in what ways do you want to be different?” Similarly, you can ask, “What was your mother like as a wife and as a mother? In what ways do you want your wife to be the same and in what ways do you want it to be different?” The answers to these questions can give you a window into your husband’s beliefs and values.

Hearing your husband’s reflections can give you insight into what is important to him and what shapes his choices. Likewise, painting a vivid picture of your view of married life and describing the background of where you are coming from can make it easier for your husband to understand your needs.

Your husband may not realize the full extent of the hurt you have at this point. One of the messages it sounds like you are internalizing is when your husband leaves you to spend time with friends you think it’s because you are not as important to him as his friends are. This is compounded by his social drinking because his alcohol consumption renders him unable to function normally and socialize with you. Help your husband to understand what his actions mean to you and how they make you feel. It may take time for these conversations to sink in and take effect. You might find it helpful to start the discussion and revisit it from time to time.

In response to the questions you pose at the end of your letter, every married couple encounters differences in their needs and expectations that need to be understood and managed. It takes time to develop your understanding of each other and to work on the issues in your relationship. Communicating, especially giving and receiving feedback, are essential to strengthening your marriage. In many ways, marriage is like wine. At the newlywed stage, it is like sweet, bubbly wine — while exciting, it is not smooth. Yet by cultivating your marriage under the right conditions, it can develop into a deep and complex fine wine.

Wishing you much success,

Chani


Dr. Chani Maybruch is a social psychologist and relationship coach specializing in teaching emotional connection and communication skills for over two decades. She coaches individuals and couples and teaches online courses to help them create their ideal relationship. Get free relationship resources and contact her at www.chanimaybruch.com.

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