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Prince Not So Charming

Erika wrote:

I write to you because I am out of ideas and I really don’t like to ask friends and parents for advice on this topic – they usually know only one side of the story and are biased.

So we have been together with my husband for more than 4 years, married for one. We met in St. Louis, then I moved to KC, then he was moved from work 3 times – Spain, Luxembourg, and Switzerland. We have spent a lot of time separated and we never lived together really. I have finally moved with him in Switzerland after the wedding. It’s been almost a year. We are learning French, I have found a good job, and we are planning on buying a house. All in all a pretty happy picture on the surface.

But inside my heart things are not going that well. I am very confused to a level where I don’t know what to do. He is handsome, smart, well mannered, but … but sometimes rude and or controlling of other people or me. When we met first he told me he loves my kind soul and that it makes him happy to be with me but with time I cannot find strength to be kind when he is not at all. He likes to aggressively bargain for everything when shopping and is sometimes rude to service people (makes me almost ashamed to be with him in these kinds of situations).

He also holds me responsible for all the household duties and expresses a clear dissatisfaction when things are not done on time (or on his time). He would not do anything in the house if not explicitly asked for. He finds that there are many things I don’t do right, and maybe it is true but I cannot be constantly hearing about them – I am starting to ignore him.

And then there is his love for me. It gets very confusing sometimes. He says he loves me the way I am but since the wedding he had “yelled” at me for not doing exercises regularly, for not shaving my legs too often, for not having my eye brows shaped the way he likes, for not cutting my hair the way he likes, for having cellulite and not doing anything to get rid of it ... We have tried to talk about that. I have told him he is rude when he talks about those things and I don’t like that. What he wants from me and what I want from him … the only thing he would say he wants me to change is to be more kind to him.

How? I think love and kindness grow stronger when returned with the same, not when returned with growling, criticism or the likes. And not that he is always like that … just when he is it breaks my heart. And what do I want – the usual – a loving man ready to caress me with words not just hands, partner not a commander.

I’ve been trying to be logical about us – we are maybe not the most compatible people but surely with love we should be able to solve those problems. And then again, is there enough love in the world to make him a kinder person? What can I do?

Dear Erika

It seems that niether of you married the person you thought you did!

He's a plain old fashioned unreconstructed man who believes he owns his wife, and has nothing but contempt for people he considers beneath him. Not a rare animal, by any means.

You are clearly a little on the romantic side; you married your dream hunk before reading the small print on the box, and you are still hoping that your dream will come true.

It won't.

He is what he is; if you'd had your eyes open before marriage, there may have been room for a little compromise, but not a lot. Now, he's the man you married.

I've seen women 'mould' a man into what they see as 'ideal'; I've even seen it last a few years. And I've seen women control a man. But I've never seen a happy marriage come out of either approach. The trick is to find the right man in the first place, and that means having your eyes wide open before the vows.

You are perfectly entitled to insist he treats you with respect; you may even get him to treat others with a little respect. But he is not the man you allowed yourself to see, and you need to either accept that, or consider more radical action.

Good Luck.

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