If you are a woman and you just read the title of this post, you either thought, “What a shame. I didn’t know Jackie got remarried.” or “Did Jackie write this post about me, since my husband has no friends or hobbies?” I didn’t get remarried. Here’s the deal. I wrote this because I hear so often from men and women who say their spouse is antisocial.
First, to the antisocial spouse (or person whose wife is saying “My husband has no friends or hobbies,” you might not think this is a big problem. You might think, “I’m a good husband and father, I don’t cheat, I don’t get drunk, I’m not mean or abusive, and I bring home a paycheck. I’m a good person! Why does my wife nag me constantly to go out with other couples and to parties?”
Sorry. Having an antisocial spouse is a major problem and often leads to separation and divorce. I’m not saying it is warranted for someone to dump their spouse because he doesn’t want to go out on Saturday nights with other couples every weekend. I’m just stating the facts that this dynamic causes big problems and a lot of resentment in a relationship.
Let me start my advice by speculating on what is going through the antisocial person’s mind: ‘I have all these kids around me and I love them, but it is constant chaos. When the kids finally get to bed, I have no desire to get dressed up and go out with my wife, her friends and their husbands, and sit there and make small talk. I just want to veg out in front of the TV and have peace and quiet. I don’t want to go to a couple’s party and make polite conversation. I do that at work 5 days a week.’
Now let me tell you what is going through your wife’s mind: ‘I still want to date my husband. I want to see how hot he looks dressed up and I want to be at parties as a couple. I want to have fun together without the kids. I want to come home late at night, pay the babysitter and have great sex. I want it to be like it was when we were a childless couple, with the benefit of having the kids in the morning.’
Here is what I sometimes see happen to couples with this disconnect. After months (years sometimes), the social one is tired of begging his or her antisocial spouse to go out, so she starts going out to the parties by herself. She also starts going out with girlfriends. Eventually, she is at a bar and meets a man and starts having an affair. Before you know it: separation followed by divorce. I’m probably scaring people right now. Not everyone with an antisocial spouse ends up cheating and leaving.
Here’s the good news. In many cases, it’s fixable. Here is how.
In every marriage or relationship, there are trade-offs. Things we tell ourselves we will do to make the other person happy. Things we will put up with because we love so much other stuff about that person. Things we do because we love the person so much that we want to make him or her happy, and if that means giving of ourselves, we just do it. Because that’s what you do for someone you love and to whom you are committed.
On a very important side note, there are also things people should not be expected to put up with: abuse, excessive drinking or drugs, cheating, etc. Just want to get that out of the way.
So back to the advice. Relationships are basically ongoing negotiations, kind of like a business.
So, if your wife wants to go out with you one night every week or weekend, do it for HER. By doing so, you are making a conscious choice that you want your relationship to be healthy and to thrive. Now, here is the second part to that advice: try to have fun. Try to enjoy it. Somehow. Don’t go out with her and then resent her and be mean. Let go and just enjoy.
I do realize that it isn’t this simple, and that people who are antisocial might be uncomfortable, and might feel awkward and hence start getting anxiety if they know they are going out to a social event. I completely understand, and would highly recommend talk therapy, meditation, and other relaxation techniques to try to overcome some of the anxiety and fearof being social.
Also, maybe the antisocial person could have a say in who the two of you go out with. Maybe start by surrounding him or her with people they feel comfortable with. Let them choose the double date. Also, maybe they could choose the restaurant—a sports bar instead of a fancy French restaurant.
And maybe the person who is antisocial could tell his or her spouse what they want. Maybe after a couples dinner, the next day, the couple can binge watch something on Netflix or spend the day at the beach, just the two fo them. Remember, both people should be givers in the relationship.
A great piece of advice I’ve heard is, ASK for what you want.Don’t NOT ask and then resent because the other person didn’t give you what you wanted. If you don’t come out and ask, the person can’t read your mind.
If your situation has gotten really hopeless, in other words you don’t know what to do about your antisocial spouse, say these words to him:
“Right now, I really, really care about us and the survival of our relationship. I want us to be happy. Do you care? Because you are not giving me signs that you care. I don’t want to stop caring. I’m begging you to help me save us. Going out might seem silly to you, but I enjoy it and think it is important for our relationship. Please work with me. Tell me what you want from me and I will do it. I love you. DON’T let me stop caring.”
Don’t forget to have empathy for your spouse, and remember that the person isn’t behaving this way to hurt you. If he or she won’t change, it isn’t because they don’t want to change, maybe they are just too scared or don’t know how to change. Therapy can be very helpful for these kinds of situations.
When someone feels like ‘my husband has no friends or hobbies,’ it is very sad for both people. Feeling empathy for each other’s opinions, trying to give to one another, and being loyal to making the relationship work are the keys to staying together.
Like this post? Check out, “Loneliness: It Might Be The Worst Pain Someone Can Feel”