I have been listening to your radio program (via podcast) for about a year now and I have to say I appreciate how you defend married men and explain our point of view in a clear and convincing way to women. I have also been reading your book, The Proper Care & Feeding of Husbands, which is just more confirmation for me about how my wife has neglected me for the past 8 years.
We got married 10 years ago. About two years later, we had the first of 2 babies and I noticed an immediate change in my wife. She claimed she had post-partum depression, which was probably true, but our relationship was never the same. Over the next few years, I sensed so much anger from her, but she wouldn't talk about it. She would often snap at me, criticize the pettiest things and be cold emotionally. Our sex life dwindled to next to nothing; she didn't want to talk and wouldn't make any effort to make me feel like I mattered to her. I was made to feel like a jerk if I asked for anything - requests for time or a date were clearly an imposition. In the meantime, I showered her with love, affection, special surprises and gifts; often told her how beautiful I thought she was. During these years, she started counseling (going on 8 years now), even resisted spending time with our kids and seemed to resent me for having the interest and skills to be an at-home dad. I have now been an at-home dad for 7 years and nothing has given me more satisfaction in my life, however my wife's opinion has been I should want to do more with my life rather than expressing respect and appreciation for taking care of our family.
We started some marital counseling about 3 years ago. It took weeks for her agree to spend just 10 minutes a day talking with me, but it seemed to be done out of obligation, not a desire to connect. Over time, she made it clear my (normal marital) expectations of her for time, intimacy, sex, etc. were unreasonable and she could not and would not try to meet them. We eventually gave up on counseling and agreed to just co-parent as long as I would have no marital expectations at all. Things actually improved for awhile, but then I started to have expectations again and that was the beginning of the end.
I have only wanted to love my wife and have her admire me for who I am. What I have received in return is anger and resentment. I am a kind, thoughtful person. I know I am not a perfect person and admit to my faults, but at least I have tried very hard to connect with her and to make her a priority in my life. She has routinely accused me of being insensitive and selfish which is ironic because that's how I see her. She has only tried to make me feel like I'm an obligation, my needs are too much for her and her unhappiness is my fault. I bought into some of this for awhile, but when I realized she was wrong and her comments about me were untrue, I started standing up for myself and my kids more. That's when her response was a request for a divorce.
This woman, who I had planned to spend the rest of my life with and once would have laid down my life for, has decided being a wife is too much of an obligation. I never abused her, rarely raised my voice to her and always tried to make our relationship a priority, but after we had kids, she lost interest and decided I wasn't worth it anymore. She is so angry with my "behavior" (wanting a mutually loving relationship) that she can no longer be with me. I am so sad my two beautiful girls have to come from a broken family now because my soon-to-be ex-wife can't figure out how to be a wife and mother at the same time. Somewhere, she got it in her head men don't have to be treated with dignity and respect and we are disposable. I suppose it comes from her abusive childhood, but I wish she could accept that, take responsibility for what she's doing now, and allow herself to be happy.
Dr. Laura, thank you for helping me understand that what I have been wanting and needing over the last 8 years is normal and I shouldn't feel guilty for wanting a wife who pays attention to me, appreciates me and is proud to be married to me. I guess pushing a baby out of a vagina is reason enough for many women to decide their man doesn't matter anymore. I plan to take care of my kids, not remarry until they are grown and support my kids' relationship with their mother, but I am deeply saddened it has come to this. Please keep up your great work in support of men like me and educating women on what simple creatures we really are. Just admire us, appreciate us and give us affection and we are like putty in your hands - it really is that simple... or that difficult for some apparently...