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I Wish for More Quality Time with My Husband

Questioner

J

Reply Date

Sep 21, 2017

Question

Dear counselor. I am a western revert who married ten years ago to a South-East Asian man. He grew up in the countryside, and I grew up in the city, but now we live in the city. We have a cluster of kids who are at school age, Alhamdulillah.Although we do enjoyable things together as a family, I wish to spend more quality time together with my husband - just him and me on a date night. But the problem is that because of where he comes from, the whole concept is quite alien and pointless to him. When we go out together, I feel the way one might feel when walking his dog. He considers it a required task or that he is chaperoning me to a place as a favor. I asked him about this, but he said he didn't really enjoy spending time like that. He said it was because in his culture maybe for only two years feels the married couple romance, then they just leave it because by then kids arrive, and the love and attention fall to the kids instead. He said love was expressed enough to a spouse through the wife putting a plate of food on the table for her husband or the husband bringing home his income.I can kind of understand that it is a simple and hard life in the village, but many men in his culture get another wife when they feel like having a romance simply because they didn't think of their current wife as valid or willing recipient of that kind of attention. I haven’t denied my husband’s right to have a new wife, but I just feel sad in myself how to connect to something he doesn’t value that much.For me, he is everything in my life. I'm not prude, and I don't neglect him in that regard. I am always here for him, and I do not have an expiry date. I wish he knew I am right here waiting, but we don't seem to have anything in common besides our religion, our past, and our kids.Can you suggest any way to connect to this man in a meaningful way? If not for me, then I wish to show my sons and daughters a nice and healthy example of a relationship. I don't wish for gifts, flowers, or chocolates - only quality time. Am I expecting too much? Thank you.

Counselor

Answer


I Wish for More Quality Time with My Husband

Answer:

Wa ‘Alaykum As-Salam,

It sounds as if you are really seeking a type of emotional connection that might also be expressed during times of intimacy with your husband. Yes, it might be difficult to overcome a set idea of what a marriage looks like based on different cultures that two people grew up in; however, you might be able to achieve this over time if you are willing to be patient and persistent. Since your husband does not relate to the concept, he will not be able to participate in achieving this goal at first. He will have to experience what you are talking about. Thus, by identifying what you really want and need, you can be open to the process through which you acquire it.

With that said, my response will not be complete as I do not know enough about your situation to make comprehensive suggestions. However, I do have some ideas that you can reflect on and translate to your own situation.

I would like to mention that both men and women desire an emotional connection with a trusted “soul mate” with whom we feel safe to share our deep thoughts and dreams, and to whom we can explain who we really are. When we can have this with the spouse who we are married to, this is a great blessing. So, I imagine that your husband is no different from the rest of us. He may not be able to verbalize this desire, but it is likely there. He does not see how “date night” achieves this goal.

You are correct that quality time does bring people closer together and helps to create that space where two people can get to know each other on a deeper level. This one-on-one time is invaluable. So, in a way, we are talking about the art/science of seduction within the appropriate milieu of a marriage.

I don’t know your financial situation, and I don’t know how your husband would feel about getting a babysitter one day per week. You may or may not need one in order to accomplish this task of getting that quality 1:1 time. (I’m not sure how old your children are). Perhaps, you can swap child care with a friend who also wants to create some “safe space” with her husband. If you cannot get the child care, but you and your husband have time to stay up late with each other, this might also work. You might consider getting help with your chores one day per week so that you can feel rested and refreshed.

What am I talking about? Refreshed for what? Here is the clincher; your husband does not want to talk about quality time, and he doesn’t want to go anywhere (at least right now). But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t need a friend and that “safe space” to be with someone. If he is open to you having a free evening at home with no pressure on him to do anything, seize the opportunity. What will you do with that time? Well, first, you won’t have any expectation from him. He will be silently observing what you, the “crazy lady”, are doing and secretly wondering what is wrong with you, and why you are behaving in such a strange way. Don’t let that bother you the least. You are a confident woman who is just very happy to have this time.

If you get this time, don’t get upset if he “accidently” schedules a tune up for the car at 8:30 pm on your night. There are two things going on: first, he might just think the whole thing is weird and will need some time to get used to changes. Second, he may be afraid of actual intimacy. If he is from a culture where heart to heart, soul to soul connection are either non-existent or rarely talked about, he will feel uncomfortable. This “project” might take many months of your patients before you see progress. So, keep your time slot and be consistent.

Here is what you do with your time: make yourself feel pretty – for you! So what if no one sees it; you are a woman and you are feminine, and it’s nice to feel that way once in a while!  Plan activities which can work as a bridge between communication and connection. For example, your hubby is sitting in front of the TV with that “don’t bug me” look on his face, but you are baking cookies for the whole family and for no specific reason. Bring him a cookie. During the commercial, ask him open-ended questions (but be careful not to sound like a cop that is interrogating him. 🙂 ) Make a list for yourself of your hubby’s interests and issues and talk about them. Interests might include golf, the stock market, or pigeons, whereas issues might include stress at work, worries about mom, or finances. Now, your list will include open-ended questions related to your hubby’s interest, issues, and others such as, how did it go at the dentist today? You can gauge for yourself the degree of “safe” the questions are. When you get an opportunity, get your husband engaged using open-ended questions. Once he is talking, sit and listen. When he is done talking, give him a hub (and offer him a cookie if you have one.)

This is just the beginning. However, getting someone to change both a behavior and a way of thinking/being takes time. So, start out small and get him engaged. If possible, get him to laugh, too – that always feels good. Over time, he will see that he has a “safe space” with you consistently every week. The more he begins to share, the more the door will be open to explore other activities that you might be able to do with him. In addition, over time, you might be able to request that you accompany him when he goes to get the car fixed or does his errands. Perhaps, if you can get this far with him, you can suggest stopping for ice cream. The idea is baby steps. In other words, rather than making him feel like he has to find a way to be company to you, you can work your way into being a good companion for him. If you are able to manage this for a substantial amount of time, then over the years, your husband will come to appreciate you as his “rock” and “emotional safety net”. He will likely (hopefully) be more inclined to want to spend more fun time with you also.

Meanwhile, if things feel like they are going way to slow for you, do get into a group of female friends who also have children, and make sure you have a weekly day date with them!  Women are very good nurturers, so if you feel like you need to be nurtured yourself, you might want to have a regular meet up group with the ladies.

I pray this is helpful. It is food for thought. Naturally, they are only ideas that will perhaps trigger more ideas inside you. One day at a time.

Salams,

***

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