My husband likes me so much that he wants to do EVERYTHING with me. I feel smothered by his love.

Hubby and I been married 3 years. We both have been married before. This is our third marriage for both of us. He loves me like nobody's business and I'm grateful to have such a committed man and dad to my kids and the grandbaby we have raised together but he wants to do everything with me. My life is just plain busy. I like busy. I like getting things done. He wants me to stop what I'm doing and show him attention and will get extremely upset if he doesn't get attention from me. He has thrown fits like a toddler who doesn't get a treat. I don't act in that manner and dismiss it until he wants to calm down enough to talk. It's always the same thing. He tells me that I'm always too busy, on my phone, my computer, dealing with the kids or that I seemed to have made time for my ex husband. These comments are directed at me instead of explaining his need so I shut him out to avoid conflict which makes things worse. I show him attention and he says I'm just doing it to shut him up so it creates more drama. He will say things like "I just want you to come give me 15 minutes but nevermind, I know you won't so forget it". Then he will walk away and say "yeah if I was one of your exes you'd give me time". This is the problem in a nutshell. Do you have an explanation as to how to correct his tantrum.
Asked by Nan


It kind of stinks when what presents itself as a "good man" is also the same thing causing him to act like a toddler. An inadequate, grown man is a dangerous and often insidious beast. They tend to be both "good fathers/grandfathers" and will remind you of the time you spend with your ex for the purpose of guilting you into spending time with them. These types of men are seeking external validation for an internal void. He isn't "bad" in the sense of malicious, but he's inadequate, and it's manifesting in these behaviors that can drain you. 

So, you can sometimes see why, when you are advancing yourself or have the obvious previous relationships how these could provoke within a man who is already struggling with themself. It's hard for men to address this because it's embarrassing and appears weak. Bluntly speaking, we would rather rely on bravado and overcompensation and the appearance of things are under control than we would address the deep inadequacy our mind keeps us from. 

The mind says to the man, "she isn't spending time with you, but she can spend time here or there; she must not care about you as much as those other things." I know to us, outside of the man's head it seems illogical, but to them, it is reality. We can relate, however, because we also have messages inside our heads. We have a narrative that we, too, believe without question. Our mind tells us things based on experiences and what is perceived in the current environment, and we are left to deal with these things, depending on the same mind that told us they were there and now controlling how we perceive the narrative. But, it doesn't have to be this way. 

Here's what you can do in your marriage to try and remove that third awkward person in the room, the wounded mind. You, your husband, and his wounded self, the self that was formed early in life inadequate and now overcompensated and throws temper tantrums, also the same self that overproduces in kindness at times when receiving praise for doing so, that self needs to be addressed for what it is. He will have to do this work, but you can help him by being kind and acknowledging things you notice in a specific way. 

Reflective questions for the sake of genuine curiosity can be a great asset that transcends this wounded self. Ask things like, "It seems like when I am doing work, you get frustrated with me, can you tell me what you are experiencing when I am not giving you that time?" Or, "What do you think when I am reaching out to my exes?" Now, he might respond with something that doesn't sound desperate and will rely on something superficial. Still, the more you have talks about that third person in the room, the wounded and inadequate self that he relies on for his advice when struggling in life, the more it becomes apparent to him and you. 

Call out that third person by having him ask that inadequate part these questions. You can also notice your own inadequate parts and start to ask reflective questions such as "how am I doing today?" or "why am I not giving him attention?" Or, "Do I have any part in what he is feeling?" It's not that we don't know how to do this, but it's that sometimes the answers we know are there are often too painful to acknowledge, or they don't sound very good. 

This is a pretty complex thing, actually and something a good couple's counselor can help address by identifying and communicating about this underlying self both of you have. I recommend that you get accustomed to asking the difficult, reflective questions, not to challenge or call him out (that will wound the ego and will not result in good things), but to get to know him and get him to know him better. You and him relate a lot more than you think, on these matters alone, and once you are able to remove that third person as a barrier, things can get better than ever, closer, more connected, and he will grow from that healthy place as well.