General Question

tedibear's avatar

Is it possible to make a conscious decision to give up hope?

Asked by tedibear (19233points) November 1st, 2010

Or is it necessary to be shown over and over again that some things just aren’t going to change.

I have a situtation in my life that I’m fairly certain isn’t going to change. (You can go here if you’re really bored and want to read all about it.) The logical part of me is trying to tell the emotional part of me that my husband is not going to compliment me beyond my cooking and that I need to quit hoping for it. Logic head also says that I should get back to the workout schedule so that maybe I can manage a compliment from him and that even if that doesn’t happen, I’ll at least look better and therefore feel better about myself. The emotional part of me reacts in one of two ways, depending on the moment:

1. By crying (when alone) and feeling terrible about myself any time there’s anyone around that I think he might find remotely attractive. This doesn’t have to be in person either, it can be TV or a movie as well.

2. By telling myself that I shouldn’t bother to go back to working out because I’ll never be able to achieve his prefered body type. I could look better, certainly, but I feel like it’s not going to be what he prefers. This puts me into the “why bother” cycle of thinking. I don’t do things for myself, so the idea of looking better for me isn’t one that goes very far.

I hate feeling like I’m never going to look good enough. I also hate the feeling of giving up hope. I’ve even tried to convince myself that he’s emotionally incapable of speaking a compliment even if he is pleased with how I look at a particular moment. I’ve tried to tell myself that it’s like a physical impairment. Some people can’t hear well, some people can’t see well, maybe his is that he can’t do this.

How do I catch my heart up to my head? How do I quit wishing? And how long does it take?

I have to go do a bunch of work now, but will be back. Thanks in advance for any help.

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27 Answers

marinelife's avatar

OK, you have a self esteem problem. It has nothing to do with your husband, You are worrying over how you look and whether you can be good enough. I don’t know how much comes from what he has said, but the obsessing is all on you.

You need to like yourself and be OK with yourself. If you were, you would not need or seek compliments. (Or count them.)

The best way to work on your self esteem is to see a therapist.

Lacking that, get the book Self Parenting, which makes you more aware of your inner dialogue and changing it.

mrentropy's avatar

What @marinelife said. And work out for you, not him. I think when you see an improvement in yourself it’ll help out with your self-esteem. And, yes, some people do have trouble getting those compliments out there—but that’s a problem with them.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I’m thinking counseling for both of you.

janbb's avatar

As I’ve said before, this has been an issue for me in my marriage too. I think it’s important to focus on what you do get from your husband – and there must be much or you wouldn’t stay there. Work on you appearance for yourself and find other people, like girlfriends, to give you those kinds of compliments. It’s not easy and one can wallow in the lacks, but if there is enough good in the relationship, you have to accept him for who he is. If you can’t, you may want to re-examine whether you want to be in this relationship. But I wouldn’t make any drastic changes without going for therapy first to see what you are contributing to the dynamic. I feel for you.

JustmeAman's avatar

Yes you can make a conscious decision to give up.

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tedd's avatar

Just tell your husband how you feel, but rest assured… he married you, he obviously loves you and finds you incredibly attractive… so much so that he was/is willing to dedicate his entire love life and life to YOU.

Tell him how you feel and he can help you out, but its just a self esteem issue. I promise he thinks you’re the most beautiful thing ever…. at least until you have kids, then they will be.

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tedibear's avatar

I already know that I have a self-esteem issue. That’s what my therapist is for.

@marinelife – Right now, changing my inner dialogue is very difficult with no outside help. Yes, I have a therapist but my time is limited. And we seem to be stuck at this point on this issue.

@tedd I know that my husband loves me, that’s not the issue. However, I also know that he does not find me “incredibly” attractive. He has not come out and said that, I just know this from seeing what type of woman (physically) he admires. Even after discussing this with him so that he knows that this is something he could be a bit of a help with but he seems to be unable to do so.

And that’s the crux of my question: How do I come to grips with this? I don’t know that feeling better about myself is going to reduce my desire to want to hear something nice about myself from my husband. It’s not going to happen, so how do I get over it?

I guess that leads to another question – Why is it wrong to occasionally want to hear that I look nice? I’m not talking about every day or even once a month. Every couple of months? Twice a year even? Something more than once in eleven years.

CMaz's avatar

“I have a situation in my life that I’m fairly certain isn’t going to change.”

It is not about hope. Or you might as well get out the rabbits foot.
It is about understanding the situation you are in, why you are in it and either cope/accept it, get out of it and/or avoid it in the future.

It is about being realistic and practical.
With a drop or two of crazy. Just because you have to sometimes just say “F” it.

Hope is not necessary. If anything it is currently the only word to describe the action.

Coloma's avatar

I agree with the self esteem comments and also, be aware, that it is not unusual for one with low self esteem to find themsleves in relationship with another equally emotionally impaired person.

The degree of abuse and lack of appriciation you accept from your husband is in direct proportion to the degree of self abuse you heap on yourself.

This is why once a person gets healthier often their relationships fall away.

Yes, I’d recommend some therapy but, there is no magic, you simply have to be sick and tired of feeling the way you do.

If you are not really ready to make some changes therapy is just a waste of time and money for both you and the therapist.

free_fallin's avatar

Hope, like love, is a fickle beast. You can make a conscious decision to give up and accept the things around you as is. It’s tough to continue to have hope when everything seems to be going down around you but what’s the point of wallowing in your demise? Everything can be turned around and nothing is ever as lost as we think it is. Find something that makes you smile and hold onto it.

wundayatta's avatar

Have you ever asked him to compliment you? Or do you play that game I know so well, of just trying to do your best in hopes someone will say something nice? Sometimes people don’t know you want a compliment, and they would readily do so if they thought of it. We often get so comfortable with our spouses that we take each other for granted.

I think you don’t give up hope because you still have hope, and if you still have hope you can’t make a decision to give it up. Giving up hope comes naturally or not at all. I think that people very rarely give up hope, even in the most extreme circumstances. There’s still a chance.

People mention self-esteem a lot, but to me, this sounds like it’s more of a relationship problem. Sure, self-esteem plays a part, but even if you had the highest esteem in the world, you’d still have a problem with your relationship. You and your husband aren’t connecting any more, and to deal with that, you need to open up communication. Ask him for what you want. If you can’t do it on your own, get a counselor to help.

marinelife's avatar

@tedibear It is good that you are in therapy.

I think you may be at a decision point. You know that your husband is not going to change so you have to decide if you will be happier living with a man who does not compliment you or happier on your own.

Only you can decide. What you can’t do is change another person’s behavior.

Coloma's avatar


Makes a good point, aside from your obvious neediness, perhaps your communication is askew as well.

One of the biggest relationship mistakes is in thinking that others should be mind readers and then inventing negative stories about their lack of knowing.

If you tell your partner that an occasional complement is important to you and he still refuses then I’d say, as has already been said, that you need to decide what you can and can’t live with.

It always comes back home to roost, no matter the situation, YOU are in charge of your own feelings and reactions and destiny.

Kardamom's avatar

I think the way that your question is worded is a little odd. This whole situation is not about whether you can or can’t (or should or shouldn’t) give up hope. This is more about a marriage in trouble. You’re right that your husband isn’t directly responsible for your self esteem, but he sure as Heck plays into it. It’s a shame that you didn’t figure out that hubby can’t give out compliments before you married him. I’ll bet you knew it, but married him anyway hoping that things would change. You need some serious couples counseling (with the option of possibly divorcing if your marriage can’t be fixed). Not sure how long you’ve been seeing your own therapist, but it doesn’t sound like she/he’s helping you much. Sometimes you have to try out a series of therapists before you find one that can/will help you. Your husband learned from is Father how to be. He can UN-learn negative behaviors as well, but not without the help of a therapist (most likely trained in cognitive and behavioral techniques). You should definitely keep working out (not for him, but for your health: physical and mental).

If you, in your own words, have a conscious decision to give up hope, I hope that you mean to divorce him and lead a better life (not to stay with him and lead a crappy, unfulfilled life).

nicobanks's avatar

I think this is a serious issue. I think you should go to counselling, and I think you and your husband should go to marital counselling. And I think you should consider (I’m not saying do it, I’m saying consider it) leaving your husband.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
YARNLADY's avatar

That’s an interesting question. My husband is practically oblivious to the outside world, and compliments aren’t part of that world. When I want to know if I look good, I look in a mirror. When I want to know if my cooking tastes good, I taste it.

Sometimes I might start a conversation by saying “I think this shirt looks really good, what do you think?” But it hardly ever goes far.

I also have a very unrealistic desire for something that is totally irrational, so I can see where you are coming from, but you don’t have to allow it to rule your life. Just accept that some things are not meant to be.

p.s. my desire is to buy an RV and tour the U. S. for a year or two.

augustlan's avatar

This is all about accepting and loving yourself, independently of whether anyone else does. I beat myself up for years (different issues, but the same outcome… I’ll never be the person my husband wants me to be, why bother, etc.). After several years of therapy, I came to accept me, warts and all. One of the things that ultimately led to my divorce was the fact that while I came to terms with who I am, and fully accepted that person… my ex-husband never did. I no longer need his approval. I now have my own.

Aster's avatar

What @YARNLADY said. With us, he never compliments me, I don’t care but I enjoy complimenting him! I don’t wish to play head games about it. Too much effort.
My ex complimented me a lot but he is a major jerk.

Kardamom's avatar

I hope you are able to get some quality help, soon. Nobody should have to live such an unhappy life. Do you have any close friends or relatives with whom you can confide and/or move in with temporarily? I’m curious as to what methods or exercises does your current therapist suggest that you do improve your self esteem? How long have you been seeing this particular therapist? Do YOU think the current therapist is helping? Sometimes you just have to find the right one and that can take a few tries. Maybe the same thing goes for husbands.

@YARNLADY You must have been reading my mind about traveling around in an RV! That is my ultimate vacation—visiting national parks and shopping at thrift stores!

nicobanks's avatar

I don’t think it’s possible to decide to give up hope.

I’ve tried. I’ll have thought I did it, only to find I must have been unsuccessful when my hopes are dashed once more.

Self-improvement can’t be done for the sake of the Other. If you want to be healthier and more attractive, I encourage you to take the necessary steps. For your own sake. Also, I think you’ll find that you will have improved your emotional state as you have improved your physical body.

You and your husband need to have an honest conversation (probably many honest conversations). You want your heart to catch up to your head – you can’t do this alone (also why I suggested counselling earlier).

Your husband needs to know how important it is for you to be complimented. He needs to know how badly you’re feeling becuase he hasn’t been complimenting you. And you need to understand why he hasn’t been complimenting you.

If it is a matter of wiring, so to speak, it will be much easier for you to accept this after the above “needs” have been met. And if it’s not a matter of wiring, he won’t change until they’ve been met.

Good luck.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I’ve tried it with not much luck because I want what want from who I want. What has helped though is to catch myself in the throes of the frustration and ask myself if I want that particular thing as much as I want other things that are important to me that I do have going on. I understand what it’s like to get compliments from others but the one you really really want or need them from isn’t coming through. Does he weigh in well in the other areas of your relationship?

ZAGWRITER's avatar

Yes, yes it is. And @YARNLADY , I love the RV thing. I’ve wanted to do that my whole life!
My mom and her family visited every state but Hawaii doing that!

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