That’s Not Who I Am, Deal With It

Recently in a comment, a man reported his wife had said, “That’s not who I am, and you shouldn’t ask me to change.” She said this about something he wanted and needed from his wife. In this case, it was non-sexual physical touch, but the same attitude gets applied to all kind of things.

That's Not Who I Am, Deal With It

I find this attitude at odds with the idea of being a loving spouse, and completely contrary to the idea of being a generous spouse.

I realise many things are “how we are”. Some are hardwired, others have been ingrained in us to the point they feel hardwired. We may never feel differently, but we can choose to behave differently

As an example, I’m not by nature a neat person. I’ve come to suspect much of that was a form of passive-aggressive rebellion against my mother, but that understanding has not changed how I am. However, my wife is a very neat and orderly person, and she needs a certain level of picked up and in order. (Yes, I said she needs it, it’s not a want, she needs it to feel right.) Because I love my wife I have learned to be much neater than I would ever have been on my own. I’m still not as neat as she would like, but I’ve done enough to make it work for her.

Where is “who you are” a real problem for your husband? I do agree he shouldn’t ask you to change. He shouldn’t have to ask you because you should do it out of your love for him.

~ Paul – I’m XY, and I know how to show my wife I love her!

Links may be monetised
Image Credit: © creative_soul |

Shop Amazon ♦ Shop to give links page
We’re donation supported Thanks for your help!
Where we’re going Contact us about speaking

15 Comments on “That’s Not Who I Am, Deal With It

  1. My husband is very social. That is who he is. I have social anxiety disorder and am very introverted. If I have too many social interactions, my physical body starts to shut down. How can we overcome this imbalance?

    My husband loves movies and TV shows. I do not. I cannot watch most modern movies and tv shows for several reasons. The camera work and flashy screens affect my anxiety and vertigo. The content, from violence to graphic sex and nudity convict my spirit as well as often make my nights full of bad dreams and restlessness.

    It wasn’t so bad when we got married. Tv shows were more tame and movies we could find to agree upon, and camera work was overall more still. I have also become far more sensitive after having many pregnancies, and developing possible PTSD after years of very difficult times and several nervous breakdowns. Having someone to be social with and watch movies with were two things high on Hubby’s list for a wife. I am sure he feels a loss. But, what can we do?

    • I think it’s rhetorical, but if not… I LOVE old movies, so maybe switching to black and white is an option? Or Netflix older TV shows — again, if that’s your thing. Or Netflix and Hulu both offer a lot of documentaries, which will probably have tamer camera work and subject matter than a lot of (even broadcast) shows. It just depends on how flexible you both can be. …

      … Which I also realize is not often possible. :(

    • @Libl – Your first one is certainly difficult. There is treatment, if you are willing to work at it, but I understand that is a very difficult thing. When we are talking health issues it is how one is, and expecting change is unfair.
      One option is to encourage him to do things and then share them with you. And as others suggested, there are ways to get old TV shows and movies.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Use This Blog As A Conversation StarterMy Profile

      • To Tom, SD, and Paul,

        Thank you for your advice. Treatment for me unfortunately falls to the wayside because our insurance doesn’t cover it and all we have for medical expenditures goes toward covering Hubby’s chronic illness and all the bumps, boogers, booboos of childhood that our children get. Hubby needs to stay alive. The kids must be cared for. My mental illness is “livable”.

        We do old movies sometimes (hubby falls asleep). Or, if the movie or show isn’t too loud and graphic, even if I don’t like the content or story, I may sit and do needlework. Or I cuddle facing away from the TV and he absentmindedly rubs my back as he watches. That’s a win. But he does miss out on the “movie buff” buddy he thought and hoped I was.

  2. “My husband is very social. That is who he is. I have social anxiety disorder and am very introverted. If I have too many social interactions, my physical body starts to shut down. How can we overcome this imbalance?”

    Same here, though the roles are reversed (I’m the one with social anxiety and severe introversion). Here’s what we’ve done:

    1. I’m on medication/counseling for my anxiety (you would probably benefit from this as well given your possible PTSD in addition to the anxiety). That has helped quite a bit.

    2. My wife is fully aware of my anxiety, and doesn’t insist I spend hours and hours socializing. While I always try to push my personal limits in this area, I also know when to say when. My wife understands if we need to leave sooner than she would like, or we take separate cars so I can jet if needed.

    Regarding entertainment, I’m much more like your husband; I really enjoy going to the movies, and wish my wife did as well. My suggestion is to look for shows you both can enjoy, even if it’s not *exactly* in your wheelhouse – try to expand your entertainment “palette” a bit. I’m not saying you need to go see “hard R” movies, but there are plenty of resources out there that will detail what to expect from movies in terms of sex/violence/etc. is a good one to start with. Actively look for movies/shows you *both* can enjoy, rather than just shutting down the idea entirely.

  3. Everything you said is right on. The other side to the pancake, however, is how the need is expressed in the first place. “That’s not how I am…” is quite often a defensive response. It may be offered as a knee-jerk reaction in response to a need stated as a criticism. i.e. “You hardly ever touch me” or “Why can’t you be more affectionate?”

    • @T – You have a valid point, and how we ask things is always important.
      However, defensiveness can come from other things too. It can be about the person’s past, or it can be because they know they are wrong and have no intention of changing.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…“You Shouldn’t Ask Me to Change”My Profile

  4. My “that’s how I am” deals with sex. My husband had a series of affairs during a time when work had him traveling on a weekly bases. He also battles porn addiction. There are certain sexual acts which most Christians would agree are okay within a marriage but that I have a difficult time doing as often as he would like. They mostly relate to the type of things you see in porn. I try to show him I love him but have trouble because there’s this voice in the back of my head wondering if he’s imaging something he has seen from porn or someone else he’s been with while he’s with me. I have explained this to him but I’m not sure he understands just how deeply it has all affected me and why I have these issues. I’m not even sure he thinks I am working on it but it’s a true struggle for me.

  5. Oh, my hubby would love if we could watch TV together but I can’t stand violence and I fall asleep during anything longer than 30 minutes ….SOMEONE could make bank on a TV show that most husband’s AND wives would enjoy. :D It seems like a common thing. Hubby loves to talk (sixth love language anyone?;) So we usually talk about the movies he really likes and he will occasionally watch something light hearted and girly with me as a special date night treat. We also have a neat family we are friends with and I sometimes encourage him to go watch something with them since he needs that social time. :)

  6. I’ve always been a quiet reserved person in public.
    I don’t like crowds or parties.
    I’m most comfortable in jeans and a sweater.

    My husband’s job requires him to attend several social/business functions.
    He prefers that I accompany him.
    But, it’s very important to him that I join him for these functions.
    So, for the past 35 years, I have put on my dressy pant suit, plastered a smile on my face,
    and have walked through the doors arm in arm with my husband.

    I am not a social butterfly…that is not who I am.
    I do this for my husband….certainly not for my enjoyment.
    After 35 years, I still don’t relish the social scene but have come to be more at ease with it.

    Honestly, I can’t wait for him to retire:)

  7. I understand that everyone has their own issues (I’ve got plenty). I’m the extrovert, he’s the introvert. I’ve got the higher drive, he’s got the lower. Maybe it’s because I’m seeing things through my own filter, but to me, it seems like the quieter people actually have all the power. At least in my relationship. Because all they have to do is say “I don’t want to, I’m tired, I cant, I don’t feel like it, I’m uncomfortable…”

    And they get their way. Almost every time. Because really, while I wish we had friends, and I’d love to go out, he doesn’t want to. He will take me out, like to dinner, but he doesn’t like to go to a friend’s house, or a party, or anything like that. He will sometimes tell me to just go and have fun, but no thanks. Who wants to be the wife who gets asked a thousand times “where’s your husband?” And then has to smile and say, “oh he was really tired tonight.” It gets old. It’s not a lot of fun to sit alone while everyone else has their spouse along.

    And then sometimes, the attitude! All of them, my husband, my sister in law, and absolutely my mother-I’m-law – if someone is polite and tries to talk to them, they will often look at the person with this look that says “how DARE you speak to me?” It’s very off-putting. It’s very embarrassing, to always have to pick up the slack, smile, be friendly and try to make everyone comfortable. I don’t know why they insist on doing that. They’re not bad people. My husband, at home, is fun, and funny, and smart, and interesting – but take him out in a group of people and he acts like he’s the security guard or something. He comes off very tough, cold, and silent. I can tell that most people get the impression that he is horrified to be seen in public with me. I’m not sure that’s true, but I can give you the perfect example.

    I run a theater group for teens. We had just finished a musical and the kids did great. Someone approached my husband and said, “you’re wife did a great job, she’s very talented.” Did he smile and say “thank you.” Nope. He looked horrified, and just kind of glared at the person, and made this half-baked smile, scowl face. Gee, thanks so much! That one reaction spoke VOLUMES more to me about how he actually feels about me than any words he could say. He can say all kinds of sweet things behind closed doors where no one can hear, but the way he reacts when I’m around and we are in public tells me his true feelings. And it really comes off as embarrassment and disgust.

    Anyhow, that was a long comment to say – the person who always “doesn’t wanna” rules the relationship. I think it’s wildly unfair, that if they love their spouse they should at least try (like Jolie, above). But in my relationship it just is what it is.

    I call it spoiled toddler syndrome. Just dig in your heels and say “I don’t want to” and you win every time. It’s obnoxious and hurtful.

    Note, I’m not saying everyone is like this, but that’s what has been my personal experience.

    • No, you’re pretty right. The person with the lowest interest in whatever gets to set the frequency or type of that activity, whether it is sex or eating out or participating in church or conversation.

      I think a certain degree of that makes sense — even if both people equally loved parties, they may not always want to be at the same parties because of fatigue, stress, working late, etc. So compromise is expected. It’s when that compromise starts tilting one way much more often than the other that it feels less like compromise and more like control.

    • Not in my marriage! The dynamic is the reverse of what you say.

      Also, you are being unfair about how you interpret your husband. Introversion, (and it sounds like he has some social anxiety) is a huge challenge. You find socialization and small talk normal and easy. To people like your husband and me it sucks the very life out of us and we just don’t know what to say. It takes a lot to break down that wall, but once broken we are warm and congenial.

      I was called a stuck up snob because of my introversion and social anxiety by someone like you who totally misread my face, body language, and reactions. Hurt like crazy to be falsely accused like that. I would LOVE to be more social but introversion can’t be changed any more than I can change my bust size. Oh, I can take it, but it isn’t healthy or natural for me….like breast implants.

      If we go to a big party with lots of strangers I need NEED to be alone and nap the next day.

      I have a friend with a completely anti social husband who makes no apologies or efforts otherwise. She simply goes without him and enjoys herself with his blessings.

      • @Libl, okay first, I knew someone would take me the wrong way. That’s why I said like ten times in my comment “I’m not saying everyone is this way, but in MY EXPERIENCE”

        I never accused you of being a stuck-up snob, I don’t even know you! And how on earth can you say that The person who called you names was “someone like you (me)” – when you don’t even know me?

        You say I’m being unfair. But here we go again, where the extroverted person gets accused of being the unfair one. Why does the extrovert always have to give in to the introvert? If I can stay home and spend a quiet evening at home over and over and over and over again, to please my husband – is it really unfair of me to want him to spend an evening out with friends or a fellowship group and have a nice time – without looking like he’s about to have a root canal? Is it fair that I have to completely change MY nature, and what I would like to do?

        On a softer note, here is the greater issue. What all you just explained about how you feel and how difficult social situations are for you, nobody in my personal life (like my husband or in laws) has ever explained feeling that way. If that’s how even one of them feels, why not simply explain it? Maybe people would be more understanding (I am talking about in MY circle of people here, I’m not referring to you or every introverted person in the world) – but if the introverted people I know would explain what they’re feeling, instead of just giving that “ewww get away from me” glare that my husband’s family is so fond of, many people would be more understanding. Meaning, maybe he does have some social anxiety. But I’m not a mind reader. So how am I, or any other person who is just trying to be friendly, supposed to know?

        Along these same lines, each person in my husband’s family of origin will get mad about something, and then refuse to tell anybody who or what they are mad at! How on earth can anyone fix anything, if they don’t know why the person is upset? It’s crazy making. But that’s another issue. Honestly, I believe it’s more of a control thing.

        Anyhow, while I appreciate your input, and the explanation is somewhat helpful, I would have received it much better had it been said with less anger and accusation.

        That’s great for your friend that she can go out without her husband and enjoy herself, but I’m not that self confident.

  8. It would seem that the original idea of Paul’s article got lost in discussion. He’s not talking about the person that is trying to adjust for his/her mate. He’s writing about the person who tells the other that he/she isn’t changing, and that the other one will just have to deal with it. Opposites attract, and it is very common for an extra-extravert will marry the extreme opposite. Men are men and tend to like male things, and the same is true of women. Tastes in everything vary. Compromises, adjustments, deals, and alternate arrangements have to be tailored by each couple. Suggestions are great! However, Paul’s article is dealing with someone who is so without an understanding of true love that they are unwilling to TRY to accommodate the other person. I learned years ago that remaining within our comfort zone is not a good way of behaving, but there are limits. But an obviously unloving attitude and response does a marriage relationship no good. We can only do the best that we can, but we ought to do this, and, perhaps stretch ourselves a little. If our spouse knows that we are lovingly (not grudgingly) trying, that will usually be worth something in the relationship.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

%d bloggers like this: