I see you sometimes answer reader questions at Alpha Game. I'm kind of desperate as my marriage is possibly falling apart after only X months. I know you are very busy but if you are willing to read this and give me some feedback I would really appreciate it. I am from a very conservative Christian background and never departed from this. My husband had a much more wild life with drugs, music, traveling, and it sounds like a significant number of sexual partners. He is definitely on the Alpha side of the spectrum. When he met me he wasn't living as a Christian. .... Unfortunately settled down life with me turned out to not make him as happy as he expected. I seemed to be more in love and attracted to him after the wedding while he became disappointed and unhappy. He started spending most of his time away from me, quit bible study, and attends church less often. He started seeming distant and irritable. He wouldn't really talk to me so one day I went through his things. I found something he'd written saying he found married life boring and he was thinking about having an affair.... I don't have any evidence that he actually has, but he now keeps all his devices locked. Making matters worse, we have some significant differences of opinion on major issues we can't agree on. I made one fatal mistake of disagreeing with him in public and had no idea the extent it would embarass and upset him. I apologized but its been tough to recover from. I try to be submissive, but some of his decisions are hard for me to cope with. He really wanted me to change jobs for a position I felt I would be miserable in and I didn't do it. These things made him feel that I don't respect him, which is not the case at all. I would try to have talks about our relationship, but I would inevitably get emotional and start crying. He has no tolerance for this and usually just turns on the TV or just leaves the house. He also said it made him not attracted to me being depressed and complaining, and he didn't want to be around me or have sex with me. Seeing my "talks" were disasters, I left him alone and focused on trying to be a good wife. I did my best to act cheerful, give him space, and worked on improving my homemaking and cooking skills. I tried not to complain when he missed church or important family events. These are issues I am willing to look at to work on. However, I wonder if it is the right approach or maybe this all has less to do with me and more to do with him. I really have not changed significantly in my behavior/priorities/physical appearance from before we were married and he was obsessed with me as the most amazing woman ever. And sometimes when I try to be really submissive/bend over backwards for him he seems annoyed not pleased.
The first thing this woman has to realize is that most of her husband's issues have absolutely nothing to do with her. They have to do with an Alpha feeling trapped by the situation in which he put himself. Marriage is exceedingly difficult for Alphas, because unlike most other men, they actually love their single lives. When a man's identity is tied up, at least in part, in his ability to score women, marriage can feel as if he is killing a part of himself and he may find it difficult to figure out who Mr. Married Ex-Alpha is. It was hard for me; in some ways, it hurt worse than any breakup I'd ever had because I was not only breaking up with part of myself, but an aspect of my identity that I quite liked. Fortunately, my fiance understood and was sympathetic, which made it easier on me because it made me feel as if the sacrifice was both worthwhile and appreciated.
Also, Alphas are really, really bad at dealing with marital conflict. This is because they have virtually no skill or experience at managing conflict from their previous intersexual relationships, no matter how many they have had. The problem here is that marriage eliminates the Alpha's primary tactic for addressing conflict, which is "my way or the highway". What are totally legitimate, if harsh, reasons to end an STR become simply ludicrous in a marriage. For example, when single, I trashed women for reasons that, in retrospect, are astonishingly trivial. Wanted to change plans? Gone. Said something arguably disrespectful in public? Done. Took a call from an orbiter when I was over? Adios. No tolerance, no warnings, no hesitation. The Alpha - or Sigma, as the case may be - is accustomed to acting from a mentality of abundance, and it doesn't matter if things don't work out with one girl because there are thousands more on the girl tree, just waiting to be plucked. It's not surprising that it's been hard for this woman to recover from only one instance of public disrespect, because as an Alpha, his natural instinct was to end his relationship with her over it.
Needless to say, this is a tremendously unproductive atttitude to take into a marriage. A woman has to be very low-conflict, low-maintenance, and risk-acceptant to have any chance of staying successfully married to an Alpha. There is no taming the Alpha, he has to decide to domesticate himself in the interest of the marriage, and the more the pressure on him increases, the more he feels the temptation to get the hell out. And don't be naive, emotional withdrawal is a form of pressure too.
My advice is for this woman to understand that she may have married unwisely, to realize that the situation is ultimately out of her hands, and to accept that she needs to allow her husband to decide if he is willing to make the sacrifice required to domesticate himself or not. Clearly a part of him wants to or he would not have pursued her and made the various changes to his life that he did. Most likely, he had overly romantic and hopelessly naive views about what marriage would be like, and only now is he comparing the reality of it with the reality of his single life. Idealized marriage looks considerably better in comparison with the vicissitudes of the single life than does the real thing.
She can't get into the self-protective emotional withdrawal game, however tempting that might be, because no woman can possibly out-indifferent an unhappy Alpha. That's just throwing in the towel and waiting for him to pull the trigger. She is doing the right thing by focusing on the things she can control, by being a good wife, acting cheerful, being respectful, and giving him space. Since the respect issue appears to be a major one, I would encourage her to even make a gesture or two in that direction, perhaps by asking him if he would still like her to change jobs and then following through on it if he does. It's a lot easier to subsequently change jobs than change marriages, after all. She should also find ways to tell him how much she respects him, how much she admires him, and how much she likes him, every single day. Even if that praise concerns a small and stupid thing. Above all, she needs to be more pleasant than what he knows his various other options to be.
And above all, I'd encourage her to keep the Apostle Paul's admonition concerning the unequally yoked in mind.
"To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?"
- 1st Corinthians 7:12-16
So if he has an affair or if he decides to leave, she must let him go. If she loves him, that's simply what she has to do. She can only fight for her marriage by not fighting. To even have a chance of assisting in the self-domestication of a wavering Alpha, a woman must practice wu-wei, she must live without control. That is difficult for any woman, but then, no one ever said living with an Alpha would be easy and that's the challenge she chose. The wedding ring isn't magical, and neither wifely threats nor the full force of the family courts will suffice to break the will of a man who would rather die a painful death than live life under the thumb of a woman. Such men have to be convinced, not coerced, to enter into mutually beneficial relationships. The good news is that somehow, she convinced him once, so it is possible for her to convince him again. The art of marriage is continuing to convince the other individual, every single day, that they want to be with you tomorrow.
The good news is that it gets easier over time. The first year of a marriage is the hardest on an Alpha, and so long as the marriage survives and his wife remains amiable and attractive, he can actually turn out to prove unexpectedly loyal. Ironically, the challenge may eventually become a question of whether the wife will remain attracted to a husband who is no longer the wild, untamed man to whom she was initially drawn.