My husband and I have now been married ten years. When we first started dating, I was so incredibly head over heels — literally obsessed with him. We got pregnant eight months after we moved in together, then married a year later.
We now have two children together. For the first three years of our relationship my husband was in the military, and during that time he was gone more then he was home. I thought he was perfect for me — I had the time I needed to find myself after my last failed relationship, and we got to maintain that excitement with his being gone and then coming back so often. Once he left the military and was home full-time things just took a different turn. We fought all the time. I’m OCD and he is very messy, I am a lenient parent and he is very strict, I am creative with goals and dreams and he is very small-minded with little interest in anything. We even have a hard time working together on small projects or even during discussions. It seems as if we are from two different parts of the world and I never realized it before because he was always gone. The only time I feel like we are totally in sync and compatible is in the bedroom — and that’s if I’m even in the mood, which isn’t often because I don’t feel like my emotional or intellectual needs are met.
So, the past six years we have been on the verge of divorce. Last year I even moved out and we had a very short separation. At this point, I don’t know what to do. I have discussed all my needs and asked for his, and we agree to work on things and then efforts fade and it all goes back to the same again.
With my first failed relationship it was so easy — I just knew I had had enough! But with my husband it’s so emotional, and I feel like I’d rather commit suicide than leave. But I am so unhappy that it makes no sense to me.
I also work a job that takes over all my time; I don’t have time to exercise or have any “me time.” My husband isn’t romantic so he never tried to plan dates, but even with my job it would be hard.
I hope I haven’t babbled into a confusing mess of words. And I hope I’ve given enough information to give me some much needed advice. — On The Verge of Divorce
I’m not sure what you want me to tell you? You’ve been unhappy for years — years!! — and yet don’t seem able/willing/interested in taking any active measures to change your situation. There isn’t a magic pill you can take to make everything better, you know. You’re going to have to change things in your life, and some of those things are going to be uncomfortable, take effort, be inconvenient, maybe be expensive, and possibly be the hardest things you’ve ever done. On the other side of all that awfulness though will be a better life for yourself (and your family).
I don’t know if the better life is a stronger marriage between you and your husband or if it is that divorce you’ve been on the verge of for years that leaves both of you able to live your truths more freely and to eventually be emotionally and physically available for a better match. I do know though that if you do the work, despite the discomfort and inconvenience and pain, your heart might break but you will gain the strength and knowledge and wisdom to piece it back together stronger than it ever was. And I know that if you don’t do the work, the cracks in your heart will deepen and widen until the dam bursts and your heart breaks anyway and you won’t have the strength and knowledge and wisdom to piece it back together.
So, what’s the work you have to do? Well, there are lots of options. A sampling of some of the work you could and should do: marriage counseling; individual counseling; figuring out a way to free time in your schedule so you can have regular dates with your husband and tend to yourself and your family. (Maybe that means getting a different job or talking to your bosses about the very real need to have a better work-life balance because, if you don’t get that, your heart and marriage isn’t the only thing that will break. YOU will break because no one can sustain a schedule of all work all the time.)
You failed to do the work after your first relationship ended. You rushed right into a new relationship, and you used time apart from your now-husband to “find yourself,” rather than working on yourself between relationships. You distracted yourself from the pain of one failed relationship with the excitement of a new one even though you were in no shape or fashion ready for a new relationship. Then you had the built-in distraction of your husband’s work constantly taking him away from home so you didn’t have to think about how marrying him before you even knew yourself, let alone him, was a big mistake. And now that he no longer has a job that takes him away, and he’s home all the time, you are distracting yourself from the mess of your relationship with working all the time. STOP DISTRACTING YOURSELF FROM YOURSELF. Face your issues head on or they will continue following you and building up and making you miserable.
I promise you, the pain and discomfort you’re going to feel over the next one, two, three years of investing fully in getting your life back — even if it makes you think suicide would be easier — will be worth living the rest of your life after that authentically, whole-heartedly, and with the strength, knowledge, and wisdom to fix the cracks that may occasionally arise before they truly threaten your well-being.
I confronted my dad about this behavior, appalled that he hasn’t done anything regarding his wife’s behavior. Instead, he blamed it on us, saying we are lying, trying to push his wife out of the family, and that if they get divorced, it will be our fault. My dad has never stood up for us with her, and he has consistently used us as meat shields for her abuse. (My mother has documented everything.)
I guess what I’m asking is whether I am doing the right thing by cutting my father out of my and my baby’s lives? I love my dad, but I cannot stand the fact that he won’t take his balls out if his wife’s purse and stand up for his children. My sister and brother are depressed that they are being told that my dad doesn’t love them anymore and that he hopes they are happy with themselves. — Cut Out Dad?
You are doing the right thing cutting your father out of your and your baby’s lives. I know it isn’t easy, but sometimes — a lot of times — doing the right thing is really hard. This is one of those times. Your father has failed you and your siblings, and it isn’t your fault. He has not been loving, he has not protected you and your siblings, and he has manipulated you all and used you, and I am sorry for that. You cannot change your past and you cannot change who your father is, but you can change your relationship with him and protect yourself and your baby from future pain caused by your father. You can do this by cutting him out of your life and reserving your time, energy, and love only for people whose presence enriches your life.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.