My husband, James, and I separated last year for about seven months and he even filed for divorce, but we decided to reconcile and have been together ever since (about 14 months). We are not living together but we are a couple, and both of our immediate families know that we are together and working through our problems. (I am very close with my entire family and he has continued to be a part of our family life — he doesn’t really speak to his family except for his mom and dad.) Although my family has been extremely supportive, his mom has made it clear to me that she doesn’t want us together. (I hurt her son deeply and he told her everything which I understand, but I’ve also been working all year to reconcile with her as well.)
Long story short, he still lives back at his parents’ house and his mom is very controlling. She opens his mail, makes decisions for him without telling him, etc., so I was not terribly surprised last Thursday when he sent a text that his cousin’s wedding was that coming weekend and I was not invited. I was at the house a few nights earlier and nothing was said about it. His mom simply told him Thursday night that they were leaving the next day after work for his cousin’s wedding (about a three-hour to four-hour drive away). I don’t know who I am mad at more: her for not telling her sister and niece to invite me or James for not standing up to his mom for me.
I expressed how upset I was about this to him multiple times and in multiple ways. The way I see it, if I am not welcome there, how could he disregard my feelings and go anyway just to make his mom happy? I would never go somewhere he is not welcome and, furthermore, would never allow my family to exclude him from anything!
Do you still think it was OK to leave the other half at home or am I standing on solid ground being this upset (to the point where I am ready to walk away after this – it feels like my breaking point)? I accept that James’ mom will never feel the same way about me again, but she shouldn’t deliberately come between us and he definitely shouldn’t allow it! How do I stay with someone who won’t put me first ahead of his mom? How do I have children with a man who won’t stick up for me? — Ready to Walk Away
I get your frustration and your hurt feelings, but if this is truly your breaking point, then that must mean there have been a series of other small and big things in your relationship that have piled up that you’ve either ignored or have not addressed successfully. And if that is true, then maybe after 14 months of “working it out,” during which time your husband has remained at his parents’ home living with his meddling and controlling mother, you two are either not very committed to working it out, or you’ve given it a good go but you simply are not a match, or you need help to work through the issues. If it’s the latter, have you sought help? Are you in marriage counseling together? Because that seems an obvious choice for two people who were on the brink of divorce but decided to try to reconcile.
Fourteen months is long enough to figure out whether or not you’re committed to working it out and whether the problem is that you simply aren’t a good match. If you aren’t, then it’s time to move on. It’s time to move on if your husband’s going to a family wedding that you weren’t invited to is enough to genuinely make you consider walking away from your marriage for good. If that was just something you thought and said while the hurt was fresh and you since feel that that might be an overreaction, I’d suggest, again, seeking the guidance of a therapist if you haven’t yet, with specific focus on improving your communication with your husband, setting boundaries with family, and moving your husband out of his parents’ home (even if that means his getting his own place if you aren’t ready to live together again yet).
If you stand by your statement that your husband’s attendance at his cousin’s wedding is your breaking point, I’d advise you to look for any other symbols of your husband’s feelings and level of commitment to you rather than just that one thing. Do your husband’s actions in regards to you make you feel loved and valued, or are you more often feeling disappointed and under-appreciated? No one is perfect; no relationship is going to be without some issues. But if you feel great in your relationships like 80% of the time, you’re doing pretty well.
If this wedding thing falls in the 15-20% of the time you don’t feel great, I’d let it go for the sake of your marriage. You have to pick your battles, and this just seems like a petty hill to die on. But if it’s the breaking point in a marriage that leaves you feeling bad as much or more than you feel good, and after 14 months of trying that still hasn’t changed, then it probably is time to throw in the towel and call it a day on a marriage that simply doesn’t work.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.