Question: Dear Luise: I desperately need relationship advice. I’m up against issues in marriage that I didn’t expect and don’t seem to be able to deal with. I went with my husband for over a year and thought we had gotten to know each other very well. We met and enjoyed each other’s families and had a lovely wedding and honeymoon. Now, a year later, he is sullen, uncommunicative, disrespectful and disinterested. I don’t know what’s going on and he won’t talk about it. He says we’re “fine” and don’t need a counselor. We’re not and we do. The longer this goes on, the more changes I can see in myself. My attempts to please him are ignored and I feel a sense of desperation and hopelessness. I can feel resentment boiling inside me. He passes gas in bed on purpose, he leaves his stuff everywhere, and he lives in the television set when he’s not at work or with his buddies. I don’t even know this guy. There’s never been a divorce in my family…you just tough it out. I’m only twenty-seven and I can’t bear to look ahead. Can you help me? Agnes
Answer: Dear Agnes: You need someone to talk with, one-on-one. This is a much deeper issue than web counseling can resolve. If you have broached the subject of relationship counseling and met with the silent treatment, then go on your own.
Divorce is a very difficult experience for most of us. It may not be your solution but you have to find a way to move on and that may end up the only answer. Not now. What you need right now is a really good therapist who can help you sort out what went wrong and if there is anything that can be done about it.
It is very easy to enter marriage full of dreams of moonlight and roses. Infatuation at its most dizzying heights can blot out each and every danger signal. You had expectations and so did your husband. If his behavior changed before yours did, then his expectations were probably the first to hit the skids. That doesn’t mean you are doing anything wrong or failing in any way and it doesn’t mean you’re not. It means something is off for your husband, either real or imagined. Marriage calls for a shift into adulthood and it’s not uncommon for men to want to stay boys at home, even if they can’t at work.
With a good therapist, you can look at your own expectations and see how far off the mark they may have been as well. Relationship advice starts with personal advice. The silent treatment doesn’t work…being a victim doesn’t either. What works is clarity followed by action. There’s a possibility that when you take the step to seek help your husband will have an epiphany and want to work with you. If not, staying may be something you will eventually opt out of, no matter what others in your family have done in the past. This is you, and this is your life. Be your own advocate and get help. Blessings, Luise