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Conflicted Feelings Towards My Husband

by Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

From the U.S.: To give a little background, My husband and I have been married for 13 years. We have three young children…ages 3,8,11. Until recently I have been a stay at home mom for the entire marriage. In my perspective, We have had a contentious marriage. We fought a lot, He worked a lot, He was VERY critical of me and how I was handling the home and kids, I disappointed him a lot, etc. But we have had some good moments too. In his perspective, We have had really good marriage with a few bumps in the road. This last year I have been at the end of my rope. I no longer feel loving feelings towards my husband. We started counseling 6 months ago. When we started I resented him and had angry feelings towards him. I don’t have those anymore. He has made A LOT of really good changes. However, I do not feel the way a wife should about their husband. I still feel unhappy even though he has made these changes. I have toyed with the idea of divorce (even made a budget and looked for a general idea of what renting a house would cost), but this is where my conflict is. Should I divorce in hopes of feeling relief and new love? Should I stay where I am because things are horrible and breaking up the family would be worse? I am terrified of making the wrong decision. I know it’s a huge one. But 6 months of counseling has not changed how I feel. What do I do?

Since the two of you are already in therapy and it has been effective, the thing to do is to talk honestly about how you are feeling in session. Your therapist has probably come to understand each of you and will have much more to offer you than I can on the basis of a 250-word letter. I don’t know if you’ve given it an honest try and your husband really isn’t doing enough or if your expectations are unrealistic. Or the problem may be something else entirely.

What I do know for sure is this: Your difficulties with your husband won’t end with a divorce. You have three young children. That means the two of you will be in each other’s lives for at least another 20 years. Yes, people can and do move on. But it takes a great deal of effort to recover from the separation and find someone new while still making divorced parenting work. Ultimately, only you can decide if the effort to transform the marriage is easier or harder than the effort to be co-parents living in separate places.

Please do let your therapist know about your struggle to stay in the marriage. Whether you decide to stay together or decide to part, your therapy can be an important factor for making either choice in a way that is healthy for everyone involved.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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