Red Responds: From Newlyweds to Distant Roommates

Doubtful in Los Angeles writes:

I recently married my High School sweetheart. We reunited after many years of being apart, and he moved across the country to be with my son and me. When we reunited it seemed so magical. Neither of us had ever been married, and we hadn’t forgotten how strongly we each felt about the other.

Now, instead of feeling like newlyweds, we are more like distant roommates. We don’t “get” each other’s personalities, have opposite views on politics, spirituality and what we consider fun – and we really don’t have much to talk about with one another, except mundane day-to-day things.

When we have time alone together we usually end up arguing or avoiding one another so we don’t have to argue. He is a really good person, but very insecure – and he has a “victim mentality” that I just can’t respect. I am so bored and lonely in this relationship, and I can’t imagine spending the rest of my life like this, but the thing that is holding me back is that he and my son have a great relationship – he is the only stable father figure my son has ever had.

I have never had a happy long-term relationship, and don’t want my son to have to suffer because of my inability to do so. I know that the purpose of relationships are to be a mirror for what we need to work on in ourselves, and I am trying so hard to look at myself with clarity and be the very best person I can be – but I have big doubts about whether I will ever have the type of intimate relationship I want, with this man or any other. Should I stay in this relationship to keep the “stable” family for my son? Should I try to make the most of it?

Dear Doubtful,

If the one thing you hold onto in order to stay married is the relationship your husband has with your son, your marriage will not survive. However, that doesn’t mean that the relationship between this man and your son has to fail. Married or divorced, they can remain a part of each other’s lives.

Relationships are hard, and marriage can be even harder. What you really need to decide for yourself is what does the success or failure of this relationship mean to you? Since entering this marriage, each of you has greatly lost sight of why you chose to come together and walk down this road. The differences that exist between the two of you have always been there, but now that you are married you are looking at these things as if they were a laundry list of flaws.

You didn’t marry a man that you can’t respect, can’t talk with, and don’t connect with. His faults and idiosyncrasies were right there with you when you exchanged your vows. It’s just that you just didn’t expect this relationship, and life, to become real. Now that they have you’re looking at it like the magic is gone.

Your husband isn’t the perfect man, or even necessarily the perfect mate for you. But, through all this difficulty and upheaval, he does still love you. Even though you may not be feeling it, his love may just be strong enough for the both of you.

The two of you no longer communicate, much less communicate well. Compromise has become a word in the dictionary, not a part of your lives. Each of you is feeling lonely and frustrated, but he hasn’t given up on you – even though you regularly project that you resent him. It’s not an easy situation, but it has yet to cross the line into hopelessness.

Working to be the best person you can be is awesome, but you also need to work at being the best partner you can be. So does he. The communication breakdown that exists between the two of you is making this a bit of an uphill battle. Sure, it would be easier for you to walk away from this relationship than to stay in it – but before you make that call, why don’t you stick it out a little longer and fight to improve things? You have nothing to lose, and a marriage and a family that can be saved.

There is much truth in the saying that opposites attract, but when two people are so very opposite, neither one can have things their own way. When it comes to relationships, sometimes you have to make the choice of whether you would prefer to be right and alone – or accepting and happy. Your unhappiness is obvious, and it is affecting you in more ways than you are aware. Naturally, it spills out into your marriage.

If you don’t work toward changing things, nothing is going to change. You don’t have to agree on everything, but each of you needs to learn to be more appreciative, respectful, and supportive of the other person’s point of view. Debating can be healthy, but arguing only increases the emotional distance. Sometimes you have to learn when to agree to disagree.

Talk with your husband about improving this relationship. Find a good marriage counselor to work with you – both as individuals – and as a couple. If you are still completely miserable in three months, dreading the next 30 years, then you really should consider going your own way. You have a right – and a responsibility to yourself – to be happy. But you also have a responsibility to your marriage to do all that you can before making a decision to walk away.

Your marriage may never be perfect, but if both of you work at it, it can be a heck of a lot better than it is now. Happiness isn’t elusive, but it is something that both of you need to work toward. The fate of your marriage really comes down to you, and what you are – and are not – willing to do.

Good luck!
Ext. 9266

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