Dear Annie: My husband and I got into a pretty bad argument earlier this year, and in a drunken state, he told me to “f— off.” I was sober and shocked.
In our nearly two decades of marriage, we’d never had a history of being disrespectful to each other, and it was obvious he had some pent-up anger he needed to let out. Since that night, we’ve had a couple of other major blowups, including one on our wedding anniversary. We haven’t had sex in five months.
About a month ago, he told me he didn’t love me anymore and didn’t want to work on our marriage. I was devastated, even though I, too, have thought about divorce for a few years now.
My husband struggles with depression and has an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, and his constant pessimism is like a rain cloud over me and our two pre-teen boys. Even when we are out having fun as a family, it feels like he’ll always find something nominal to brood over for hours, and it impacts me more than I should let it.
Now I’m lost about what to do next. I don’t want to stay in a loveless marriage, but I don’t want my kids to go through the pain of a broken family. Every time we talk about “us,” it is instigated by me, as I don’t know if he’s going to take any action. I’m worried about the cost of divorce and starting over, and I have a lot of shame in not being able to make this marriage work.
Recently, I’ve realized my husband has not given me the emotional support I’ve needed over time and puts pressure on himself to compete with me in my successful career rather than support me. Conversely, he’s told me he wants a passionate physical relationship, and I haven’t been able to give that to him. I can’t be passionate about someone who can’t even give me his undivided attention when I am trying to discuss my day. I have explained this to him, but I haven’t seen anything change.
I don’t know if there is something to save, but it’s clear he’s not putting in effort either way. How do I move forward? — Broken and Confused
Dear Broken and Confused: I am sorry that you are having such a tough time. With the help of a professional therapist, you and your husband might have more clarity on what your next step should be.
As for feeling broken, that is completely understandable. Separation or divorce is a trauma and can take lots of therapy and the support of friends and family to help. You might feel broken right now, but once you get some clarity on your confusion on how to move forward, with or without your marriage in place, you will begin to feel whole again and the pieces will fall into place.
His “unhealthy relationship with alcohol” is no doubt a major source of your problems, and you might receive support as well as suggestions at Al-Anon meetings. Please, check them out.