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Still unhappily married

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  March 8, 2012 08:36 AM

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A big sorry to everyone who tried to chat yesterday. The software rebelled and shut down. We will make up for it next week, I promise.


Q: Dear Meredith,

I met my wife through some mutual friends about two years ago. She was visiting Boston and ended up falling in love with the city and decided to give it a try. We ended up spending a great deal of time together and dating.

During that time, I had felt rather happy and satisfied with my life except for one thing -- I had not had a chance to pursue a meaningful relationship. I had spent almost all of my time after college building my life into what I wanted with my job, friends, and family. Because I was new to the dating game, I did anything I could to keep this new relationship alive.

After about five months of us dating, she became very critical of me and began to complain about various details of my life. I would often hear that I would be spending too much time at work, with my family and friends, or that I didn't spend enough time with her. She began to threaten leaving me, and due to my weak sense of self at the time, I did all I could to accommodate her. I changed my job, moved, and essentially devoted as much time as I could into making her happy.

Soon enough we became pregnant and quickly got married. We never got a chance to finish the dating part of our relationship and essentially put it on hold as we prepared for raising a child. We now live closer to her family.

As you can probably guess, we have had a rough marriage. It is now a few years later and I still have problems being happy with our situation and working out our differences. We argue about everything from the smallest quirks to our plans for the future (although we have ensured these emotions don't leak to our child). In a desperate attempt to save our marriage and keep our family together, we saw two different marriage counselors. The first one pushed the idea of a divorce, so we left him to look for another one who would be willing to encourage us to stay together.

Fortunately, the second counselor has been helping us see past our differences and we have become considerably more loving and caring as a couple. We rarely argue now but no matter what happens through the sessions, I cannot be happy. It does not seem like I have any emotional issues, I am just so upset about what has happened and where I am in my life at the moment. My wife seems to be happy and I want nothing more than to be able to share that feeling with her.

As of right now I am having trouble becoming intimate and excited about life again. What can I do? I just want to get over the feeling that I lost control of my life and be happy.

– Want to Stay, Formerly Boston


A: Are you still seeing that second marriage counselor, WTS? Because you have to admit these lingering bad feelings in front of a third party. Counselor No. 2 obviously helped you guys make some huge improvements in your marriage, but you're still stuck. That's something worth discussing.

I can't fix this for you or give you a magic pill to prevent resentment and misery, but I can tell you that you need to start imagining ways to be happy in this relationship. Would you feel closer to your wife and happier about your situation if you lived near your friends and family again? Is there a geographic compromise?

I find it interesting that you bailed from the counselor who pushed you to get a divorce. That person was giving you a way out. You could have easily turned to your wife and said, "Well, the professional has spoken. Let's get this separation rolling." Instead you opted to find a person who could save the marriage. Is that because you love your wife or because you feel obligated to stay? You need to be able to answer that question -- out loud.

I want you to know that you're not the only person who feels like they lost control of their adult life. Sometimes change happens and we just have to cope. That said, your whole goal in life before meeting this woman was to have a great job and to be close to friends and family. By hooking up with her, you've lost all of it. There has to be a way that you can get some of those great things back (proximity to friends, an inspiring job, etc.). I have a feeling that if she prioritized creating a better environment for you, you wouldn't be so sad about staying committed.

I don't know whether I agree with counselor No. 1 or 2., but it sort of depends on whether your wife understands that you need a big community and a full life in order to be happy. Get the answer to that question, even if it means disturbing the peace.

Readers? Do any of us have control? Is he in a marriage that can be saved? How can he let go of this resentment? Am I right to say that he'd be happier if he was closer to friends again? Help.


– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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