Q: I have been with my wife for over almost a decade and we got married a few years ago. And I think I want a divorce, I just don't know what to do.
There has not been any one big fight or one big issue. And without question there are times where there is no one I would rather be with. But there are times when I feel, even on good days, that we just very good roommates. And there are times that seem to be occurring with more frequency, where I just wish I was by myself. I had always thought of myself as a relatively even-tempered person, usually in a good mood. But she can put me in a bad mood. There are times when I think that she is in a bad mood (perhaps incorrectly at times), which puts me in a bad mood, and that leads to tension.
I feel as if my wife is not happy, but I am not entirely sure why. I know she feels stressed all the time because of her job, but I think there is more (and I will admit I am not the best communicator and that it isn't easy for me to ask what else is bothering her … perhaps I am afraid she will say I am the problem). When we got married and when we were dating, we both had discussed how we did not want children. I have found that I am warming up to the idea but still am not ready, but suddenly she keeps talking about wanting them now. I also think that when she wants to, she looks for a reason to be unhappy and clings to it.
There are also money issues. I used to have a job that paid very well, but I hated it. It was not what I wanted to do. So I took a step back in my career, received additional training, which then allowed me to pursue what I really think is my dream job, which I have now. The problem is that this job does not pay much (about 50% of the job that I hated). This has definitely limited what we can do, where we can go, where we can live. And it definitely impacts our ability to afford children. There are some similar jobs that pay better, but those are very difficult to get. And if I could get one of those jobs I would; but she wants me to move on to something, anything, that pays better and that makes me feel stuck. If I stay in my current job, we will continue to have money issues (we can pay our bills, live a simple life, but nothing else). If I leave for a job that pays more because she wants me to, I know I will just resent her for it.
I just feel as too often I am not happy at the end of the day. But with student loans and my current job, I don't know that I can afford to be single (my wife makes more money than I do). There is also just the shame I think I would feel in getting divorced. Most, if not all, of my friends really like my wife. Our wedding was a great time and everyone honestly always talks about it still. I just don't know if I could do it, and I don't even know where to begin. I know communication would help, but I also am scared at what might come out.
– Not sure about my marriage, Boston
A: "I know communication would help." That's the understatement of the month, NSAMM.
You don't know what your wife is thinking. You don't ask. You make guesses about why she's angry. You make assumptions about what she might say if you talked to her about your problems.
You're not allowed to plan a divorce until you know that you need one. You don't know anything right now. And seriously, your wife deserves to know what's going on in your head. She's probably anxious because you're obviously unhappy. She's working like crazy -- at her job and at home -- and you've done little to explain your plan for your personal and professional future.
The kid thing is huge. The money thing is huge. You give incredibly mixed signals. (You might want a divorce ... but you're warming up to the idea of having kids with your wife? How does that work?)
I'm not blaming you for any of this, but you need to stop running away from honest discussion. If you're a better writer than talker, email your wife. Tell her that you're confused about what you want. Tell her that you'd like to see her happy again. Tell her that you're ready for the truth.
Again, you can't rev up for a divorce until you understand your own relationship. Think about what you want for your marriage and then talk (or write) to your wife about making it happen. Please don't wait.
Readers? Should he be talking about divorce? Can you empathize with the wife? What about the job? And that last paragraph ... with the friends and the wedding? What does that tell you? Help.
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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 new novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith here and on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.