Q: Hi Meredith,
I am in need of some advice and/or maybe some "just deal with it" perspective. I am a married woman with young children. My husband and I got married and then very quickly had children. As a result, we didn't have a lot of time when it was just the two of us, and the stresses of raising children have definitely gotten to us. Here is where I need the advice ...
Although I am very confident that my husband is a great father, I am much less confident that we are a healthy couple. I fantasize about divorcing him frequently, and often find myself thinking that if money and kids were not issues, I would be totally out of this relationship. I don't get much joy out of being with him, and we are constantly bickering with each other over things like cleaning, child rearing, our respective families, etc. I end up getting so angry and disgusted with him and vice versa. We've tried couples counseling and it helped a bit, but I think the fundamental issue is that I just don't like my husband very much. I find him nit-picky, defensive, annoying, and overly demanding. Any reserves we had are pretty much gone. And there's nothing really wrong with him -- he's a nice guy with a good job, good sense of humor, from a good family, etc. I'm just not that into him. But of course being married with small children makes it pretty difficult to just get up and go. I don't want to hurt them.
So, should I just deal with it and try to find things I like about my husband or should we do something else? Which is worse? Parents who don't really like each other or divorced parents? Advice? Thanks!
– Trouble in Suburban Paradise, Medford
A: I would never tell you to "just deal with it," TISP. Is that even possible at this point?
Experts go back and forth about the kid issue, but my official, advice-columnist opinion is that kids are happier when they have happy parents. Of course, divorce won't necessarily make you happy. It might solve some problems, but it will absolutely create others.
I don't know enough about your situation to endorse divorce. I will only say that if you are certain that there is no love to rediscover, no healthy partnership to save, and no future laughs to be shared as partners, then yes, divorce seems like a pretty practical option.
If I had you in a room with me I'd have to ask: 1) What spawned this marriage to begin with? 2) Were you happy during that short time without kids? 3) When you fantasize about divorcing your husband, how do you envision your single life?
It sounds like you need to bring up divorce in therapy because that's where you can safely answer my questions and decide what's at the root of this. There are ways to avoid bickering about cleaning, kids, and in-laws, but if the fundamental issue is that you're not into (and maybe don't like) your spouse, you're just going to keep hitting a wall.
Go back to that therapist and ask: What is the best-case scenario for this marriage? Then talk about my questions and find out whether your husband has the same answers.
Readers? Therapy? Divorce? Is this about the kids? 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 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.