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Unhappy Wife Struggles With Her Next Step
Written By: Mark Smith

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A reader recently wrote “I almost filed for divorce two years ago but I decided to try some steps in the book ‘The 5 Love Languages’. It helped somewhat - I no longer am angry at my husband like I was for many years. We are just different people with different needs and different thought processes! I know something major is missing. I envy the people who say their spouse is their best friend or those who would marry their husbands all over again. I wouldn't. I would have listened to the voice that said ‘walk away while you have a chance.’ I want a second chance. I'd like to believe there is someone out there better suited for me. I have come to the realization that my personality is ‘people-pleasing’. I hate to disappoint people - especially family. I know I don't cherish him the way he deserves to be cherished. We have two preteen boys. So...I'm curious...where do I go from here. Am I selfish for wanting more? Or do I play the martyr, fake genuine happiness, and stay because it's the best for our sons but not for me? Sincerely, Beth”

Dear Beth, I have so much that I want to tell you with not enough space to tell it. #1 you need to stay angry at your husband. Anger is a healthy emotion. Your relationship is asleep and dying on the vine. It needs a healthy dose of conflict. When you let go of your anger you gave up trying to work towards change. The first thing that you need to do is find an excellent marital therapist. If your husband won’t go then you need to start the process without him. You need to let your husband know that in your heart you are teetering on the edge of divorce – this might motivate him to join you in the therapist’s office.

#2 You say that something major is missing in your relationship. One thing that is missing is YOU. You need to bring a great deal of passion and heart to a WAR with your husband. He is emotionally unaware. You need to burst his bubble of obliviousness with your anger, your urgency and your fire.

#3 you said that you want a second chance, that you’d like to believe there is someone out there better suited for me, that you are a people-pleaser and that it is especially hard to disappoint people your family. For you right now a second chance is not the answer. You married your husband for a reason and that reason was actually NOT to find happiness. You married him so that he would not meet your needs and so that you would hurt. Yes, that is what I said. The purpose of marriage is to cause us pain. Who knew? What were your parents like? How did they love you? Did one or both of them abandon you?
Your marriage is working exactly the way it was designed to work. He is what you picked. You now have an opportunity now to work on yourself, to resolve your core childhood issues of not having enough intimate connection. You have business to attend to within yourself first before you completely should give up on your marriage and move on.

#4 you asked where you should go from here, are you selfish for wanting more, should you play the martyr,
fake genuine happiness, and should you stay because it's the best for our sons but not for me. Well, you will get different answers regarding these questions depending on who you ask. But you are asking me so where goes…no, you are absolutely not selfish for wanting more. That is healthy. You should want a lot more then what you are experiencing now in your marriage. And no, you should not play the martyr and fake happiness. You really ultimately won’t be fooling anybody anyway. You need to feel your sadness and your anger and like I said, you need to go to war with your husband. You need to let the world know that you are hurting. And you must start therapy immediately.

If after a year or two of working extremely hard in therapy zero progress is made (perhaps due to a lack of ability or effort on his part) and you are still miserable then the next step would be a separation. That might be a powerful enough intervention to wake him up. If after six months to a year of separation nothing has gotten better then I do not think that you should stay in a marriage that is so miserable for you. That will harm your sons just as much or more then a divorce would. For now though you have a great deal of work to do on yourself. I suggest reading the book ‘Getting The Love You Want’ by Harville Hendricks. It will help point you to the link between your childhood and your marital choices. I wish you the best.

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This article was authored by Family Tree Counseling Associates, a marriage, individual and family counseling center serving the Indianapolis, Carmel, Fishers, Westfield and Noblesville communities in Indiana. If you would like to contact us, please fill out a contact us form or call us at 317-844-2442.
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