I’m a 43-year-old man, married, with three daughters. I have a bothersome (non-visible) illness that affects me daily.
For 10 years, I’ve suffered flare-ups of extreme pain and hospitalization. The then-required medication makes me feel bloated and become overweight, which I dislike.
Between episodes, I’m fit and active.
My family history includes losing both my parents and my only sibling due to illnesses.
My marriage has also been “rocky.” In the past, I linked my rough times as having to do with my condition.
But I’ve recently realized that, if my wife and I were right for each other, wouldn’t these stresses have brought us closer?
I want to get back the spark in life and be happier. Is it time to walk away from my marriage and focus on me?
Reality check: Hard times are hard on everyone in the family.
When you’re ill, your partner has extra duties keeping the household and kids’ schedules going. If she also works, that doubles her load.
When you had severe illness flare-ups, she, too, had worries about your health and longevity.
She likely also missed out on many fun outings together, and you both have had times when your illness interfered with having the benefits of reassuring, loving sex together.
It’s not surprising if both of you lost your emotional connection during those stress periods.
Yes, you can now focus on ways for you to be happier, but leaving the marriage should not be your first step.
Getting counseling together takes precedence. You may find that she, too, is dissatisfied with the way things are and has even considered a separation.
More important, you’ll each voice your hurts and disappointments and hear the similar impact on each other.
But that doesn’t mean it’s a hopeless situation. Through a process of counseling you’ll both become aware of your own contributions to how things went awry.
Then, it’s up to your capacity for understanding the other’s side, for feeling compassion, and willingness to compromise.
Divorce is rarely an easy answer. It’s sometimes necessary, but often carries a new set of problems e.g. being a part-time parent of children who don’t accept the situation well.
The single life can also be very unsatisfying for a long period.
Dig deeper into what’s gone wrong. Then decide slowly and thoughtfully about how to seek more happiness.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the woman considering having a child via sperm “donor” (June 26):
“You wrote about “strong sentiments… from children who were conceived through sperm donation, of wanting a connection with that person as their genetic father."
“Thank you. This desire is rarely recognized in public speech. I was conceived by artificial insemination from an anonymous man. My documentary, Offspring, about the search for his identity, was seen on CBC, BBC, etc. I’ve since identified 35 half-siblings.
“I never felt I had the right to a “connection.” I, and many others, simply want the information of who we come from.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the man who lost his wife two years ago (June 26):
Reader – “My husband also passed two years ago. My mother-in-law said/did many things that I didn’t approve, but I talked to her heart-to-heart every time and explained what I stand for.
“We didn't have any relationship before my husband died. Grieving while getting acquainted was frustrating.
But it’s important to acknowledge their feelings and reassure them that nothing will change if ever you move on.”
FEEDBACK Regarding how a concerned stepmother believes that her husband should handle his two adult sons (June 27):
Reader – “Her letter didn’t reveal one very important question: Are the young men working as bartenders happy?
“She described them as excellent but underpaid. Her letter implies that she thinks that they could do better, follow in the footsteps of their Dad (and herself) who both worked hard to become lawyers.
“Maybe being a bartender is something that makes them happy.
“Or, if they’re constantly complaining about their jobs and regret their choices, offer suggestions.
“Maybe they want to open their own bar, and are using the time to develop their skills, make connections.
“Or they like the hours of freedom in the day to pursue other creative opportunities. It isn’t her idea of a good job, but maybe it suits them.
“She can encourage them to make financial plans which include money set aside in case of illness or injury.”
Tip of the day:
A rocky, stressful marriage? Look first at reasons on both sides, through counseling, before considering leaving.