My wife and I are like passing ships… she’s always working and so am I. We have five-year-old twin sons at daycare full-time. Evenings, we’re always focused on our boys.
Neither of us can cut back on work hours because we have very demanding jobs with high-pressure deadlines.
I’ve been suggesting weekend getaways for the two of us but she’s uninterested, despite that there are grandparents eager to help out.
I can’t live like this much longer. I hardly get any attention. I feel like we’re only roommates.
I can’t explain my feelings to her because she’s uninterested in any suggestion I make to do something fun and romantic like salsa dancing.
I’ve tried to fix our marriage but got nowhere. What do you advise?
Pressured work followed by tending to children’s needs, has caused many people to feel neglected and lonely while married.
You’re each so locked into daily demands that trying to connect as a couple creates tension from any added request, or it’s just dismissed.
Yet time together can happen, if partners recognize that you both have needs that aren’t being met. Salsa dancing is fun, but it’s only a distraction, not the solution.
You’ve moved your wish for more attention to feeling hopeless about your marriage, but without first talking openly together about needed changes for you both.
Not even professional marital therapy is likely to work when you’re already halfway out the door.
However, when you consider how breaking up will affect your sons, and the years of repair work ahead to keep them feeling secure, then counselling can help.
Start the process on your own. Instead of complaining about what’s missing in your marriage, recognize that your wife’s as preoccupied by schedule demands as you are.
Discuss what can be adjusted… e.g., grandparents sometimes picking up the kids, and feeding them at their home (if possible). Or set a couples’ “alone time” by pushing back some routines by an hour.
Use any added evening time for just being in touch with each other, and reviving some of the appeal - romantic and sexual - that drew you together.
That’s when marriage counselling can best help… or is no longer needed.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the man who’s "Sad and Angry" (Oct.5)
“I went through a painful divorce after 20+ years of marriage with two teenagers. My ex left suddenly so I understand his shock. I had a counselor and a psychiatrist for almost two years and it helps because counseling is a container for all your bad feelings and pain.
“When you're ready, you can walk away from them and leave all the negativity behind. For the financial stuff, there are laws: it's the cost of leaving a marriage. Your spouse is angry but will have to accept the reality if she wants to move on. Perhaps going to see a mediator could lessen the conflict instead of going through lawyers.
“There’s research evidence that says it’s the conflict around divorce that’s damaging to kids, not the actual divorce. So put your son first and he'll be fine. Spend time with him having fun and get some counseling for him if he needs it.
“You can be happy again but it takes time; current wisdom says one year for every five years together. Spend time on yourself and your son, leave your spouse behind and move forward with your life.”
Been there, done that!
FEEDBACK Regarding the man whose brother rejected him without explanation (September 28):
Reader – “Our mutual friend long-ago told me that my brother wasn’t interested in discussing our estrangement. That was strongly repeated after the tragedy that happened in our larger family.
“I’d like your take on WHY my brother was so insular and separated from me and my family.
“I suggested a possible offense by me in the past, simply because I have no clue as to his behaviour towards me! Sibling Rivalry? Jealousy?
“One therapist said, “It’s his prerogative, so just accept it!” But that’s very difficult without an explanation!”
Ellie - That was a wise therapist. Your “happy family” picture may not ever be possible. Either your brother doesn’t want it for a reason which he won’t disclose to you, or someone else has influenced him against you.
Accept the reality of estrangement instead of diminishing your own well-being with futile frustration and concerns.
Tip of the day:
Complaining about your marriage is counter-productive, making you feel worse. Consider with your partner what you both can do to improve it.