Sometimes people write for advice when what they are looking for is for me to tell them what they, deep down inside, already know. Take a look at this email from a woman at her whit’s end with her marriage. She seems to be asking for my permission to move on with her life.
I am a 33-year-old woman, married for seven years, with two children. My husband, Pierre, provides absolutely no emotional support for our kids or me. I’m not sure he is capable of doing so.
Pierre works dinner shifts in a restaurant, six days a week. When he’s home, he sleeps until noon, then gets ready for work and off he goes. The kids are usually asleep when he comes home, and I’m not far behind. Sundays it’s up early and out the door to play soccer with his friends for most of the day. When I complain about the lack of family time, he shrugs and says he’ll look for a job with a better schedule, but he never does anything about it.
I doubt it’s possible for him to change jobs. Pierre has pretty severe ADHD. He’s been promising to finish high school since we married. Without a high school diploma his opportunities are limited. He makes decent money in the restaurant position. Jobs with schedules that are more conducive to family life either don’t pay as well or are out of his league.
The ADHD makes it nearly impossible to have a conversation with him about anything serious. He tunes out, becomes unresponsive, and pouts like a little boy. When he does respond, he does so impulsively, saying and doing some outlandish things.
We tried therapy. We were told to make sure we spend time together, talk and schedule a date night. None of that happened, and I don’t think anything ever will. Pierre is just not into it.
Being married to someone so unavailable and insensitive has drained me. I’m lonely. I think I deserve something better. What should I do?
Your frustration is understandable. You are trying to enlist the participation of an unwilling partner who rejects your efforts.
How is Pierre managing his ADHD? Is he taking medication or using other tools or forms of treatment? If he is and he’s unable to deal with this issue, then there is little chance of you getting through to him.
I am assuming that therapy was your idea and your husband was not interested in trying out the therapist’s recommendations. Is there any chance he would agree to give therapy another try?
I see three options for you to consider
Continue to manage your feelings and compromise your emotional needs to accommodate his behavior and limitations.
You may stay married in the short term, but eventually, you will end up resenting him, and your marriage will deteriorate further.
Find a therapist with whom you can both agree to work.
Sometimes the first therapist you see may not be a good fit. Maybe he/she doesn’t specialize in the kinds of issues you are trying to resolve. If that is the case, and he will go along with it, interview several therapists, select one, and give therapy another shot.
Reality check: Do some soul searching.
Consider that your partner may be deliberately avoiding you and blocking any attempts to fix your relationship. I strongly recommend that you have a discussion with him about his commitment to the marriage.
If he is both capable of being committed to the relationship and committed to it, you have a shot. He will need to be open to the two of you seeking help to fix the relationship, willing to accept feedback, and engaged in trying new ideas for building an adult relationship.
My advice/ your call to action
You need a willing partner who wants to work together to overcome your marriage challenges. If your spouse is unwilling and ignores your repeated attempts to seek help, you either accept the relationship the way it is or choose to divorce and move on.
I suspect that deep down inside you already know what you need to do. Perhaps you asked because you want my permission to make that decision. You don’t need my permission. Go with your gut instinct.
Marriage does not need to last a lifetime. A great part of being in a relationship is having someone to share your life with, celebrate special moments, and bring you up when you are feeling down. You aren’t getting that all alone, married to Mr. Unavailable. You deserve an equal partner in life.
I sincerely hope this helps.