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Ask Julie: I Want Out Of My Marriage

I have been married for 15 years. I have grown very much but he has not. He will not deal with any issues between us. He is really immature. He never accepts responsibility for his part in any problem. (Everything is always my fault according to him.) We went to counseling two times but the same thing happened. He only argued with the counselor and she said she couldn’t talk to him. 

I started my own business in 2004 so I could become financially independent so I could divorce my husband. I am still too poor to leave him, but my finances are getting a little better. I think in a year I will have money to leave. I am so antsy. I can hardly stand him. Everyday I say in my mind, “I hate him so much.” It is so difficult for me. Other people do not like him either. He is anti-social. We have no “couple” friends because no one likes him. I can hardly stand it anymore. I need to do something.

A: I’m so glad that you are reaching out for help and advice with your difficult marital situation. It sounds like you feel trapped and extremely resentful that your husband won’t own up to his contribution to your distressed marriage and continue seeing a counselor. Considering his defensiveness, I’m surprised that your husband actually attended two counseling sessions. On some level, that tells me that he does care about the relationship and about you.

I have several questions for you. Does your husband know how seriously you are considering divorce? Does he know exactly what you’re looking for from him in order for you to stay happily in your current marriage? Does he want to stay in the marriage?

If you haven’t told him how desperate you feel, it may be time to let him know. Tell him how lonely you are and how you long for a closer relationship with him, but that you are losing hope about this marriage unless you can find a way to feel closer to him. If he isn’t willing to go to marriage counseling again, ask him what he is willing to do. Is he willing to go to a marriage retreat? Attend a workshop? Will he read a book? I recommend that you both read the book Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations For A Lifetime Of Love by Dr. Sue Johnson to understand the root of the disconnection that your marriage is stuck in. If he isn’t willing to do anything to improve the relationship, then it’s clear that you need to make a change and continue with your plan of becoming financially independent so you can move on.

Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

This post originally appeared in my Psych Central Ask the Therapist column

Ask Julie: My In-Law Hate Me (& the feeling is mutual)

Q: My in-laws hate me and the feeling is mutual.

How do I handle the situation without alienating my husband or making him feel torn? We’ve been dealing with it for a couple years & it’s HARD. Any advice?

A: In-law relationships are particularly tricky because you’re competing for the same man’s attention — your husband/their son.

I wish I had a bit more information about your relationship history with them like: When did the relationship become so negative? Did you have a time where you did get along? How do you handle your emotions about this? Are they intentionally mean to you? If you’d like to write back with more details I’d be happy to respond again.

If the 3 most important people in his life don’t like each other he will feel torn about it.

So here’s what you can do:

1) Go to counseling to work through your own emotions about your in-laws, explore why you are so stuck in the negative emotions, find ways to become more emotionally neutral about this relationship, and work on what you can do to improve the relationship.

2) Limit the complaints that you share with your husband about his parents. This will help him have some relief from feeling “in the middle”. Chronic complaining about his parents will likely wear on your hubby and end up negatively impact your marriage.

3) Come up with a cue word with your husband so you can gently signal him when you really need him to step in and take a stand for you to his parents.

4) Decide what kind of daughter-in-law you want to be and then become her no matter how they are behaving. Taking charge of your own behavior feels better than reacting based on their behavior.

Remember that you chose your husband and by doing so you chose his family. Do your best to let the little annoyances slide, pick your battles, and do your best.

Take good care of you and yours!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

Send me your love & relationship questions here!