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Love Letters

The end of a marriage?

Q.I am in need of some advice and/or maybe some “just deal with it” perspective. I am a married woman with young children. My husband and I got married and then very quickly had children. As a result, we didn’t have a lot of time when it was just the two of us, and the stresses of raising children have definitely gotten to us. Here is where I need the advice . . .

Although I am very confident that my husband is a great father, I am much less confident that we are a healthy couple. I fantasize about divorcing him frequently, and often find myself thinking that if money and kids were not issues, I would be totally out of this relationship. I don’t get much joy out of being with him, and we are constantly bickering with each other over things like cleaning, child rearing, our respective families, etc. I end up getting so angry and disgusted with him and vice versa. We’ve tried couples counseling and it helped a bit, but I think the fundamental issue is that I just don’t like my husband very much. I find him nitpicky, defensive, annoying, and overly demanding. Any reserves we had are pretty much gone. And there’s nothing really wrong with him — he’s a nice guy with a good job, good sense of humor, from a good family, etc. I’m just not that into him. But of course being married with small children makes it pretty difficult to just get up and go. I don’t want to hurt them.

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So, should I just deal with it and try to find things I like about my husband or should we do something else? Which is worse? Parents who don’t really like each other or divorced parents? Advice? Thanks!

Medford

A. I would never tell you to “just deal with it.” Is that even possible at this point?

Experts go back and forth about the kid issue, but my official, advice-columnist opinion is that kids are happier when they have happy parents. Of course, divorce won’t necessarily make you happy. It might solve some problems, but it will absolutely create others.

I don’t know enough about your situation to endorse divorce. I will only say that if you are certain that there is no love to rediscover, no healthy partnership to save, and no future laughs to be shared as partners, then yes, divorce seems like a pretty practical option.

If I had you in a room with me I’d have to ask: 1) What spawned this marriage to begin with? 2) Were you happy during that short time without kids? 3) When you fantasize about divorcing your husband, how do you envision your single life?

It sounds like you need to bring up divorce in therapy because that’s where you can safely answer my questions and decide what’s at the root of this. There are ways to avoid bickering about cleaning, kids, and in-laws, but if the fundamental issue is that you’re not into (and maybe don’t like) your spouse, you’re just going to keep hitting a wall.

Go back to that therapist and ask: What is the best-case scenario for this marriage? Then talk about my questions and find out whether your husband has the same answers.

READERS RESPOND:

Clearly she liked him enough to marry him. I think there may be some serious trouble that comes from his or her past that is causing her current dislike. Getting to the root of the problem is important — and it doesn’t sound like the counselor helped her reach that place. If she doesn’t deal with it upfront in this relationship, it may rear its ugly head again in the next. How about another counselor?

Therapy is much cheaper than divorce, and often gives you better results. I would suggest that you and your husband each try some, and see how it plays out. If you still want to divorce, you can be more confident that it’s the right decision. On the other hand, if you (or he) works something out that makes the relationship better, you’ll be glad you made the effort before breaking up the family.

It’s just sad that somebody can get married, have kids, and then let things slowly fall apart and wake up one day and decide that it’s over. I’m guessing that neither of you put much effort into this relationship.

I was married to someone I didn’t like and we had a small child. I got up and left, after almost killing each other emotionally while trying to work it out in counseling. I can’t say anything about it was easy. But I am a firm believer in creating the best environment for the children. It does not sound like your home is the best environment for the kids.

Remarried and lovin’ it! But that only happens for the one who didn’t fish and cut bait in the first place. As the instigator, you will think you’re happy for a while, then get jealous of his new wife. Good times.

I get that it’s a rock and a hard place, but I’ve been through both and I can tell you this: The scars I have from growing up with parents who hated each other (both before and after the divorce) are way worse than anything I endured with the actual divorce.

Grow up. So he is not Prince Charming. I am guessing it is a safe bet you are not Snow White either. Try and remember why you married him in the first place.

Please explain how you can find someone “nitpicky, defensive, annoying, and overly demanding” and then call him “a nice guy with a good job, good sense of humor.” I for one don’t think your counseling was very good. Or perhaps you stopped too soon.

I am divorced. When I was married, I felt like my husband didn’t like me. I think he thought I was a good mother and a good person, but he didn’t seem to actually like me or have much interest in talking to me or hanging out with me. It’s a terrible way to feel. I wonder if your husband feels the same way? I couldn’t live that way anymore and initiated the divorce. I can honestly say we are both much happier now.

This column and reader comments are edited and reprinted from www.boston.com/love
letters.
Meredith Goldstein can be reached at mgoldstein@
globe.com
. She chats online Wednesdays at 1 p.m.
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