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Q.My husband and I have been married for several years. Very early in our relationship intimacy fell off the page (his inexplicable internal issue which he always said he’d fix) and I accepted the issue because I truly loved him. He is sweet and loyal, and gave me the attention and commitment past boyfriends had not. As the sex issue became status quo I also began seeing we are two different people. He is an introvert who is not comfortable in any social setting, lacks emotional communication, and likes to be in denial; I am a social person who relishes in joy, laughter, and great connections. Eventually I was stuck in a life that was slowly suffocating me as my inner desires began to float away.
After a few years of marriage, I finally awoke inside and realized I couldn’t go on this way. We engaged in all sorts of therapy — couples, sex, individual — and it showed me I’m not living the way I need to. This past winter I decided this was the year to break the sad pattern my life had become, and I moved out a few months ago to get clarity and breathe. I am finally feeling like I used to — the happy-go-lucky girl who loves to feel joy and be with engaging people (and finding myself attracted to other men and the thought of happier future). Now the question is ... what to do with my husband who still loves me and wants to show me he can make me happy because he’s had time to reflect and change?
A.Sounds like you don’t want to give this another chance. Not at all.
If that’s the case, all you can do is tell your husband that you want to move on. You can explain that this break has made you feel like a healthier person. I might point out to him that if he feels like a better version of himself right now, he should consider why. Maybe being on his own has been best for him, too.
Sometimes it helps to return to therapy for this kind of conversation. If you’re making final decisions about separation and divorce, a professional can help with the uncomfortable questions and complicated answers.
This is also a time to call on close friends and family. I get that he’s an introvert, but if he has one or two close friends who can hang around during this process, it’ll help define your role as ex, as opposed to partner.
Do this sooner than later. It sounds like he’s the one in limbo.
Letter writer, lots of people are divorced from people they truly love because in reality they just weren’t right for each other.
Just leave already. Give him the chance to find someone who thinks he’s great as is. A few more years of yo-yo-ing him around while you decide who will replace him while you get your groove back is no favor to him.
Hypothetically speaking, if he were willing and able to resolve any issues he can (sex, communication, etc.), do you think you’d still be happy on a daily basis given your inherent personality differences? Answer that, and proceed accordingly.
Letter writer, you’ve been ready to be done with this for a while. Your husband had a multitude of opportunities to “reflect and change” before you physically removed yourself from his daily life. It took you leaving for things to turn around? Maybe he really is genuine in his intentions but to an outsider it sounds like he’s saying whatever he can to keep you. I’ve been in this situation and know how conflicting it can feel. You’ve seen a glimpse of happiness — take it. Don’t shove that happy version of yourself back into the dark recesses because you feel some sense of obligation. Maybe you’re really asking if you’re allowed to let him go: you are.
I was just going to say same thing ... people shouldn’t expect others to change their core personality. He is who he is; just like letter writer is who she is. There’s no right/wrong.
You are asking us for a way to divorce him without hurting him. There isn’t one. Tell him what you started with — you are happier this way -—and let him find his own introvert. There is no way to soften the blow of a divorce request.
I doubt things are as black-and-white as you suggest. According to you, the intimacy didn’t work out solely because of him; he doesn’t enjoy any social settings; completely lacks emotional communication (whatever that means); lives in denial; and is the reason your life was “suffocating.” What about your part in all this? Did you not get any insights about that after years of multiple kinds of therapy? And if the things you say about him are true, why did you not notice or take them seriously before you married him? In contrast, you write about yourself and your behavior in nothing but glowing terms, and it’s all “I, I, I, me, me, me,” etc. Somehow I feel you have some growing up to do, and some humility to gain.
As an introvert who also has severe social anxiety, I can assure you we are also fans of joy, laughter, and great connections. If he feels judgment from you, he’ll probably just retreat further into himself. Let him go. You are fundamentally incompatible, even if you had a connection once. Give him the opportunity to feel joy again with someone who accepts him as he is.
The letter in 4 lines: I wanted out. I got out. I am happy that I am out. Should I go back and give him another chance? The answer in one: No.