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Is divorce the right answer?

‘We tried marriage counseling for several months at his request, but the same pattern always happened’

Love Letters

Love Letters

Q. My husband and I have been married for the better part of a decade, the last few years of which have been a struggle. He used to do a million little things to make my day better. Now it’s like a million little things he “forgets” to do, and it all just adds to my plate.

We had a child a few years ago, which is when the change happened. Where it used to be teamwork and an equitable sharing of duties, it is now me feeling like I take care of all of his and our child’s needs. Mine are no longer being met. Our child and I never get to see him because he refuses to switch work shifts, and spends all of his free time (sometimes up to 18 hours a day on the weekends) playing video games. He does not help with any of the household duties, he shares no emotional or physical intimacy with me, never celebrates holidays with us anymore, and has even said to me that he is not as attracted to me since having our child.

He has told me that he will work to save our marriage, but these changes are always short-lived and I’m always let down. We tried marriage counseling for several months at his request, but the same pattern always happened. So we sat down and together decided that divorce would be the “healthier option” for the three of us. My side is that he never made any real effort to fix things, but he tells his friends that we “just fell out of love.” I think that’s unfair! I love him!


I still want forever with this man. But I hate feeling alone in my marriage and having no help. How do I continue a marriage with someone who is physically there but chooses not to participate with me or his child? I don’t want my son to grow up watching a one-sided marriage. I don’t want these interactions to be what he thinks a man should act like — distant and unavailable. But I keep holding out hope that my husband will finally get it together and make this work with me.


So my dilemma is this: What the heck do I do? I feel like a failure. Like I could have done more or been a better wife to help him be a better husband. Do I try harder and give even more of myself to try to keep this family intact? Or do I stick to my decision and go through with the divorce?


A. You’re not a failure. You’ve done the best you can.

If your husband wants a divorce and is telling people he’s not in love with you, let go. That’s the answer, it seems.

You offer smart and thoughtful reasons for ending this marriage. The other option — sticking around and watching these issues play out over more time — might delay the inevitable. It also might be more difficult to split when everyone is older.

You’re nostalgic for — and still in love with — the man who was in this marriage six or seven years ago. That’s understandable. It also makes sense that you’re wondering whether this could go back to the way it was. But even if he got better at partnership, it wouldn’t be the same. He’d have to be all in and show you that he can be additive to the household. If he’s not present for you now, he might as well do his part from another location.


I think about narrative a lot, about the story we tell people about what happens in our relationship. It’s frustrating to hear his version of why this might end, but ignore it. You have your own take (one that probably includes the video games). You know what’s true — for you.

I’m so sorry this is happening. Just remember that you’re trying to build a happy home for you and your child. Find the path that gets you there.



Your husband left you and he’s no longer participating in the marriage or as a parent. It’s time to realize the string you’re hanging on by snapped a long time ago.


Why is it your job to make HIM a better husband?


It’s best to grieve your loss and start moving on. I honestly do not understand what you can still love about this man — a guy with a wife and child who plays video games 18 hours a day? You will recover from this loss and find someone who will want to be involved with your life. Good luck to you.


Marriage isn’t 50:50. Both sides need to give 100 percent. You are, he’s not. You have been clear about what you need/want. He heard you, but doesn’t seem to have any interest in making any substantive changes. He has checked out of the marriage and the relationship with your son. There is your answer.



Go to individual counseling and work on processing this loss. Surround yourself with family and friends who can offer support. Be positive with your son on discussing the future. You’ve tried your best, so hold your head high — you’ll need to for your son. I’m sorry this has happened to you, but sometime down the road you’ll be happy again. Good luck.


You could move out and do a trial separation. Maybe a few months alone could clarify things for you, if you don’t want to jump right to divorce. Something is really broken in him, not your fault.


Child rearing is NOT for everyone. It certainly infringes on his gaming time. Yes, divorce IS the right answer. Let him go.


Send your own relationship and dating questions to loveletters@globe.com or fill out this form. Catch new episodes of Meredith Goldstein’s “Love Letters” podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen to podcasts. Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters.

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