What do you if your marriage is eating away at your soul? What if you cannot keep going as you have been? You have tried to make your case, but your husband has ignored you. Or, he listened, made promises, worked at it for a few weeks, then fell back into the same old routine.
PLEASE do not accept this as your fate and settle for it. Aside from being a horrible thing for you, this will slowly cripple your marriage. You may wake up one day and realise you have no marriage left. At that point, divorcing or staying in a marriage in name only are the two bad choices. Both are bad for you, your husband, and any children you have.
Decide What You Need
Simply knowing you do not like how things are now is not enough. Write out what you dislike, and how you want things to change. Think and pray over it for a while, modifying until you have it right. Next, prioritise the list: what you must have, what is important, what would be nice, and what is not a big deal. With this done, look at the things in the top two categories and consider what you might do to start change.
Tell Him What You Must Have
Let him know what is really a problem for you, and how, exactly, you want things to change. Presenting this on paper would be the best option. At the same time ask him for his list of things he feels must change (giving him time to think about it) and his feedback on your list (again, giving him time to think). Ask him if you are doing anything that makes it hard for him to change. Also, ask what you can do to make it easier for him to change. Then work as hard as you can to make any reasonable changes he wants and do things he says will make it easier for him to change. Give it a few months. Move to the last step only if you see no real lasting change.
Decide the Make or Break Issues
This is a subset of the previous list – the things you just cannot continue to live with (or without). Along with this explain what will happen if the things on the list do not change. This is not about threats; it is about letting him choose between two possible futures. If things are really bad, like he is having his girlfriend come to the house, then separation is a valid option. More often, what you should be doing is spelling out what life will be like when you settle because he has left you no alternative. This is the “I’m done, I don’t have the energy to keep fighting for our marriage” point. It is letting him know you are going to throw in the towel if things do not change, and telling him what your marriage will become if that happens. Be very clear here what things will be like, and explain changes he makes after you throw in the towel may not have any affect. Give him a deadline, and then drop it.
The goal here is to make settling a process you think about, and then force him to examine. You may not be able to get him to change, but you can make it clear he is making a choice. At best, you will cause him to see why change is in his best interest; at worst, you will have a defence when he complains about the results of you settling.
A Couple of Notes
- When a man feels challenged, the two most common reactions are an aggressive response and withdrawing. Neither of these helps your situation. Keep your wording and tone as non-confrontational as possible.
- Try to avoid talking about your feelings. He may not be comfortable with your feelings, he may have no clue how to react, or he may dismiss you as “emotional”. Focus on what you need.
- Telling him you do not feel loved, or even worse telling him he does not love you, is a bad plan. If he feels he does love you, he will focus on you being wrong rather than what you say you need.
- It is easy to communicate disrespect doing what I suggest here, and that will only hurt your cause. If you can express respect for him it will help. Perhaps tell him you expect he will come through because you respect his integrity, or love for you, or willingness to change.
- All this assumes neither you nor your children are in danger from your husband. If this is not the case, please get help ASAP. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is a good place to start.