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Drowning in a whirlpool

A husband fights with his wife about once a year; he’s miserable but doesn’t believe in divorce.

There is a way out, says our elder. You could try a legal separation or even counseling.

 

Q. Dear EWC

I’ve been married for over 18 years. Every year, sometimes more than once a year, a battle breaks out between my wife and me. I don’t believe in divorce and even preached that to our kids. My wife, however, doesn’t share the same passion. I’ve told her many times that she could leave, but she doesn’t want to initiate it. She wants me to be the one. She’s never willing to work things out, but she’s content with blaming me for whatever goes wrong. We’ve moved into a new house several years ago.

 

Three incidents have happened that turned near legal. She chopped down a neighbor’s tree branch without talking to him first. She called the police on me because I got so fed up with her, I broke a cabinet window. For about a month now, my daughters and I have been begging her to help us take our dog to the vet. She kept ignoring us until today, someone called the cops on us. It was then she agreed to help. I’m at my wits end. I’m drowning. Am I to swallow my pride and just call it quits, or do I soldier on? Someone, please save me from my whirlpool!

 

A. Elder Folk replies

I am sorry you feel trapped in a whirlpool, but you don’t have to be. If you are as miserable living with your wife as you say, then you do not have to continue living with her just because you do not believe in divorce. You could just move out and live in your own place and still not file for divorce. In other words, you and your wife could legally separate.  If she is unhappy with this arrangement, then she can either agree to try to work things out with you or go ahead and file for divorce herself. A legal separation though would at least allow you to live in peace – if that is what you really want to do.

All married couple have disagreements, so there is nothing unusual in the fact that arguments break out between you and your wife about once a year. What’s more important is how you and your wife get along with one another between these annual battles. If you and she have been married for 18 years, there must be something besides pride still holding the two of you together. Maybe it’s just habit, but maybe it’s also your shared history, your children and the home you’ve made together.

I guess what I’m saying is that if things with your wife were as bad all the time as they are some of the time, I think you probably would have found a way to escape long ago. Or she would have. The fact that you are both still in this marriage says something about how stubbornly alike you both are. I don’t know if your marriage is worth trying to save. Only you and your wife know that. But if you think there’s a chance, however remote, you might want to take it before throwing in the towel. Ask your wife if she would consider seeing a couples’ counselor with you. Tell her that you owe it to one another and to your kids to try to find a way to live in harmony together. Tell her you’re tired of all the battles and all the drama and that you know they are your fault as much as hers, but if the two of you do nothing about them, nothing will ever change and you will both continue to make each other miserable. Then tell her that you are willing to put in the effort to make your lives better if she is.

If you say all this to your wife and she still refuses to work on saving your marriage, you will have your answer. Then you can decide where you want to go from there. You can either stay and continue to be blamed for everything, or you can separate and you can live peacefully on your own. If you are drowning, don’t wait until you go down for the third time. Instead, grab on to a life preserver – and climb out of the whirlpool.

I hope this helps. I am always here if you want to talk more about this. Please write back to let me know what you decide to do. I will be thinking of you.

 

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