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         Should I Divorce?

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Catch-22

I have been married for a little over seven years, with one 2-year-old son and another on the way.  Over time, I believe my wife and I have grown apart.  Sexually, we never connected.

Prior to our marriage I thought we had a good connection, but three days after the wedding, she told me being married did not obligate her to sleep with me.  I suppose this is true, but I found it heartbreaking.  I asked what changed.  She said she didn't actually enjoy sex.

I feel she misled me until after the wedding, when she felt secure enough to tell me her true feelings.  Over time, despite begging and pleading, listening and soothing, we haven't gotten anywhere.  At our last attempt at couples counseling, I explained in manners both gentle and blunt she needs to accept these things.

The more I bring it up, the more my wife is prone to tantrums and throwing things.  Over the years this has led to depression, which I handle with medication and regular therapy.  I find myself in Catch-22.  I can only work on myself in therapy, not on her or our marriage.  Yet the marriage is the source of my depression.

Clearly we have occasional sex, since we have a child.  But it's infrequent, lacks feeling, and is more akin to making a baby than making love.  I love my son and love being a father.  My heart desperately wants a connection with a woman.  I've gotten myself into a bind, and I don't like my options.  Is there a middle road?

Richard

Richard, whatever else marriage is, it is also a contract.  Every legal system allows you to terminate a contract when fraud and deceit are involved.  What the answer was seven years ago is still the answer.  Three days after the wedding, you should have sought an annulment or divorce.

Everything that's happened since is a complication of not doing what needed to be done then.  Your wife was so sure you would not leave she could arrogantly admit her deception after the wedding.  Why should she change now?  What's in it for her?

Your life is like the scene in "Catch-22" where Yossarian bandages the leg wound of his young tail-gunner Snowden, without realizing Snowden is dying from a much more serious wound.  Medicating you without any possible chance of a solution isn't the answer.  In your case the only avenue may be to remove yourself from the situation.

Find a different counselor, one who can help you work toward a solution.  Just because you didn't deal with the problem before doesn't mean you can't deal with it now.  It only means the price of the solution will be higher. 

Wayne & Tamara
(The best of relationship advice from Direct Answers.)

 

Parasitic Relationship

Something in my life is weighing heavily on my mind, and I don't talk to anyone about it.  I married my husband when he was 21 and I was 20.  After being married six months I found out I was pregnant with our daughter.  She was and is the apple of our eyes.  She just graduated from college and is doing well in her new career.

Our marriage was not easy.  It was constant chaos.  I felt as though I had a baby and a 15-year-old son.  My husband drank, stayed out late, and when he was home, I was told I had better make it worth his time.  I come from a strict Catholic family, and it never entered my mind that divorce was an option. 

I kept trying to be a better wife, whether that meant cooking, being sexier for him, wearing makeup all the time, or keeping my house spick and span.  When our daughter left for college, it was hard for me.  I asked my husband to help me through the process.  He told me people want to get rid of their kids and that I should "get a life."

Our daughter had not been at school more than a few months when she called me at work one day.  She was on the computer doing school work and noticed Dad had come home from work and was talking to someone online.  She asked if I knew who it was.  That was when the nightmare began. 

We found love letters between him and a married woman.  I felt helpless.  It was starting again.  Five years ago a woman told me my husband was cheating with a good "couple friend" we had.  We would get together with this couple to play cards, and our children played together.  Apparently this woman went to my husband, said she was not happy with her sex life, and said she knew I was happy and she wanted a piece of the action.

My husband agreed.  He claimed he was doing her a favor, and it was like a job for him.  I have since learned of his involvement with at least three other women.  This is my question to you.  I'm 44, attractive, slim, with a good job.  My husband says he has changed, but for some strange reason I can't believe him.

He asked me to get a boob job and told me all men like big boobs.  That basically makes me feel I am worth nothing.  I fear my husband looks at our marriage and thinks he may as well stay at this stage of the game because he is 46 and doesn't want to start over now.  My daughter wants me to move in with her, and I feel I would be better off.

Mitzi

Mitzi, the pill bug is a small creature that seeks damp, dark places.  Occasionally, however, the pill bug eats the eggs of a tiny worm, and when that happens, a worm hatches inside the pill bug and changes its behavior.  The infected pill bug becomes a risk taker who seeks open spaces, where it is likely to be eaten by starlings.  This is fine for the worm, which thrives inside the bird, but it is death for the pill bug.

Biologists define symbiosis as the relationship between two creatures who rely upon each other.  The relationship is called mutualistic if both creatures benefit; if only one benefits, the relationship is called parasitic.  Marriage is supposed to be a mutualistic relationship. 

Every religious and legal system allows for divorce in the case of unfaithfulness.  Even in the strictest systems of belief, adultery is the one thing which need not be tolerated in marriage, and the Christian expression of this idea is found in Matthew 19:9. 

Your husband told you to "get a life."  What a great suggestion.  Go get one!

Wayne & Tamara
(The best of relationship advice from Direct Answers.)

 

Kicking Herself

If I had to do it over again, I would not have gotten married.  My husband and I are very passionate people.  In a movie that would mean we make wild love and have an adventurous life.  Unfortunately, in the real world, it translates into hostile fights and unforgettable, unforgivable statements.

I have been married a little over a year and prefer to be alone.  I have no desire to spend time with him.  I just like to have him around on a Saturday night to go to a movie.  I dream of being by myself and am much happier when he travels.  I am always sad when it is time for his return.

Why did I get married?  I don't know.  Romantic fantasies, I guess.  The desire for children.  But I never dreamed of having someone to grow old with.  I just wanted a date on national holidays and flowers every once in awhile.

The fact is, I am married.  I do not believe in divorce though I sometimes wish I did.  I love him enough to stay, but I live in misery.  I have tried the power of positive thinking, but it isn't powerful enough.

He disgusts me.  I think he is repulsive now that I am married to him.  Sometimes I don't know if I am going to go home at night, but I always do.  There is so much more to this story (telling each other if we had to marry again, we wouldn't marry each other; sex problems; and more).  Can someone help?

Leslie

Leslie, your letter is a warning to other people.  You are so honest and so candid it is scary, but honestly there is only one answer.  Your relationship is the reason there are laws which permit divorce. 

Every day people get married just because someone asked.  Every day people get married just to move out of their parents' house.  Every day people get married just because they feel it's time.  Most of them won't admit it, but the truth of your marriage is the truth of those marriages.

To say you could make this relationship work is to say you could grab anyone off the street and make a relationship work with them.  Some people say love is a decision, but if love is just a decision, then you could love any job, make any color your favorite color, or make anyone your best friend.

We are much more than the decisions we make.  There are things which have a calling for us, things which connect to us in a way which is not rational.  That is what makes us human.  When you find the right person, it is like loving your own child.  It is not a decision.  It is simply in you to do.

Wayne & Tamara
(The best of relationship advice from Direct Answers.)

 

A Bull By The Horns

My husband and I have been married two years.  When he was laid off from his job five months ago, he became grouchy and verbally abusive.  He was only affectionate when he wanted sex.

He decided this would be the best time to get himself into shape and join the rodeo full-time as a bull rider, a hobby he had before we married.  I assured him he was welcome to ride full-time as long as he brought home money to pay the bills.

Well five months have gone by and he has won peanuts.  Not being successful at riding only caused his attitude to worsen.  We cannot afford food and pay only the minimum amount due on our utilities.

My father decided to have a talk with us while we were having dinner at their house.  My dad told us we made a promise to support one another financially, and one of us was not doing his job.  We need to put career first, school second, and hobbies third. 

My husband became upset saying I should have stuck up for him in front of my parents.  In reality, I was grateful that my dad said something.  Since this incident my husband has been very cold.

I tried to talk with him last night.  He told me I am exhaustingly difficult to talk to, he hates the sound of my voice, and he is interested in getting his life back on track and therefore has no interest in working on our marriage difficulties.  He says he is unsure if he wants to stay married.  Is there any hope?

Greta

Greta, while I was driving through the desert with a friend, we passed a drifter walking down the highway with his collie.  The man carried a guitar case, all his possessions packed on his back.  My friend, in a troubled marriage, looked at the drifter and said, "I envy him."

This friend and his wife were supposed to buy a house.  Just weeks before the closing, he took a lower paying job, then used their savings to buy an expensive motorcycle.  He didn't tell his wife he wanted out of their marriage, but he did everything possible to undermine it.

Your husband says he is not interested in working on your marriage.  He does things to undermine it.  His words and actions are in alignment.  He has been gone mentally longer than you realize.  He wants to carve out a new life for himself.  You need to do the same.

Wayne
(The best of relationship advice from Direct Answers.)

 

False Start

I was married three months ago, and I think I may have married the wrong woman.  What do I mean when I say that?  I thought I was in love, and while I have strong feelings of friendship and goodwill toward her, I feel I am alone in this relationship.

There is an odd feeling of disconnection and an inability to get to a state of real meaning with her.  This has existed all through our relationship.  "What's for dinner?" and " I need to wash the car" are about as deep as I can get with her.  We can't share dreams, since I know her only dream is to have children and "be happy."

I am looking to other avenues for stimulation, reading more books, talking to old friends, and still trying to chip into my wife's world.  I care for her, I don't want to hurt her, and both sets of in-laws love us.  Yet I sit here and wonder why I married her.

Oliver

Oliver, you have a huge decision to make.  And soon.  The sooner the better.  You need to decide if you can stay married before your wife starts working on her dream of having children and being happy. 

Perhaps the following letter will influence your decision.

Wayne & Tamara

 

Unturned Stone

I've been married 19 years, nearly all of them unhappy.  I knew after three months I'd made a mistake, but divorce was and is not an option.  I love my in-laws, we have three children we both adore, and my husband is the primary wage earner. 

We believe God can work miracles.  I just don't know if it'll happen in our case.  Over the years we've been to five different counselors.  Seven years ago my husband checked out of the marriage and had an affair. 

After a separation of two years we reconciled, which really was a miracle, and had our third child.  I am at the point now where I just cannot stand my husband.  We have not slept in the same room for two years, and there is no intimacy on any level.  There is no one in my life I feel this level of anger with.

I have felt from the beginning he does not listen to me!  Because I am not listened to, I don't feel respected.  I am a Type A person, conscientious, hardworking and concerned about others.  He's a friendly person who likes to make others laugh.  He's a charmer but basically lazy.

I made the choice to stay in this marriage.  It is the practical thing to do, and divorce does not bring all the answers.  I'm happiest when he is away.  I often think how life would be easier if he were just dead.  How do I get rid of all the bitterness?  How do I start to like my husband again, much less love him?

Clarisse

Clarisse, you are asking for help and tying our hands.  That is like going to a doctor and saying, "It can't be a broken leg."  Sometimes it is a broken leg.  What you tried for 19 years hasn't worked.

You don't "believe" in divorce.  Hardly anybody does.  But if you believe fidelity, love, and happiness need to be in a marriage, then you have to believe in divorce, because without those things you don't have a marriage.

It is not selfish to want love, fidelity, and affection.  They are human necessities.  Think about the kind of marriage you have shown your children.  Are you training them not to "believe" in divorce, even if they know after three months they made a mistake? 

You have been miserable for 19 years.  In addition to five counselors, we'll bet you've also read dozens of books and hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles.  When you have tried all other avenues, you need to reconsider what you haven't tried. 

Wayne & Tamara
(The best of relationship advice from Direct Answers.)

 

Misplaced Allegiance

I am male, 30, married for seven years.  I have two small children.  The past several years of married life have been trying.  My wife and I fight a lot, always about money, work, or sex.

We used to be very passionate, in a shy sort of way, but that has all but vanished.  My wife attributes it to my work ethic.  If I was home more, she says, she would be more romantic.  I am not sure I agree.  It seems the more I am around the more bored I become with her.  I still love her, but there is a giant void.

Now the bigger problem.  I hired a recent college grad at work, a smart beautiful 23-year-old woman.  She sparked something in me that has been missing.  There was an obvious physical attraction on my part from the first day.  I work long hours, and she worked alongside me.

We spent many evenings talking to each other and just hanging out.  She knows I am married and unhappy.  I found myself thinking of this girl constantly on the weekends, and at night while being intimate with my wife.  Unfortunately, she recently turned in her resignation.  Over lunch she explained she is leaving for legitimate career reasons.

She was very emotional about her career change.  I was devastated.  We went out with co-workers the next night to drink, have fun, and say farewell.  We spent most of the night in each other's arms, dancing closely and whispering into each other's ear.  When we left, we started with a hug, moved to a peck on the lips, and ended in a deep passionate kiss.

This girl left on a trip for three weeks overseas, but when she gets back we need to talk things out.  I have been thinking of separation or even divorce for over a year, but my biggest fear is my kids.  I don't want them to be without a father, nor do I want to be unhappy anymore. I am so torn I don't know what to do.

Oscar

Oscar, one of the most common letters we receive starts with a litany of problems in the marriage and ends with a new person coming into the writer's life.  In these letters there are two questions, independent of each other, but the letter writer invariably sees it as a single question. 

The first question is, Should I leave my wife because I don't love her and don't want to continue the marriage?  The second question is, Will my relationship with my new love work out? 

If your marriage is bad enough to end, it should be bad enough to end without another person coming into your life.  A year ago talks with your wife might have led to separation and both of you feeling your way back into the world while adjusting to the fact of divorce. 

Now your wife will feel there weren't issues between the two of you.  It was another woman.  Your wife will feel you have your next fish on the line, and she doesn't even have a line in the water.  Your wife will be hurt, angry, and contentious.

You, on the other hand, will know your new love is a woman who can become involved with a married man.  How much cleaner and more honest it would have been to have separated from your wife a year ago.  For you, your wife, and this new woman, everything would have been less complicated. 

We hear your concern for your children and the other woman, but not for your wife.  Don't firm up the new relationship before talking with your wife.  Talking with your wife, not the other woman, is the most important thing now.

The first question to resolve is whether you and your wife love each other and want to remain married.

Wayne and Tamara
(The best of relationship advice from Direct Answers.)

 

Prison Walls

My husband and I run a business which, from most standpoints, is a success.  Our differences work to the advantage of the business because we complement each other.  I have the people skills to handle customers, his aggressive streak helps negotiating with vendors.

Unfortunately, these differences don't benefit our marriage.  He is aloof and cold, and the only communication he wants is where he tells me what to do and I do it.  Attempts to bring up something bothering me leads to him shouting down at me and walking out. 

Recently I found out he is acquiring another business using our savings.  When I expressed concern about the heavy risk involved, he said people of my nature are insecure.  This is just another incident in the long list of things he does without telling me.

In all humbleness I can say he has nothing to complain about.  I am a very attractive woman and he has terrific kids.  We have a beautiful house I keep in great shape, and I cook meals for him.  Unfortunately, it is never enough. 

I have worked all my life to be the best I can be.  While I get appreciated by my coworkers, customers and friends all the time, I can honestly say my husband never has a kind word for me.  On the contrary, he blows out of proportion any small mistake I make. 

We both work hard for our business, but he says everything the business is, is because of him.  If it wasn't for me, he says, he would have made it a conglomerate today. 

I know I would do well in the outside world.  Why then am I feeling so much fear about a change that in all likelihood is good for me?

Lilly

Lilly, the term "outside world" is one used by inmates of a prison.  The outside world you dream about is the one outside your husband's control.

Some people say belief in finding the right person to marry is a fantasy.  The real fantasy is believing you can marry the wrong person and turn them into the right one.  In all honesty, you must admit you knew your husband was a cold fish before your marriage.  He still is.

You worked all your life to be the best you can be.  Now you know, in some instances, it can never be enough.  Your husband is a man who exploited the secret doubts you had about yourself.  You are married to him, but he is married to your business. 

What you feel is guilt that you couldn't make it happen, mixed with the fear of admitting defeat.  In your head and heart you know there is no reason to doubt your success in the "outside world."  Do what you are drawn to do.

Wayne & Tamara
(The best of relationship advice from Direct Answers.)

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