Is separation the answer?
Q: My husband and I have pussyfooted over deeply rooted issues our entire relationship.
We got engaged when we were young (I was 22), and our values and families are now obviously very different.
His family’s codependent relationship has taken a toll on our more independent, mature (hopefully) relationship.
He refuses to see things my way, later saying that I haven’t “done” enough or that I am holding grudges.
But for me, pretending like nothing has happened doesn’t make me want to be closer to him and have a healthy sexual relationship.
He thinks all our issues would be resolved if only I wanted more sex from him. At this point, I don’t want any.
I’ve felt ignored, unheard, parented, used and degraded.
His family owes me an apology. There have been pocket-dial voice mails talking about my terrible family, and awful things have been said to my husband and then told to me.
But they refuse to acknowledge there are any issues. I haven’t confronted them, I’ve just politely distanced myself from the toxic situation.
I feel that it’s up to him to bridge that divide between his family and me — the same way I deal with mine.
I’ve tried to be supportive of his relationship with his family, telling him to call and spend time with them, etc. It’s always been me doing the gifts, making the time and effort.
Now, I’m done with the toxicity and the energy that’s been sucked out of me.
It’s taken me a couple years to release most of the anxiety and hurt surrounding them.
Realizing they won’t change, and that I have changed for the better of my mental health, I’ve asked for a separation.
He bounces from agreeable to angry to acting like nothing’s wrong and that I’m crazy. I don’t know what to do.
I don’t want to hurt anyone, but I think it’s hurting me the most.
A: You got that off your chest. But not fully. Even if the final answer is to separate, you’re not there yet. You’re just trying to run.
But you owe yourself more. Escape doesn’t resolve anything between you two, nor does it make you ready for your next relationship.
You need to live with confidence that you handled this well.
You need to do the hard work still: therapy for you, and if you’ve already had that, counselling with him.
He can’t say you “haven’t done enough” if he won’t try to learn what’s created this negative environment and what strategies are needed to change it.
You can’t say you’re not holding grudges if you never stood up for yourself to those badmouthing you.
Neither of you have tried enough.
He left you dealing with his family’s nastiness. You foolishly took on his duties as a son.
If this relationship ends now, you both failed at it.
If you want to do better — even with someone else in the future — you need professional help and the determination to see it through.
Get past this dynamic of blaming and avoiding the hard truths.
His seeking sex and your denial of it is a symptom of the tug-of-war on which you’ve both wasted your energies, not the problem itself.
You married young, and you’re still reacting as young people who avoid accepting responsibility for staying divided instead of trying to forge a strong union against underhanded interferers.
Turn your anger into energy for mature attempts to change the divide. If they fail, you can then move on confidently.
Ellie’s tip of the day:
Do the work of trying to grow your relationship through professional help, instead of letting toxic interference destroy your marriage.
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