Is sep­a­ra­tion the an­swer?

The Peterborough Examiner - - Arts & Life - EL­LIE Ad­vice Colum­nist

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.

Done

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.

Read El­lie Mon­day to Satur­day. Email el­lie@thes­tar.ca or visit her web­site, el­liead­vice.com. Fol­low @el­liead­vice.

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