Friday, 20 May 2011

How do you know when your marriage is in trouble?

Is mine in trouble? Well it’s been difficult over the past couple of years some might say it’s been difficult from the start. I mean within a year we were being counselled, slept apart and I expected to leave him before our first Wedding Anniversary. I even turned down the opportunity to have a pair of emerald earrings made to match my engagement ring as I felt it would not be right to accept such a gift if I was going to call the whole thing off.
But 12 years down the line we are still married, still together and still sleeping apart. It’s easy to see why people think sleeping apart is a precursor or even an indicator of a marriage in trouble. It’s not normal. Most people sleep together because either there are not enough rooms for them to sleep apart, they don’t like being cold or being on their own, or they come from that generation where you married young to have sex as it was positively frowned upon if you had it outside marriage, or they may actually believe there is only one proper place for sex: the bedroom.
Now strange as it may seem but I believe bedrooms are primarily there for sleeping and I prefer to sleep on my own. I mean I do actually get to sleep and as any parent with young children will appreciate sleep can be a rare commodity especially getting enough of it.
We sleep apart so that we can sleep. He snores (and boy does he snore) and I am an insomniac. He has to get up early to go to work and I used to have to get up at night to feed the baby. So sleeping apart is not only practical but has actually prevented me doing any harm to my husband or vice versa.
Is that a marriage in turmoil? Probably not though I will admit it does mean that one has to think about sex more in order to get it and it is surprisingly easy to stay in bed rather than pad down cold corridors in the hope that your partner is still awake when one could just roll over or else have a quick grope in ever hopeful expectation.
However, couple sleeping apart with discord and maybe there might be a more pressing argument for a marriage in trouble.
Every marriage goes through ups and downs and arguments and cross words there are going to be a plenty. Ours are loud and frequent. In fact we have them so much, usually when we are both tired and stressed, that I don’t think we realise that we play them out in public. But it is not about the frequency, nor the loudness that is cause for concern; it depends on what they are about.
For me the argument is the same as the one that took us to counselling in the first place. My husband has a very strong paternal streak that is very dominant and that is what I have been fighting for years.
As I frequently say I don’t need another father I have a perfectly good one already. But the husband just doesn’t seem to get it and I try to work my way around it probably acting more and more childishly every day.
I am sure there was a time when patriarchal behaviour was something to be admired when the little woman didn’t know how to handle the more important matters of life such as finance, sport and reading the newspaper at the table. But that really isn’t the case nowadays. I don’t need, and nor do I want, to be told what to do or how to do it. I am quite capable of learning from my own mistakes, I prefer them, to be honest, than the ones forced on me.
Now is this an indicator of a marriage in trouble? I think we are getting somewhere.
Let’s throw in a few more indicators in to the pot. A stressful and all-consuming job, divergent interests, too little time alone with each other, difficult in-laws…
I’d say there were alarm bells ringing. This marriage could be in trouble.
Is it all over?
Well, I am not about to give up after 12 years, so that’s saying something isn’t it?


Lou said...

The only real question is do you love him?....

Good luck lovely girl.


Tattie Weasle said...

Lou - If I said that right now I don't know? Would that mean I don't? And does love really matter in a marriage? I know I don't hate him and I also know that he has many good points. He's a great father and my boys need him.

Expat mum said...

Perhaps some more therapy? Don't forget that many men have been brought up to the expectation that they will provide for their family, and for some that means in every aspect. I have such a husband and at times he can hover over me, "just in case". It irritates me and makes me act childishly until I remember that it's learned behaviour from his childhood and not done in an abusive or controlling way.

elizabethm said...

The running problem in our marriage is just the same. I can tell you from the heights of our fifties that smiling at him and ignoring him are the best ways. He won't ever stop. As EPM says, he has been bred that way. Have the confidence to believe that this does not mean he does not love and respect you. Smile and carry on with the way you were going to do it anyway.

Anonymous said...

I happened upon your blog somehow and this post rang so true for me except that I have been in almost the same situation for almost 25 years. I finally realized, at age 50, that I deserve to be happy and have started to consider ending the marriage now that my boys are both in university. Not an easy decision and possibly the wrong decision, but a decision I have made on my own. No matter what anyone tells you, you need to do what's best for you and your children. Life can be so difficult, can't it?

Von said...

A relationship and parenting are two different areas of life.Is he a good father, will he teach your boys to be paternalistic or will they find a balance? Sayin gmen are paternalistic is sometimes our way of saying men are protective of their wives/partners and children and that is perhaps innate and can often be got round when it irritates if it can be channelled in useful directions, it just needs imagination.
Some women find it works well to have control of their own money, it's grown up and empowering managing your own money and not doing things with joint accounts except for the household, even that can be got round.Some men find having to be in charge of finances and everything else quite a chore and welcome some sharing.
Sometimes we forget whether we love someone because other things get in the way. Can you communicate is a far more valid question.
Are you getting enough in your life that validates you and if not what are you doing about it?We can't expect others to do that for us and sometimes we look to our partners and give them the responsibility.It's ours.
Did therapy didn't help first time around and what's changed if it did?
Just a few thoughts.......good luck.

Mother Hen said...

Never mind 'do you love him', can you talk to him and does he listen?? Love plays a huge part in the marriage but so do the eyes and ears.
Do you look at him and still feel a stirring? Do you want to hear what he has to say even if you don't like it?
It takes two, does he want to stay in the marriage?

It's all so painful and you are very brave to share.

Exmoorjane said...

OMG Tattie, that is such a brave post. Separate beds is madly sensible - I confess I love sleeping apart (cos, as you know, I too suffer from insomnia and Adrian snores)...and I don't think it need get in the way of sex at all.
But your question goes way deeper, doesn't it? How would you feel if you knew you wouldn't see him again? Sad? Relieved?
Does love matter? Ah, heck, Tatt, what a tough question. Love, being in love, not hate, contentment,'s all so complicated. We need hours really, don't we? I'll have to sort out that holiday in your neck of the woods and we can talk long and deep... in the meantime, big hug... xxxxx

Kitty said...

Wowzers. What to say?
Sometimes just being friends is enough. Are you friends? I've seen you two together and I'd say you are friends - unless that's a really good act!
After that mad passion that glues you together during the first months fades (and boy does it ever) then if you're not friends it's a tough one.
I think we all have days when we feel in love and days when we look at our other half and think 'God, what happened? Who ARE you? How did I get here?'. And presumably so do they. They married a hot young thing and are stuck with a harridan in a holey dressing gown (I speak from personal experience here of course, I'm sure your night attire is not so decrepit as mine!).
Oh, pet (as they say where I come from) I do feel for you. Can you let the patronising wash over you? He's a lovely chap and a lovely Daddy too. By the looks of things - of course, I'm no expert... (sometimes the frayed edges show in my 14 year marriage too, it's hard to see past the things that niggle... and there's no-one nicer that my big lummock of a husband, from the outside) I fall back on the old counting of my blessings and remembering which side my bread's buttered. Trite, but works every time. xxx

Tattie Weasle said...

Expat mum - therapy was good but only the once for him! I don't think it is done deliberately as such just he likes to be in control; it's a security thing as his twin sister was much cleverer and I know he resents that. Sometimes I think he gets us muddled....
Elizabethm - very sage advice! I shall try not to take it personally.
Anonymous - you are right it is important to make your own decisions even if they may not be th right ones . Good luck!
Von - you a so very wise. And you have given me a number of things to ponder. Getting and living my own life is important and I realise that I may not be able to do that with him necessarily all the time. Luckily I already control the purse strings I just have to say that if he doesn't like the way I do it he can employ someone else! And I think you are right sometimes we do forget about love as other things get in the way...
Mother hen - I have no idea if he wants to stay in the marriage or not, I have never asked him. As for looking at him and feeling stirrings, well not at the's a brain thing!

Potty Mummy said...

Can only tell you what I mutter to myself far too frequently; 'Keep calm and carry on...'

Spencer Park said...

Think carefully Ms Weasle.

I don't know much about marriage but I do know that divorce is a pretty shitty thing and the process will hurt. People have ideas of having a non fault divorce but, in my opinion, as soon as solicitors get involved things take a turn for the worse.

Having said that I was in a very one sided marriage (I always knew my ex-wife loved me far more then I loved her) and that was a relationship that had to end for the sanity of my ex. I married her for the sake of the children, my ex divorced me for the same reasons.

Perhaps, you could let your husband know how seriously you are considering leaving the relationship. Us men are blind to the obvious sometimes and it is only when we are shown the consequences of our actions that we understand the issues (and often, in my case at least, that is too late).

Best wishes.

Tattie Weasle said...

Exmoor Jane - in need of hours. I think that is the answer. Time. Proper time to think, relax. Work it out. I don't think I will be making any hasty decisions, I actually like my husband when he is being my friend. I think he needs to see me as myself rather than his wife...
Kitty - we are friends mostly, though not recently. I have been left behind somewhat and in the excitement of new challenges I do not appeal as once I did. I need to make him take notice but at the same time renew myself for myself. I too know which side my bread is buttered!
Potty - I have that poster, I will look at it in a new light:)!
Spencer park - I do nothing in haste. And I am thinking very carefully. My boys adore their dad and I dont want them to have to think that they have to choose. As far as I know husband doesn't know how I feel, maybe we need to have a chat, for I don't know what he thinks at all.
Thank you to everyone, for your heartfelt support and sage words, you can have no idea how helpful they have been...

PantsWithNames said...

Only you will know.

Big hugs Tattie. xx

Tattie Weasle said...

Pants with Names - Thank you. Problem is having to work out what I think!

Nicola said...

Oh God I feel for you. I used to fight my husband talking down to me as if I was a child. I am older than you! I would rant. I have done the job that you do now (Marketing) for 10 years longer than you have, so don't patronise me as if I don't know what I am talking about!

But in the end do I wish I had stuck with it (even tho the relationship had been celibate for 2 years before we split)? Maybe.

I think you are very wise to hang in there. x

Tattie Weasle said...

Nicola- hanging in. There and looking to change things. Watch this space!

Go on you know you want to...


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