Are you in a terrible relationship? Do you wonder what happened and if it can ever get better? Are you so used to dysfunction it is your “normal”?
I know of humans who are. I understand it is fairly common for adult humans to have relationship problems. It could be a relationship with a coworker, a family member, or a spouse. Today I wanted to share information about a couple I know who are struggling – well their relationship is basically on life support. I will go over some of the issues and I hope to get comments back from the reader. To protect the identity of the couple I will change some of information and give generalized information.
This couple started out like many. They were lonely when came into the relationship with their own baggage. In the beginning it was really great. The woman supported the man with many words of encouragement and the man responded by giving small gifts and telling silly jokes to make her smile. They had lots of fun and enjoyed life together.
Little arguments would pop up in the first year of dating but all the flaws were outweighed by the positives. She had come out of a bad relationship and he had very little meaningful relationship experience. He was lonely and I think she wanted to not be alone and have kids.
As time went on they thought about the future. They planned and dreamed as a team of a married life. Eventually they were married. The first year of marriage was good compared to the current state. She moved in with him and began to make the bachelor pad a home. Things were good for the couple. Never perfect, but life was good.
The couple both had jobs and talked about the future. A future with kids was desired by both. As time went on the couple were expecting their first child. They were excited. Both were bit intimidated having a child though. They were not exactly the youngest couple but not old either – meaning they did have some life experience. They thought together they could raise kids and do it well.
By the 2nd year of marriage, the couple began having marital issues. Slowly over time they stopped being best friends and noticed each others flaws. Their communication started to suffer. Occasionally arguments turned into yelling at each other. One thing that stands out is how much time the used to spend together before a child, but after the first child how nearly all the focus went to the baby. I don’t think they were prepared for this monumental life changing shift. They simply did not spend quality time together. Maybe because they were tired and stressed. Maybe they thought the child needed more attention than the relationship.
They both desired to resolve their issues and sought counsel from an independent person. Mainly because that person would see them and was covered by insurance. This helped slightly, but as life went on, the distance between the couple began to grow. To the friends of the couple they seemed to have a great relationship: a home, great jobs, a young kid, and another kid on the way. They would have friends over from time to time to play cards or games. They would have annual Superbowl, Thanksgiving, and New Years parties. They seemed very happy and like they loved each other.
When the 2nd child arrived the couple was starting to have bigger issues. Communication stopped for periods of time. Each person blamed the other for the problems in the marriage. The couple looked for additional counsel. The wife insisted the husband was verbally abusive, self focused, and lazy among other things. The husband was upset because the person he married in his mind had changed to focus all her attention on her children, career, and other people.
Over the years the couple did some intense counseling with trusted biblical based groups. They met with a small group of people who had similar marital problems for a few seasons of time. Unfortunately, the couple never tried to implement all the information they had been given. Most counselors assigned blame directly or indirectly to the husband because “he is the leader of the home” and failed his duty. The husband could not get over the fact the wife simply could not admit she had faults and had work of her own to do. All the martial problems seemed to be his fault.
Over time the couple simply stopped communicating. The wife refused sex and eventually the husband moved into another room in the house. With 2 kids and several years later the main mode of “communication” was the following:
- text messages
- email invites on a work calendar
- a physical calendar hanging on a wall in the house
By this time the wife lost all respect for the husband. She could not stand to be around him. He made her cringe. (How he spoke and mistreated her and the kids) In the once or two times a year they would try to have a serious conversation the wife would usually say things like the following and then walk away.
- I don’t trust you – meaning I don’t trust you to change
- You have anger problems
- You need counseling
- You are mean, verbally abusive, and emotionally abusive
- You need to fix yourself before we can fix the marriage
- You don’t do anything around the house
- You only care about yourself or do things to benefit you
- You don’t do anything with the kids
The husband felt like a failure and was made he was treated this way. He was so tired of being treated this way but was stuck. Mainly from fear of losing his kids but also because deep down he loved her. He just did not know if he could live with her anymore. He also knew of other people that had divorced and were able to pick up the pieces and move on with life. He always did his best to not think that way but it happened.
Meanwhile the wife was taking a stance of acting like she was a single mom. After all she had the money to do so because she had a great job. She would take the kids out to movies or events around town but not including the husband. Sometimes she would take the kids weekend adventures or vacations. Naturally the kids saw a pattern of ‘a missing dad’ or ‘absent father’ and that became their ‘normal’. How sad.
Sometimes there was a glimmer of hope. (It was fools gold) From time to time the couple would talk about work, maybe some small talk, or while on a vacation would tolerate each other. Heck it was just a win if they drew eye contact and said hi or have a nice day.
Sometimes the husband even thought there was hope for the relationship. Sadly as of now the ‘couple’ lives almost separate. They live in the same home but that is about all they share.
If they talk it was usually ends up in some sort of criticism that leads to both yelling.
The wife does not verbalize any feelings to the husband. Perhaps she does to others. The husband only learned her feelings by her attitude, tone, or body language. The biggest thing he notices is her indifference. I think to him that is the most hurtful thing – her simply not caring. I don’t know what is most hurtful to the wife. She has trouble verbalizing feelings.
This couple went from being in love to living in the norm of dysfunctional misery. They are only together because they want their kids to have parents in the same home. Somehow thinking this would give the illusion to their kids they were a family. Reality: this couple is not a couple and the marriage is just a understood living arrangement. They are showing their children a terrible model of marriage that will ultimately hurt their children by their actions.
The husband acknowledged his faults over and over for many years. He agreed with some of her accusations but not all. He tried to make changes but no matter what he did it was never enough. He was always being graded and never truly forgiven. The husband was confused. If he was so bad as she stated – why was she with him? Wasn’t her duty as a parent to protect her children from this mean, horrible man that was causing all this misery? He knew her accusations were not completely true or she would of left.
So where do they go now? Divorce? Perhaps you know someone like this couple. Perhaps you have been in or are in bad relationship and don’t have hope. If you have any advice or words of wisdom please consider posting a comment.
Love, Olive the Cat