"We are a collective geezer." Uffish, to Katya
Question #89833 posted on 06/05/2017 12:44 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

So I've been married for a while but less than a decade and I have a couple of kids. Both my wife and I love our children deeply and do our best for them. However, it's clear to me that neither one of us is particularly happy. Over the years, our incompatibilities have either grown or become more magnified to the point that we simply don't like each other that much. We've talked about this a few times, trying to express to each other what each of us needs in order to feel happy, loved, and appreciated, and it seems that what we each need plays so fully into the other's weaknesses that it seems impossible to accomplish. We've gone to couples counselling for a while, but the problem is not that we don't know what's going on or that we're unwilling to communicate, it's that after we've communicated, neither one of us seems to be able to make the necessary changes. Over time, our relationship has descended into a pragmatic one: we each do what is necessary to give our kids what they need and then we more or less ignore each other. Communication is basically limited to grocery lists, logistics, and discussions about decisions regarding our children.

I'm faced with a few possible avenues:

1) Divorce. This feels so completely wrong. Our home is not a dangerous place for our children. It's just not a particularly happy place for their parents. Splitting up feels selfish.

2) Deal with it. Accept that this is the way life will be, that we made a decision about each other that was ultimately wrong, and that we just have to live this way because we made that choice.

3) Fix it. I'd love for this to be the avenue of choice, but I cannot fathom a direction to take that will improve our position. I'd like to say that I'd do anything to fix this, but I'm honestly not entirely sure that I'm able to do what is required.

Right now, we're firmly in option 2 with no hint of change looming in the future.

So... my questions:

Can any of you relate in any way to this? Do you have any experience that might lend me some perspective or help me fix this broken relationship? Do you have an experience in your life (either you or someone you know) that could serve as a productive example?

I honestly hate to burden the Board and its writers with this kind of question, but I really don't know who else to ask. Asking my friends and family is sort of loaded since I'd have to then admit everything I said here to people that I know and love which I'm not yet ready to do. But then, I need some kind of foothold to get me started here. I'm hoping that maybe someone here has something to say that can move me in a good direction.

Thanks in advance,

Double

A:

Dear person,

Sometimes psychological education (psycho ed) helps. Despite the cheesiness of this website, the intervention it features was developed by a BYU professor who specializes in marital relationships and is legitimate. 

If you want more detailed information about what it contains, click here

It does cost money, but at $25 dollars per person (you could take it together or separately, which would bring the total to $50), it's a lot cheaper than couples therapy. Sometimes trying something different can help. Also, psycho ed tends to be a lot more comprehensive and isn't limited by what is coming to the mind of the therapist.

All the best, I hope you can find happiness in your marriage.

-Sheebs

A:

Dear you,

My parents seem to be in a situation like this. I'm not aware of the private details, but their relationship seems to have been a very pragmatic one for at least the last decade. I think it's somewhat hard on them.

Every situation is different. However, I deeply respect my parents' decision to stay together, despite some needs being unfulfilled. It would have been really hard on us kids if they split up. And for the most part, our family has been healthy and happy. I can't say they've fixed everything in their relationship, but they both seem to have become happier in the last couple of years. So things are looking up.

Sometimes time and patience are really important in things like this. Watching my parents has taught me that neither person can change who they are too much, but that occasional selfless acts to show you're trying can go a long way.

Best of luck to you.

-A Writer

A:

Dear friend, 

I'm unfamiliar with this situation, but I have something on my personal blog that might help. Email me and I'll get you the link. 

Take care,

-Auto Surf

posted on 06/05/2017 7:20 p.m.
"but the problem is not that we don't know what's going on or that we're unwilling to communicate, it's that after we've communicated, neither one of us seems to be able to make the necessary changes."

This rang a familiar bell with me.

I highly recommend finding a couples counselor/family therapist who knows and practices Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). It is a therapy that specifically enables couples to make that next step beyond communication about the situation and beyond communication about needs and desires for change.

If you wish to read about it, Dr. Sue Johnson has written a couple of books for lay people that explains what it is and what to expect.