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Marriage: Not as simple as it looks

Posted Apr 11 2009 1:04am

I talked with my best friend last night, she’s the only one who knows what is going on at our house, but I sense that she is uncomfortable listening to the things I tell her, so I don’t share as much as I would like. Anyhow, the things she said made me sad. She confessed that she believes her husband is cheating on her with other women and with their 18 year old foreign exchange student, too. She told me that he hasn’t kissed her or held her in over three years, not even when she asks. I told her she didn’t deserve that, and she said some very sad things: “I really don’t care what he does any more, as long as he doesn’t knock anybody up”, “I can’t afford to leave, we’ve got too much debt for me to go anywhere, so as long as he keeps bringing in his paycheck, I’ll keep up the façade” and then she said the thing that floored me in a way, but on another level, I completely knew what she meant: “If he just stopped coming home, that’d be fine with me.”

And I could relate, I really could, with that statement. I get so tired of the mood swings and the ups and downs, three different times now, he has gotten angry enough with me to walk out, and then he comes back. But you know, when he has been gone, things are so much more predictable, so much more stable, I confess, that sometimes I do feel the way my friend does.

I didn’t sign up for this. I remember how I used to share every thought with him, how supportive he was, and how he always wanted to do things around the house because it would make my work easier. I remember how he would remember my little comments like “I wish our kitchen was yellow” and I would come home from work to find that he had painted the kitchen yellow. I remember how thoughtful he was, and how he could calm me down when I wasn’t thinking straight. And now all that is gone, and I really feel like I got myself another special needs child, except he has access to adult situations, like work, banking, credit, and I can’t control him at all.

He finally called me today (I’m working again) and told me he had no idea why he was so angry last night. I asked him if I said or did something wrong, “No”, I asked him if something happened at home , “No”, he just didn’t have any idea why he was so angry. That’s pretty typical. A lot of times he gets extremely angry over little things that usually don’t make him (or anyone else) angry, and usually things that would make people say “oh, bummer”, become the end of the world.

Sometimes I wonder whether, even if he gets completely better (and how likely is that), how much our marriage will have been affected. I’ve become the “person in charge” by default in a marriage where all decisions used to be made jointly. It was difficult to become that person, it’s not who I naturally am, and I’m not sure what, in the long run, it will do to our relationship. I do know, though, that despite all my misgivings and seemingly negative thoughts, that if our roles were reversed, I would want him to stand by me, and I can’t assume that his needs are any different.

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