THE COUPLE: Salina, 37, and Michael, 32, married three years.
THE PROBLEM: Constant fighting means both are miserable, and Salina has asked Michael to move out.
THE EXPERT: Counsellor David Anderson weighs in.
Getting married was definitely a mistake. I can tell you exactly what happened: I got pregnant, and didn't want to have a child out of wedlock, so we decided to get married. We were in love at the time, and had similar dreams and goals; in fact, anyone looking on would think that we were the perfect couple. People still think that, I'm sure, because we're living an Instagram life on the surface while I'm miserable and want out.
But as soon as we got married, things started to change. I lost the baby, got promoted at work, and was now earning way more than he was, and he would use every chance he got to use this against me. He tried to be the man of the house, but I believe in egalitarianism, and so we constantly butt heads. It's not like I tried to undermine him, it's just that I can't let a man control me.
I got pregnant again soon after, and now we have a young baby. To be honest, that's the only glue that has kept us together because we don't want our baby to come from a broken home.
But now I've asked him to leave the house because I feel constantly disrespected. He doesn't cheat, but he lies — little white lies that I'm sure he tells just so I won't get angry. And then he has his own way of doing things, his own life, living like a single man with the plans he makes, and trying to make money as if to compete with me. He doesn't share any of what he's doing with me, all I know is that he's busy “building his empire”.
Then he buys all these material things as if to prove himself and make me like him more — but the lies, the distance, all of that just makes me distance myself from him. And then when I try to talk to him he gaslights me, and tries to turn things around to make it look like I'm the one with the problem. Or worse, he completely shuts down and we will go for days without talking to each other, and then we're forced to resume talking because of the baby or whatever, and then he pretends that everything is OK. And then we rinse and repeat.
I love her with all my heart, and I can't see myself with anyone but her. I love my family and try to do everything I can to provide. But nothing I ever do is good enough for her. She thinks that she's better than everybody else, and she's selfish — she doesn't care about anybody but herself. She shows no affection, no love, and I only know that something is wrong when she stops talking to me.
Yes, I've lied to her, but it's seriously not a big enough deal for her to react the way she does. And she lies too! The other day she had this whole other emotional relationship going on with this other guy, and I almost went crazy. And even when I told her how I almost went crazy, she still insists on talking to the guy, as if to mock me.
I still love her, and I would do anything for my family. I will leave if she wants, but only for a short while until she sorts herself out, because I will never give up on my family.
This issue is not insurmountable — the couple can work through this easily if both are committed to counselling. A big red flag though, is Salina's insistence that marriage was a mistake, without any attempt to salvage the relationship. What does this mean? Possibly she wasn't as invested as she should be, and views marriage as a temporary inconvenience that one can discard on a whim. Marriage should never be something that is treated so glibly — it's serious stuff!
However, if she is at the point where she has mentally checked out, sometimes not even counselling can fix that. Making the marriage work has to be something both parties want, and in this case, it seems like one party wants it more. Michael must prepare to cut his losses and move on, if Salina is unshakeable.