I have been married for 15 years with two young sons. My husband fails to play his role as a father and a partner. Everything that has to do with the boys I have to do as he does not show any interest in being a part of their growing up experience. I am the one who takes them to football practice and other school-related events. My husband has an excuse every time I ask him to take them out for him to bond with them.
On another matter, we have a sexless marriage. For the past five years my husband has not shown any interest in lovemaking. As a matter a fact he sleeps in the guest room while I sleep alone in our bedroom. I am utterly frustrated and overwhelmed. I don't believe I deserve to live a lonely and unhappy life. Other men have been showing an interest in me but for my sons' sake I try to remain monogamous. Can you help me please?
One can just imagine the mental distress you must be experiencing as you attend to the basic needs of your sons and not having your own emotional needs and desires fulfilled by your partner.
I assume a typical day for you would look like this: get the boys up in the morning, prepare them for school, complete an eight-hour shift at work, pick them up from school, prepare a meal for them, help them with homework, get them ready for bed and repeat the process the following day.
I am sure you lie in bed at night wishing your husband would be available to attend to your need for physical and emotional support.
Unfortunately, your narrative is not an unusual one as many mothers of young boys have had to assume the role of fathers as their partners are missing in action. There are some men who believe that the sole responsibility as a husband/partner is to provide financial support to the family, neglecting the emotional component entirely. These men fail to recognise the psychological impairments the children can experience as a result of their failure to bond with them, particularly at a young age.
The boys need their father to be the role model who will guide and direct them in becoming worthwhile citizens. The challenge is that some fathers are poor role models and offer no positive guidance for the youngsters. So it may be a situation of, “do as I say and not as I do”.
The truth is, the situation will not get better unless your husband recognises the folly of his actions and steps up to his role and responsibility as a father. If he allows you to be the only one the boys respect and engage with, he will have missed an opportunity that might not be possible to regain when they reach adolescence and young adulthood. The sooner he integrates in the life of the boys, the better for him and them as they transition the developmental stages.
Regarding the detachment that exists in the romantic side of things, as mentioned earlier, not only is your partner not emotionally present but he is also denying you his physical presence by sleeping outside of the matrimonial bed. What messages is he sending you? Is it that he is no longer attracted to you physically? Have you toned down your bedroom appearance? Has sex become a chore like the others that you carry out throughout the day?
It is always good to have an introspective look at the situation and determine if and what you may have contributed to the existing situation and make efforts to address your personal shortcomings.
Counselling intervention would be highly recommended as it is necessary to open the conversation between you both so that both narratives can be openly articulated.
In the meanwhile, continue to be the best mother you can for the children and whether or not your husband plays his part as a responsible father, you have to continue the journey alone if necessary.
All the best.
Wayne Powell is a relationship counsellor. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Check his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MFTCounselor/.