Miserable in marriage

Dear Counsellor,

My marriage is so frustrating, and I feel like we're just hanging on because of our child and because we have a mortgage. My husband and I have been married for six years and things are just miserable at home.

There's little or no intimacy, we barely acknowledge each other, and I dream of moving out and finding my soulmate. But I can't, because we have a mortgage and I can't afford to pay rent elsewhere.

I also know that if I tell my husband that I want out he will just say OK, because he's always been cold and emotionless. This kills me because I need him to want me, but he barely acknowledges my presence.

No matter what I do — if I fix my hair or get new clothes, he will just come home, greet the baby, and then go to bed and will be on his phone for hours.

He's not cheating, I know this, he's just emotionally detached. I don't know how to fix this, and I don't really want to beg him to want me again, I just want to leave, but I feel trapped.

I also cringe at the thought of him touching me because we don't have that emotional connection anymore and I can't be intimate with a man I've lost that connection with.

Will cheating help? I find that I'm thinking a lot about an ex, and I just want to risk it all and have an exciting affair so my life doesn't feel so meaningless.

I understand your challenge. Thank you for coming in on The Couch. Listen, you certainly deserve an exciting life. And this is one of God's great gifts to humanity: romance, intimacy, passion, and ecstasy (RIPE). Both you and your husband deserve the best romantic experiences, and you both have an opportunity for an amazing experience. Many people have searched for a willing partner to make that plunge with, who will work through the dynamics of life and love with them. You are ahead of the game, in that you have found each other.

My advice:

Don't give up too easily. If things don't work out, you must know that you did everything possible to make your marriage work. Don't let pride stop you from making yourself vulnerable enough to speak to your husband. A reignited love with your husband should burn brighter and better than any new flame you try to light. And know that, as every blazing fire naturally dies without fuel, so every romance naturally dies without purposeful attention. Intimacy must be stoked and fuelled purposefully and persistently because no marriage can fly on autopilot. Too many find that out the hard way. Remember to schedule your date nights and other calendar-specific activities just for the two of you.

Change your mindset. Don't give room to the notion that cheating, or your ex, is the answer. See your husband as the soulmate you've always wanted. Fight for him and be determined — this is your blessing, your treasure, protect it. You're not trapped. Anything too easy usually isn't very good, or memorable.

Get further help. Find a good counsellor and be open with them. Endeavour to get your husband to join you. Making him a promise in return for his attendance may work well. A good counsellor should help to get you both emotionally reattached. You'll probably have to pay for the sessions, but it'll be an investment in something priceless.

Do things you enjoy. Remember to do things for your own entertainment. Have friends and go out. Forget the temptation to cheat though. Know that having children and the weight of life's responsibilities can inadvertently douse romance and the excitements of life.

I pray that you both find the will to invest in your marriage, and not only in your child and the mortgage. You both deserve happily ever after.

Get on The Counsellor's Couch with Rev Christopher Brodber, who is a counsellor and minister of religion. E-mail questions to allwoman@jamaicaobserver.com.

CHRISTOPHER BRODBER

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