Wife wants to feel valued

Dear Counsellor,

My husband and I have been married for five years; we’re celebrating our fifth anniversary in June. However, I’m itching to leave, divorce him, and just start over because he frustrates me. While he treats me OK in private (on the occasions when we’re not malicing because of some foolish issue), in public there’s no acknowledgement that he has a wife, and with his family and friends, he acts single. Case in point, he stopped wearing his ring after we had a fight in December, and he makes plans with his family and excludes me, including planning to travel to see his family abroad with our toddler without me, not posting me or following me on social media, and the other day we had a party at our house, and he didn’t introduce me to his friends who came who I’d never met, nor did he dance with me, choosing instead to just hang out with his buddies and dance with other people. These may seem minor, but they’re frustrating because I feel undervalued. Also, I think his family feeds off his feelings, and also treat him like he’s single — like them inviting him and our toddler alone to visit, and acting like I neither exist nor have a say. He also doesn’t say he loves me, even during our (sporadic) intimate sessions, instead he will say he loves my body parts, using dirty language.

I just want to feel valued in my relationship and not feel like I’m living with an emotionless robot. By the way, we planned to go to a villa for our anniversary and I mentioned that I wasn’t feeling up to it anymore, and he just said, “OK”. Just OK, no other reaction. It’s like he wants out, but he wants me to make the move first. Do I leave, or no?

Thanks for reaching out. Marriage is an amazing privilege that requires figuring out. The Bible warns that anyone who takes up the powerful gift of marriage will have some challenges along the way (1 Corinthians 7: 28b). There’s a saying, if you can make it past seven years, you’ll likely make it. Why? Because leading up to seven years you’re really trying to figure each other out and trying to find a rhythm. The reality that this person will wake up beside you for the rest of your life is just dawning on you.

That’s why we say marriage is “big people business” — for the mature. It must not be entered into lightly. So don’t take a posture of divorce too quickly. What you have shared is understandably very difficult, and it is in no way “minor”. Yet, I have seen couples work through illnesses and infidelity, even substance abuse. Some couples have worked through long-distance relationships and even long prison sentences. So your bliss and success is very possible. Your husband may be struggling with some unspoken issue too. It could also be that he has single friends influencing him.

My advice:

Fight for your marriage. Don’t throw in the towel just yet. A great relationship can yet be forged from this fire. It seems you do still love him but are just perturbed by his present behaviour.

Set up a pow-wow. Try to get alone time with him for a heart to heart about how you’re feeling. Be very expressive. Avoid sounding critical or condemning. Let him know you want it to work. He may discern that you’re not certain and not know how to respond.

Set up a session. Get with a good counsellor if there’s no progress. Sometimes an objective third party needs to hear his complaints and yours and guide you to common ground.

You’ve been gifted with this marriage, give it your best shot. Every couple that found “happily ever after” had to fight through similar stormy weather.

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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