I need some help! Nothing seems to make me happy anymore - the more I surroud myself with happy things, nothing seems to work. My husband and I have been married for 18 years and we have an 8- year-old and a 5-ear-old. I feel content most of the time, but lately my husband "seems to bring me down." I come from parents who divorced after 27 years and I don't like what divorce does to children, so I want to make this work. For years, my husband has used verbal put downs and I have continued to ignore them and thought that some day he would learn to stop, but I don't feel like I can take it any more! It is my fault for letting it continue to happen - do you have any suggestions? When I approach my husband, he gets angry and then tells me that nothing will ever make me happy. IS it better to be miserable and married or happy and divorced?
I am very confused!! Thank you for your assistance.
You are right. You can't take it anymore and do not want to. You have the right to be happy. Happiness does not depend on whether you are married or divorced. It seems to me that there are two ways of looking at your difficulties right now:
- Happiness: Happiness is to be felt from inside your own self and soul, and not from surrounding yourself with "happy things" from the outside. Try to understand yourself better as a person, a woman, a daughter, a mother and a wife. What motivates you? What drives you? How do you express yourself and fulfill yourself? How do you feel as a person? Do you love/like yourself? Do you have self-esteem and self-confidence? Did you ever work out these issues with a therapist?
- Marriage versus Divorce: From your letter, I understand that the communication between you and your husband goes through a dynamic of victim and victimizer. For years you have let your husband put you down verbally and hoped that he would learn to stop, but he didn't. He didn't because it takes two to tango. No one has the right to put the other down. Your husband will learn to respect you through the mirror which you will reflect to him - a mirror of self-respect. In a couple, each reflects his own image to the other. Start to show your husband that you love and respect yourself and it is probable that he can start to feel and do the same. If not, you can look for help in couple therapy. Think of where this communication pattern comes from. Maybe your parents' relationship was based on that type of dynamics.
Only after you work out those issues will you be able to make a decision about staying with your husband or getting a divorce.
Arlette Shimon, MSW