My husband says he’s tired of being married to me and threatens me with divorce on a regular basis. It’s exhausting to see him act regular and nice toward me one day and then the next day act like he has no interest in being married to me. I can’t leave my children and won’t be the first one to walk away from the marriage. Obviously, our marriage isn’t good, but I think it can be fixed if we’ll both work on it. He’s just all over the place and ends up in the same place again and again, wanting divorce. Do we tell the kids? Do I just stay put or leave? I have no idea what to do.
Those mixed messages are pretty confusing, to say the least. If you keep trying to hit the moving target of your husband’s wishes, you’ll miss every time. The ensuing resentment won’t be good for you or anyone else in your family.
I encourage you to get some clarity about what you really want and stick with it. If you want to stay married, then don’t move out. Keep facing your marriage and continue forward. Let him be the one to end it if that’s what he ultimately wants.
Granted, it will feel strange to move forward when your husband is starting and stopping, but you can only act on your intentions. He might have legitimate struggles in this marriage with you, but hollow threats aren’t the way to take care of them.
I don’t recommend you tell the children anything about the finality of the marriage because that’s not certain. If the children are exposed to some of the drama between you two, don’t lie and pretend everything is wonderful. Let them know that things are tense right now and reassure them you’ll be there for them. You can’t speak for your husband or make promises about the marriage.
On the days that your husband wants everything to be “normal” in your marriage in regards to touch, talking, and other benefits of a secure marriage, there is nothing wrong with you using that as an opportunity to talk about your concerns with the up and down nature of his behavior. This might raise the intensity, but at least you’ll be dealing with what’s really going on instead of just going through the motions.
If he’s sharing things with you that he wants to be different in your marriage, take a hard look at the concerns. See if there are things you can continue to improve. He might feel as if you don’t listen or take him seriously. Offer to work with him in counseling to get these concerns resolved.
You might even consider following Jon Bon Jovi’s secret for staying married when he said: “My wife tells me that if I ever decided to leave, she’s coming with me.” In all seriousness, you don’t have to play games with your husband to get him to stay in the marriage. You can face your marriage and show him that you’re serious about staying, regardless of his threats.
Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.
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