Been married close to 20 years and everything is falling apart. Has been for many of those years. No emotional support, money problems, always playing the blame game, sex issues if there’s sex at all and no real intimacy. Yet, we stay together. Despite all this we have a home, kids, pets and all of our friends are mutual friends.
I’ve never felt truly loved by this man. Fleeting moments over the years is all I’ve ever been granted. I’ve often wondered if we just can’t bear the thought of starting over. Breaking up our family is definitely something neither of us want. But it’s hard to be around one another longer than 10 minutes without some form of discord. Crying is something I do daily. Sad is what I am. Truly sad. Sad I can’t have a normal conversation with my partner because my husband doesn’t do that. Talk that is. Not about anything important. Merely bringing up our relationship sets him so defensive he immediately starts yelling and that ends that. If I yell back, it only makes it all very worse. In his eyes, I play the victim. Yet, in his mind, everything is also my fault. If he screws up I try to be supportive like I’d want him to be with me but my example has never carried over. Narcissist comes to mind when I think of him. He is who he is and I’ve done what I can to reach out to him. I try to make some sort of real connection but I don’t know if he CAN. Every interaction is very transactional.
Our strongest bond is our children. Not our ideas on rearing them or how we show we love them but simply that we have them. We have a house, a family and the goal to keep the lights on and everyone fed. It’s routine. It’s chaos. I can’t imagine how we would ever ‘untangle’ ourselves from each other. I don’t know that I want to. But I don’t know how to continue doing this either. After this long, I’m wearing down. People need intimacy. To feel loved. To feel appreciated. To know their partner has their back no matter what. Not having those things gets harder and harder to keep, pushing it all down, putting on a smile, and living without constant sadness.
I love him. I think he loves me the only way he can. But I don’t know that it’s enough. I don’t know what to do other than exist. Carry on until the kids are grown and see what comes next.
Eugene Kayser, lic. Marriage & Family Therapist