Q: I am 49 years old and have been married for 24 years. I have 3 children, 22, 20 and 15 years of age. After work and during the weekends my husband spends a great deal of time watching TV and has very little time for his family. He says we can’t afford counselling. There has to be more to life. Help!
A: A successful marriage doesn’t just happen. It takes a lot of work and nurturing. You should each feel like you are the most important thing in you spouse’s life. You are a team and if both of you are not happy, your team is not winning. Often we get stuck in patterns that don’t work for the other person. In your case, you feel unloved and abandoned with all the family and home responsibilities. I imagine your husband may be feeling that after working a full week, he deserves time to relax and watch TV. He probably feels unappreciated and somewhat depressed.
For this marriage to work, we will have to improve communication and compromise skills. If you both are willing to do the work necessary, you will see results quickly and feel more fulfilled. If your husband is unprepared to do this, you must decide if you can continue as is, or if you must leave the relationship. Hopefully it will not come to that! In order to be successful, this work must be done with the guidance of an impartial third person such as a marriage counsellor. You state that you cannot afford this but remember, counselling is far less expensive than the cost of a lawyer and a divorce–both monetarily and emotionally.
I, for instance, work on a sliding fee scale, charging only what the family or individual can afford to pay. When you consider the additional emotional cost to your children in terms of their self esteem and what they are learning about relationships, can you afford not to get help? How much is peace of mind worth?
Christmas is a time of disappointment for many because the hoped for family closeness never materializes. Maybe counselling would be a valuable family gift this season. With your anger, resentment and unhappiness this does not sound like a healthy situation for you. Decide that this is the year for you to make positive changes and start right away.