Dear Annie: I could’ve written the letter from “Divorce Ambivalent” many, many years ago when our three children were young. My husband was busy with his career, and he loved sports. He was a good father but often did what he wanted to do on weekends.
He did help with the children (diapers, bathing, feeding, etc.), and he was a good husband, provider and an honorable man. He had no bad habits, such as a wandering eye. We always did fun things together, but the attention he gave to weekend sports would leave me feeling lonely and unimportant. I would discuss it with him and always hoped he would make the “I’ll change” promise, but he never did.
I knew from my own parents’ unhappy marriage that the “change” promise is a well-intentioned but often empty one, but I still wanted him to give me “hope” that I wouldn’t be lonely. I managed by focusing on the good in our marriage and in this man. He wasn’t perfect, but neither was I. Could he have put me first more often? Maybe, but I began to realize it wasn’t his responsibility to “fulfill” me.
I began doing more of what I enjoyed, even if it meant time away from him and family (travel, visiting my parents alone, hobbies, etc.). He never resented the things I did, but if he had, I would simply have acknowledged we were both putting ourselves first on occasion.
Fast-forward to the present — we just celebrated 40 years of marriage, and our children are grown. Is our marriage perfect? No, but it is pretty darn good and better than it was 25 years ago. We talk about everything, and I believe that communication is absolutely the MOST important thing in a marriage. We spend time doing fun things both together and apart.
We have become a couple that focuses on each other instead of our children. Hang in there, “Divorce Ambivalent”; keep working to make your marriage a strong one, even if it feels like you’re doing more. It is absolutely possible for your spouse to be your best friend after going through “meh” marriage phases. — Happy at 40 Years
Dear Happy at 40 Years: Thank you for sharing your story and advice. The next letter is from a woman who lost her husband and would give anything to have the “blah” times back.
Dear Annie: I am writing regarding the letter from a wife who is experiencing a “blah marriage” due to being alone because her husband’s job requires that he travel frequently. She does most of the work alone in raising their young children.
I believe every marriage experiences “blah” times, and it is no reason to divorce, because the situation is temporary. With communication, planning time together, and remembering the love she has for her husband, she can get past the not-so-great times and appreciate their marriage again.
I say this because I still feel the loss of my husband, who passed away unexpectedly 10 years ago. I would give anything to experience what I might have considered to be a “blah” time with my husband before I realized how much I would feel his absence. — Still Missing Him
Dear Missing Him: Your perspective is priceless. We often assume that things will always stay the same, and we tend to focus on what’s wrong in a situation rather than realizing that nothing lasts forever.
“How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?” is out now! Annie Lane’s second anthology — featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]