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November 24, 2017 - Welcome Guest!

Advice » Love

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Failed attempt at marriage

Question:

My husband and I were together for about 8 years and we were actually married for 5 of them. We met when I was 17. The same month I turned 18 I also got pregnant. Unfortunately we had not known each other very long - only about 4 months but we tried to make a go of the relationship. First our son was born 3 months premature and with Cerebral Palsy then my husband began to have doubts about the paternity of our son. Once these doubts entered his mind he began to drink excessively and he began physically abusing me. The physical abuse was so bad that I would get broken bones or be bruised so badly that people would barely recognize me. He even raped me and urinated on me during a fit of rage.

I stuck out the relationship because I was young and scared. I was pretty much mentally broken down. Once the paternity results were in he quit drinking and calmed down. Within one year we were married. Doing the right thing so we thought.

The problem was then that I just couldn't seem to get over our past relationship. I didn't think about it on a daily basis but on a daily basis we just could never get along. We were constantly fighting and having disagreements and I had no sex drive whatsoever. Whenever my husband whined enough to make me give in and have sex with him I felt sick to my stomach. Then my daughter came along.

Things did not get any better. I eventually ended up on Prozac. This really helped and we started to get along better but the sex was still not there. We tried one thing after another to pump up our sex life so, on a trip with a very good friend my husband suggested that we have a threesome. This friend introduced us, stood up in our wedding and I really had wanted to go out with him before I met my husband. I was pretty much for the threesome although a bit apprehensive because I knew my husband's track record when it came to jealousy. We tried the threesome and it didn't work out very well. When we returned home we had our friend over and tried again thinking the environment might be more relaxing. It was at about that time that I realized I was in love with our friend! To sum an extremely long story up, my husband became aware of this in less than a week, we are now getting a divorce and I am with this friend now and we are very in love and happy.

Was this outcome inevitable based on this situation? Traditional counseling never worked, medication never worked and experimentation never worked. I am pretty sure I really tried to make the relationship work or, is this just want I want to believe? Is it possible that there are some things that are just impossible to get over?

My children are well taken care of and the divorce is not messy so my only concern is that the kids know it is not their fault and that I love them. Should I feel guilty about the way that it happened?

Angela, 25-year-old woman

Answer:

Dear Angela,

Your relationship with your "friend" is not the cause of your marital breakdown; it was your marriage. From what you have written, this is a marriage that should never have been. Your relationship has two out of three risk factors for divorce that is noted by researchers who study marriage failure: young age and pregnancy. Money problems are the third risk factor and I would guess based on your age and situation, you probably have been struggling with tight finances as well.

The role your friend played in this situation was demonstrating to you that you are deserving of better treatment and that there can be relationships that are based on love and not jealousy. Whether it was circumstance or through planning, it is clear that you have done the right thing by getting out of a very bad relationship. Given the history that you described, there is no amount of counseling, medication or experimentation that can reverse the damage that has occurred. I will address the reasons why below:

Counseling:

Counseling will only work if both people in the couple are committed and honest about working toward improving the relationship. Although you did not get into describing your counseling experience, my guess is that your mistrust in your husband and his inability to take responsibility for his role in the relationship problems, stood in the way of you being open during counseling sessions. Moreover, whenever there is ongoing domestic abuse as in your case, the balance of power is the relationship is seriously undermined. Counseling cannot work when one party is fearful of opening up in a therapeutic setting. Having said all this, I do believe that counseling can be beneficial to you on an individual basis to assist you in exploring the factors that 1) attracted you to this relationship, 2) held you in the relationship and 3) finally allowed you to leave it.

Medication:

Medication on its own is beneficial in relieving depressive or anxiety-based symptoms such as a lack of energy and appetite, sleep disturbances and emotional ability. However, medication will not address the underlying problems of abuse and being in a destructive marriage. This is where people either seek help through counseling or do some serious soul searching regarding their need to make changes in their lives. Medication in your case was just a Band-Aid approach for a problem that needed surgery followed by rehabilitation.

Experimentation:

Without getting moralistic about the issue of experimentation, I have to say that bringing another person into an intimate relationship is counter-productive to improving the relationship on an emotional level. While it may "spice up" some people's sex lives, it is very destructive to the development of emotional and spiritual intimacy. What makes relationships work, is the mutual feeling of respect as well as feeling of being valued by each other. Good relationships are based on trust and honesty, and the intimate bond that develops from it goes beyond sex. By stating this, I don't wish to underplay the value of sex, but I do want to emphasize that the sex act is just one part of an intimate relationship. In fact, the largest sex organ in humans is not their gonads, but their brain. In your case, your lack of sexual motivation and interest toward your husband was not the result of any physiological problem, but one that was influenced by how you felt. Proof of this is probably the quality of your sex life with your new partner.

From what you have written, you have tried very hard to make your relationship with your husband work. Being unsuccessful attests to the fact that a relationship cannot be held together by one person. Certainly in your case, its failure was not because of a lack of trying on your part, but because your husband was not equipped or willing to do his share.

My hope is that perhaps your children will have a better relationship with both you and your husband apart in that they will no longer be exposed to the terrible conflict and abuse. As far as feeling guilty, forget it! By ending this relationship, you have given your children an opportunity to be exposed to a much healthier environment that is free of fighting and abuse. My best wishes to you.

Reena Sommer

This question has been answered by Dr. Reena Sommer is a family life consultant in private practice in Winnipeg, Canada. She heads Dr. Reena Sommer & Associates, a multidisciplinary group of professionals who offer a broad range of services to individuals, couples and families seeking assistance with interpersonal problems. Dr. Sommer' s area of expertise is working with clients experiencing difficulties during the process of divorce. Dr. Sommer combines a solution focused approach with elements of psycho-education to help clients develop effective coping strategies, manage the challenges of parenting and gain the tools needed to move on in life.

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