My husband and I have been married for 10 years. Our relationship used to be fantastic, but now… not so much. We’re not nearly as close as we used to be, and life feels stale and routine. Plus, there’s this distance between us. It’s not like things are terrible, but they’re definitely not great.
Given how much our relationship has declined in the past decade, I’m worried about what things will be like ten years from now. The thought of living the rest of my life in a dying relationship is beyond depressing. All of that has me thinking (a lot) about divorce.
My best friend says I should tell my husband how I’m feeling. She says if I don’t, there’s no way that our relationship can get better. But I believe telling him that I’m thinking about divorce will only make things worse. In my opinion, a better approach would be to wait it out and see if things get better.
Dear Not Happy,
You’re both right.
Your friend is right in that you need to communicate with your husband. I’m guessing that ten years ago, when your relationship was good, you guys did a much better job with that. But I’m also guessing that it was easier then because everything was new and you had more positive than negative things to talk about.
Once you’re together for any length of time, things will come up that bother you to a greater or lesser degree. You can’t (and shouldn’t) have a summit about every single irritation, of course, because that too can put considerable wear and tear on a relationship, but neither should you avoid talking about any of them at all.
When you’re trying to decide what to bring up and what to let go, keep this in mind: Unless your husband is a mind reader, if you decide to let something go rather than talking about it, you can’t be surprised if it happens again. And letting things go is fine, but only if you can really let them go. Ten years of baggage is a lot to haul around.
Also, I get the sense from your letter that your best friend knows more about your marriage and your feelings toward your husband than he does. That’s neither fair nor healthy. Your strongest and closest bond should be the one with your significant other. When it comes to the topic of your marriage, anything that you talk to your best friend about shouldn’t be news to your husband, because you should have talked to him about it first. Plus, you should resist the urge to overshare with your friend about your marriage. A little privacy goes a long way.
Finally, if you and your spouse don’t communicate with each other, it’s impossible for you to really know each other. Sure, you may wait it out and get to a point where you are less annoyed with him, but that hardly counts as relationship success. Success isn’t defined as tolerating each other just enough to stay together; it’s staying together because you want to be together.
So, yeah, your friend is right. You do need to talk to your husband. But you’re also right, in that kicking off a long-overdue conversation by telling him that you’re considering divorce isn’t likely to end with the two of your feeling closer than ever. You’ve skipped a lot of conversations over the last ten years—conversations that may have been difficult, sure, but ones that also could have kept you from getting to the point where you’re considering divorce. Just because a conversation is hard doesn’t mean it’s not worth having.
So, at this point you need to decide what you want. Do you want a marriage that is genuinely close? If so, rather than getting a divorce, I suggest trying to see if you can have that with your husband. A good place to start would be to channel some of that energy and know-how that you’ve been putting into your relationship with your bestie into your marriage. I can’t promise you it will work, but I can promise you that you won’t regret trying.