Stuck in a marriage rut

All Woman

Dear Counsellor,

I have been married for 10 years but my husband and I have been having problems on and off for the past five years according to me, and for the 10 years according to him. There's been infidelity on his part and continued trust and anger issues that characterise the marriage relationship. I feel sad, sick and stuck. Please help!

Both of you are on the same page regarding the ill-health of the relationship — the difference is the duration. The important thing is not so much how long the problem existed, but the recognition that the problem does exist and what steps are going to be taken to resolve the issues.

The critical question is, are both of you on the same page regarding fixing the problems?

Your husband is indicating that the marital problems were present from day one of the marriage, suggesting that the challenges were sitting dormant waiting to be unleashed in the marriage or there was a roundabout turn by one or both partners.

There is this argument that a couple may be in a relationship for, or even live together for years, but soon after marriage the foundation of the relationship begins to crumble. This can occur as it suddenly dawns on one or both partners that marriage is a serious commitment that demands high integrity and exclusivity and they become conflicted between what is acceptable/appropriate and what isn't.

So the guy who is accustomed to fooling around other women during the premarital period may choose to continue the same path during marriage. Was that the case with your husband and you were hoping that he would have changed his wandering behaviour? Too many women would have seen and ignored red flags during the dating period and expected that the man would miraculously turn around on the day of the wedding.

You mentioned the infidelity — so did you not see any signs or tendencies indicating that he was or would head in that direction? Did you just recognise the infidelity issue in the last five years of the marriage? Were you paying attention, or you were too preoccupied with other things such as the job, or maybe yourself? Whatever your distractions were, it seems as if your husband was busy doing his own thing while you may have been assuming that all was well.

As you contemplate how to navigate the choppy seas of the relationship, it is recommended that you do a personal assessment and determine what you may have knowingly or unknowingly contributed to the demise of the relationship. Could you have been more mindful of your partner's inclinations? Could you have been more emotionally present?

In any event, your partner has his personal challenges that he must address as he should not blame you for his unfaithfulness. He must recognise his responsibility as a husband and endeavour to communicate with you if he has a problem with you.

If you both can't have a civil conversation without descending into a blame game, then please go and sit with a marriage counsellor and discuss the issues. Take care.

Wayne Powell is a relationship counsellor. Write to agapemft@gmail.com or powellw@seekingshalom.org . Check out his work on www.seekingshalom.org and his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MFTCounselor/

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