Dear Mary: I'm desperately unhappy - how do I escape from my marriage?
I don't know how to get out of my marriage. My husband and I have been married for eight years and have two wonderful kids, but I am deeply unhappy. I am constantly seeking attention or the approval of other men as I get no such thing from my husband.
He has always felt that I was looking for more, or ready to cheat, which was initially hugely unfair and untrue, but the more he doubts me and pushes me away, the more I crave closeness, approval and excitement.
We have had a difficult marriage with him being unemployed through the downturn for long periods.
I have been fortunate to be very successful in my career, which has not helped.
We do have a sex life - I am attracted to him - but we also argue and our relationship is strained a lot of the time.
Recently an ex-boyfriend, who is also married, contacted me and God it felt good.
I am not naive enough to believe that the grass is always greener but I can't help feeling that there should be more to life than this.
Financially my husband would have nothing if I left him as he fully relies on my income and it would also be devastating for our kids.
I am in my mid-thirties, he is 42. We both deserve happiness.
Mary replies: I wonder why your husband has always been suspicious of you and expecting you to cheat.
He is either very unsure of himself and doesn't have much self-esteem or something happened to make him feel like this.
You don't seem to have done anything wrong - at least not yet - so the answer must lie in his own background and/or his experiences of relationships prior to you.
One of the big side-effects from our most recent recession was the effect that it had on family life. Job losses, loss of income and being at home for long periods of time instead of being at work caused friction between couples, and that is understandable.
While it is wonderful that you have a successful career, and are able to keep the family going, it must be difficult for him not to be able to contribute his portion.
This would also contribute to his questioning his self-worth and the resultant frustration, leading to arguments such as you describe.
At the very centre of your problem is the fact that you feel unloved and unwanted and it is only natural therefore that when your ex-boyfriend contacted you that you felt a flutter of excitement. Has your husband any idea of how unhappy you are because of how he treats you? He needs to see just how close to leaving him you are right now - your opening sentence is very stark indeed - and he also needs to realise that things will have to change if things are to improve between you.
It goes almost without saying that counselling would be the best option. Your marriage is in a great deal of trouble, your children are very young and yes indeed you both deserve a better life than the one that you currently have.
And as it is a relatively young marriage change is possible.
A counsellor will take you through the history of both of your families of origin and look at possible factors that could be contributing to your problems based on that history. When you have some understanding of the causes then you will be better able to work towards changing things. It is important to realise that both partners usually have contributed in some way to things going wrong.
If, however, he refuses to go down the counselling route - and unfortunately some people are very much against it - ask him what he suggests you do as a couple to improve the marriage. Perhaps he doesn't even realise the seriousness of the situation - life goes on, you have a busy household and you have sex.
So maybe for him arguments and tensions are part of that life.
He may even have witnessed something similar between his parents. So you will have to get him to understand that you are not prepared to continue as things are because your most basic needs of feeling loved and cared for are not being met.
I do hope that things will improve.
All of you, including the children, will benefit if they do.
Sunday Indo Living