Sunday 22 April 2018

Dear Mary: Ever since the birth of our child my husband says he feels trapped

WE met and married within a year. A baby arrived soon after and we were so delighted.

However, my husband was present at a very difficult birth and I think he had a kind of post-natal depression after the gruesome scenes.

We have a four-year-old now, and my husband says he is feeling trapped and asks if there is more out there.

I'm naturally devastated, and want to keep the family together. My husband has lost weight recently and is getting a lot of female attention which could possibly be a contributing factor.

What would your advice be? Should we try and battle through, or should I let him go and see what happens?

I do not want him to stay and be unhappy.

Mary replies:

YOU don't want him to be unhappy -- but what about yourself? You are already in shock, but you would be desperately unhappy if you were to break up, and I think you should do everything possible to keep your family together. Because it is a family -- it's not just the two of you anymore, and your four-year-old would much prefer to have both parents living together and getting on well as he or she grows up.

Why is your husband feeling trapped? With the passage of time he should be well over whatever trauma he suffered by being present at the birth, so you need to look at other reasons that may be causing him to feel that he wants to get out. Unhappiness with your general relationship, not enough time spent alone together and problems with your sexual life can all be reasons for his unhappiness. Or he may have felt that the baby became the focus of your life after it arrived and he was left feeling that he was on the outside.

As he has lost weight and is getting plenty of admiration from other females, he probably feels very good about himself, and this may indeed have caused him to wonder what it would be like to be single again. But this does not necessarily mean that he is about to go. Men do not usually leave a marriage unless they have somebody else in their lives, whereas women tend to leave simply because they are very unhappy even though there is nobody else involved. So unless he actually is involved with somebody else, perhaps he is just voicing his concerns that all is not well by telling you that he is feeling constricted in the marriage.

The first thing to do is to clarify with him what he actually intends to do, and then together you can look at what aspects of your marriage he is unhappy with, and what can be done about that. Almost every couple goes through rocky periods in their relationship, and you are no different, but by working on them most problems can be surmounted.

I know that in the US many couples meet and then marry very quickly, and when they encounter difficulties they tend to divorce equally quickly. You also got married very soon after meeting, but I would encourage you to do everything that you can in order to keep your marriage alive rather than part.

Hopefully you will find that there are happier times ahead.

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