How do you decide whether to work on your marriage or end it?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-22-2014
How do you decide whether to work on your marriage or end it?
Mon, 07-28-2014 - 11:01am

I have been married for 4 years. Initially we were very happy but for the last year or so I have been increasingly unhappy, though he seemed to think things were just fine. The main problems were/are lack of intimacy (husband's) and his general lack of drive to do anything outside work (we both work Monday-Friday 9-5 so we should have plenty of time to do things and neither of us has a particularly high pressure job). Every night after work and every weekend are "rest time" for him - the only thing he will do is go to the gym for an hour and he rarely even has a conversation with me. If I'm lucky he might cook something or do a few dishes but he basically spends every minute he is not at work or the gym sitting on the sofa watching tv.

We have been working on our issues for a couple of months and they have improved slightly. Unfortunately I have already developed feelings of resentment towards him and I'm just not sure if these will go away.

He is generally a nice guy, works hard when at work, popular etc etc but I just don't know that our relationship is enough for me for the rest of my life... I can't decide if our marriage was a mistake or if it just needs work. I'm not even sure I love him anymore, though sometimes I feel like I do.

I don't know if when I look back later in life I will wish I divorced him now, or if I do leave him now it will be something I will regret for the rest of my life. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-29-2010

My short answer is that you work on it until you are certain that you've done all you can and that doesn't fix it.

What do you want your H to be doing after work and on weekends? Chores and home improvement projects, or going out on activities like galleries, museums, hiking, parties, or something else? Is this a new development, or was he like this while you were dating and the first years of your marriage?

Why is it that he just wants to rest? Is he physically or mentally tired from his job and needs to rest his body or his brain? Has he seen a doctor to rule out depression or a physical ailment that makes him low energy and low sex drive? If you suggest activities does he refuse?

Do you and he have any hobbies or interests in common? If not can you develop some? Have you and he discussed division of labor in the home? Like one cooks and the other washes the dishes, who vacuums and who scrubs the toilet, and when? Have you established a date night each week? Do you have interests of your own that you do separate from him?

If you are doing all of the cooking and housework while he sits on the sofa then of course you will get resentful. And sometimes in a relationship one partner has to be the "social director" who organizes the dates etc or they will never happen. Depending on how he was raised he may think that its the woman's role to tell the guy what to do and when, and you will need to tell him (possibly many times) if you want him to take more initiative and in what areas.

Without knowing a little more about what is behind his lack of drive its hard to say whether its a dealbreaker for your marriage.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-09-2010

Could it be that he is very comfortable and happy and doesn't realize there is anything wrong?

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999

I think there are a lot of people who don't really like going out during the work week.  I love going out on weekends but generally I don't care too much whether I go out during the week.  Now if you add an hour at the gym to the work day how much time is there to go out?  What exactly would you want to do?  If you do all the cooking, maybe you are sick of it (which I understand) so maybe you could make a deal that every Wed. you two will go out to eat and you can take turns choosing the restaurant.  Do you have things that you want to do on weekends?  I know that when I was married, we probably wouldn't have done anything besides going to the movies/out to dinner unless I suggested it because I was the one to look around and see what kind of different events were going on.  My friends still call me the social director.  What are his excuses for not wanting to go out if you suggest something?  If he always says he's tired, then I would suggest a physical exam to make sure nothing is wrong.  The same for lack of intimacy--was he even like this before you got married or is this new?  if you married a guy who always had a low libido and yours is higher, this is something that is probably not going to change.

I would suggest starting with reading the book Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay by Mira Kirshenbaum.  You can order it.  It will give you a lot to think about.  I'd also suggest counseling.  A 3rd party can see things you might not have thought of.  Then at least if you decide to get divorced, you won't always be wondering if you did enough to try to stay married.

I also think when you say "work on" your marriage, you want your DH to do the changing--you can't make him do anything so you either have to come up with new ideas on what you can do or try to accept him as he is.  You just can't force someone else to change if they don't want to.

Avatar for khatru1
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-07-2004

It's pretty clear you are unhappy as things stand right now. So that tells me that yes, if you do nothing, at some point in the future you will look back and wish you had done something to change things and/or gotten a divorce.

You seem to have a large compatibility gap in regards to intimacy, social life and overall helpfulness around the house as well just communicating.

Since you are already doing counseling and you are seeing some improvement, maybe the best thing would be to continue with this until you either get back to a good place or the improvement stops and then you should consider ending it.

As others have wondered, I wonder did all of this not exist before you got married and he changed for the worse in all these areas after marriage or were they preexisting mostly and you are just now realizing and reevaluating and deciding you want more from life and marriage?