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When Is Enough, Enough?

Question:

How long have you been together?  10 years, married for 8

What is your age range?  30-35

Please share your story:  My husband and I have been together for 10 years. I knew when we got married that I would always be the more ambitious one, the career-oriented, educated, create-a-nest-egg, want-it-all type  and that he is more of the opposite – play video games and lacking the passion to really take the lead. This is the problem. We ebb and flow with our connection.

Right now, emotionally, we are doing okay, but what started as me knowing we wouldn’t always be equal has turned in to me feeling as though I’m being used. He’s laid-off again. It’s like pulling teeth to get him to do anything when I’m working 10-12 hour days. He tried returning to school, and all we benefited from that was additional student loans (this has happened twice). He only does the minimal in job applications unless I get on him and continues to use the economy as an excuse and isn’t willing to do what he has to do to bring in more of his share.

My promotions has us in the exact same financial situation as we were in 3 years ago. I’m sick of being stuck! I want to have kids, but it’s not something that we get to do the “easy way” yet he “can’t make up his mind about it.”

We both want to travel but are drowning in debt. I keep seeing my career go up and it’s like he wants to ride my coattails. Splitting up has been discussed a couple of times, and many of my friends and family feel as though enough is enough. He’s not a bad person, just has a predisposition for laziness. I have tried every angle, being supportive, being an example, arguments, incentives, but am at a loss and feel as though my life is just wasting away. I also don’t need to have a child since it’s like I’m already supporting one!

At what point is enough, enough? Breaking things off would hurt us both, but I feel as though we are hanging by a thread and he only gets motivated when he might have to move in with his parents because he has no other options. I don’t want to end my marriage, but I also want someone who wants to take care of me too – and be a little less concerned about his own creature comforts and can man up. I don’t want a life of regrets.

We clearly are becoming more and more of opposites.

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Answer:

While you ask a very good question: “when is enough, enough” there is no one answer that fits everyone. I suppose one guide that you can use in order to answer that question is to assess when the pain of the marriage outweighs the benefits. Judging from you Email, you are experiencing a lot of pain, resentment, and frustration and are near to ending the marriage because these reactions strongly outweigh the benefits that may once have come from being with this man.

In order for a marriage to work people must have shared values, attitudes and goals. For example, two people may decide to work hard because they want to buy a house, have children and save money to send them to college some day. However, if only one partner is willling to work for those goals while the other does not, the chances of the marriage succeeding are slim to none.

If you remain in this marriage, and based on what you have described, ther is a good chance that, if you stay with this man, you will come to regret that decision someday in the future and come to feel a lot more than resentment.

It is impossible to know what the problems are that cause your husband to behave this way. We can speculate that the may have ADHD and cannot organize himself enough to work, or that he is extremely depressed and distracted by the symptoms of depression or that he drinks and, or smokes pot or uses other drugs and does not have the energy to work. However, none of this helps you because, whatever the causes, if you remain married, there is a good chance that you will feel frustrated for a very long time.

It’s also interesting that, in the event of a divorce, the only option he can think of is to move back in with his parents. Given that he is grown man it really is worth noting that he does not see himself working even in the likely event of a divorce.

As you know, the decision to end the marriage is your’s and no one can tell you if that is right or wrong. On the other hand, it’s more than understandable that you take the divorce option. After all, you do seem to want children and to travel and those things are not likely to happen with this husband given the way things are. No one could blame you for ending this marriage.

Best of Luck,

Dr. Schwartz

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