Don’t be quick to divorce

Joey Garcia

I fell out of love with my husband after our baby was conceived. My husband doesn’t want a divorce, but I am done with the marriage. I feel bad about splitting up my child’s family. I have always done what is easiest, even staying in a bad situation or a neutral one instead of finding a good one. My family is pressuring me to stay, although others are pressuring me to leave. My husband is not a bad man, and he loves the baby (although I have to push him to do anything). My gut says to go, but I find it hard to do. It would be easier without the thought of depriving my child of having both parents in one place. I know there are lots of sane children whose parents divorced, but that doesn’t help me move faster.

The greatest gift a couple can give their child is a stable, loving partnership. But if your relationship fails that standard, a beeline to divorce court is your last option. I suggest counseling. For you. Motherhood raises a multitude of feelings, fears and memories. A qualified psychotherapist can help you sort through it all.

Until then, play with these thoughts: If you fell out of love with your husband after your child was conceived, it is possible that you never loved him at all. You were infatuated, perhaps with the idea of being married, because our culture promises that marriage sews you into a quilt of lifelong security and happiness. Or perhaps your husband’s behaviors during your pregnancy did not fit your expectations, and you began to slowly retract your respect, until he remained, in your mind, unequal and therefore not a valid partner. Or there may be some unconscious mistrust of your husband, or of men generally, that prompts your distance.

The other concern is your tendency to constrict yourself to bad or neutral situations instead of seeking a pleasurable fit. Choosing difficult situations speaks to low expectations, diminishing self-esteem and depression. Discomfort in neutral situations can mean you have programmed yourself to need drama to feel alive. Investigating the brokenness beneath your desire to leave your marriage inspires growth in understanding yourself as a beautiful, valuable and worthy woman.

My husband and I always fight about bachelor parties and strippers. I think watching a stripper is wrong because it objectifies women. My husband says that a stripper is a part of a bachelor party and provides male bonding. His friends are having bachelor parties with strippers, and this creates friction between the two of us. He thinks it is OK to go if he doesn’t participate when the stripper is there, but he gets upset at me for judging his friends for having the stripper in the first place. Before each party, he assures me that there will be no stripper, and then he comes home and tells me there was a surprise stripper. I am uncomfortable about this.

I would be uncomfortable, too, if my man lied to me regularly. Actually, I would be full of fire and demanding change because I value my relationship, and lies threaten to harm that sacred union by destroying trust. Another option is not to talk about the parties. Or to understand that you married a man who is not a feminist and whose social and spiritual consciousness is limited. You have to love him as he is or embark on a (possibly useless) consciousness-expansion project. (Try “Advice for the betrothed,” the June 9 Ask Joey column, for starters.) You also must understand that your husband’s need to bond with his buddies is stronger than his care for your concerns. That can be a painful realization but one that may root you in reality.

Meditation of the week
A 15-year-old girl told me that her sister’s fourth-grade female classmates are buying thong underwear for themselves at Abercrombie & Fitch. The 15-year-old is worried and asked, “Why don’t adults take action against the cultural push to sexualize children and market them for pedophiles?” What is your answer to her?

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