Confessions: My husband wants to leave me; we barely talk or go out anymore

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By Chris Hart | Thu,Jan 06 2022 09:00:00 EAT

 Why wouldn't he just tell me what is wrong? (Photo: Courtesy)

Hi Chris,

These last few weeks have been the oddest, I’ve found myself wondering whether my husband is thinking of leaving me. He hasn’t said anything definite, but lots of little things have made me puzzled and confused.

And then, suddenly, a few weeks ago, he started talking about what we should do at Christmas as if there was nothing wrong at all. So we organised everything just as normal, and I relaxed.

But now that our holidays are in progress, I’m starting to feel uneasy again. So what’s going on? Might he really be leaving?

Why was he so relaxed about Christmas? And is there anything I can do to put things right?

Crazy Christmas

Chris says,

Hi Crazy Christmas!

I don’t want to completely spoil your holiday, but spouses often secretly plan to break-up once it’s over.

Often they’ve been seriously thinking about leaving for a while, but don’t want to mess up the whole family’s plans. Or maybe because they haven’t quite made up their minds, and think a few days away from work just might put things right.

But more often than not, the holiday’s the last straw. All those extra expenses. And the travel, overeating, drinking and entertaining adds to the tension. And so the decision’s made.

So how can you tell whether your marriage is at risk? And is there anything you can do about it?

The clearest sign that something’s wrong is that you’re not really talking to each other anymore. Maybe just the practical stuff, like who’s doing the school run. But there’s no affection, poor eye contact, little or no intimacy, and lots of passive-aggressive criticism or sulking.

And no discussion of the real issues. In fact, your husband’s probably carefully avoiding mentioning anything important.

If that’s happening, the best way to start the repair work is just to be nice to him. Cut down on the drinking and socialising.

Do small chores together, smile and greet him nicely, give him simple compliments. And don’t say a single unkind word, even if it feels like he’s trying to wind you up. Gradually, the tension will begin to subside, and you can invite your husband to tell you all about what’s worrying him.

Don’t ambush him. Instead, ask him to suggest a good time to talk. Sometime you’ll both be relaxed, well fed, and completely sober!

Avoid any hint of criticism, sarcasm, defensiveness, or anything even remotely dismissive. Listen hard, and try to see things from his point of view. Chances are you’ll hear things you didn’t expect. And if something really threatening comes up? Don’t panic. Calmly suggest you discuss your problems with a counsellor.

But more likely than not, once you start talking together constructively again, you’ll begin to draw back from the brink. But don’t leave it too late. Or this may be your last holiday together.

All the best,

Chris

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