DEAR AUNTY PAM: I’m not going to use my real name, and please don’t say where I’m from, but I am about done with my husband. I’m tired of trying to have any sort of meaningful conversation with him, just to be ignored or hear him grunt while he’s looking at his phone, and I’m tired of him not wanting to do anything together. His idea of a perfect weekend is to watch TV 24/7 and look at his phone during commercials. I have to nag like crazy to get him out of the house to do anything — go for a drive, or go to a restaurant, and I’m just talking about a pizza place, nothing fancy.
We’ve been married 16 years and he has two sons from his previous marriage who are behaving just like them. When they come over for a weekend, they behave exactly the same way. It’s a miracle if I get two sentences out of them the whole time.
Aunty Pam, I do believe in honoring my marriage vows, but I have to be honest. Not only do I not love my husband anymore, I barely even like him and I’m resentful of being the only one trying to keep this relationship going. I’m now hitting middle age and the thought of going another year like this is torture for me.
Do you think I’m being unreasonable? — Fed Up.
DEAR ___: No way am I going to use your initials for this greeting, so let me address you by your full name: Fed Up.
You’re in a tough spot. And while Aunty Pam commends you for considering your marriage vows, it may be useful to be reminded that the hubs made vows as well that included words such as “love, cherish …”, you know, all that gooey stuff that doesn’t usually last. However, when the bloom is off the rose, what we hope remains in a relationship is affection, and even more importantly, respect and common courtesy. It sounds as if your other half is completely lacking in all of those.
If you are honestly representing the situation then I agree: It’s torture to have to drag one’s partner out of the house to do something as low key as grabbing a pizza. In fact, his behavior makes him sound like such a dullard that, honestly, I’m wondering if he might be suffering from depression, which can certainly present itself in the attitude he is displaying — especially if this behavior is relatively new. And frankly, the lockdown that we’ve all been under with COVID-19 has resulted in a surge of mental health issues —people have not been coping well at all. Has he suffered a negative life event recently? Loss of job, parent, etc.? He might also need a wellness check with his physician — if you can get him to go.
I think you might have to sit Roscoe down, which shouldn’t be hard as he seems to spend most of the day doing that, hide the remote control somewhere he’d never think of looking (anywhere outside the front door will do), and read him the riot act. You may have to be brutally honest: “I need you to know that I am not a happily married woman. I don’t feel like I’m asking much from you when it comes to a bit of pleasant conversation and the occasional meal out. Can you tell me why you are unwilling to do either?”
Then wait. Don’t interrupt. Hear him out. If he blows you off, shrugs you off, goes back to looking at his phone, then, you know what, sister? Life’s too short. And you have at least a couple of options: You can behave like royal couples by staying married and living completely separate lives (take a vacation to Paris with a girlfriend, join a hiking club, take yoga classes, art classes — anything to get out of that depressing household), insist on marriage counseling, or get a lawyer. The worst kind of loneliness is the loneliness one can feel within an unhappy relationship. There’s nothing worse than having no one who gives a damn with whom to share the events of our day, celebrate our victories or comfort us during our defeats.
Middle age comes up fast. And before you know it, it’s in the rearview mirror. Make a grab for what you have left and celebrate YOU.