Ask Ammanda marriage

I have been married for less than 3 months and it’s just so much hard work. We got engaged 6 months after we met and every decision for the wedding was a hurdle. His family are Pakistani and mine are Turkish Cypriot. They made all kinds of demands. I wasn't going to not have the wedding I wanted so I just did what I wanted.

When we returned from honeymoon, he moved into my house. When we're together, we are really happy, but it's all the other stuff. We works far away and refuses to find another job close by. When we met he still lived at home with his mum. He has decided it is best for him that he stays with her during the week! I said I didn't think our relationship would survive if he did this, but he did anyway. I'm the most unhappy I have ever been in my life.

He never lets me see his phone and this makes me suspicious. But he has erectile dysfunction so I don't think he’s cheating on me. I just don't want to waste my life on someone who doesn't want to be with me!

Ammanda says...

You have my sympathies: it sounds like married life has turned out to be a real disappointment for you.

It’s often the case that, when two people move in together, they find things are more difficult than they were anticipating. You don’t say if you lived together prior to marriage but, even if you did, it sounds like you would have had very little time to adjust to each other’s way of doing things. 

When we get together with someone, it usually means that we also have to take their family on board too. How much contact they have with their family can vary according to tradition, culture, religion and a host of other things too. Sometimes this isn’t an issue. But other times - and it sounds like this is the case for you - your inlaws can end up playing a really big part in your relationship. It’s this that I want to talk about first.

You say your husband spends most of the working week with his mother, and claims it’s a more workable arrangement due to big travelling distances for his work. But I suspect you’re concerned about her having undue influence over him. 

I’m wondering if you shared your expectations about this kind of thing beforehand? I say this because, from what you say, it sounds like the current arrangements have taken you by surprise and left you feeling abandoned. It sounds like you feel that he’s living his life as a single man while enjoying all the benefits of having a loving wife.

Of course, we can’t have our own way all the time. It’s probably true to say that selfishness is one of the main reasons that relationships founder. But there are some things we might reasonably expect from a partner, one of which is having our feelings taken into consideration. And by the sounds of things, that’s not something that’s happening for you.

In addition to this, you think he’s secretive with his phone and you make the assumption that erectile dysfunction means that he can’t be having sex elsewhere. Unfortunately, ED in a relationship doesn't necessarily mean that an affair can’t happen. This is a complicated issue, but the main challenge here is that you clearly have concerns about his honesty. Again, this is something that needs addressing.

I’m happy that you feel the time together works well, but at the risk of being  a bit challenging, I’m not sure how long this is going to be the case. There is a fundamental problem here, which is that you’re not being taken seriously. If things continue the way they are, I can assure you that it's only a matter of time before resentment, anger and mistrust begin to gain the upper hand. 

So, what to do? I know I would say this, but I really do think it would be an idea to get some couple counselling. Very often, when we’re unhappy we can get into the destructive pattern of saying the same thing in the same way to a partner who has long since switched off. Counselling can help you both to talk more constructively and find out together if the differences between can be negotiated.  

However, if you aren't ready to do this, you'll need to find a way to talk openly and honestly with him about how you feel and make it clear that you cannot go on as you are. 

Do remember that he has his own needs and expectations and part of being married is that you pay attention to these. He may genuinely believe that he cannot get other work and live nearer to home. Maybe the money he earns couldn’t be made from jobs that are available locally. Maybe he believes the best way of contributing to the marriage is to earn as much as possible – so, from where he’s sitting, he’s doing his best to show you he loves you. Any of these are possible.

I want to end on a positive and – I hope – empowering note. You have your own business and your own home. While I’d suggest you do your best to find a way forward together (and, again, I believe counselling may offer you a fantastic opportunity to do this) I would also say: don’t be afraid to cut loose if you do decide it’s the right thing for you. Sometimes, when all is said and done, this is the best option for everyone involved. I'm not recommending this as a first port of call - just something that you shouldn't discount out of hand. But get talking first: that's the best way to figure out what you'd like to do next. 

If you have a relationship worry you would like some help with send it to askammanda@relate.org.uk*

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