My husband and I have been together for 5 years , married for 1 year, we are both very young (24 and 22) and had children at a young age, we have 2 girls, 1 and 4 years old. Against all odds we’ve managed to stay together. Now we’ve had it, we are both ready to call it quits, the arguing and incessant nagging has become too much to bear. I don’t know if I’m just being a wuss and looking for the easy way out or if this really is the best thing for our kids. This questions weighs on me like a ton of bricks “is it healthier for the girls to watch us fight constantly or to have 2 happy separate parents?” I would love to watch your tapes but we are both working 2 jobs and barely making it…which i think is another problem that we hardly see each other and when we do it’s nerve racking either trying to get the kids in bed or ready for school. All i can do is look at my little girls faces and i cry to myself wondering what more i can do so their life wont be like this anymore. They shouldn’t have to listen to the yelling. please i know you can’t respond to every one’s emails but if there’s hope please let me know, i am so out of love with him and we don’t have time to fall back in love.
First, let me congratulate you for being young and married and so incredible responsible in raising your two little girls. I’m going to share your email with a list of 10,000 marriage educators (will keep you anonymous) and I can assure you that each one will be impressed that you and your husband have both been able to find two jobs and that you’re managing in these rouge economic times to hang in there. You are both heroes – nothing wussy about what you’re doing.
I also congratulate you in seeking help and in figuring out ON YOUR OWN that your biggest problems are the stress of not having time together and the stress of not knowing how to manage normal and expected marriage issues without fighting. What you haven’t figured out is that you don’t need to fall back in love, you just need to figure a way to excavate – dig your love
out from all the junk piled on top of it and let the sun shine on your love and warm it back up.
But first, I want you to take a deep breath and realize that separating is NOT an answer. Take that off the list of solutions. Things would only get crazier and more miserable for you and your girls in both the long run – and the short run. Divorce just sounds like a solution because it’s taking action…..doing something. It’s like cutting off your legs because your shoes are too tight and your feet hurt all the time. They really hurt, but things could be worse – much worse.
If you’re barely able to make it with both you and your husband working full time, you’ll all go under fast if you split households and resources.
Remember you’re talking about not only financial resources, but time, and emotional resources.
Imagine trying to take care of your girls while you support TWO households -two of everything, while you work two jobs, get them to school and to bed and to the doctors and feed and clothe and house them.
You also will be splitting the resources of your extended families and friends and community. You need to hold things together – conserve and figure out how to reorganize resources – not split things up.
You ask “is it healthier for the girls to watch us fight constantly OR to have 2 happy separate parents”? Neither! No, no, no. It’s a huge mistake to
think that those are your two options. And, make a major mistake in thinking divorce would lead to “2 happy separate parents”. The research is clear, divorce does not lead to improved happiness….only in the first moments when you think “we’re doing something, taking action to relieve our pain – cut off these darn hurting feet.” Then reality sets in and you realize you’ve just made things worse – much worse. You’ll still have to co-parent with their dad (for the rest of your life) and make not only the current decisions about who’ll do what and when and how, you’ll have fewer resources and more to fight about (visitation, support payments). The fights will get uglier, more dramatic, and more unpleasant for the girls about how to spend money and time. And, you’re young – you’ll both start dating which will add more players and more disagreements. And, probably more kids. And, the chances of having a successful second marriage are very much against you – with two little girls, you can expect a failure rate of about 85%….you always have more to fight about in a remarraige and the kids from the first marriage are at the top of the list of what you’ll disagree about.
You need, instead, to focus on how lucky your girls are to live with their two biological MARRIED parents. You’ve put them in the win column and you want to keep them there. Your marriage is the best predictor of success for their future – in school, finances, health, mental health, drug abuse, teen pregnancy, their own chances of marriage – everything we can measure.
So what to do? 1) Keep in mind the enormous benefits of hanging in through this rough patch and staying married. 2) Understand that it’s normal at this stage with young kids and four jobs to be feeling the way you feel – it would happen to any pair that started out as love birds and perfectly passionate soul mates. 3) Realize you CAN figure out new ways to interact that will help you manage disagreements, disappointments and stress in ways that will help you fall more in love each day. And, remember your girls are watching. If you teach them that throwing in the towel and moving on to new partners is the way to do things…..that’s what they’ll learn.
You don’t have to fall back in love with your husband – you just have to let the love breathe. Time and again we’ve found when couples come to a marriage education class and say that they’re “all out of love” all they need is some time and a few exercises and they’re amazed to realize they’ve been in love all along, they were too frustrated to FEEL it. Love is a FEELING that depends on how we’re treating each other. You just have to find a way to excavate – throw off the junk, the burdens and frustrations, clear a path, start treating each other in loving ways, and let the sun shine in.
There are a million ways to dig out and reorganize and get smarter about how to do this – that don’t cost anything except a little bit of time. You’ll do it your way. You might want to try to write down what works – maybe you’ll get rich – write the guide for others to follow. But remember that the way you’re doing things also takes time – it takes time to yell at each other.
It takes time to cry. What you’re doing saps your energy and kills love and lust – and cooperation. It’s also very bad for your health. Ditto for divorce. THAT takes time. And, it’s bad for everyone’s health.
The first step might be to find a time to sit down with your husband and tell him that you had an epiphany – a wake up moment and that you want to
try to do CPR on your love life. You might try flirting with him a few days before you have this talk….remind him what love feels like. Think back….bet if you try you can remember how to flirt. He’ll notice. It only takes a few seconds and costs nothing. And you have to start somewhere. Don’t wait for him to start, you take this one and run with it. Then when you get a few minutes to talk, tell him you realize you’ve been so focused on making it financially that you’ve lost sight of each other and your relationship – of how much you love each other. Tell him you want to conspire together to be selfish together, to try to find some couple time. Admit you’ve been flirting. Tell him you want to make this conspiracy deliberate and do it as a couple – to focus together on finding time for your relationship. You might even be able to figure out ways you can cut back, cut expenses so you can work fewer hours.
But start by agreeing to spend fifteen minutes a day to focus on each other- talking, swapping back or foot rubs, telling each other what you appreciate in each other, whatever. A night or a morning or some time each week when you have a date – even if it’s just eating a meal or talking or making love. No problem solving or talking about money or the kids allowed.