Dear Cheryl: I've been married for seven years, and I have a 2-year-old and another baby on the way. It's been a particularly hard year. My husband was fired; we had to move a month ago; he is now working full-time; and I gave up a part-time job I adored. Before, he worked part-time and did art in his free time. The stress has been enormous.
Years ago, I came to terms with the fact that he is verbally abusive when he's under stress. Everything becomes my fault. Any attempt to talk makes it worse, so I either leave when things heat up or, if I need to take care of my son in the house, lock my husband out and let him rage outside.
When he calms down, he apologizes. He's gone to counseling and gotten better. He stopped breaking things. His verbal behavior was improving until the move.
During the week, we get along fine. Weekends are horrible. The verbal harangues start on Saturday morning. I've ended up in tears three out of the four weekends. One week I was so upset that I totaled the car. I've decided to get out on Saturday mornings, with or without my son
But I don't know what to do. I can see myself divorcing when the kids are grown. But part of me says, "Why not now?" I can't tolerate the way things are. And if I stay with him, I'm afraid I'll lose my inner strength. Another thing: We only have sex a few times a year. That, of course, is my fault, too.
Then, there are the children to consider. I like being home during their early years. And I need to know I gave the marriage my best shot. I also know moves are hard, and if I left now, I'd never know whether all this was caused by the stress of the move. -- Torn
Dear Torn: Let's deal with the immediate problem first, the weekends, and assume your husband is as miserable as you are and wants to change.
Every Friday night, you and your husband have to make a plan for the weekend. There has to be family time, couple time and alone time. Make a list of triggers that set him off, and include ways for you to avoid them and ways for him to deal with them.
There are behavior modifications tricks that may help, some as simple as wearing a rubber band and snapping it when he's upset. You could also both agree that if you say a certain word, he'll leave the room until he cools off.
Working through a difficult situation like this can only increase your inner strength.
Once you get the weekends under control, you can work on your sex life. But hold off for now. Good luck, and stay in touch!
Dear Cheryl: You've gotta explain to all us clueless guys why marriage is such a big deal to women. From personal observations, after women get married, they gain weight and cut their hair. And from what I've been told, certain bedroom actives stop. -- Why Bother?
Dear Why Bother?: If you have to ask the price of a yacht, you can't afford it. And if you have to ask why to get married, you shouldn't. Thank goodness men never gain weight as they age!
-- Got a problem? Send it, along with your questions and rants to firstname.lastname@example.org. And check out my new e-book, "Dear Cheryl: Advice from Tales from the Front."