Wedding Woes

Add on couple's therapy and some more patience

My husband is a wonderful man and father but not the most motivated provider. Almost a decade ago, when our son was an infant and my husband had lost (another) job, he asked his parents for work at their family-run business. His parents and another relative all worked there at the time, and he’d worked there himself when we first started dating. His mother was reluctant at first and insisted the job would be temporary. It’s a pretty toxic work environment. Six years ago I went back to school, and my husband and I made a deal: After I graduated, he’d look for a new job or go back to school to retrain for another career, improve his mental health, and have a more reliable income. It’s been six years, and he’s still at his parents’ company. He makes very little money, has no insurance, and they berate him regularly. He’s also enabled to be late as often as he pleases. While he is a valuable employee and his parents have credited him with saving the business, he isn’t treated as if he’s valuable.

His relationship with his parents has always been unhealthy. This past year he has had severe depression over his mother’s recently exposed alcoholism and his father’s narcissism. It has put a strain on our marriage. He’s recently started therapy and has been making some great strides. He has my full support to quit and find something he loves, including going to trade school or college, while I continue to work full-time. However, he has no desire to do so and he expects me to be supportive when he comes home each evening with another account of the awful things that happen at work. I feel like I simply can’t remain supportive when he has every opportunity to leave yet continues to stay. I am ready to make it an ultimatum. The excuses keep coming. I don’t know if I can stay if this is forever.

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Re: Add on couple's therapy and some more patience

  • He needs a therapist, probably a career counselor and you both need therapy.

    You also need to use your words.   This isn't easy but it's not going to work without a successful dialogue. 
  • I am very sympathetic to the LW and don't think anyone should stay in an unhappy marriage.

    However, per their letter, he RECENTLY started therapy and is making great strides.  I think that is a key point.  I get that the situation has gone on for too long and the LW is at her breaking point.  But it sounds like he is finally motivated to make improvements by going to therapy and following the advice.

    Rome wasn't built in a day and, if her H stays the course, he could be strong enough to go back to school or get another job. So I hope the LW gives him more time to get there.  I also think couples counseling would help them.  
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • Why does he need to be the provider? 

    If the toxic work environment is impacting your relationship it’s time to be clear about the toll that it is taking. 

    But if he’s in therapy and is making strides you also need to give it some time to work. It’s not like you start therapy and in a week everything is “fixed”; it’s a process and if you’re seeing progress that’s a good thing. It sounds like there is a lot going on in his family & the business and just because you’re tired of it doesn’t mean he’s able to just up and leave now. 
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