Am I Wrong to Leave My Marriage If My Needs Are Not Getting Met?
Evan,

I am having problems with my husband.

He is intelligent but not driven. He is outgoing but is rough around the edges in social settings. He rarely holds my hand, cuddles or kisses me beyond a peck hello or goodbye. We have sex less than 10 times a year, and that has been going on for 7-8 years despite my asking him how we could fix it. Recently I found out he has been taking care of his own needs with porn. If that were in addition to a great sex life I wouldn’t care. Instead it feels like it took away from our sex life.

Our conversations are superficial. We can take a five-hour road trip and barely talk in the car on the way there. He isn’t interested. When we go out to party he binge drinks, becoming another person who often flirts with other women or seems to not be present in his own body. I have begged on several occasions for this behavior to change and it never does.

On the flip side we share a common interest in my college football team, music, concerts, travel, food and more. We are true partners when it comes to taking care of the house and make all big decisions together. While our friendship is fabulous as far as going and doing our romantic life is obviously lacking. I know passion isn’t everything and it waxes and wanes throughout a marriage. But he has always lacked the ability to communicate and show affection. I guess when I married him at age 24 I didn’t realize how important a loving connection was to me. In fact our courtship was full of drama over these same issues.

We have tried counseling. He says he can change the binging, but so far hasn’t. He says he can’t change his communication style. I can’t speak my mind, share a personal frustration or cry about something and expect his support. He shuts down. There are past substance abuse issues that concern me, along with his continued looking at porn. We don’t have children. We are 38 and 40.

I’m so confused. I can’t imagine another 40 years without affection and communication. Am I expecting too much? -Annie

No, Annie, you’re not expecting too much.

You’re just illustrating Reason #587 as to why you shouldn’t get married when you’re 24 years old.

If you’re like 75% of people who marry before the age of 25, you’ll get divorced.

You’re marrying for love, but you don’t know anything about LIFE.

You may be lucky and get it right, but if you’re like 75% of people who marry before the age of 25, you won’t. And you’ll get divorced.

Which is what I recommend to you.

Now before anybody gets on my case because I’m advocating a rash measure to a total stranger who wrote me a 500-word email, I acknowledge that.

Is it possible that we’re only hearing one side of the story and that his version is relevant? Yes.

Is it possible that, twenty years into their relationship, they can grow closer and improve their communication? In the realm that “anything’s possible”, sure.

Is it possible that with proper couples therapy and relationship counseling, these two crazy kids can make things work for the rest of their lives? I guess.

But it’s also possible to hit the lottery, and you don’t see me running out to buy a ticket. If anything, as a dating and relationship coach, I try to play the odds, based only on the facts available to me.

You can do better. And you will.

So, for anyone who may think that Annie should “work it out” with her husband, because he’s a trusted partner, consider these facts:

He rarely holds my hand, cuddles or kisses me beyond a peck hello or goodbye.

We have sex less than 10 times a year, and that has been going on for 7-8 years despite my asking him how we could fix it. He has been taking care of his own needs with porn.

We can take a five-hour road trip and barely talk in the car on the way there. He isn’t interested.

When we go out to party he binge drinks, becoming another person who often flirts with other women or seems to not be present in his own body. I have begged on several occasions for this behavior to change and it never does.

He has always lacked the ability to communicate and show affection.

We have tried counseling. He says he can change the binging, but so far hasn’t. He says he can’t change his communication style. I can’t speak my mind, share a personal frustration or cry about something and expect his support. He shuts down.

The prosecution rests, Annie.

Your husband is guilty.

He’s not guilty of cheating or being verbally abusive. He’s guilty of being a bad husband.

He’s a poor communicator, conversationalist, lover, and, frankly, friend (friends are interested in you and generally try hard to make sure you’re happy).

You said it best in your original email:

I guess when I married him at age 24 I didn’t realize how important a loving connection was to me. In fact our courtship was full of drama over these same issues.

I know it’s sad, but it’s time to move on. You can do better.

And you will.