Marriage is not going so well for my husband Rob and me. Our fifth anniversary approaches, and we haven't had sex in more than a year. We've buried our feelings about that deep. We also avoid talking about finances and children, and anything else you could file under the category "future hopes." Outside of an hour of couple's therapy every week, we go about our lives as if nothing were amiss—running our household, dining out with friends, and catching new movie releases on Friday nights. We're good pals. (Yawn!)
When marriage promises so much more—stability, growth, intimacy—why am I content to stay put? In short, there's work to do, and I'm not talking about forever anyway. For the near future—six months, a year, maybe two—here are the ties that bind:
1. I'm giving myself a break. I wasn't always content to wait and see. In fact, I was nearly out the door earlier this year. Frustrated with our deteriorating rapport and needing space where I could think straight about the future I wanted for myself, I set out looking for an apartment of my own, crunching and re-crunching numbers to see what I could afford, and worrying about breaking the news of a separation to family and friends. The worst two months of my life ensued. Stress, broken-record thinking, and fear of loneliness—and about what others might think—had me crying every night. I couldn't get out of bed to face each new day. Figuring out how to rip apart a union, even an imperfect one, is agony. Needing a rest, I decided to focus instead on the silver lining of our relationship, and to gather my reserves for another go at serious contemplation later.