Her failure to advance at work causes husband's love to regress
Q: My husband recently told me, essentially, that he no longer loves me, and he is certainly not attracted to me, because I have disappointed him too many times by failing to advance professionally.
I have an administrative support job (one I'm very good at; I'm well paid, at least for administrative work, and I'm admired and respected by my employer). Because we have young kids, and a higher-level job would likely involve longer working hours and a lot more stress, I am not actively pursuing advancement opportunities at this time.
At the time we dated and got married, I had no idea his love would be contingent upon my professional advancement. Certainly, I have discussed other hopes and dreams from time to time, but we both agreed, I thought, that it would be best for me to have a low-stress job with regular hours while the kids are small.
He now works in a competitive industry in which, for better or worse, one is judged by the appearance and professional position of one's spouse, and he feels I'm an embarrassment and a liability. Is there any hope for this marriage? He won't go to counseling, because he feels the problem is mine, for failing to live up to his expectations.
A: Wow. I'm sorry your husband turned out to be such an embarrassment and a liability.
You can't change his opinion, but please do feel free to express (what I assume is) your disappointment that he doesn't consider your success as a mother to his children, and your success at balancing your professional obligations with your domestic ones, as worthy of
his and others' respect. You need to stick up for yourself here, not just because, but especially since, you were led to believe your decisions were made jointly and for the good of the family.
I imagine you're also beating yourself up for not recognizing sooner that he has a vacuum where his values should be, but please get that phase behind you quickly and move on to the wow-you-have-work-to-do-before-you-deserve-me phase.
A trip to a family counselor and a lawyer wouldn't hurt, either. Though that might seem counter to a goal of repairing the relationship and keeping your home intact, I don't think you'd be undermining that possibility if you also prepared yourself for the worst, versus just waiting till the other shoe drops. His little blame scenario could well be elaborate cover for a relationship with someone else. Besides, your being underestimated once seems like enough for one marriage.