‘Deceived in Dallas’ asked:
My husband and I met online and dated for two years before getting married. We often had long weekends together before we married and I thought I knew him well. We have been married two years now and I feel deceived.
For two years he has been building a lawn care business (which I knew he had before) and working full-time at a retail job, which means his schedule is chaotic. Long story short, my husband is never home. When he is, he sleeps from exhaustion. He has been telling me for two years that things will level off once the business gets bigger.
But I found out recently from his old friends and family that he has never held a steady 8-5 M-F job in his life. He has always worked two or three jobs for little pay. I moved and changed my life for this marriage with a promise that we would actually have time to build one. All he has done is rack up debt for the business.
I feel like he married me for stability. I make more than him and even though I am exempt, I work a steady schedule with evenings and weekends free. I want to just walk away. How do I communicate this with him? I’ve tried in the past but failed. He just keeps cutting me off and saying things will get better.
Dr. Zoe answered:
The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Psychologists have found this to be true across all issues. It’s not that people can’t change. Of course they can. They just don’t tend to unless the impetus is large enough—and even still, they sometimes don’t. More importantly there has to be an internal drive to change. External pressure doesn’t work.
You feel deceived, but in his defense, he may not have purposefully hidden the truth from you. He has probably hidden it from himself for years through denial and the age-old non-clinical definition of insanity (doing the same thing over again and expecting different results).
I have found in my years of practice that women often marry men with their potential in mind, expecting them to change or grow for the better. They rarely do and disappointment arises. The lesson for you is to be brutally honest with yourself about your next partner. Do not marry someone who isn’t currently what you want for the long-haul. If you believe in him, stick around and see, but don’t marry him, expecting him to change.
You can communicate your desire to leave by speaking blunt, truthful words, even though they are hurtful ones. Expect him to try to cut you off and don’t allow that to deter you. If he simply won’t stay present for you to express himself, then a letter is a wonderful way to communicate with him that you are frustrated with the dynamic in your relationship. Make it clear which things need to change if staying is an option. If staying is not an option for you, plan your exit. You don’t need his permission for that. You simply need to inform him.
You’ve got this! It just takes a little grit and grace.
Are you putting your life on hold for a significant other? Dr. Zoe shares if, and how long, you should wait: