“OKAY, IT’S READY!”
I shout from the kitchen, sweeping a tray of food into my arms.
I carry my husband’s dinner into the living room, and pause for a few seconds behind him. He’s slouched on the sofa, engrossed in a computer game on the giant TV screen.
He doesn’t react when he sees me. I notice he’s wearing just his underwear again. The first thing he does when he gets home is to take off his clothes, leaving them in a pile at the door.
“Be careful, it’s hot,” I say, setting the tray down before turning away from him. It never used to be like this.
I first met Patrick* 25 years ago in school. He was smart, funny and handsome. We became friends, but it wasn’t until we were in our early 20s that we started dating. He was very ambitious, and had landed a good job with a global IT company, while I was on the bottom rung as an assistant in a bank.
We dated for two years, then got engaged. Life was fun and easy. I loved his drive, sense of humour and generosity. He’d take me out for meals and buy me little gifts. On weekends we’d watch films, go cycling and have barbecues at East Coast Park. On our wedding day in July 2001, he whispered in my ear: “I will love you, look after you and make you happy for the rest of my life.”
EARNING MORE THAN HIM
And Patrick did do all those things. We were a great team – with our new home, his job promotions, and three children within the first eight years of marriage.
Even though we were consumed with work and family responsibilities, we made time for date nights each month. Patrick would always buy me something new to wear – a top or some earrings – for those nights.
In 2009, the economy tanked, and Patrick lost his job. Though he found new employment in sales, his salary was now commission-based.
It was also at this time that I got a promotion at work. It was a complete reversal of roles – with me working longer hours and earning more, and Patrick playing a bigger part with childcare. Because two of our three children were still in kindergarten, he had to work shifts.
“Every time I’m not selling, I’m not earning, Sarah!” he’d snap when I arrived home in the evening after him.
Despite his grouses, he was good with the children. But I always made sure I was there to cook Patrick dinner and put the kids to bed together with him, as we had done in the past.
By 2011, all our kids were settled in primary school, and that same year, I got another promotion. “Sometimes I think you care about your job more than me,” was all he said when I told him.
That was stupid, because it wasn’t true. But now that I had become the partner with the steady income, it was starting to drive a wedge between us. Whatever I earned went to the household bills and the children’s activities like swimming, soccer and piano lessons.
Patrick wasn’t doing too badly, earning between $4,000 and $5,000 a month, but he insisted on blowing his cash on a new car to boost his image. The little treats stopped, and so did the date nights.
LOSING THE SPARK
Over the last four years, our relationship has steadily declined. I noticed that this coincided with Patrick working less. While he still has a job, he doesn’t work overtime or entertain clients anymore.
He now spends less time chasing business and making contacts, and more time at home playing computer games in his underwear. He’s stopped helping with the housework and the cooking, saying he’s too tired, or looking for extra work to bring in a larger income. More than once, he’s forgotten to pick the kids up from their enrichment classes.
Our sex life is pretty much non-existent. I try to look after myself – I’m only 40 and have to look presentable for my job – but Patrick has put on weight and doesn’t exercise.
My husband’s slovenly attitude and seeming lack of self-respect has also made me view him in a different light. No longer the handsome, dynamic go-getter I fell in love with, he’s not as mentally or physically attractive to me as he once was.
It pains me to admit that I usually have to get drunk before we try to sleep together. It’s the only way I seem to be able to get in the mood, especially now that our date nights have vanished, and I’m more stressed than ever at work.
The last time – around six months ago – I bought some new sexy underwear to spice things up, but Patrick just laughed at me.
“What the heck are you wearing?!” he exclaimed. I think the cruel jibe was an instinctive reaction to hide his shock. After all, we used to have a very loving and easy sex life, without the need for any “props”, so I guess my efforts threw him off. I was so humiliated and felt so stupid that I locked myself in the bathroom for an hour.
Patrick and I know our marriage isn’t working out. But when we talk about it, we end up shouting, crying or saying nothing at all. We tried counselling, but only attended a few sessions as we felt it wasn’t helping, and we were wasting money.
Patrick says he loves me, and while I love him, I am no longer in love with him. People may think we should go our separate ways, but I don’t want to raise my family alone and I can’t afford to.
I feel trapped and let down by the man who promised he would make me smile forever.
Part of me hopes that one day, Patrick and I will suddenly click back into the close and rich relationship we once shared.
But for now, I don’t know how to achieve this. Work and looking after the kids are my priorities. Once they’ve grown up, maybe things will be different and we’ll have more time for one another? Or perhaps we’ll realise our life together as a couple has come to an end? For everyone’s sake (maybe apart from mine), remaining in a loveless marriage feels like the only sensible choice for now.
*Names have been changed.
LOCKED IN A LOVELESS MARRIAGE?
There are ways you can move forward, says Eadren Tan, a personal development and life coach at Brainzworkz.
can be a huge obstacle when relationships grow stagnant. A first step is to think about what you really want to say, and consider how your partner would like to be spoken to. Use words and a tone of voice that you would appreciate others using with you, if they were to speak to you about a similar issue.
Studies have shown that the slightest touch can ignite strong emotional experiences. Just a gentle stroke across the back of your partner’s hand could be all it takes to get things going.
is just as important as talking if you do it right – especially in an argument. Start by sitting and looking into each other’s eyes for one minute. Then, tell each other one thing you love about having them in your life. It will get you thinking – and communicating – in a positive way.
This story was originally published in the April 2017 issue of Her World.