Dear Annie: My wife and I have been married for 13 years. We have a son we both adore. About five years ago, I made a career switch. It was a tough time for us financially, and it put a strain on our relationship. I thought we were pulling out of it OK, but just as I got my new career going, my wife started to become distant. I immediately asked her to come with me for counseling, and over a seven-month period, we learned to communicate and problem-solve better as a couple.
Unfortunately, in every other way, things have gotten worse. My wife resisted the counseling, so we no longer go. She now recoils when I touch her. Last week, after I returned from a conference, she said she discovered that she enjoyed not having me around.
I feel trapped. I love her. I love my son. I want to be with both of them as a family. Yet, without my wife’s love, friendship and intimacy, I feel lonely, empty and frustrated. Based on our work in therapy, I’ve tried to take responsibility for things about myself that inhibit intimacy, but it doesn’t help if she won’t cooperate. What else can I do? Is divorce the only option left? – West Coast
Dear West Coast: Too many couples rush into divorce when, in many instances, a little time can resolve the problem or at least clarify the decision that needs to be made. Get a legal separation. Either you or your wife should move into a place nearby so you can spend time with your son and continue to do things as a family, such as celebrate birthdays and holidays together. The other spouse remains in the family home with your son so he is not uprooted. This allows everyone time to adjust and figure out, slowly, whether the arrangement should become permanent or not.