Virginia Ironside's Dilemmas

 

Ever since I married four years ago I've wondered whether my husband is the right man (we have a small child we both adore.) He's totally undemonstrative, a workaholic, and doesn't understand where I'm coming from. We were going to go for counselling, but then I got a job that means I work nights three times a week and, though I'm tired, we're getting on better – probably because we don't see each other so much. I'm worried, though, that the job is just a distraction, a plaster stuck on, and we're not facing up to the real problems. What do you think? Yours sincerely, Celia

Virginia says...

We're so hung up on the idea of romantic love overcoming all, that we often forget, as I think you have, that the environment of a marriage really can have a huge effect. Marriages don't break down necessarily because people fall out of love. They break down because he retires and hangs about all day, asking what's for lunch, or because she gets a job as a croupier and sleeps all day. They break because he's made redundant, or suddenly her son by a former marriage moves in with them. In other words, they break because there's a huge shift in the whole arena in which the relationship is played out, and although there are marriages that thrive under adverse circumstances, on the whole love does not necessarily conquer all.

And anyway, some marriages only work because one partner works abroad for half the year, or because the partners live in separate houses. This doesn't mean the marriages are useless. Indeed some of these may function better than most.

Now, just because you've worked out a modus vivendi that means you're rubbing along a bit better doesn't mean to say that it wouldn't be a good idea to go for counselling. Though from what you say, it sounds as if the result of counselling would, in the end, simply involve you accepting your husband as he is. "Undemonstrative, a workaholic, doesn't understand where you're coming from" – they're all male characteristics that are difficult if not impossible to change. It doesn't prevent him from being, however, a kindly and reliable man and a good father to your child.

Why do you feel so critical of the new situation? You've got a new job and you're getting on better. Great. Don't try to sabotage a very good prescription for saving your marriage by describing is as "just a plaster". I know what you're saying, but a plaster is what you put on a wound, and it's a very useful piece of kit in your first-aid box. Sometimes, if it stays on long enough, you'll find that, when you take it off, the wound has healed.

Don't be seduced by the idea of always getting to the bottom of a problem. Sometimes it's a good idea but sometimes, particularly when a child is involved, a series of distractions, plasters, changes in circumstances, whatever, can be a very good way of muddling through and ending up with a marriage that, because you don't expect too much of it, becomes at least as good as most and often better.

 

Readers say...

Make time for him

My guess is that your hubby is the right man, and that your adorable little child proves it. You can't expect to live with wedding euphoria for ever, and I guess you may have just started to realise that. With two demanding jobs and a young child, your life together could well be tough, and you won't be the first to discover that. What I'd suggest, though, is that you give yourselves some long weekends away together and let someone else do the babysitting, if circumstances allow. This would give you a more relaxed environment to sort yourselves out without the need for counselling.

Don Manley By email

 

Face this together

It seems to me that you need to take a long hard look at why you married your husband in the first place. Only you can decide whether this marriage is worth fighting for, and if it is, then you both need to take responsibility for it and find ways of dealing with whatever issues are between you. Avoiding seeing and talking to each other is not the answer.

Elisabeth Storrs By email

 

Next week's dilemma

Dear Virginia, Last year Christmas was a disaster. We went round to my husband's mother and stepfather and he was so rude and critical of the children that I never wanted to see him again. This year we're going to have Christmas at home, and my husband wants to ask them, too. I'd love to see my mother-in-law, who adores the children, but the idea of having her husband in the house makes me feel ill. I don't see why I should have to put up with having my Christmas ruined again. How can I somehow make it all right? Yours sincerely, Dottie

What would you advise Dottie to do? Email your dilemmas and comments to dilemmas @independent. co.uk, or go to independent .co.uk/dilemmas. Anyone whose advice is quoted will receive a £25 voucher from the wine website Fine Wine Sellers (finewinesellers.co.uk)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
News
i100
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
people
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in What If
filmReview: Actor swaps Harry Potter for Cary Grant in What If
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Project Manager (App development, SAP, interfacing)

    £50000 - £60000 Per Annum + excellent company benefits: Clearwater People Solu...

    Systems Developer Technical Lead

    £65000 - £70000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...

    Energy Engineer

    £25000 - £30000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy En...

    Techincal Accountant-Insurance-Bank-£550/day

    £475 - £550 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Technical Accountant-Insuran...

    Day In a Page

    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
    Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

    But could his predictions of war do the same?
    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

    Young at hort

    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

    Beyond a joke

    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

    A wild night out

    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

    It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
    Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

    Besiktas vs Arsenal

    Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

    The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

    Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment