Dear Thomas,
My husband and I have been married for 2 years now, but during that time, we've been apart because my work is here and his work is in the Philippines. We see each other every 6 months, and even then I only get to spend 1-2 months with him. My husband and I are both very frustrated with the situation. He wants to move up here, but the paperwork would take 6 months to file and another 6 months for approval. He feels as if I'm doing this (staying here) on purpose, but I try to make him understand that I'm doing the best I can. He used to be so understanding, but now he just keeps on complaining, and we end up arguing on the phone every single time. What should I do to keep my marriage?

Dear Frustrated,
I'm wondering why your husband thinks that you're purposely not joining him. Are you not clear with each other? Does he tend to be a bit paranoid or jealous? Do you actually not want to go to the Philippines? These are questions I'd like you to explore to get to the bottom of your crisis.

You've been married for two years, which is enough time to know each other, but still a tender phase. You may not be entirely confident with each other's motives and not very secure and trusting at this early stage of your marriage. A first step might be to be absolutely clear how you feel about the situation and what you want. In your conversations so far, you may have gotten too caught up in practical details. Or perhaps you have tried so hard to be understanding that you have not expressed your feelings and needs clearly enough. Why else would your husband be confused about whether you want to be with him? Often people don't understand the importance of stating the obvious and being so absolutely clear as to even sound unnatural.

If he is in fact picking up some mixed emotions on your part, then maybe you should be honest about that too. If you're confused, say so. Spell it out. When you're living together, you can sort out a multitude of issues piece by piece, every day. And you can learn a lot and say a lot with gestures and facial expressions. When you're apart, you're left with only your words.

Sometimes you have to make a choice...
Read more on page 2 >>

_Related Features

You say you're separated because of your respective jobs. Work often creates a troubling triangle in a marriage. You want each other, but this third party, the job, gets in the way. To deal with it, you may have to sort out some basic values together: Which is more important to each of you, your marriage or your jobs? Sometimes you have to make a choice. Whose work is flexible and whose isn't? One caveat: Be cautious about gender issues here. Make sure that you are talking about your specific job and his specific job, rather than making generalizations about whether the man or the woman should be the breadwinner.

You might also consider that when people who are intimately involved with each other have to communicate at a distance, fantasy has a lot of room to cause mischief. People begin to imagine all kinds of things about each other. Again, it may not hurt to state the obvious. Make it abundantly clear that you want to be with him, if that's how you feel. Tell him about your own conflicts relating to work. Try not to be ambiguous, and don't offer any false assurances. Clear, stark, honest, plain language, even if it is about your confusion, may clear up some of the tangled feelings and provide the emotional basis for making some practical decisions.

It's almost always the case that when a couple talks, especially at a distance, something is not being said or is being said in a confused or disguised manner. Talking on the telephone requires an unusual degree of clarity. Say the things that your husband would notice through your facial expressions or body language if he were there looking at you, such as "that hurt my feelings," or "I really want to find an answer here."

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus