"My Husband Is a Big Bore"
Her Turn, continued
"Joe had all the traits I was looking for -- kindness, intelligence, ambition -- and we shared the same goals. I thought I'd found my soul mate. We dated through college and got married right after I graduated.
"Our newlywed years were happy and hectic. I taught elementary school here in New Jersey -- a career I pursued at my parents' insistence, even though I'd wanted to study library science, while Joe sold insurance, hoping to run his own agency someday. We entertained, played tennis, and took road trips. On weekends we often attended crafts shows, since I made pottery and Joe liked photography.
"Back then our only argument was about my parents, who were -- and are -- very domineering. They insisted we celebrate every holiday with them and badgered us to have a baby, stop renting and buy a starter home. Joe said I was too dependent and wanted to limit our contact, but I could never stand up to them. I still can't.
"By the time Lisa was born, six years into our marriage, we'd bought a fixer-upper on an acre of land and Joe had started his own agency. Will came along three years later and we slipped into a totally child-and home-centered lifestyle, with our 'fun' limited to family outings. Joe is obsessed with his business and what he calls our 'property,' so every moment not devoted to his job is spent working on the house and lawn. I've begged him to hire a lawn service and contractors, but he refuses.
"So now we lead separate lives, connecting only at dinner with the kids. Every night after they're asleep I read in bed while he watches TV or works on his home-improvement projects. I'm so disappointed that I don't see any redeeming qualities in Joe or believe that he'll ever make me happy again.
"Last week, when I found myself calling Realtors to find out how much one-bedroom apartments rent for in Tucson, I realized I'd hit bottom. I know I'd enjoy working with Deb in the art gallery and I think I could live without Joe, but I love my kids too much to leave them. But neither would I want to yank them away from everything they've ever known. 'I'm miserable,' I told Joe. 'Join me in counseling, or I'm filing for divorce.'"