She's Unhappy in her Marriage

Visitor's Question from a 21-30 year old Female
My best girlfriend is very unhappy in her marriage of almost two years. We are meeting this weekend so she can get away and we can talk. I want to support her - but I really don't know what to say. She is scared, she doesn't have money to live on her own, but is so unhappy. She has a hard time opening up and her main problem with the marriage is communication - they don't have any.

When she wants to talk or starts to cry her husband just tells her she is being emotional. I have told her they need to go see a counselor - but she doesn't think that will help. Any advice? Please! Thank you! Advice
Nobody should ever feel "trapped" in a marriage - she should always have access to enough money to at least get into a single-room situation if she had to. Whether that's a joint bank account or a personal bank account, any bank account should build up enough for emergencies. That is true for so many reasons - health, job loss, etc. So she needs to do some serious budget adjusting if she's not at that state.

But in general, communication in ANY relationship is key so that is something she should work on. I can't imagine that her just TALKING to her husband has her scold at her for being emotional. It sounds like she gets upset easily and that he has problems discussing issues when she's upset. So it's sort of a self feeding cycle. I have to agree that the best way to deal with issues is by NOT being wrought - whether it's yelling, screaming, crying, or anything else. All of those things make the real issue much harder to deal with.

So I would have her choose an issue. And then set up the situation to talk about it -

and discuss it. If she starts to get upset, have her take a deep breath and take a few minutes to calm down. They need to be able to talk about the issue calmly and rationally. If he starts to get upset, tell HIM to take a few minutes to calm down. He is just as responsible as she is for disucssing this issue.

If they can get through the issue, that is great! They have started to lay the groundwork for a new way of dealing with each other, and the more they realize that they can both listen to each other without getting upset, the easier it will be.

But let's say that even when she IS calm and rational, he still refuses to listen to her. In that case you have proven that it is TALKING that is his problem, it is NOT "how she talks". In that case, I would definitely go to a therapist to get some help in talking. Because this is an issue that is going to ruin *any* relationship she's in unless she finds a good way of dealing with it. As much as he is to blame, all communication requires two people who CAN communicate clearly and well. So this is a valuable life skill she needs to learn. If she can save the marriage at the same time, that would be great too. But either way, she needs to learn how to talk about issues and how to go the full distance to work with a therapist on them if need be.

-- from Jenn
One of Your Friendly Advisors at

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