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My husband and I have been married 10 years (together for 18) and seem to argue all the time - about the kids, money - really, everything. There seems to be little joy between us anymore. I keep thinking I don't want to remain in a marriage like this, but my kids are 4 and 7 - and I do love my husband. We don't have sex anymore. And worse, we hardly laugh anymore. I have suggested marriage counseling but he thinks we can work it out ourselves, but we don't have the tools or communication skills to do it. I don't want a divorce - but I am not happy - and I don't think he is either - and I think our oldest son is feeling it too. I've gained 20 pounds in 2 years - I am at my wits end. Any suggestions?
 

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Your life thus far is proof the two of you do not have the right tools. Therapy MAY give y’all what you need IF you find a GOOD one.
Would y’all be up for reading some books instead... and when I said y’all I do mean both of you.

It takes two to accomplish it
 

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My husband and I have been married 10 years (together for 18) and seem to argue all the time - about the kids, money - really, everything.
Okay, so stop arguing. The place to begin is to understand that each of your concerns matter. Arguments occur because neither of you have much respect for the other's concerns. What you're doing is ignoring each other and ignoring what you each have to say. So, since you're the one who came here expressing your displeasure and looking for advice, then you have to be the one to start making changes in your own behavior to improve the dynamic between the two of you. Stop ignoring your husband. Decide you are going to respect that man, rather than thinking your ways and your preferences are the only ones that matter. I know that backing down isn't easy, but you can't keep thinking yourself to be so special and so wonderful that your way is the only way that could possibly work. Decide that in the next potential argument, the only thing you are going to say is "Okay honey, you're right. We'll do it that way next time," rather than allowing what he says to turn into an argument. Sometimes, you won't agree with him, but implementing his suggestions will make him feel heard and considered. It will make him feel loved and respected.

There seems to be little joy between us anymore. I keep thinking I don't want to remain in a marriage like this, but my kids are 4 and 7 - and I do love my husband. We don't have sex anymore. And worse, we hardly laugh anymore.
If you love your husband, then act like you love your husband. Be more loving toward him. Be the one to bring some joy back into your marriage. Even if he doesn't seem receptive initially, you have to keep trying. Do and say some of the things that used to bring both of you joy. Revisit some of the places that used to make you both happy. Do some new things you each can enjoy together.

I have suggested marriage counseling but he thinks we can work it out ourselves, but we don't have the tools or communication skills to do it.
Whenever one partner suggests marriage counseling, the other partner automatically rejects the notion because it comes as an affront to their sensibilities. In other words, for you to suggest marriage counseling, it made him feel like you think he's the one in the wrong all the time. And everyone fears a marriage counselor will tell them they are wrong. But nobody deserves to feel that way because it threatens a person's sense of self and self-worth. So again, you have to let your husband know that you value him and his opinions. The improvement you should expect is that he begins to reciprocate, and there will be a lot fewer arguments. This is all on you to be the change you want to see.

and I think our oldest son is feeling it too.
You're right, and the only thing you left out is that your youngest is feeling it too. S/he just might not be outwardly showing the signs that you noticed like your older child. Kids are always - ALWAYS - affected by marital turmoil. What is worst is they internalize it and start thinking it's their fault. And that's not to mention how it causes anxiety in children and affects their brain development. You are unhappy and saddened by the state of your marriage and it's negatively affecting you physically and emotionally, so imagine how they must feel when they are too young to process what is going on between mom and dad. You say you don't want to remain in a marriage like this except that your kids are so young that you hesitate to divorce, so let that mean something. Let it mean you are willing to fight for your marriage and their mental and emotional stability. It means you have to sacrifice something for their sakes by recognizing your husband, his feelings, his concerns, and his opinions are equally important as your own.

You didn't give us much information or what are the specific complaints that cause the arguments. I also wonder if you are a SAHM or if you work outside the home. You can start picking off and addressing the things that cause arguments in your marriage. For example, if you don't work and money causes such issues, then get a job. It will make him feel like he has a helpmate. The funny thing about you getting a job is it could possibly make him recognize he really doesn't want you working and will stop complaining about the money you spend. You've easily picked off that source of contention. But, if you do work, then it's time the two of you worked out a reasonable budget plan. Perhaps speak with a financial planner (your bank can help with this) so you align your goals and get on the same page as far as money management.

If he feels the kids do things they shouldn't be allowed to do, then start googling to improve both your parenting skills. Do this together so you're on the same page with how the kids should be raised.

Do you see how addressing his concerns can solve so many of the problems? You just have to be willing to address things, rather than constantly arguing about them. When nothing gets addressed, then nothing gets solved. Be committed to resolution. Marriage counseling isn't the only way. And, as far as marriage counseling is concerned, believe these two things: One is that it could, and sometimes does, make marriage worse than when they began because some counselors are terrible. The title doesn't automatically mean merit. The other thing is that a good marriage counselor likely won't side with you like you might think they will because you're not right all the time and hubby is not wrong all the time.

How to begin the journey of turning your marriage around? The first things to do are as I suggested - start considering and respecting your husband, stop arguing with him, address complaints and concerns to find a solution rather than allowing them to turn into arguments. Sit your husband down and tell him in your own words, "Honey, I still love you very much but I think we've lost our way. I fear neither of us is happy with the state of our relationship, and I know the kids are negatively affected." Then google "How does arguing affect children" and show him the results. The two of you read one or two articles together to see how you are both failing them. Then let him know you would like for both of you to work together to improve the marital relationship because you love him and for the kids' sakes. Ask him if he wants the same (and be prepared for his answer because you might not like it).

This website MarriageBuilders.com is the best site for couples to find help in understanding each other, developing communication skills & conflict resolution, and improving their marriage. I like to call it the do-it-yourself marriage counseling website because it's better than most counselors. Begin here with Basic Concepts and read the articles on the right side. Do this together, apply the concepts imparted by each article, and do the worksheets. You can establish a weekly schedule for reading one article each week and doing what it says to do. Evaluate at the end of the week, complement each other's efforts, and then move on to the next article. My favorite articles that really, really work great to start with at the beginning are The Love Bank and The Policy of Joint Agreement.

I wish you and your husband the best, but know that even if he doesn't participate at first, you have to be the one do these things. Give him some time, say 1-3 months (you determine) to join in your effort to improve things. If he refuses, then you have to consider other options in that divorce may be inevitable. You can't make him want something he doesn't want or do things he doesn't want to do. It's up to you to begin making the changes, but he has to participate and want things to change too. You can't save your marriage by yourself.
 

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OP - what is your current living situation like? I assume the living situation with many under home quarantine & working from home has added a lot of stress to relationships.
 

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Marriage counseling isn't the only way. And, as far as marriage counseling is concerned, believe these two things: One is that it could, and sometimes does, make marriage worse than when they began because some counselors are terrible. The title doesn't automatically mean merit. The other thing is that a good marriage counselor likely won't side with you like you might think they will because you're not right all the time and hubby is not wrong all the time.
This is the truth! Actually that whole post is great.
 

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I'm sorry things have gone downhill. Who stopped having sex with who? (Sorry to be blunt :oops:. Was it mutual because of all the disagreements? What escalated first, arguments or lack of sex? That might help sort it out.
 
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