Q. My husband and I have been distant emotionally for years. A few years ago, we came to an understanding that we would continue to provide a stable home for our daughter, but that our marriage would likely not stand the test of time after she moved out. She is starting her senior year in high school. My husband has recently gotten a job offer an hour away, and he feels this is the time for us to try a separation. I feel that this is not what we planned on, and it would be a huge upheaval for my daughter in her last year of high school. He argues it might be worse to continue living this lie. —Torn in VA
I understand your hesitation to pull the trigger after years of assuming a certain timeline. But I have a hard time believing that staying married — when both partners feel the marriage is not equipped or meant to last — is hands-down better for the child involved. Especially a “child” old enough to read between the lines and be finely attuned to interpersonal dynamics. Moreover, if he wants this job, then either making him turn it down or making him commute a super-long time to a house he doesn’t want to live in doesn’t seem likely to improve the situation. And after all, a separation won’t magically be fine for your daughter once she’s away. So, focus on working out how you will talk to her about what’s going on, and how you will make the transition for her as positive as possible. She may already know more than you realize.
I want to help with his PTSD
Q. I love my boyfriend (of two years) dearly. He suffers from PTSD from a horrific event five years ago. He has visible scars and verbal and physical tics, which increase in response to certain triggers and actually include hitting himself in the face repeatedly. His parents and sister do not talk about his tics to him and they believe he doesn’t know he has them, but I hear him say “stop it” to himself. He never told me about “the event,” but his parents did. I want to talk to him so I can help or he can get other help. It breaks my heart to see him suffer. His family is begging me not to mention it. —Worried Girlfriend
Your relationship with him belongs to you two, not to his family. And though his family’s motives may be in the right place (jury’s still out!), the advice of not saying anything is odd at best, and actively damaging at worst. This is self-harm after a traumatic event we’re dealing with, not an eye twitch. He is symptomatic of PTSD and needs help.
You’ve been with him for two years and love him and have his best interests at heart; I can’t imagine a better person to guide him toward help. And for your sake, for you two to truly connect, this big event in his life needs to be understood and dealt with together.
Send your questions for Baggage Check to Dr. Andrea Bonior at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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