Should you stay or should you go?

Women who’ve ‘outgrown’ their husbands need to ask themselves some key questions

Julia McKinnell
Should you stay or should you go
Photo Illustration by Taylor Shute”Moving out”: “If you always make more money than he does and you are carrying the financial burden, do you think you will respect him?”

If it feels like you’ve “outgrown” your husband, you may be wondering if you should stay or leave. Advice columnist Kimberly Ventus-Dark wants to help you with that. In a new book, she offers up various scenarios.
Women who make more money than their husband and carry the majority of responsibilities at home and are unhappy with the situation would be better off leaving, she writes in When You Have Outgrown Him: Whether to Stay or Go. And if your husband makes some money but “completely dismisses his financial responsibilities to the household,” again, you’ll be happier if you go, she writes. “Women often mention to me that when they do bring home enough income to pay the bills and support the family, some men feel that their own paycheques should be kept for their own personal pleasures or building financial worth. Unless this problem is rectified, it is nearly impossible for the couple to maintain a meaningful relationship.”

In another situation, Ventus-Darks describes the marriage of Mark, a mechanic, and Maria, a nurse. “Maria wants to pursue a master’s degree but is confused because, recently, Mark has started to accuse Maria of thinking she is better than him. Mark doesn’t understand why Maria has changed so much since their marriage. Neither one of them had a degree before the marriage, and Mark doesn’t understand why Maria seems to have become so much of a snob or why she has to get a degree.”

Ventus-Dark believes that if a husband has low self-esteem, “there are important questions you need to ask yourself and deeply reflect on.” Among them: “If he continues to work at his current job, and you decide to pursue your Ph.D., will you be able to love him without resentment and shame? If you always make more money than he does and you find you are carrying the financial burden, do you think he will continue to be enough of a person for you and that you will be able to respect him the way that he deserves to be respected?”

If you accept your husband yet he cannot  “acknowledge, confront and get help with his own insecurities, it will be almost impossible for this relationship to work,” she advises. “He will be jealous and start holding his wife back. She will resent him for stopping her from being all that she can be.”

In a bit of pre-emptive advice, she also warns unmarried women about the pitfalls of making the first move on the dating scene. “More and more women are not sitting around waiting for men to approach them; rather, they are boldly taking the lead. Although this new approach is becoming more acceptable, there is a definite long-term disadvantage.” Most women, she explains, “don’t realize that being the aggressor initially means that they will need to be the initiator forever. As the relationship deepens, many women become tired of being expected to be the first one to do everything,” becoming “frustrated when they have to schedule all the date nights or initiate hand-holding or cuddling. This becomes an area of disharmony and imbalance in the relationship. She starts complaining that he is not carrying his load or that she does not feel loved or appreciated.”

But not all situations call for packing your suitcases. Boredom, for instance, is not a good reason to leave. She gives the example of Pamela, who left her marriage for a younger man. When Pamela’s affair ended, she was heartbroken that her ex-husband had moved on. “Pamela never thought that another woman would actually want her ex-husband.”

Wives bored with their husbands should ask themselves: “Would it be worth leaving if you knew you might never be in a committed marriage again?” And, “What if you decide you want to go back, but your spouse has moved on with someone else? Is it still worth leaving?”

Ventus-Dark concludes: “I and many other counsellors feel it is becoming harder to find available, quality men. Sometimes it can be more productive to scrutinize and work on problems you know and understand than to deal with a new person’s flaws and defects. The decision to leave must be deeply reflected upon and not made in haste, or because you feel so tired you can’t take it any longer.”