Many people are clear on the fact that, no matter what happens, they are committed to still loving their spouse. This, they figure, is the meaning of unconditional love. You love someone even when they aren't at their most lovable and even when it's not always easy for you. After all, love is a lifetime commitment that we all know isn't easy all of the time. So, many of us think that we have the “love thing” down. But what about the “like” thing? What happens when our spouse is acting in a way that makes them not very likable? How should we react then? And what if our not liking them is putting our marriage in jeopardy?

I might hear someone explain it this way: “When I first met my husband, he was a kind, gentle soul. One thing that drew my husband and me together was the fact that we were both clear on the fact that we wanted to enjoy the simple things in life. We both come from parents who are very affluent and for whom money means everything. Both of us grew up feeling like we were not good enough. We both felt like we didn't really fit in with our families. We are both more comfortable eating at a 50's diner or a family-style restaurant than in the fine dining places my parents go. My husband and I both wanted to get jobs that meant something to society. We both started as teachers and now I am a school principal. This career path meant the world to me because I felt like I'd found my kindred spirit. And when we had children, we were so proud that we were going to raise our children in a way that felt more authentic to us than the upbringing of our own childhoods. Well, last summer, my husband announced that he didn't want to go back to teaching in the fall. He said that he was tired of working so many hours for just a little money while he saw his friends and siblings work half as many hours for twice as much money. He said that now that we have children, he realizes that money is more important to him than he thought. Now, he works in finance and he wears a suit and tie to work every day and he measures his success in terms of money just like his father. As if this isn't bad enough, I notice other aspects of his personality that have changed. He has less patience. He is quicker to snap at me in anger and he is much more sarcastic. I don't like his new personality. And if he was a colleague instead of my husband, I wouldn't like his personality at all. I wouldn't want to be friends with him. I would just avoid him. What happens now? This is hard because I don't want to break up my family. It is so important to me that my children grow up in a loving household with present parents. I don't want to let go of that dream, but I am not sure if I want that dream with someone that I don't like very much.”

Most Of Us Sporadically Dislike Our Spouse, At Least Some Of The Time: I know that this likely feels awful. And although this may not completely help you, I can tell that this isn't an uncommon situation. Very few people remain exactly the same throughout the entire course of their lives. This means that most of us do not remain the same person throughout the entire course of marriages. In truth, many of us are forced to change due to external circumstances that require us to respond. Honestly, often, these changes are good. Those of us who go through financial hardship learn to be grateful for the little things that we have. Those of us who go through illness learn to lean on our family and friends.

You could argue that this husband was going through his own change process. He was likely at a point in his life where he felt the weight of the family responsibilities. It's easy to be idealistic and non-materialistic when we are young and have no one to support. But things do change when you have children.  Plus, I believe that it is different for a man. Because sometimes, even when both the husband and the wife work, it is still the societal norm to think that it is the husband's career that provides for the family while the wife's salary goes for “extras.”

Understand What You Should And Should Not Attempt To Control: I don't agree with these societal norms. But I am telling you that this thought process exists and I think it's possible that your husband is responding to it. So I would suggest that you not judge him too harshly for his becoming more realistic about money. I think that most people would agree that it's unrealistic to think that you can or should want to choose or even have an input in your spouse's career. Your spouse is the one who has to go to work every day and actually do the job. So if he is happy and making a living, then I don't think his career choices are up to anyone but him.

Drawing The Line When His New Behaviors Affect Your Marriage:  If his career choices are bringing about behaviors that you find troubling, you are well within your rights to bring this up. The next time you notice your husband being short or impatient you might try something like: “honey, I need to bring something up to you and I don't want for you to take it the wrong way. Lately, I've been noticing that you seem a little short-tempered and distant. I have no idea what might be causing it, but it seems to have started shortly after you began your new job. Is there anything bothering you that I can help you with? If you need to talk about anything, you know that I am always here for you and that I always want to help.”

I have worded it this way because I think that, in order to get the results that you want, you should always approach your spouse as though you want to help them instead of wanting to change them. He may well share some issues with you or he may not. But at least it will open up an invitation for you both to look at this issue. And he will be aware of it, which may mean that he makes an effort to stop.

I don't necessarily think that this has to have any serious, negative consequences toward your marriage, so long as you work it out before it becomes a huge problem. I also think it is important to try to see your husband as the initial man you fell in love with. Yes, he may look different in that suit and tie. But I'd bet that same idealistic young man is still in there somewhere. He just feels responsible for his family. And that is not always a bad thing.

In some ways, my husband and I are both different people.  But, the commitment of being married dictates that you take the good with the bad.  However, we didn't always understand this.  And there was a time that our differences lead to a marital separation. This is not a path that I would ever want to repeat. But we did turn it around. If it helps, you can read the whole story on my blog at

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