He has checked out of the marriage

We chat at 1 today.

Dear Meredith,

I am in my mid-40s and have been married for 20 years. I have four children ranging in age from 7 to 17. For the past few years, my marriage has become increasingly difficult. Like most couples, we have ebbs and flows, but it seems like lately my husband and I are on different pages and that we bring out the worst in each other -- impatience, avoidance, blame, etc. Recently he told me that our relationship "sucks," that I am "no fun," that he hasn't "been happy in 10 years," and that he has "checked out." Needless to say, this made me incredibly sad.

Divorce is not an option now with children at home. I have decided to go to counseling on my own, but find that even with that, it is increasingly difficult for me to get through my week and deal with full-time work and all child and home responsibilities with my faculties intact. My children know nothing of this, although occasionally they have heard us arguing mildly. Do you or your readers have any tips for coping? Thank you.

– No fun, Plymouth

Are you going to therapy on your own because he refused couples counseling? Is he open to talking to a professional about your problems? I guess I'm confused about what happens next. He told you how he feels, but is his assumption that you'll get a divorce when the kids are out of the house? And are you "incredibly sad" because you're still in love with him and want things to work out?

My coping tip is to talk to him about the plan. I understand that with four kids you barely have time to sleep, but you can't go on like this, just getting through the day in relationship purgatory. You need to know whether you're going to try to make things better or whether you're simply biding your time until it's convenient to move on.

It seems to me that if he hasn't been happy in 10 years, you guys never figured out how to manage four kids and each other. I want you both in therapy (together) to talk about that -- and your future. You can't cope if you don't have a goal, whether it's fixing your relationship or planning your new life. You can't just sit around in a "no fun" zone for another decade.

Readers? Coping tips? Do they have to come up with a plan? Do you get the sense that she wants to stay in this marriage? What questions should she ask? And how? Help.

– Meredith