My son’s angry because he’s an only child and my husband’s aloof

The Japan News

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a woman in my 30s and a part-time worker. One day, my son — a first-grader in elementary school — said to me, “My life is like hell.” When I asked him why, he said: “Everyone around me has siblings. Why am I all alone?”

I’m an only child, too. I once talked with my husband about having another baby, saying, “It would be nice for our son to have a brother or sister.” However, the subject has never been raised again, and our marriage has been sexless for three years.

I don’t know what it’s like to have a sibling but I’m thankful to my parents for taking good care of me, and I believe I’m doing the same with my son. However, he goes on about the subject all the time. I feel like I want to get angry and ask, “What’s wrong with being an only child?”

I don’t think I can talk about the issue with my husband. At home, his presence feels more akin to a friend or a roommate. There are no quarrels, but neither is there any interest. I’m not even sure what marriage is anymore. Should I change my way of thinking?

—K, Saitama Prefecture

Dear Ms. K:

It must have been shocking to hear your son say his life was “like hell.” I think his words came from a strong desire to have a brother or sister. But I wonder if that’s the full story?

He may feel envious toward friends who have siblings. Perhaps some people have said heartless things like, “It’s too bad you’re an only child.”

However, there are many single-child families. I’ve heard that these families may enjoy advantages such as being able to talk to each other in a relaxed and enriching manner. Put frankly, I think the problem is that you don’t have these kinds of advantages in your home.

Quite a few couples have sex-free relationships, but if both parties are happy with this arrangement, then it’s totally fine. But it seems that you feel lonely and your husband seems unaware of this — or pretends to be. Your son may have sensed the strained atmosphere between you and your spouse.

It is likely difficult for you to request sexual relations, but I think you should tell your husband about what your son has been saying. How about gauging his reaction to this information and then thinking about the future? I know this will take a lot of courage, but if you do nothing and continue living with your husband as a “roommate,” things will become “like hell” for you, too.

—Masami Ohinata, university president