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Thinking about Divorce: First Steps

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Divorce - is it worth it?

Feb 2009

I'm desperate for comments and advice: I'm married, with a 3 year old son. It's a very unhappy marriage, and has been unhappy for at least 8 years, been together 19 years total. We've been to counseling a couple times, neither lasted - my husband is very unenthusiastic and thinks it ''doesnt work'' and is a waste of time. I held out hope for sooo long, and of course still had (naive) hope when our son was conceived ... but things went from bad to worse during my pregnancy, and continued to worsen for the past 3 years. We seem to have a kind of detente day to day, but there is almost no love and affection. I've been desperate to avoid divorce and hurting our little one, and my husband feels the same, I know. We both adore our child. But we are really unhappy. I am so scared of divorce - the pain it will cause my child, the economic hardship, not having a partner to share the load. etc. I am scared and know nothing. No one in our families is divorced.

I need advice from divorced moms - is it worth it? Are you happier post-divorce? can you really date again (I'm 45)? or is it better to stay and just be lonely? I cant decide what to do, but am leaning to divorce now. I am so, so lonely, behind a facade of social stuff, etc. Is amicable divorce possible? I'd do anything to keep life sweet for my baby, and I think my husband will try too ... once he's free of the person he so despises, maybe he will be able to be nice to me again. (He's endlessly angry at me, a huge name caller, and just cold and disgusted with me 95% of the time usually). I am open to any comments at all. Thank you. S.


I have been separated/divorced for almost 5 years. I have two small kids, 10 and 8 now. We are always in court for one reason or another. I'd be willing to discuss the pros and cons over the phone if you'd like to email me your phone number. K
I can really relate to what you are saying. I was married for over 20 years, most unhappy. My husband refused to divorce even though he did not love me any longer. We agreed to just live in the house together and co-parent. This did not work. The stress was killing me physically, I was always sick. Also you could cut the tention in the house with a knife. My daughter saw no love between us. So, when she finished first grade I convinced him to see a mediator, he clicked with my husband and my husband finally agreed to a divorce. My daughter and I moved out to a place close by. At first she was upset (but not that much), she settled into the new place and was happy because I was happy and she had lots and lots of love. I was also your age, overweight, unemployed and so lonely and emotionally beat up from years of a bad marriage. BUT I found someone, we fell head over heals, he is a wonderful step dad. Things are very, very difficult finacially but I am happier than I have ever been in my life and so is my daughter. DO NOT stay in an unhappy marriage, you deserve more and so does your child. It will be scarey but worth it. You are too young to give up on life. IF you need a mediator to sit down and talk to contact Larry Rosen, he is in Berkeley and he made such a profound difference in my life. Our goal was to avoid the drama that comes along with divorce, I did not want my daughter hurt and that is also his main concern. He has a website and also advertises on Craigslist under legal.

Good luck to you!!!!!!! Take the first step and do something good for you, you deserve it and so does your child. survived divorce


For me, divorce was worth it, and I should have gotten my divorce much earlier. My son was nine when we split, and I think he would have done better at age 3, though I think it is always hard. My marriage was not abusive, just loveless and unsupportive. My ex-husband was critical and tried to damage my self-esteem. Some people will say that in that type of situation you need to tough it out, either for your child or for some transcendant notion of what marriage is or should be. But no one lives in your marriage except you and your husband, and you have one life in which to be happy. My son had a tough first couple of years, frankly, but now he is doing well and seems much better adjusted than some kids in intact marriages. He does well in school, has lots of friends, and has interesting actvities. For my part -- I am SO much happier. Even when I was alone I was happier, but now I have a new partner who is more loving and kind than I ever thought possible. The money thing is hard -- you will have to make some sacrifices, period. But as an older divorced woman once said in response to my kvetching about money (I pay spousal support) ''Why is divorce so expensive? Because it's SO WORTH IT!'' I think that can be true. Feel free to ask the moderator to let you contact me. happily divorced
It sounds like you're very unhappy in your situation, so why stay? I was married for 13 years and divorced when my son was one. I felt hopeless at the time, and I never thought that I would find myself in a happy and healthy relationship ever again. I am thankful that we divorced when we did, and I am grateful that we are both in happy and healthy relationships with other partners. Best of luck to you! anon
Dear S., I will give you my thoughts as the child of an unhappy marriage. Granted, the situation is a little different because I was 9 when my parents finally chose to part ways. Your son may not be able to verbalize his feelings about the anger and verbal violence with which your husband treats you. He also may not be able to say how he feels at the prospect of no longer living with both of you. But I can tell you from experience: you are not doing him a favor by staying with a man who calls you names, who does not treat you with love and respect. I was SO RELIEVED when my dad finally left. I knew the way my parents treated each other was deeply wrong. I wish they had divorced much sooner, and spared me the agony of witnessing the verbal abuse. I know that divorce seems a path which would increase your son's pain. That may be true during an adjustment period. But I strongly believe that if you, his mother, his model for emotional involvement and well-being, can move towards a situation which is more life-affirming than your loveless marriage, your son will benefit greatly. I have also stared down the path of single motherhood. I know it looks frightening. Be brave. You will find a way to have peace in your heart and in your home, together with your sweet child. n
First of all, I am extremely sorry to hear of your situation. My parents waited until I was 19 until they divorced. Not unlike you, they were unhappy for many years. Finally, after years of therapy, my dad made the decision to divorce my mom. She was 46 and very angry. I am pleased to say; however, after a few years of resenting my dad and not dating, my mom is happily remarried. Holidays are always shared with my mom, her husband, and my dad with no hard feelings or tension. In fact, she and my dad are very good friends. I wanted to share the kid's perspective with you as well. I never saw my parents kiss, hug, or say a kind word to eachother. They never really fought in front of us, but they were indifferent towards eachother. I had a really hard time with my relationships partially due to this. I did not know what a marriage was supposed to be like; at least one filled with love and affection. I wished my parents had shown me one. I wish you all the love and affection you deserve and I hope you and your husband can resolve things amicably. Hugs! Jocelyn jmbrode@gmail.com
Hello S., I'm sorry that you dealing with such a difficult situation...it is not an easy decision to make. I am a divorced mom with one child...I left my marriage when my child was very young...my ex- husband had an anger problem - yelling, name-calling, blaming me for everything, threatening...I thought of staying to keep the family together but realized that I wither away inside if I did so. I also realized that my son would see how his father treated me and learn that it was ok for boys/men to treat women this way (with disrespect, bullying, etc)since I was putting up with it. I also realized that he would be growing up in a very stressful home environment...not a healthy one. By the time I left I really didn't believe the situation would get any better (we had been to counseling)and, I imagine, it might have gotten worse. I am very glad that I made the decision I did...it was painful and difficult for me for a long time. Even now, several years later, my child sometimes isn't happy about going to two different houses...however, I believe that he is growing up with less stress, has a much happier home life (and mother), and doesn't hear any verbal abuse being pelted at me. It seems that he has a pretty good relationship with his father too. As for dating, finding the time to do so is one thing..yes,there are many good, kind, attractive, intelligent, compassionate men out there in the dating world who are interested in friendship and/or committed relationships (I'm in my late 40's)...no problem there! You still have so much life to live...you deserve to be in a loving relationship...I encourage you to think about what message it sends your son if he sees you and your husband relating to each other in the ways that you described and/or sees his dad treating you with disrespect. I encourage you to seek out a therapist to help you sort out your thoughts/feelings...I remember what it was like...things have gotten much, much better...my heart goes out to you. there is a happily ever after divorce
First, wow, you have my sympathy. That sounds terrible. I know you wanted advice from divorced moms, but I'm the kid of divorced parents and I can tell you that it was waaaaaaaay better that they divorced when I was 4-1/2 than if they had stayed together. I only remember fighting from the days when they were together. That's not a good memory for a child to have. Nor is coldness in the house. 3-year-olds are much more flexible than you think. The older your son gets, the harder it will be on him and you. I know tons of people in their 40s, 50s, and even 60s who have found love. But of course only you can decide. Just wanted to give you the perspective of a (happy) child of divorce. (BTW, there was some poster recently who said that all children of divorce are on drugs or involved in crime - that is ridiculous and insulting. I'm a successful working mom who's been with the same guy for 13 years!) Good luck with your decision. You and Your Son Deserve Happiness
Divorce is worth it. Living a miserable life is not worth any price. It's hard to leave the comfort zone, but you will be so happy after you do it (allowing some time to settle into your new life and the big change). Free and happy
You may want to consider scheduling a consultation with a family lawyer who is known to be cooperative in approach. S/he can tell you what would be reasonable to expect financially and in matters of custody. That will help you decide whether you are likely to be better off post-divorce. If you decide divorce is the way to go, consider mediation. You and your husband can cooperate throughout the divorce and co-parent after. Mom's House, Dad's House, by Isolina Ricci is a good resource. Be aware, though, that your husband may not be as willing to be cooperative as you think he will be. He may seem fed up with you, but he may react badly to being dumped. Just be prepared to handle things either way. Good luck! lawyer/mom
I just had to respond to you because I definitely feel for you. Maybe my experience will help you in some way. I recently decided to split from my husband after 10 years of marriage. I went through years of agonizing to get to that decision. We have two small children and I just didn't think I could break up the family, however I was SO unhappy. Now that we have separated, I feel so much better. Of course there is sadness over the loss of the relationship, and challenging feelings and situations to deal with, but there is no denying that it is better for both of us. In the long run, I can even see now that it will be fine for our children because they still have two parents that love them. We are very committed co-parents and we kept as much as possible stable for them. So far they are doing well.I guess what I'm saying is that for me, staying and being sad and disappointed every day in the marriage was far worse than anything I am experiencing now that we've split. Good luck!! Wishing you strength!
I have a couple of suggestions. First the easy part. I found books about relationships much more useful and much cheaper than counseling. Lots of free ones at the library. Don't read one book, read at least ten, and see if you can get your husband to read them, too.

The hard part next. Does your husband do anything right? Does he bring home a good salary, does he do a great job putting your child to bed, does he do fixit stuff around the house? Find something you appreciate and start smiling and complimenting him. I know it is hard when negative feelings abound, but this is the place to start to turn things around.

If you are lonely, spend more time with your girlfriends or develop more friendships. Or ask you husband to consider an open marriage. Divorce is not the only option.

If he refuses to work, is financially irresponsible, or is destroying himself with drugs or alcohol, then divorce may be the only answer. I sincerely believe that most other problems can be solved in a reasonable amount of time. anon


Short answer: Yes. I decided to get a divorce several years ago despite the fear of its effect on our two young children (then 2 and 5.) Like you, my ex-husband and I tried counseling to no avail. We just couldn't break the pattern of anger and resentment. We were both miserable. He was verbally and emotionally abusive. Although both decent people, we just brought out the worst in each other. I probably stayed longer than I should have because like you, nobody in my family ever got divorced. Jump forward several years and I have no regrets about my decision. My ex-husband and I get along better than we ever have. We live a mile apart are both active in our children's lives. The kids are happy and well-adjusted. Both of us are now involved in loving, long term relationships. Speaking for myself, I have never been happier.

Don't get me wrong, divorce is hard. There were some really tough times in there and I still struggle with the guilt and the blame at times. But my fear that I would wake up one morning and think, ''Oh my god what have I done!'' never materialized. I believe my kids are better off now with a happy mama in an environment of love and respect instead of constant fighting, resentment and misery. Trust your instinct and don't settle for anything less for yourself or your child. Life is too short to be miserable


I am divorced myself and, prior to my divorce, everyone (therapists included) would tell me how it's much better to be divorced than in an unhappy marriage. The truth is that it depends on the kind of 'unhappiness' you have in your marriage. Until I read the end of your email I was going to advice you stayed there for everyone's benefit. But then I read your husband is emotionally abusive to you. And I changed my mind: his attitude will KILL your self esteem. I was in the same situation and I decided to get a divorce for my son's benefit. I wanted to avoid lots of things: my son repeating the pattern later as a man, my son becoming disrespectful to his mother, my son growing up in such a tense envirnoment, etc.. My cousins grew up in a home like that, and eventhough they always took their mother's side, with women they are rude and inconsiderate.

Being a single mom is super hard in all the ways you have mentioned. You can definetely date again: i'm in a nice relationship now. But it's hard: it's not the father of your child. However, all those difficulties are a million times better than being with a person that treats you like you are worth nothing. After your divorce, until both of you find a new way of relating, things will be tough. But I know you will find your strength, when you see what you can do on your own, to 'teach' your husband not to treat you poorly. I managed to do that and I'm sure things are much better for my son now that they would have been if I had stayed in that awfully lonely, painful and diminishing marriage. Plus, you have your family that can give you support: that's worth a lot. I wish you and your child the very, very best. I know you can do it. Patricia


Hi, Although your post focused on your feelings only, it seemed to me that you are assuming that your child will be happier if you stayed married. So as the child of multiple divorces, I have to speak up. Keeping a family together for whatever reasons you have, despite both parents being very unhappy, is actually not better for your child. Your child will thrive and be much happier seeing the two of you happy. Perhaps you should go to therapy on your own to help you come to this decision? Help you deal with whatever feelings you might be having about the stigma of a divorce, and the lonliness, etc. But, please, for the sake of your child, do whatever you need to do so that he/she can be raised by two emotionally satisfied and happy adults. Readjusting attitudes about divorce can be difficult but will be worth it for all of you. anon
I have been divorced for 9 years, and have two teenagers who are now 13 and 15. It is VERY hard being a single parent. It is VERY hard on the kids. Dating is not at all easy, and raising kids without the daily input of your spouse is highly challenging (esp when they get to be teenagers...) It sounds like you and your husband are both in agreement that you don't want to divorce for fear of the impact on the kids as well as finances etc.

Please, for the sake of the kids, try try try to do anything you can to stay together. It sounds like there is more that can be done here. Does your husband understand how much he is upsetting you by his behavior? Have him chat with some divorced friends and remind him how hard life will be for all parties. I think if you found the right counselor (get a man) you could make it work...If you want to chat directly ask the moderator for my contact info. anon


I got divorced from my husband when my kids were 3 and 7 and I was 40. He was having an affair with another woman & wanted to go live with her so I really had no choice in the matter. I didn't have to make these decisions, he did. My plight was to deal with it & adapt. This is now 17 years later, I am now 57 years old. My older child definitely has divorce issues I feel, she was 7 when we fell apart & she knew too much of what was going on. My younger one, now 21, doesn't even remember his dad in my house & I think that is very good. We had about 70-30 custody for many years so I was the primary parent but they ALWAYS had their dad around (for better or worse!). All I can say is that in retrospect my life has been MUCH more interesting as a single mom all those years!I've done a lot of cool stuff I would NEVER have done with their dad! I have not remarried but have had boyfriends come & go but nothing permanent at this point. But that's ok. As I look back on it now my husband & I had very little in common & frankly I deserved more than I got from him. I am often lonely now (kids are grown & away) but I was REALLY lonely being married to him! I really am lucky to not be with him, despite the fact that being a single mom is really hard & the teenage years aren't easy either! I think in retrospect that yes, you may be lonely as a single mom but you are lonely now in the relationship, so it can't get much worse perhaps? You guys need to come out & talk about this & stop denying that the marriage is not good, maybe there is hope to work on it once you actually talk about splitting up. But to stay together for ''convenience'' is not good for anyone I don't think. You have to stay together because you want to be together, not just for the sake of the family. My advice: either insist on working on the marriage for the sake of all three of you, or split up. You are not alone, either, good luck. Survived divorce for many years
I think you will find that it's possible to have a happier life. However, nothing is perfect, and if you and your husband get along well enough to discuss these things like grownups, you might want to start talking about custody arrangements. If not, think it through for yourself. For me, the worst part about divorcing would be not having my child for several days a week because she'd be at daddy's house. And you still have to deal with a spouse who doesn't like you, but now has more reasons to complain. Plus, money always comes into it, as the California law doesn't truly allow for equal custody, and child support payments are wacky. And, I've seen situations where dad has more custody so that he doesn't have to pay money to his ex, but the kid spends more time in child care and with babysitters than with either parent. The process of divorce can be extremely ugly, but it doens't have to be. You might need to be as nice as possible to get this man to be reasonable during the process. And remember, afterward, you still have to be nice to each other and not say bad things about the other if you truly want your child to be healthy through it all. He has two parents, divorced or not.
It seems like you're harming your child right now by staying in this loveless marriage. Your child knows you are both unhappy, no matter how much you try to hide it. I am not divorced, but I am writing on behalf of my husband whose parents are divorced. My husband's biological Dad was verbally and physically abusive. My husband says getting a divorce was the best thing his mother ever did. At the time, my husband was seven years old and his sister was five. In the beginning, it was hard financially, mostly because she was uneducated and had no working experience. Eventually, she remarried to a wonderful man, whom my husband calls ''Dad'' and essentially was his dad during his formative years. They also went on to have three more kids, thus creating a full and loving family. If it were not for my mother-in-law's life changing decision to get a divorce, my husband and I would probably not be together right now. He probably would have turned out to be an abuser like his father and would not know what a healthy relationship looked like.

I can only imagine that divorce is a scary prospect, but it's one you can overcome as many people have in much worse situations, like my mother-in-law. Getting a divorce is also your chance to obtain happiness for you and your child. Life is too short to be miserable and the initial hardship of divorce seems like a small price to pay. You deserve to be happy and you are stronger than you think. You are worth it!! Best Wishes


Considering divorce but worried about finances

Nov 2008

I am considering getting a divorce after only 2 years. My issue is that I haven't worked for 3 years because I have been in grad school full time and have 1 more year to go. Basically, if I went through with the divorce, I'd have the kid (who's mine from a previous relationship), no job, no car, and no housing. Is it okay to ask for some sort of alimony since I haven't got any real financial income other than financial aid? What's an appropriate amount? If I were to try and rent a place, do landlords deem income such as fin. aid as acceptable income? I am in the process of looking for a job, but I just changed careers so I haven't got much background. Anyone know of lawyers who offer free divorce advice? anon


You should consult with a lawyer, but I imagine that it is not unlikely that you could receive some alimony. You have only been married a very short time, so even if you were to receive alimony you would likely only get it for a short time, but you may need some help to get on your feet. Your ex will not be paying child support unless he adopted your child, I believe. But definitely -- a lawyer. divorced mom

Stuck with Deadbeat Husband Who is a Decent Father

August 2008

I would of course, have thown him out long go, except for the fact that my son loves him deeply and my daughter as well, although she is more realitistic about matters, and if he is nothing else, he is a devoted father, somewhat. Particularly during the school year, he goes on field trips with our children, is home when they get here,does love them greatly, drives them to school.

I, on the other hand, would like to rent his room out. He is a ball and chain around my neck. We don't have intimacies any longer. He does not beat me, which is important. It is dificult for me to make my son behave, without his father's influence. He minds his father perfectly and me, barely. Both my children are just going into their teen age years.

Should I grin and bear it? I am the sole breadwinner. I am selling the home and moving to Oregon after they finish high school, in their outstanding school district, that I sacrificed everything to get them into.

I have stopped giving him money. He has stolen money and my car many times. Refuses to work. Sleeps until 4 pm. Alas.......it is exacerbated during the summer because I am here with him all day. Maybe the solution is spiritual.... I Will Count It All Joy


I wondered when I read your post -- do you not count for anything in this equation? ''Sacrificing everything'' -- is that really what you want to do with your life? I was married for fifteen years for someone who did not work. Occasionally he would get a part-time job, but mostly he pursued his ''art,'' which kept him separated both from me and our son, never sold, and made him as a result depressed and cynical. The hard part about divorcing him was the pain it brought my son, but three years later my son is doing really well, and I have my life back and have met someone new. The bad part when you have supported someone long-term is that the legal system likes to make you pay spousal support (yeah, after having paid it forever), but that's something that can be negotiated and doesn't have to go on forever. Your ex-husband will get half-custody if he wants it, which can be a sacrifice for you, and you will have to pay child support. But it is doable. When my son is at his Dad's, I catch up on my work, my housework, my time with friends, my love life, etc. And when we're together, we have great fun. Your children will still have their Dad (and I don't mean to dismiss the difficulty of divorce), and you will lose this relationship that is, I believe I see, making you bitter and angry. not a candidate for martyrdom
It sounds like you are deeply resentful to both your husband and kids. It's as though you've emotionally split off from them and you no longer feel as though they are your family. Lots of spouses don't work and that doesn't make them criminals. Yes, there are times when spouses could help the marriage financially by working. There's also other factors to consider such as if the non-working spouse is a good parent which in this case he is. But to be so angry that you would stop giving him money and criminalize him says more about your psychological state than his. Given how desperate you feel, I would advise you to call several psychotherapists immediately and make an appointment for yourself. It sounds like you really could use some therapy. Anon
I don't see what the problem is. This is a typical old fashioned marraige except the sex roles are reversed. Men have done this forever. Don't see why in our liberated age a woman can't do it. sean
In my opinion I think you'd be better off divorced with 50/50 custody.

I was in a horrible marriage for 23 years. During ten of those years I supported the ex while he finished his Ph.D. and finally got a job. Of course he was laid off after five years, and blamed it on me. I was too afraid to divorce him, but got close to it. He finally started working again, and I paid for him to go to therapy. He filed for divorce -- probably blamed his depression on me.

Here's the surprise: the kids (three -- teenagers and pre- teen) all did OK. They were sad of course, but glad the tension was gone. I am fine -- the fear of the divorce was actually much worse as was the indecision.

Since by the time the X filed, I had put my career on the back-burner -- I was really afraid of poverty. But turned out I was OK. My spousal support is only $300 per month -- it's really hard to get much these days. And child support is modest.

And I stopped worrying about fixing X or when he did stupid crazy irresponsible things.

So many of us have been there. Now that I'm out I can't remember why I staid so long. Don't wait forever. OK now


I really take issue to the person who wrote in chastizing the lady who wrote the original post. I once wrote in and someone said they didn't see the problem too. I think you either offer advice or you don't write in. To critize a person who was distraught enough to write in asking advice is essentially bullying! I believe responses like this should be banned by the moderator and are totally not the purpose of BPN. take issue with repremanding responses
Your original post and the responses you got to it suggest that you really need to do two things: see a lawyer and a therapist. I might have suggested that the best all- around solution was to have your husband move out into a nearby apartment--that way he could still interact with the kids and be a good dad, but you wouldn't have all the negativity between the two of you in the house. That negativity is clearly creating problems for you and for your children. However, if you are going to have to pay spousal support, that would be really hard to take. But maybe it would only be for a few years?? A lawyer is really needed to clarify these issues. We are in a community property state. Also being on his own might be a positive for your husband (no negative vibes) and help him think about getting a job.

The second point is either you need to go into therapy or into family therapy with your kids. If your son won't acccept discipline from you and he won't listen to your suggestions, it sounds like your son is standing with his father against you. That situation could improve if your husband was in his own apartment. Leaving things the status quo doesn't sound like an option. As one poster suggested, there is a way two people could live together without really feeling that connected. But the hostility in your family is hurting you and your kids. So seek legal advice and therapy and do something before things further disintegrate. Your kids deserve more. Anonymous


I'm so unhappy and lonely - should we just divorce?

March 2008

I am so desperately lonely and unhappy in my marriage and yet, with two children, a steep mortgage and 10 yrs together, I don't want to call it quits. My husband and I have been in marital trouble for 1.5 yrs. We've been seeing a counselor since January and while it seems to be addressing the micro-level stuff (little fights, minor irritations) the macro-level stuff is unchanged. We live and co-parent like roommates; divvying up responsibilities, providing opportunities for each to get some free time alone or with personal friends, but there is no RELATIONSHIP. He has his friends/life (centered on work). I have my friends. Mostly we just sit across from each other at the kitchen table and read our email or surf the web. I HATE my marriage and long for the days when we really wanted to spend time together, look out for one another. Is there hope? Or should I just file for divorce and move on? Can couples come back from this? sad and lonely


I am so sorry for you. It sounds difficult. Just my 2 cents, but, I grew up in a family that was ''divorce-free''. Nobody was divorced, literally. Then my aunt and uncle divorced when I was an adult, which was quite a shock to me, and sad because they had older children. However, my point is, that I never believed in divorce until I came to see how much happier my aunt and uncle were after they separated. Because clearly they were not happy together. Now they coparent as well as 2 parents living in separate homes can. They live close to one another which made the transition easier for the children. So I think you deserve to be happy as a single parent or married to someone who notices, appreciates and wants to share experiences with you. That's what life and marriage is all about! I think your children would want you to be happy as well, esp as they grow older, they will notice unhappiness in your being and it will affect them. Best to you
Hi, I empathize with your situation- and was separated when our child was 3 in large part due to what you are describing. Counseling didn't work for us for a variety of reasons. I really want to recommend relationship coach: Rori Raye. I found her on the internet. You can learn about her at her website: http://www.havetherelationshipyouwant.com. Had I had this material before, I have the strong feeling my relationship(s) would not have ended. I really like her program: Reconnect Your Relationship. Another Commitment Blueprint. She also does one on one sessions by phone but recommended I try her materials first as she thought I'd get much more out of them. She was RIGHT. Her work is extremely practical and VERY supportive of you. I felt her techniques to work instantly and they are not tricks. They simply help you organize yourself in such a way that truly helps you reclaim your self esteem, gives effective communication techniques, explains the psychology of the situation, and has loads of case studies of women suffering through some pretty shocking situations (ie: you are not alone). Very, very positive, and effective, offering lot's of hope!! And so much cheaper and FASTER than therapy. I HIGHLY recommend her work. anon
Divorce decisions are best when given an adequate amount of time for personal exploration of your feelings and soul- searching. Being honest with yourself is also important ingredient for the success of counseling painful though it may be. I went through the process a few years ago and truly benefitted by having a therapist who said, ''it seems like you are already checked out''. This caused me to further explore that reality in lieu of addresssing the micro-issues. I guess I was unwilling to think about or focus on the little stuff because I knew deep down within myself that we were incompatible. Even fixing the little things would have left me in a relationship that was unfulfilling for both of us. I have several acquaintances who have struggled because their therapists can't get to the bigger picture and working on the minutiae isn't the solution. So I guess if you feel like your therapist isn't ''getting it'' you might want to shop around. Therapy is a relationship between all of you and is as much art as science. The fit has to be right. In terms of your feelings to date I suggest you take the time to explore what was, what has been, and what could be. My ex and I were on two very separate trajectories and had never really been in sync. But it sounds like you started in a good place and the challenge is to see if you can get back there. In terms of your family situation, I strongly feel that divorce can be handled, through the assistance of a good therapist and/or mediators, in a way that transcends the negative messages we get from the media, etc. My ex and I get along better now, are happier, and don't suffer any isms--alcohol/drug abuse, depression or mental illness, etc. Consequently, our children feel safe and loved and are not stuck in the middle of angry or unfair situations since we worked diligently to resolve our issues in mediation. divorce lady
I'm sorry to hear that you are having difficulties w/your marriage at this time. I encourage you to continue to work out the issues w/your husband. It is so wonderful to see that you are getting counseling as many people are not willing to take the time and effort to go to counseling. As a child of divorce (one in which my parents remained good friends), I encourage you to work on your relationship as divorce is devestating to children of any age (as it was for me and my siblings).

Being a single, divorced mom is much more difficult, financially and emotionally than you may realize. In addition, the grass isn't greener on the other side. There are no perfect marriages and each one of us have challenges and obstacles to overcome with our mates. If you found yourself in a new relationship after divorce, there will be challenges to overcome in that relationship too. With your husband, at least you know him well, trust him and know what to expect from him.

I suggest getting off the computer and use that time to do something at home that engages you together - talking, board games, etc. As hard as it may seem, begin treating him (if you already have not started) as you want him to treat you w/o the expectation he will change. Many times I have found that this prompts the other person to mimic my behavior and treat me differently.

God intended us to remain married. Review your vows of marriage and take each one you said seriously. You can improve the relationship you have and I suggest prayer when you feel overwhelmed. God will answer your prayers and the time you put into your marriage will bring you closer, make a stronger foundation and give you children a safe place to fall as they navigate their way through life. Take care and God Bless. CDS


I am so sorry to hear about the pain that you are in. You are not alone. I am a life coach and have encountered many people with similar feelings toward their marriage. There is a book which I found very helpful as I was navigating my uncertainty about my relationship and divorce and which I have since recommended to many clients. They have all found it very helpful in our coaching and in their decision making and healing process. The book is called ''Coming Apart'' by Daphne Rose Kingma and it is available on Amazon. I also recommend talking with a coach or a therapist who can support you in your personal process around your relationship, outside of the counseling you are doing as a couple. With healing thoughts, Michele
It's understandable that you're thinking divorce because you are in so much pain, but it doesn't sound like you really want one. It sounds like you really love your husband and wish you could get closer to him and enjoy the love and warmth you used to have. This is what you have to bring up in your marriage therapy. You just started therapy in January so it's very early in the therapy. My guess is that you haven't brought this up yet during the sessions. By all means do so. It takes a lot of courage to be that vulnerable but it's the only way. I would advise that you tell your therapist and your husband how lonely and isolated you are and how much you crave the warmth and love you used to feel. Your therapist will be able to handle that and help the two of you start working on getting back the intimacy you used to have. Work on the issues in therapy and you will find what you are looking for
no, how old are your kids? are you both so exhausted you do not have enough energy for each other. Before I got married someone told me you will wake up many days and not want to be married but work on it and it will be worth it. This has been the best advise I have ever gotten. anon
First I want tell you that staying together for 10 years you have become like one you did not got married to it was forever. Remember when you were dating you used to play together go to movies takes walks. But now you both grew up so much no play in in or when cooking in kitchen.Try those treaks and don`t be grow up in front of your husbard. Forget about the computer in the house. start charging first and you will see him charging. Do your part the mechanisim is with you, consoling will not work you have to work it up with faith. kim
It's great you're in therapy. That's an important first step. It's only been a few months. Give it more time. Bring up your concerns about not getting to the deeper issues in therapy with your husband and therapist. Does your husband have the same concerns or is he content? Do you think he's just going thru the motions to be able to say he tried or does he really want things to be better? Good luck. It's too early to throw in the towel
Love can come back. Try the book *Lasting Love* by Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks. If you can read it out loud to each other, there's a good chance you'll fall in love all over again. Worked for us!
I recently grabbed the book ''Mars and Venus Collide'' off the new book shelf. It has a lot of pop psychology stuff that I'm not sure I agree with, but it does address the question you asked, so maybe it will help. It made me see that some of the things I thought of as problems in my marriage as benign facts that I can probably live with. anon
I know a woman in your situation, but they are already separated. Now they have a steep mortgage AND a second household to pay for. And the market is not so great right now, so they cannot sell. She would love to sever completely, but is completely reliant on the hub to pay the mort, while he keeps giving her less and less saying the money's not there.

I think it's great you're both willing to go to counseling. There seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe it's over; hard to say. I think you should do counseling long term (if not this counselor, then another who can make a bigger impact on the bigger items).

If you do decide on divorce, you might try to stick together as civil friends with a shared goal (children cared for) at least until the market is better and you can financially make it happen (assuming there's no abuse). Good Luck


First, get a different counselor! Lots of couples spend evenings surfing the Internet and spend time with their own friends and don't think it's the same as being divorced.

Can you break out of the rut you're in? For example, plan a date to go for a walk together to a nearby cafe where you can talk. Or, take the family hiking and you and your husband can talk while the kids run ahead. Kayaking or camping would be fun.

Is there some other reason you no longer want to be with your husband? If not, why go through the upheaval of a divorce when you don't want to? Married and Surfing every night


Want unfaithful husband to move out, give me the house

Feb 2008

A year and a half ago my husband of twenty five years had an affair with a coworker. He agreed to break off all contact and go into couples counseling to save our marriage. After several months of counseling during which the issue of the affair was not resolved (he never really accepted responsibility) we stopped going due to a family emergency. I recently found out he is seeing this woman again or maybe he never really broke it off. We have a 13 year old son. I want to protect my son and my financial future (I am approaching 60 years old). I would like to ask my husband to move out and keep the house for my son and I to live in with ownership eventually going to my son. My question is how to do this as I know my husband could demand his share of the house. I am not at all sure he would do this, but I am also not sure as he is going through his own issues. I would not be able to afford to buy him out. I would appreciate advice and recommendations for lawyers. Anonymous


I am sorry to hear that you are going through a painful experience. I do have to say, however, in reading your post that it seemed as if you thought you could simply have your husband's share of the house (because of his infidelity?). Unless the house was left exclusively to you by your parents or some other special situation, my understanding is that it is part of shared property and has to be divided between the divorcing spouses. You could ask him to move out and let you live there, but he would still own half of the house. The fact that he is having/has had an affair does not alter his half ownership of this very important financial asset. Further, your son's father will have custody rights, so while your son may live part-time with you, it is most likely that he will also live part-time with his Dad, unless his Dad doesn't want any physical custody.

I divorced recently and I was the one who left home, leaving my ex-husband in the house (we share 50/50 custody of our son). After many discussions and much soul-searching, I decided it would be best for our son to let my ex continue living in the house (I was the one who supported the family financially). I rent an apartment nearby. I still own half the house, and my husband's ''rent'' for my half of the ownership is paid to me (or rather is deducted from his alimony). My ex cannot afford to buy me out, nor can I afford to buy him out.

You will need to sit down and talk to a lawyer to figure out your rights in this case, but I just thought I would give you a heads-up about your son's father's rights. It can be a blow to realize that you have to share assets and share custody, but in most cases it is a fact. I would recommend that you see a lawyer who is a mediator with your ex-husband, AFTER you get some advice from a separate lawyer. It is much, much better to resolve issues through mediation, both for you and for your son (financially and psychologically). Two good mediators in the area are Judith Joshel and Eva Herzer. good luck


I am sorry that these events have occurred. My sweet husband has also been having an affair which took several month to end. I have read Divorce Remedy and numerous articles on infidelity and the overall themes are that affairs are addicting. They can die a natural death or some have to be ended cold turkey just like any other addiction. An affair does not mean the end of a marriage either. In the mean time, read everything you can, establish independence, show your child you can be happy alone, and concentrate on anything that makes you have a better life. For me, that meant little goals like cooking again. I never sought a lawyer because I was not sure if I would take my husband back after his mistress left him. They usually do, but now I would not want him back, I just do not want to go through a divorce yet, so think about it. Getting A Life
First, I want to say I sympathize with you. My husband cheated on me too--though we were very distant for some time before this. He claims that I divorced him emotionally years earlier. In any case, it was very painful for me to learn he had cheated and then stayed with the woman he cheated with. I first went to an attorney who claimed he could get my husband out of the house (he said courts would feel some sympathy for me even though this is no fault state). I found out after $21,000 that his ''legal'' rights were the same as mine and my attorney and his did nothing to help us resolve the issue. They made it worse! They made us nearly hate each other. A colleague who knew both me and my husband had went through a tough divorce and used mediation instead. I didn't really even know it was an option, or it seemed too touchy-feely for my husband. We ended up seeing Larry Rosen, whose a mediator and attorney. His website is www.throughunderstanding.com. In three sessions, we resolved all the challenging issues before us (including the house and custody), and I even understood why he ''cheated.'' I felt some love for him again, if you can believe it, not in a romantic sense (as i was with a new man by then), but as the father of my children. I don't think you can acheive that kind of outcome without mediation. YOu can't force your husband to allow you to stay in the house--certainly not with dueling attorneys. He has rights that he's unlikely to give up if you fight against him. But you can help him see you as a human with needs, and that's the most likely road to getting your needs met. Mr. Rosen was a fantastic help, and I'd strongly recommend him. And i'm sure there are other good mediators around as well. Good luck and my heart goes with you. Helga

Considering divorce, but ... who gets the house?

December 2007

I am thinking of divorce, which as a SAHM is very daunting for a number of reasons. But my question is about our house. We have been married 3 years but were engaged for more than a year before we married. While engaged my husband bought the house we currently live in. He put about $50k down and the rest has a mortgage on it aprox $400K. It has appreciated in value by roughly $200k. He has been paying the mortgage payment since I do not have a income as a SAHM of our two kids. He says the house is his and not community property since he bought it before we were married. I feel that I must have some right to part of it since mortgage payments were made with communal income (his income is the family income, right?) since we have been married. Has any one had experience with this situation or know the answer? Any advice would be appreciated. feel broke


Don't go on your husband's information. Or on the information you get from the network -- hire thee to a lawyer or a mediator. A mediator is almost always best in situations where the couple can work together at all (it can be tough, but worth it), but before going to a mediator you can consult briefly with a lawyer to get the basic rules on your situation. (The mediator won't work with the couple if s/he has already advised one spouse individually, in my experience.) Don't despair -- you have rights here, and a lawyer can tell you what they are. half-owner of a house
First, GET THEE TO A LAWYER! Too many people try to get divorced on the cheap end up losing a lot of money in the long run.

I can't give you legal advice, but I think, am not sure, that it depends what funds were used paying for the mortgage on the house. The initial deposit of 50k goes towards your husband if it was separate property. But then if your husband used community property funds (i.e. his income while you were married), then you would be entitled to a portion of the house.

Really see a lawyer. And don't fight your husband on the little stuff. I think a lot of lawyers end up fighting over the ''tea pot'' Don't fall into that trap. Figure out what you want for custody. You are also entitled to child support (a formula) and alimony. And half of all community property. SEE A LAWYER! PLEASE!


You need good legal advice, now. Your situation is in no way unique, but you need it handled properly to be fair to all parties involved, especially your kids. My guess is that no one gets the house -- it will be sold and divided as an asset, and the pre-post nuptial calculations will need to be taken into account. Financially, the best solution for all of you would be not to get divorced -- any chance of that? Sorry you're in this Situation
If you are considering divorce anyway, you should just talk to a lawyer. The lawyer can answer this question and the million others you probably have, such as questions about custody, possible alimony etc. You shouldn't rely on legal advice given on BPN. We don't have enough information about you or your situation to answer with confidence. a lawyer
In California, it is presumed that any asset or debt acquired before marriage is Separate Property and belongs to the person who acquired it. During marriage (and before separation), any asset or debt acquired by each spouse is presumed to be Community Property, including the income of each spouse. There are exceptions, so I would strongly suggest you speak with a family law attorney to get accurate information based on the specifics of your case. For more general information, check out www.Divorcenet.com.

Finding The Courage To Divorce

November 2007

I have been married for over 20 years. I have felt for at least half of that time that the marriage was a mistake and that we should divorce. We are not violent with each other but there are patterns that are very frustrating IE: arguments about housework, finances, communication etc. I am either furious or bored out of my mind by it all. I have gotten counseling around these issues but my husband is not interested in going. I threaten to leave every couple of years. He pulls himself together and is cordial for a few weeks and then the tension starts to build again. I am very unhappy in the relationship but can't ever get beyond the fear of divorce IE: sharing custody of two young kids, how to afford two separate households when we are already in debt, dividing up friends, losing his side of the family etc. It is so overwhelming that I just stop thinking about it and keep on going. Any advice out there for sorting out all the fears and becoming strong enough to go through with it? anon


I recommend reading the book ''Beyond the Myth of Marital Happiness'' by Blaine Fowers. GL
As anyone will tell you, the decision to divorce is very personal. I don't think that there's an absolute right or wrong, and I would be very cautious with people who are so opposed to divorce that they won't even allow you to consider it. Having said that, I can tell you that I divorced recently after fifteen years of marriage and I am much happier. Yes, it was VERY hard for my son, and my fears for him were the primary reason I stayed as long as I did. I wouldn't minimize how hard it is to see your child in pain about a decision that you make. And it is challenging financially, there is no doubt about that. But after just a year my son is already doing much better (knock on wood), and I finally have a life that I can call my own. You are correct in citing your fears about losing his family and some of your friends (you most likely will, though not everyone feels that they have to ''take sides''). But you will still have your family, and when you are on your own, you will be free to make friends on your own. I find that I have many more friends now than I did while I was married. And reasonable former in-laws will understand that a divorce does not necessarily mean that you are a villain and will work to let your children have contact with both sides of the family. It sounds a little to me (implicit in your message) as if you fear that your husband may be vindictive (alienate his family and friends from you, for instance). This is a real possibility. My ex was vindictive. But to my mind, that's another reason to leave. I would be happy to talk to you if you want to contact me via the list manager. Good luck in making your decision! the uncertainty is the hardest part
divorce is only a good idea if all else has failed. The long term implications of divorce can be quite unforseen. I divorced after 7 years, but spent an additional 6 years refusing to speak to my former spouse. Of course, you could only imagine the difficulty this created for my children. Of course the silent treatment was an over zealous reponse to my former husband's inability to work harder on saving the marraige. At the end of the day , you will certainly make your own decision, but if there is any sustainability to your marraige stick in it for the long haul. Find your common ground and amplify it. Best of luck anon
I have no idea of your specific circumstances. I will just convey my experience with divorce. I divorced my husband when my kids were ages 4 and 6. I had no idea how hard it would be and how much this would impact the family for life. If there is any any any hope at all of saving your marriage, you owe it to yourself and your family to try it. I don't mean to sound preachy but I think that sometimes people think that being divorced and splitting custody is ''the norm'' or ''no big deal'' when in reality it is so incredibly painful for everyone involved (especially the children.) Good luck with your situation. I know how hard it can be. anon
I understand your pain! I was married for 12 years with 3 young children when I faced the facts--my marriage wouldn't get better. I realized that my choices were 1)live an incomplete life or 2) recreate my life. I opted for the latter. At your stage I contacted acquaintances about their divorces and learned how people dealt with issues. A friend with two young children said her life was no harder without her husband at home. I then thought I could not handle parenting as the only adult in the household. Imagining new realities is what makes contemplating divorce so difficult. Once you do it you will perhaps be frustrated that you didn't do it sooner. My new found peace makes every day of my life fuller and I am more productive! As I accepted that divorce was necessary, we went to counseling and I admitted that I couldn't stay in the marriage. Our counselor said something that resonated: The divorce is yours, you own it. Divorce is depicted negatively in press (and at cocktail parties). If you come to mutual understanding, it can be what you want it to be. Here is my reality: We often vacation together but in separate accomodations for our young children. Our families still come together for holidays and they have been wonderfully supportive and kind. He comes over for breakfast before driving the kids to school. On occasion, we are together with old ''couple friends'' when children are involved. Obviously things may change when he or I get into new relationships but then, again, I think we can own that reality, too. The key is that anger needs to be mitigated and all third parties need to realize that respect prevails. So no airing dirty laundry! If you DO get into an ugly divorce you are still likely to land in a better place. I really enjoyed the post-separation time when I was able to redefine myself. Divorce does divide your true friends from the cursory ones. A few relationships drifted off but other friendships grew stronger. Family? My ex in-laws treat me no differently than they did before. I think they understand that I am a good person, mother, and that I respect him. You indicated that your husband has no interest in counseling but perhaps he will consider going to ''plan'' the divorce and/or do mediation. My mediation team included a family therapist who countinued where our marriage counselor left off in guiding us through important decision making around the children. And my final advice: keep it out of arguing lawyers' hands and much ugliness will be avoided. You can thougtfully plan when the move takes place; how to tell kids, friends, relatives, teachers; etc. My best to you! the DIVORCED lady
As you start to discuss your thoughts about possibly divorcing, you will no doubt hear lots of people say: ''What about the kids? You have to do what's best for the kids.'' I am recently separated and was struck by how many people made these comments, as if I never thought about my child and her well-being!

There will be a lot of pressure to stay together, but in my humble opinion, you have to find the courage to do what you know is right for you. And it sounds pretty clear that you know what is right. Only you know what kind of life you want to live, and whether you are living it. This is your only chance. With that said, divorce is no fun, neither is co-parenting. But I'm sure it gets easier with time. And your kids are probably already affected by the stress in your relationship and may welcome the change, as both parents might end up being happier and more enjoyable to be around.

Divorce will cause them pain, but in the long run, it may be a better alternative than staying in a relationship that doesn't work. As far as how to sort out the fears so you can find the courage, I think posting your question is a pretty big step. You are being honest with yourself and putting the truth out there. It's hard to back away from that once it's done. Good luck. No regrets


I didn't see the original post, however I too went through a very very nasty divorce ten years ago after a 13yr marriage. My kids were 1, 4, 6 at the time. I too wondered if I was doing the right thing, and people don't help, they always say make it work. It's tough, but we never looked back because we are so much happier.

Recently my oldest daughter (now 17) said to me out of the blue, that she thinks kids in divorced families are lucky and much better off because she has friends at school whose parents don't communicate with other or share a bedroom and use the kids to communicate and mediate their fights. Her friends are sure that their parents are waiting for them to move out and then get divorced, but actually resent them for staying together (for their sake). Her friends are very unhappy with the tension and unhealthy environment at home and wish their parents had divorced so they (the parents) could be happy and in turn let them (the kids) have a normal home life.

So what I'm saying is, go for it, your child will be much happier in the long run. You have the courage-Good Luck


I just read the latest post responding to the responses to this question. It was so re-affirming! Thank you. The respondant gave the example of her 17-year-old daughter telling her that she felt like the lucky one as a child of divorce when compared to the other kids at school whose parents have crappy marriages. This is so good to hear since my own children are younger and it is hard to anticipate how they will feel as they approach adulthood. ''Friends'' often pose the question ''how are the kids doing'' and it is truly a frustrating question. My children are doing well and I would even say happier. But the question implies in a way that they aren't ok and that generalization in our society needs to go away. I often feel like responding ''well, how are your kids doing'' because many of those posing the question seem mired in their own personal misery. So for those who think you are staying for your children--I hope these postings give you the courage to consider a happier path. anon divorcee

Drifting apart ... find myself thinking about parting ways

December 2006

I would be interested in hearing from people who ended a marriage, because they simply grew apart. At what point did you realize your distance was not going to turn itself around? My husband and I have been together almost 15 years. We have a young son. Up until about 5 years ago, we were very happy together. We would go away for the weekend, take our baby on outings, go out for dinner, and laugh and talk and watch movies all the time. In recent years, our careers have taken us in very different directions. It has been gradual, but these days I feel as though we are roommates rather than spouses. He has his friends, I have mine. We rarely go to eachother's work events. He has his hobbies and interests (which are sort of boring to me), and I have mine (which aren't his thing either). When we attempt to do things the other likes to do, it feels rather forced or obviously an effort. When we do go out for dinner together, it tends to be very silent at the table, both of us grasping for things to talk about. Usually the subject goes right back to how great our son is, and what he did today that was funny. We are nice to each other, and we love our son and our home very much, but I often feel very lonely in my own marriage. What is especially difficult is, we LIKE each other. I don't think either of us wants to hurt the other, or abandon the other. However, we are both in our 30's, and life is short. I find myself thinking about parting ways from time to time, and I feel guilty about it. Can anybody out there relate? Feeling More and More Lonely


I was in exactly your shoes ten years ago, except that I had 3 kids. I did nothing about the problem, thinking it would eventually get better or that I could just settle for what I had. To my very great surprise, I unexpectedly fell in love with someone else. After several very hard years and an acrimonious divorce, I married the other man, and I'm happy. If I had it to do over again, I would put re-connecting with my (then-)husband at the top of my list of priorities and give the marriage everything I had. And then if the relationship still didn't come back to life, I'd leave. Doing it consciously is millions of miles better than doing it unconsciously the way I did. Especially when there are children involved --anonymous
Hi. your posting sounds just like me! And I've been married 22 years (a second marriage for both of us). Our kids are grown and out of the house. I often feel what you are talking about. I've worked really hard to get reconnected with my husband. We have gone to therapy at times in order to get some help. I think taking each other for granted has created this distance. Remember those little things we used to notice about each other that have become every day now? I think so much of what you are talking about results from all that time together. I have started to accept the ''drifting apart'' as a phase in a long marriage. I try to rejoice in doing what I love (swimming, knitting, visiting with women friends, snowboarding) and leave him alone to enjoy what he loves. I am sorry I don't have answers for you, just empathy. B
By all means see a marriage counselor! You have a great son, a good home, and a successful career. You say you like your husband. Well, there must be some love left there! Don't let your marriage end. If you're lonely now, you'll be even lonelier if you leave. Explore the issues with a couple's therapist first. You mentioned too many good things in your life to just walk away from. That's my advice Anon
What you are experiencing is common. I suggest you read: 'Surrendering to Marriage: Husbands, Wives, and Other Imperfections' by Iris Krasnow And then try to decide whether you want to make the marriage work or not. If so, try marriage counseling. A link to the book is here: http://tinyurl.com/yx82pk good luck!
Being in one's 30's and having a young child is a tough time. What I would suggest is that you not focus on ''him'' or the ''marriage'' but look at yourself. It takes two people to carry on a conversation. A friend of mine went through a very similar situation, and her marriage was on the rocks, but when she decided to stimulate her creativity, and to look at what made her vibrant and alive, within 2 months, her marriage was ''different'' and they started having fun again. You have a lot - a young child - you like each other - there seems to be a lot of caring. I would suggest taking a look at: The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. What turns you on. It's exciting and fun being with exciting and fun people. So go have some fun, and do the things that make you more vibrant.

Having said that - working with your husband to have more fun and a better time together is absolutely doable and important. I suggest taking a look at Harville Hendrix, Getting The Love You Want, A Guide for Couples. Relationships are like plants - they need nurturing pruning, attention. A lot of it with small children, is we adults are tired. So having an intention to nurture our relationship, and then a plan, and then doing some of it is really helpful. Harville's suggestions worked for me. My husband and I will be celebrating 25 years next year - and when our youngest was 3, we separated and my husband actually moved out for a period of time. So hang in there.
Relationships Are Worth Nurturing


I am desperately unhappy - should I stay or go?

Oct 2006

My husband and I have been married 8 years previous to a brief courtship, we have two kids, 3y and 10 mo we argue frequently I find it very hard to express my feelings to him etc with out him getting ,mad or sullen or a he could say the same thing about me or somehow being persuaded that I am in the wrong, so that I feel that it is I that shld aplgise.

I'm yelled at for things I feel are unness and then he'll say some sml but disparageing remark to thin air or wrs to our boy about me(or the latest- high five our boy if he is rude to me!) now I never used to put him down to our kids but as time goes on, and I hate myself for it,I have started to do the same subtly but none the less.

Recently when we argued(kidsinbed)he said he felt like punching me in the face!Then later pointed his finger at me and made a banging noise. He never apologises for this kinda thing and has recently admitted he'ed aquired a hand gun(v. scary with a bad temper)with out consulting with-knows I disagree with guns upon me voicing my opinion I again was made to feel wrong myself.

Life is seemingly getting worse for us and though I have seen a therapist which helps but too $$,we have tried counselling,(not really found a match)and sometimes later said he wasn't serious and subsequently go back on his word on things agreed. He went to grp anger mngment but missed sessions frequently, he has also told me he knows he has issues and will seek out a therapist but if I inquire as to if he has taken any steps more than once or twice he will tell me if I continue to ask he will not go into therapy - this has been happening on and off for 2 years now I think this is an excuse. He often seeks my opinion and when I give it I am told I am not a good listener. He was brought up in a very untrusting non comunicative househld and I don't wish to bring this on our kids. I know single moms - it seems very hard but they are happy to me, I hope he would support us - I have no means of earning very much.

I am desperately unhappy and so is he I feel he would benifit from meds am I being too impatient? To picky? To nagging? All of the above? T.Y. for reading this and thinking about it for me cause I just go up and down like a yo-yo. Yo-Yo


Please leave! This man is being abusive and sounds potentially very dangerous. You cannot sit around (especially with children) while he deals with his anger manageemnt issues. You need to live in a safe place where you are not being belittled, abused and threatened, and where your childrne are not being brought into the conflict. From that safe place maybe you can explore marriage counselling, as long as he is sticking to his own therapy, etc take care of yourself
Dear yo-yo, It is very difficult to decide to leave a committed relationship. You are pulled in many directions by feelings of obligation, fears (in your case of violence), doubts (even doubts about your self-worth), worries about the welfare of your children and money, etc. I think that my first answer would be that you should see a therapist for yourself, not because there's anything wrong with you, but because you need to find out precisely what it is that you want and need. What does this relationship give you besides grief? How could you find the strength to leave if that's what you decide you need to do? A good therapist could help you come to a decision and develop ways of coping with the challenges that arise from your decision.

I was in a marriage for many years that did not bring me happiness and left me feeling inadequate and unloved. My situation was different in that my spouse was not violent or disrespectful in the obvious ways that yours is, but it was similar in that one of my husband's needs was to make me feel as incompetent and powerless as possible. A therapist would help you get back some of your self-confidence so that you could reject the bad self-image your husband gives you.

I wish you luck in finding your way -- have faith in yourself and be good to yourself and your kids former yo-yo


I feel very much for your situation, and the bottom line is you need to take care of yourself and your kids. They did not ask to be a part of a family with this anger, and you are harming them if they are in that situation. You have to set boundries with your husband around what's ok and what's not, and if he's not willing to honor those boundries, you need to go. I was in a similar, maybe not quite to bad, situation. I went to see a wonderful therapist named John Petroni in El Cerrito. His number is 510-527-2955. I really couldn't afford him either, but I only needed to see him twice to really help me shift. As a result, my husband has shifted to and we are both much happier now. You need to stop focusing on what he is doing and focus on taking care of yourself and your kids. Jenny
GO!!!! You are married to an abuser. He has shown no awareness of this nor inclination/ability to change. If you stay, the probability that you will be beaten is very, very high. The probability that you will end up murdered is also too high for comfort. If you do survive, your children will learn that this is normal and will repeat the cycle in their adult lives, possibly with worse results. Find and call an abused women's hotline and formulate an escape plan before he makes that impossible for you. Do it today. Worried for you
I feel so sad for your situation, it sounds like you acknowledge that it takes two to make a relationship work, but in this case I would say it's deteriorated into an abusive relationship and no matter what work you put in, I do think the situation requires you to take leave. Do you have friends or family to help you through this? Co-workers you trust? Please, I hope you can find the strength to get help for yourself, and for your kids. Counseling for you - there are several sliding scale options available in Alameda County. Your 10 year old son KNOWS that Dad high-fiving him for being rude is wrong and is sure to fill him with conflicting feelings and fear. I would take him to counselling too. I'm sure this is painful but you should go, and fast. I would also consider calling the police if he threatens you again. Is his handgun licenced? Locked? Frankly, in this sadly violent day and age when men seem unable to reckon with their rage and go gun crazy, and women break down and harm themselves and/or their kids, I would err on the side of caution, get a lawyer, get custody of the kids and RUN the hell away. Taking rational steps toward that end is not going to be easy (or cheap) but for your well-being it's worth every effort MM
Get out. Now. Your husband is abusing you (not physically, but may; it sounds like things are escalating), and is teaching your child to do the same Karen
Your situation and emotional state sound very familiar to me -- I was going through something similar when my children were 5 and 8. I felt unhappy, trapped, and confused about what to do. I kept wondering if I was exaggerating things, if I was crazy, if this was normal, if I was being oversensitive, if I could change it. It got to the place that every communication seemed loaded and I couldn't express myself naturally. My husband was anxious and impatient and I found myself talking in ways that I wouldn't have otherwise.

I'd like to recommend a book, ''The Verbally Abusive Relationship.'' It helped to put a name to types of communications that were unhealthy, and gave tips for attempting to change abusive communications.

I also recommend talking to someone at a women's center who has experience and training with verbally abusive relationships. At first I would not have called my situation ''domestic violence,'' but I met with someone at a center for domestic violence who illuminated me about healthy and unhealthy/damaging patterns. I joined a support group of other women who were in verbally abusive situations, and finally I gathered the strength to leave my relationship. What was hardest was wondering if I was doing the right thing. Once I left and was on my own, my mind felt sane and clear.

I did try counseling with my husband, but it didn't help at all. I don't think he wanted to change.

I am now in a new relationship of three years -- I feel like a different person, free and open and healthy. It makes such a difference when your partner is healthy and can communicate with you without blaming or name-calling or belittling or getting anxious. I am much less angry in dealing with my children -- much more calm and loving.

This whole process wasn't easy, and your patterns may be ''fixable,'' but I am so glad I left! I hadn't realized how much of my unhappiness and ''failure to thrive'' was due to my relationship. Happy Now with Healthy Man


You are in an abusive relationship and will need to leave. There are many ways to do that, but get some support from anywhere you can. The big thing you need to realize is that you are ENTITLED to child support--don't ''hope'' for it, get a lawyer and DEMAND it! It's the law. Good luck to you another mom
Definately, go. That is, if you feel couples counseling and or anger management classes will not work. Is this how you want your children to grow up and treat their spouses/partners? That is what they are learning from him. Worse yet, they are learning from you, that it's ok to be treated that way, and they will. I know it's easier said than done, but get out now Good luck to you.
My dear friend, My heartfelt advice to you is that you must, absolutely must get out of this relationship. This is a very dangerous situation, you must get out.

How lucky for you that you are not married and don't have to go through the hassle of the divorce. Please know that your marital status will NOT affect your ability to get child support from your kids' dad.

You MUST see a lawyer immediately, and I would also suggest contacting a women's shelter or abuse-support group, because if this man hears that you are thinking of leaving him, he may very well become violent. He has shown you in many, many ways that he is capable of this.

You are ''desperately unhappy'' and he is teaching your kids to disrespect you as he does. Is there anything in the world that can make this situation better for you? The answer is no. The only way to make your life better is to get away from him.

Yes, single motherhood is hard, but not as hard as what you're putting up with. I know -- I've been there.

Find friends who can help you -- turn to family -- leave the area -- do whatever you need to do to get away. Life doesn't have to be a misery.

Good Luck -- Been There, Got Out, Now Happy


I imagine you will get lots of advice on this one... I feel compelled to add my two cents, based on five years in an emotionally abusive relationship. Your husband is not treating you fairly, kindly or respectfully. You and your children deserve better!!! It it *outrageous* that he would high-five your young son after being rude to you - not only is he showing tremendous disrespect, but he is teaching your son to be disrespectful of you, and of women in general. In my experience - and from reading I've done to understand the relationship I was in - abuse only escalates, unless there is serious intervention and commitment to change. If your husband will not seriously pursue therapy and anger management, your only recourse maybe to contact some reliable friends or family members (or even a women's shelter) and make plans for your departure. Leaving my ex-boyfriend was the best thing I ever did, and it still took me at least 5 years to regain my confidence and put my life back together. The sooner you move on, the sooner you can begin to heal Been there
Please make a plan to bail out of this toxic living situation. Please look up, call, La Casa De Las Madres, www.lacasa.org, and see how they can provide resources for you and your children. This man obviously does not respect you as he criticizes you and teases you with YOUR LIFE as he ''pretends that his finger is a revolver and points it to your face with your children in sight!! and the worst part is HE BRINGS A GUN TO YOUR HOME. Please, please, leave this man so your children can have a mother in their life as this man does not deserve the title of father!! I work for the court system and there are resources out there for you. Please help yourself and your children by escaping the grips of this toxic man who is not an example that your children need in their lives. Unfortunately you're falling down to his level by committing the same error of belittling him as he belittles you, which in turn can only escalate to worse things down the road, e.g., physical outbursts and violence. I know what I'm talking about because I've been there and my ex husband and I had to split before one of us killed each other. Please, please get out of this if not for you, for your children!! This is a secret you have to share with close friends or family or someone who can provide you shelter. It is better to live alone than being with a useless awful and dangerous ''companion''. God Bless You. anon
If you are desperately unhappy, and having no luck with therapy (whatever the reason) I would be inclined to say ''GO.'' You sound not only unhappy, but scared as well.

Additionally, you two are setting the example for your kids of what a marriage should look like, and how a married couple should behave toward one another. Is your relationship with your husband what you would want your kids to have? Is how your husband behaves toward you the way you'd want to see your son treat his wife, when he gets married? If you have a daughter, do you want some one to treat her the way you are being treated?

Finally, putting the children in the middle of your conflict is absolutely unacceptable on both of your parts, which is what you and your husband are doing when you say bad things about one another to them.

I don't know the whole story, but from what you say, it doesn't sound as if your husband is not showing much respect for your needs, his needs, or the needs of your children. Are you? Yes, I'd say, time to go. Try to find a support network of some kind, either family, friends or a group of some kind, but get yourself and your kids out of there as soon as possible, and consult with a divorce attorney Anonymous


Yikes. You need to tell somebody in real life about the gun. Do you know where it is? You need to know for your children's safety. For the rest, if you do not feel that you are in danger, you might be able to work this out when the baby is over a year old. My husband and I have had some really nasty fights that I know are the result of stress. But if you are in danger, leave now and figure out the details later anon
Wow! That sounds like a scary situation! The threats of physical violence should not be ignored, especially since he has just acquired a handgun. He sounds like a very dangerous man, and specifically very dangerous to you.

My advice: Do not stay with this man!

There is an excellent book called ''The Gift of Fear'' by Gavin de Becker. It talks about *how* to leave someone like that, because after you leave you are still vulnerable, but in a different way. You need to know how to protect yourself and your children. Be safe! anon


The decision whether to stay or go is up to you. I know that is obvious, but it needs to get said. No one out here will be able to TELL you what to do.

You say you are unhappy. There's your answer: do you want to remain in a relationship where you are not happy? It's not fun being miserable....why do it to yourself? And now, of course, you are doing it to your kids. They may not be aware on a cognitive level of what is going on with you and your husband, but they do know and sense that things are not right. Children are sensitive little creatures, and for right or wrong, this is affecting them as well.

What are your fears if you ''go?'' That you'll have no/less money? Well, worse things have happened to many, many people. That you'll have to get a job? Well, again, many of us work and have kids and things are okay. Your husband will be financially responsible in many ways for the children, so alot of those fears can be eased. (By the way, many single people raise children with no help from the child's father/mother, and they do it, so I think you'll be okay.) What are your other fears? That your family will look at you funny? Oh well, who are you trying to make happy....you or your in-laws/parents? In the end, a happier you makes everyone else happy...especially your children Don't stay for the kids' sake


Sorry....I'm getting long winded here. Part Two.

You say you have ''no means of earning very much.'' Are you sure about that? What I'm trying to get at is that your attitude about yourself is not very positive. Right now things look dark for you, and so it's easy to see the down side of everything, especially yourself. You say you've been asking him to see a therapist for two years. TWO YEARS? That's 24 months. 720 days. And it sounds like you are only getting more unhappy. How many more days, months, years are you going to want to live like this? How do you want to live YOUR life? Do you want to live happy and true to yourself, or do you want to stick it out, and in 20 years (of this caliber of relationship) wake up and be a brittle, miserable shell? Yuck. And more 'stuck' than you are now.

Maybe you still love your husband. But how much do you love you? Decide what you want your course of action to be. If it's separation, then contact a divorce attorney. Tell husband you are desperately unhappy in this relationship and he must do A, B and C or you will proceed with a trial separation and then divorce, if it comes to that. And then follow through with it. Don't let the fear of the unknown stop you. Take what you DO know, (you are unhappy) and go with it Don't stay for the kids' sake


Men like this wear you down subtly and over time. Your self-confidence has been utterly shattered, but I assure you that you are more than you think you are. You probably have plenty of earning capacity, once you regain your esteem and pursue it. The pattern for emotional abuse and control is just what you've described. Also, it does escalate to physical abuse. With his owning a gun, and pretending to shoot you, there's no doubt where this will lead if you stay. Call a Domestic Abuse Helpline - they can steer you the right way.
I am so worried for you and your children. Please follow your instincts about being scared of the combination your husband's temper and him recently acquiring a hand gun. Please call on your friends, and family to help protect you and your children from serious harm. Do not be embarrased to ask them for help! This happens in all kinds of families. You may also want to read ''You Don't Have to Take it Anymore'' by Steven Stosny, Ph.D it deals in depth about the root cause of emotionally abusive relationships and how to transform them. Peace to you and your loved ones Anon
I highly recommend you contact the Family Violence Law Center (510) 208-0220 for some support and assesment about your situation. As a former domestic violence advocate, your situation sounds very familiar and given that your husband just purchased a hand gun, I do not think you are being too picky, nagging, or over-reacting in any way. From your description, it seems clear your husband does not respect you and is encouraging your children to follow suit. Please continue to reach out and get help. Domestic violence often starts out in milder forms, as you've described but can quickly escalate to direct physical violence. Having a gun in the home highly increases the chance that an incident could become deadly. If he is telling you he wants to hit you, he may act this out, or worse in the very near future. very worried for your safety
It sounds like you're both deteriorating rapidly in your relationships toward eachother. The fact that you guys are starting to use the kids against eachother would be a sign for me that it's time to go. If nothing else for a separation period. Children should NEVER be used to settle adults' business.

I think you've answered the question for yourself.... it's time to go With a virtual hug in this hard time Hello there.


You should go. WIthout a doubt. Just because you leave the situation does not mean you're walking out on this relationship, just that you are making it clear that the current situation is unacceptable and can no longer continue. Take your children and go, to the house of a friend, to your family, to wherever you can be safe and take some time to contemplate your next step. Your husband has made it clear that he currently has no interest in changing his behaviour. Partly that's because there are no consequences for it. I am not saying you're responsible for his behavior, I am saying that you have choices about whether to let him get away with it any longer. Now that he's dragging your son into it he has made it clear that he is prepared to ruin your son's life too, and you cannot let that happen. If you and he show your son that it's ok for a man to abuse his wife like this then your son will grow up to do the same thing. And the escalation in the level of aggressiveness is indeed worrying. Trust your gut. This man is not safe right now. You need to leave before something tragic happens. Physical abuse often starts in exactly the way you describe, with an escalation in emotional or verbal abuse. He is warning you: I want to punch you in the face, he says. I have bought a gun, he says, pointing his finger at your face and pretending to shoot you. He is trying to tell you that he is afraid he will lose control, and before he does you need to get out of his way, and take your children somewhere safe. PLEASE listen to your instincts and protect yourself now Worried about you.
My heart goes out to you! I think that it is wonderful that you are reaching out for support. You don't sound too picky, etc. He sounds abusive and I am concerned about your safety (disrespect, violent gestures and words, plus a gun!). You need to decide if you are willing to get a separation or divorce if he says/does any more of these violent things. Then I would suggest that you clearly and gently communicate this to him. For this to be effective, you *must* follow through on your words. He probably will test you in some way - be ready with your response. I have had the experience of successfully working through some heavy couple things. But both parts of the couple must be willing to do their part. You can't force him to do any of the things that would be potentially helpful: anger management group and individual therapy for him, or couples therapy. But you can decide that you don't want to be with someone who doesn't take these steps. Additionally, if either one of you are in a 12-Step group, e.g.: AA, Al-Anon, Co- Dependants Anonymous (which might be helpful for you and is free), etc., you both could go to Recovering Couples Anonymous. my partner and I have had experience getting support, tools, and non-judgemental listening in this group. I hope that you can find some way to afford individual therapy - you need support! Finally may I suggest books by Harriet Lerner: ''The Dance of Anger'' and ''The Dance of Intimacy.'' Good luck - you might be suprised out how much power you have to change things by gently, firmly, and lovingly setting your boundaries! A

Decent parents in a miserable relationship

Jan. 2004

Hello everyone, I have discovered that my partner has been cheating on me and I feel ready to leave him. However, we have a one year old baby and I am a step-mom to his teenager. I have confronted him about the cheating, and pathetically he is still trying to deny that it was more than a few emails - even though the emails detail enough ''interaction'' to make it clear there was more going on.

Anyhow, my first reaction was to pack up and leave, but because of the teen, I want to wait till summer so they don't have to deal with this during school.

Since I confronted him, we have drudged along, almost as if nothing has happened - outside of a miserable relationship we end up being decent parents.

What I need advice on is - How do you gather up the strength to actually leave? I feel afraid of the work it will take to be a single mom. I'm afraid of having to be without my daughter when she spends time with her dad. And since we get along well enough I'm afraid when the time comes (in six months or so) I won't actually go. I never thought I would allow myself to be treated this way and daydream about a real relationship with love and respect.

I know, and don't want my daughter to witness such a poor relationship - and know that if/when i find a healthy one it will be positive modeling for her. But I also feel guilty for taking away the daily interactions with her dad and making her suffer because I chose to be in such a bad relationship.

Has anyone out there been in a similar position and regretted leaving or staying? Also, my family is down in LA and I can't figure out if I should move down to have family support (I have no family and few friends up here), or stay up here so my daughter can be with her father and sibling as much as possible. Even if he is a jerk to me, I know that it is important for her to grow up with a strong relationship with her dad and sibling. any advice is truly appreciated. jane


My husband and I divorced last year, and even though it was his idea, it was the best thing to do for our kids. They can detect the pressure and unhappiness more than you might imagine. I am now able to speak with him in a pleasant manner in front of the kids and each of us is involved in a more loving relationship which is a much better role model for the kids. I don't have advice for you on the L.A. move. I think it depends how close you are to your parents and if they would be willing to spell you on some childcare. anon
Did I write this message? Your situat! ion is almost exactly what I went through a year and a half ago (differences were that there was no 13 year old, my baby was 1-month old and it was the third time I discovered him cheating with this woman). I was quite ready to get a divorce and flee to my parents in LA, but I heeded to my friends advice to try therapy once again. This time I was ready to also accept what I'd done wrong that had pushed my husband in the direction of an affair (it was an emotional, rather than physical affair, but no less hurtful to our marriage for that). I got an incredible therapist who literally saved our marriage. She was able to let me see where I'd gone wrong, but she also helped my husband understand how he'd fallen into that situation and how he could avoid it. He also went for individual therapy (at her recommendation) though he's not sure how useful that was.

What I would say to you is that if he is willing to work on the marriage - go to therapy and do whatever it takes to save it - then you should consider remaining in the marriage. Try therapy and see where it takes you.

If he's not willing to do it, then I'd say ''leave''. Now, therapy is not the magic answer. We went to therapy after the first time I found out about his affair and he still continued in it (or went back to her, I'm still not sure). I realize now that the problem was that he hadn't actually owned that what he was doing was wrong (because he didn't have intercourse with her, he was able to fool himself into believing I was the one in he wrong). Also, he wasn't really afraid I would leave (it took him overhearing my conversation with my divorce lawyer to believe it the last time).

Anyway, one and a half year later our marriage is much better. At times I'm still afraid it's all a lie, but much of the time I do trust him. Sometimes I feel it would have been easier if I had left, but what I told myself then and I still tell myself is that while it's not worth it to stay for my kid, it is worth it to try to save the marriage for her. anon


My situation is almost identical to yours, except six months further along and the divorce will be final in a couple of weeks. And our daughter is a couple years older. Since our marriage had good points and bad points, I was willing to put up with a lot, even possibly forgive him for the affair if he would just admit to it. But he would not admit to it and I decided it was, one, the lies that I could not forgive, and two, that he had been doing family-type activities with someone else and her kids while ! his kids own were literally begging to spend time with him.

He solved the teenage step-son issue by sending him to live with his grandmother out of state. I feel bad that my daughter doesn't have her big brother around anymore, but they talk on the phone. My soon-to-be ex and I do get along OK on some levels and he is pretty available to our daughter, now that I refuse to let him live with us. So she is probably seeing a better relationship between her parents. I feel better that, after many days that seemed hopeless and I was hysterical, I am standing up for what I know is best for my daughter and me. Being a single parent is a lot of work and it takes a lot of organization and energy. It took some trial and error to decide what was necessary to do and what was not. Good Luck.


I am married to a man with a preteen daughter. We have been together since she was a toddler and I believe that doing what is right for you is what is right for your child(ren). My stepdaughter is very well adapted to the situation as she really knows no differently--we have lived as far as 3000 miles away from her to now only 30 miles away--what she benfits from is the fact that her parents are better parents to her apart than they would have been together. It will be the older child that has the problem, if any, having to experience your split at an older age.

And it is comendable to be concerned for her well-being as well. My suggestion to you is a) move out and to where you have support--that is key, if your family is in LA, than there it is and b)it doesn't sound like your husband is that concerned wit! h what happens to the children as he is putting his needs first, not theirs or yours, for that matter. Do not stay together for the children, it's been my experience that this never works.

My husband and I also have a daughter and even though we only see my step daughter once or twice a month (and we are only 30 miles away!) she has excellent relationships with both her dad and her sister. Remember it's about quality not quantity. Good luck


Should I stay or should I go?

July 2003

I'm wondering about my marriage and if I'm doing the right thing by staying with my husband. He's a hard worker and a great dad to our 5 yr old daughter and 3 yr old son. He went into a cave for the first two years of my son's life and so I finally filed for divoce after a year of counseling (where he had multiple reasons for wanting a divorce but wouldn't do anything about it).

He moved out for two weeks and then ''came to his senses'' and moved back in. The divorce papers were never finalized. He actually talks to me now have we have sex about 1/month. The kids even seem happier. But our marriage is really so ''business like.'' We have our routines, never yell at each other, our chores are split evenly. But we have lost our love for each other, it seems. I realized when he was in his cave how different we are. Rarely does he look me in the eye, rarely do we have meaningful discussions, and he's pretty uninterested in spending time with me alone. I think it is inevitable that we will divorce at some point, and he refuses to go to counseling again.

My current thought is to wait and see what happens when my little guy is at least 5 years old. But without counseling and any real intamacy, I fear we are doomed. What would you do in my situation? By the way, my friends and family think he's gay.


I don't know enough about your situation to recommend whether you should stay in your marriage, but I do have something to say about people who stay in a marriage ''for the kids.'' I was the child of a couple who stayed together because of their kids. My parents had a loveless marriage that also had a lot of other problems (like verbal abuse) that it sounds like you don't have. Something I think people don't think about when they stay in their marriage for their kids is that they are teaching their kids what a marriage/relationship is/should be like. After learning from my parents, I had a very hard time for years in finding or accepting a healthy relationship. I basically didn't know what a loving relationship looked like. So remember, you are teaching your daughters what to expect from their husband and vice versa. In retrospect, I would have benefited more from the example of a strong mother who was brave enough to get out of a wrong relationship than from the example of an unhappy marriage. anon
I suggest reading ''Too Good to Leave Too Bad to Stay'' by Mira Kirshenbaum. Anon
Hello, I am so sorry to hear of your pain. But please, if you possibly can, read ''The Wonder of Boys'' before you make any decisions. For your son. I wish you peace in your decision. A fellow mom of a boy
I'm sorry to hear that you're in this unsettled position. I wonder if you've directly talked about your situation and options with your mate. What were his reasons for leaving, for returning? What were your feelings before he left, while he left and when he returned? What good is advise from others, when you and your mate are the ones who know the situation best and have to deal with the consequences of any decision? I say that because I too have pondered divorce but discovered that asking for opinions only made me realize how personal and individual the decision is. It's much easier to make judgements when you are removed from the situation and have no emotional attachments. Do you too think your spouse is gay but not yet able to acknowledge it? Why do you think your children are happier now than ever? Why do you think you'll end up divorcing anyway? From my experience, the best advice is advice that asks you to ask yourself hard questions. good luck
I can't imagine being with/living with someone as a husband/partner when I don't feel we love eachother for two more years. I believe in couples therapy. I also believe in individual therapy. If you can do both of these and work things out, that's great. It may also help you see if things won't work out. If my partner was unwilling to seek help from a counselor and unwilling to address the issues at hand, I would have a hard time staying. Especially b/c I think it's more important for kids to see adults in healthy relationships, and sometimes that means adults living apart but still sharing child rearing duties. Take this with a grain of salt b/c only you can know what needs to be done. Good luck! anon
My parents were in an unhappy marriage for many, many years. There was nothing ''wrong'' with the marriage (as my mom pointed out to me once, my dad provided for the family; didn't drink; didn't gamble; didn't hit her) except that they were unhappy and didn't love each other. It took several years for my mom to realize this was reason enough to leave him, and she did. This was when I was a freshman in college and my brother a freshman in high school. One night that summer when I was home from college we were talking and she told me that she wished she had left my dad years before, and the main reason for this was not because she was so much happier now -- but because my brother was. And it was true; I realized it immediately. Nobody had noticed because it happened so gradually, I think, but my brother had become a sullen, angry, slightly overweight kid. In a word, unhappy. In just the few months since the separation, he was more outgoing.... I have no doubt (and neither does my mom) that this was a direct result of her leaving my dad and taking my brother out of that unhappy home. Please think of this as you are making your decision. Best wishes - I know it is an excrutiatingly difficult choice. anonymous, please

Stay with bipolar husband for the kids?

April 2003

I've been back and forth about separating from my husband but worry about how it will affect our child. The biggest reason for separating has to do with my husband's mood disorder (bipolar, depression, hyperchondria and more) and his refusal to help himself. Won't take medication or seek some alternative treatment. Just finds some satsifaction in his misery and makes life so difficult for me and our son. I have given up although sometimes there is a glimmer of hope when he is having a good moment (never a good day though.) I'd like to hear from those divorced parents how their kids have faired. Seems like a no brainer that if the relationship is not good it can't be doing the child good but part of me feels it's so nice for a child to have both father and mother in the household (and maybe particularly a father if the child is a boy.) anon


I want to say first of all that I'm really sorry that you're going through this, and second that it's a tough decision to make, and your decision to make, taking into account what is best for your child. All I can do is tell you what I've gone through, and of course I don't have time for the whole story. I was in a very similar situation two years ago, and my omotoa; feeling when my now ex-husband started to go downhilll emotionally/psychologically was to try to keep the family together for the kids' sake. However, after a cup was thrown at my daughter by her dad, after he began to throw and break the children's things in anger and run roaring and screaming into our bedroom, threatening suicide, it began to seem clear to me that the kids were not well served by being around dad full-time. Now, I'm in a somewhat uncomfortable joint-custody situation, but at least my kids are more emotionally and physically safe and healthy, at least during the days and times they're with me. My divorce has been much, much happier for me and the children than the marriage was. anon
You'll obviously need to sort out all this yourself but I just thought that I would give the prespective of a child of divorce (s). A single parent raising a child can do it- is it harder sure- but totally doable. My mom and I have an incrediably close relationship as I do with all of my dads. The separation of parents, I feel, is far less painful than either living in a bad situation or having a bad divorce. Kids need good role models not just a male and female model. Kids adjust, frankly, faster than most adults do. So don't stay together for the kids- you may have other compelling reasons to stay but I don't think the kids should THE reason. The one piece of advice I would give is to NOT bad mouth the spouse no matter what they might be doing. This is damaging to the child who may feel in some way that they are responsible for the parent's bad behaviour and that it reflects on them because its their parent. I think kids are happiest when their parents are happy, when their environment is steady and loving and that can be acheived in either a single parent home or a two parent home. Good luck to you. Juliette
I was in your situation 15 years ago. It's a hard time.

I made the decision to separate from my husband when he refused to take medication and our lives became too erratic, uncontrollable and unpredictable. I did not want to live like that and I knew it was not good for the children.

However, even if you separate, you and your child will still be dealing with your husband whether you are living with him or not. There's custody and visitation and birthdays and holidays and weekends and vacations, etc. which will all need to be negotiated and then may or may not happen.

But the value of separation is that at least there is a place and a parent that is predictable and available when the dad is not. Separation will affect your child (sometimes positively, sometimes negatively); having a bipolar dad affects him.

The result to date:
my ex-husband committed suicide 3 years ago
the older child is in college, incredibly bright, artistic, sociable, and empathetic as he meets people with problems. the younger child is in high school, 4.0 GPA and very athletic with a wide circle of friends.
I'm remarried, finally financially secure. It took 5 years for me to get to a place where I could consider remarriage and a good 10 years to recover.

I think I made the right decision. I could not have been as good a mother to my children if I had stayed married. As it was, they did not receive good mothering for several years, but it was for a limited time.

I hope this is helpful. I had written 2 more paragraphs of advice and ideas (but that wasn't what you asked!) so if you want to contact me directly, please let the moderator know and she can give you my email. Out the other side


Beginning to think about divorce

October 2003

My husband and I are thinking of separating/divorcing and we have a 5 year old and a 2 year old that we plan to parent jointly. I would appreciate any advice on how to start the process, keeping what is best for the kids in the forefront (even starting with the question, is there hope for a happier couple and family life after divorce or is it better to stick it out till the kids are older?) Specifically, I'd like resources on how to find a mediator (what is his/her role exactly? do I need a lawyer instead in case things get mean?), how to find affordable rental housing near my current residence (how do we pay for 2 households that the kids will feel good being at?), and how to best tell and help the kids (is Kids' Turn useful? how do we know what kind of parenting agreement is best?). As you can tell, I am at a loss as to how to approach all the considerations of this sad situation and I really do not know anyone who is separated/divorced at this stage of life. Any words of wisdom would be appreciated. Thanks.


Hello. I would like to respond to your post as a child of divorce. I am an adult now, and have very strong feelings about divorce. First I would say that above all happy parents make happy children. Do not stay in a situation that makes you not be the best people you can be for the sake of the children - it doesn't work. Your children will in time understand that you have made the best decision for them and for you. With that said, my strongest piece of advice is to NEVER speak badly about the other parent. Respect and keep the parent/child relationship sacred - no matter what happens between the two of you. My mother still 25 years later refuses to say anything bad about my father - even though he is a challenging person to love. She made a promise to herself to support us through our relationship with him and she has kept that promise. It means a great deal to my sister and me. Divorce is something that stays with you - understand that and help your children to deal with it throughout this process and beyond. It is one of the things that happens to you in life - it's how you choose to deal with it and learn from it that makes the difference. And as the parents of small children how you deal with it now will shape how they deal with it in the future. It is hard enough to deal with the kid aspect of it - keep them far away from the adult parts - it makes you grow up too fast - keep the childhood innocence in tact as long as you can. I wish you all the best of luck. Megan
It sounds like so far, you two are getting along better than some divorcing couples. My partner has been going through one of the nastiest divorces I have ever heard of (6 years since separation and the house-sale proceeds still have not been settled....). First, I would say that as a child of divorced parents and now as a step-parent, I whole-heartedly stand behind divorce if the parents truly cannot make a happy house-hold. I am VERY glad that my parents did not stay together and I know that my partner would be a shell of a man if he had stayed in his previous marriage. That said, you have to determine if it is the best course since it takes a rare couple to keep things civil after the separation begins. All kinds of things crop up (I have sat in court listening to couples argue over who gets which photos of the dog - probably paying each attorney $200-300 an hour). I certainly do not intend to criticize you or your spouse, but you never know someone until you divorce them.

So, that said, I would recommend that you first try to make agreements on visitation with the kids, then on finances (the most troublesome issue for divorcing people). See how the negotiating goes before calling in outside help - I think a total of $100,000 has been spent on my partner's divorce between the two of them and his ex hasn't been paying attorney's fees for the past 2 or 3 years. Personally, I would not put anything in writing unless you add the caveat that it is not an agreement, but a work in process until you are satisfied. I would also consult a lawyer as a back-up for two reasons: things may get mean, and you two probably won't realize all the details involved in separating the two households (who gets to use the kids as a deduction, who gets to order school pics, who gets Christmas/Thanksgiving/Hannukah/etc?).

There is a GREAT book that we have (and would have liked to use more in dealing with his ex) called ''How to Avoid the Divorce from Hell'' by M. Sue Talia. It was recommended to us by the financial arbitrator/consultant that analyzed their house monies and credits/reimbursements.

As far as discussing things with the kids.... I really have no idea. My partner separated from his ex when their daughter was a few weeks old. My parents split when I was 5. We have had a much easier experience with step-parenting than many of the other step-moms I know simply because my step-daughter has never known her father without me (I do not have the ''interloper'' title). In that sense, it can be easier to separate earlier rather than later. Kids are pretty resilient and as long as both parents can cooperate, then the situation can be beneficial to everyone.

I wish you lots of luck. Keep your eyes wide-open and don't be surprised by anything - both good and bad. anon


Excellent mediation & referral services available at the Berkeley Dispute Resolution Service: http://www.bdrs.org peter
Start by contacting your county's family court. In Contra Costa County it is required that all parents (married or not needing a separation agreement) attend a mediation orientation. My husband and I learned so much from the orientation; we are now working much harder to resolve the issues that caused our separation. anon
I don't know all the gory details of course, but my initial thoughts were that your very questions should be key in deciding whether to divorce or not. Do the benefits of divorcing outweigh the expense of keeping two homes, the grief of your children, the scheduling hassles, the huge pressure of you being a single mom, etc. etc.? I mean, is it possible to sacrifice some personal ''happiness'' or desire for excitment or romance for the good of the entire family? I know that sounds a lot like telling you to consider ''staying together for the kids,'' but is there some other, creative or open way to consider making the arrangement work for the good of the whole? Just a thought, from someone who's been there herself. Good luck Been there, didn't do it.
I divorced about 7 years ago. Then my daughter was almost 5. We had gone to couselling for several years and realized that it just wasn't going to work. We didn't want to set examples of unhappy parents in an unhappy marraige for our daughter. We then went to a mediator to help us with a seperation agreement. We were both on the same page concerning our daughter, we didn't want her to be without one of us and both were trying to keep her interests at the forefront (though, as you can imagine, that was hard at times!). I would recommend a woman named Nancy Foster at the Northern California Mediation Center in Corte Madera in Marin. I don't know if she is still there, but I thought she was fair and really kept us on track. We went about 4 times. We ended up using that agreement as the official divorce agreement and changed not a word even though the lawyer we hired to make it legal was itching to rewrite it. We had to insist that it not be changed! I'm not sure if you need to hire a lawyer if you have your agreement and it is an amicable seperation. I think the court will go over what child support is for either of the parents. We did that in mediation also.

We also went to Kids Turn. My ex didn't want to go the first time around. Then within the year our daughter asked to go again. He went with her the second time. We both got a lot out of it and so did our daughter apparently, the fact that she wanted to go again!

I'm making it sound easy, but it wasn't. The emotional part was very difficult, but luckily neither of us wanted or needed a big fight in court, etc. We had very little ''property'' so those weren't issues for us. Money was tricky at times and was probably the hardest part to talk about (still is for that matter!), but that could be individual.

Good Luck! You need to go into survival mode for a lot of this stuff (moving, et al.), but eventually you will be settled and can relax into your new life. anon


I'm so sorry to hear that your marriage is possibly falling apart. I am divorced and have children your age. I would be happy to share my experiences with mediation, lawyers, court etc. as I have gone through it all. It depends a lot on your own situation what might work best, but can tell you what I know. Feel free to contact me by e-mail. ym
First I am sorry to hear about you and your husband are thinking about divorcing. I am currently at the tailend of one myself (1.5 years later). I would recommend this private child custody mediator in Downtown Oakland, Jacqueline Karkazis @ 510-452- 2034. You should definitely consult an attorney. Even if things don't get ''mean'', at least you'd know where you stand. I would recommend Greg Silva @ 510-865-7350. You need to be honest with the attorney about your financial situation perhaps he can give you a better picture than what you are invisioning.

Lastly, I hope you and your husband have gone through couples counseling before you make any decisions on divorce. Please try all other avenues before splitting. At least you can't say you didn't try hard in staying together. M


It's been a while since the original post, but I wanted to respond to this query... thinking about divorce is such a big step, and emotions can run wild. A few resources which helped me think more clearly might be of use to you as well. I spoke with other women who had recently gone thru divorce. This was a tremendous support, and also gave me the chance to hear what issues might require extra thoughtfulness. It is important to really see that you can survive the transition, even tho it looms large and complex.

I went to visit the Nolo Press bookshop and spent a good chunk of an afternoon looking thru their books on divorce, joint parenting, finances, etc. I bought the books I thought most comprehensive... others I checked out from the library.

Also: Should I Stay or Should I Go? by Lee Raffel, M.S.W. and Too Good to Leave Too Bad to Stay by Mira Kirshenbaum were both great at articulating the ambivalence, and suggesting tools to find one's own clarity.

I began work with a great local therapist (Carol Jenkins) to take a closer look at my fears and my hopes about marriage/life/ speaking out. I also did some research... For example, when I read about mediators, I then spoke to several to get an idea of the path ahead. I spoke to a child psychologist about my concerns (I have a young child) and when we were about to physically separate my husband and I met with her to discuss how we would talk to our son about the divorce.

All of this was extremely helpful to me. All things considered our family is doing well, six months post-separation. I understand the enormity of your decision and would be happy to share my resources/books with you at any time. Best of luck to you! dearsooz


Don't want to move out (therapist says I should)

January 2003

My husband and I have been going to couples therapy for a few months and we decided its time to split up for a variety of reasons, but in a nutshell he has tried to cut me off from my friends and family, and completely failed to support me emotionally.

The whole time we have been together I have always been the sole wage earner and supported him financially, even before I got pregnant and had our now one year old. After the baby was born, he has been the primary caregiver while I work two jobs to support us. I asked him if he would stick around the area if we split up and the baby stayed with me and he said probably not, so this would involve finding care for the child and paying someone to do it, which I'm willing to do. But, at our therapy session, the therapist suggested that I move out of our apartment, find my own place to live and pay him what I would pay a child care provider so that he can continue living in our place and taking care of the child while I work. This just doesn't feel right, although I do see that from the perspective of the child, it would provide the least disruption and allow a continued relationship with the father, to the extent that that is a good thing. But first of all, even the most expensive daycare wouldn't cost as much as rent and expenses of the apartment. Second, I am still nursing, and I don't want to wean the baby just because we are splitting up. But perhaps more importantly, I think I would be very resentful continuing to support him.

Am I being selfish to not want to move out and give up custody? I think I have always felt taken advantage of by him and I don't want the act of splitting up to be one more chance for him to take advantage of my generosity. I have tried to assess whether I would feel differently if I were in his position and I was sahm and he was the wage earner, but I really think the situation is not comparable, because if that were the case I think I would just want exactly the same situation I want now-- to have custody, find child care, and work a job(s) to support me and the child. Help! I don't know how to think about this, and I really feel betrayed by the therapist. anonymous


OK, so your husband has a long history of manipulation, trying to cut you off from family and friends, being nonsupportive both finacially and emotionally--all classic signs of an abusive relationship. If you let him have custody, while you continue to work, rent a separate apartment, and support him financially, you're essentially ceding him all the power in your relationship. I would think that once he has physical control of your child that he will become even more manipulative and will use your child's welfare as a control over you. Your therapist was so off base on this one that I shudder to think what other advice he/she has given you and others. A leopard doesn't change it's spots and neither will your husband. Move out with your child, start divorce preceedings so that one day you can cut this looser off for good, find good childcare, and start building a better life. You deserve it and so does your kid. anon
You do not have to do ANY thing your therapist suggests. I would just try to keep in mind that anything your therapist suggests is just that, a *suggestion.* Only YOU can know what is right for you. Any therapist that tries to say that he or she knows what is best for you is probably incompetent and should be avoided--not that your therapist is saying this, I don't know about that. At any rate, I think you should go with your instincts. Your child is only one year old, so separating from your husband will not be so traumatic for her - it's not as if she will be permanently, irreperably damaged by it. It would be a different matter if she were four or five, but at one -year, she will recover quickly. Besides, how commited can your husband be if he's really willing to leave if you don't continue to support him? (Although, that just sounds like an attempt at blackmail, to keep you from withdrawing your financial support).

I say, move on with your life. I think this therapist is suggesting an alternative that may ultimately require you to perpetuate what sounds like a co-dependent (or, at least, *dependent*) relationship, so I am stunned that this therapist would suggest such a thing. I think it is very irresponsible. Let this guy support himself for a change. Best of luck! ~Alesia


DON'T MOVE OUT!! I'm not a lawyer, but the way I understand how custody matters are decided in California, if the mother moves out, leaving the father with primary custody, it is construed as abandonment, even if you come back every few hours to nurse (however, dad moving out is business as usual and doesn't affect custody; why is that?). If you and your husband had an amicable relationship and breakup, custody might not be an issue, but you say this isn't the case. Some therapists do better work than others; maybe you found one that is not helpful or is just uninformed. You have better choices available to you. What you need to do right away is see a lawyer. Louise
Two things struck me as I read your letter. The first is that your husband's decision to (potentially) move away should you divorce is HIS decision and he should not have to be ''bribed'' (by having you support him and pay for his rent) to remain close to your daughter and maintain a relationship with her. He can also make the decision to stay in the area and make a living on his own. Second, it is interesting that your therapist seems to have missed a major issue for you, that is that you feel resentful, unsupported and taken advantage of by your husband. In fact, her suggestion (and it is only a suggestion, not law) that you move out and continue to support your husband so that he can remain near and care for your daughter, is exacerbating the issues you already have with your husband. I suggest that you discuss these feelings with her and let her know that you feel betrayed and upset. Also, go with your instincts and what you feel is right for you and your daughter and if this feels wrong, don't do it. Good luck
My husband and I have done some couples counseling in the past and one thing I have learned about therapy is that no matter how much we try to convey the exact situation to the therapist, and no matter how good the therapist is, s/he will never understand the whole picture. Your situation is just that, your situation, and no amount of training will allow a therapist to be able to understand your situation better than you do. All this to say that you should not let therapy or therapists cause you to distrust your instinct. You are in the situation, and your gut feelings are legitimate. It sounds like your husband has enjoyed a certain amount of a free ride on you, and if you are intent on ending your relationship, you should do so completely. Granted you have a child together and this probably will not be the end of your relationship with him, but short of a court ordered maintenance arrangement, you should promptly end your support of this man. The cost of child care is nowhere near the emotional cost that you would incur if you were to take your therapist's advice. Obey your instincts and do what you think is best for you and your child. You should be relieved to be getting out of your situation. Best of luck. anon
You should definitely seek out the advice of an attorney. Because you have been supporting your husband (I don't know how long you've been married) you could find yourself in a situation, regardless if he's taking care of your child or not, of continuing to support him financially until he get on his feet or some pre-determined time frame based on years of marriage and his skill set. This may be on top of what you would still have to pay a care giver.

So you really need the advice of a lawyer to determine which of the two arrangements would be cheapest for you and which one your husband, who may also seek legal advice, would be willing to accept. You may also want the lawyer to draw up a spousal support (not the legal term) agreement to cover living arrangement agreement and compensation for child care until you are divorced if you go this route.

I'm sorry you're going through this and wish you much luck. kim


WOW. Please, always remember that no matter how much training a therapist has, they are a human like us and can have a agenda or personal issue get in the middle of things like this! I find this to be NOT AT ALL OK. Recently, I was having trouble with my teen daughter hitting me and pushing me and screaming, you get the picture. I finally had to put her in school, she is homeschooled as a last resort (the school is really the closest to being home, thank the world for that) and then I called in a therapist desperate for intervention and a once a month moderator after intiatil issues were resovled to help us struggle through all this. It started because I asked her dad to move out due to a long, long hard road that ended one night in his raging and screaming and some mild voilence. After meeting me twice, the dad once and the daughter once, the therapist decided that the daughter did not need therapy and they we together didn't need therapy either!!!! My daughter who was angry that she had to go and deal with this took it to the bank. The therapist said she just wasn't comfortable making my daughter go when my daughter said she did not believe in therapists and didn't want to come!!!!! She is just turned 13. I was so outraged I started to cry. The therapist looked at me and asked, in front of teen, if I was willing to Make Her Come. I looked at her and instead of losing it entirely I walked out. Never would I recomend this woman who is by the way on the list of recomended therapists here in this newsletter and I am unsure if I will ever trust another one. Go with your gut here. anon
You raised a lot of important wuestions in your post, I just wanted to address one, which is your interest in maintaining a nursing relationship with your daughter during the separation. There is a family law attorney who is well-regarded for her work with couples going thru separations or divorce who are trying to keep the nursing relationship going. Her name is Elizabeth Baldwin and she is based in Florida but does phone consults and may travel. Her website is: http://www.compromisesolutions.com/ENB_desc.html I have heard her speak at conferences and she says that in most courts, the rights of the father will come ahead of those of the nursing infant. Because of this, she recommends that her clients work with a mediator to come up with a visitation and custody plan that allows the infant to maintain relationships with both parents but does not compromise nursing. That typically means daily time with the non-nursing parent, but no overnights until the child is weaned or old enough to handle a night without nursing, Best wishes working thru this difficult situation, Jen
The suggestion that you move out and support him sounds rediculous to me. It's your place!! You are a breastfeeding mom! I think you should get a new therapist who will really look out for your best interests. If your x-husband is not commited enouph to stick around the area to ensure that he has a relationship with his child, let him go. There are alot of great childcare providers. Sounds like he is just looking for a free ride. Being a single mom of a child is hard, but being a single mom of a child and a grown man is harder and aggrivating. I was there. I am so glad not to be there anymore. Me and my girl are doing great. a single mom
Please get a new therapist who can focus on your needs and your child's needs ASAP. What your current therapist is suggesting may lead a judge to believe that you left your child and could lead to a your husband being awarded full custody and alimony. How about letting your husband move out, find a job and support you staying home? It's your turn to stay home and bond with your child, besides which, you are breastfeeding. He isn't. Good luck, let us know how it turns out. anon
The fact that your husband has said that he probably will not stay in the area makes me wonder if he has a vested interest in your child. I would say that it would be better for you to put your child in day care or find another caregiver than to displace yourself and wean your baby. I'm sure it would be difficult, but not as difficult as feeling that you are being taken advantage of. LK
Let me say first off that I recommend you trust your instincts. I would also feel betrayed by a therapist who recommends that only one of you (you)is responsible for shouldering all the burden, disruption and expense entailed in splitting up, while the other (your husband) apparently sits back and continues to share none of it. That unbalanced dynamic seems to be a key element of the problem in your marriage.

Some of the elements in this situation sound a bit confused as you present them, however, so let me try to sort through what I read. You say the therapist suggested that you move out of the apt., find your own place to live and pay your husband for the child care he provides. This is not the same as suggesting you give up custody and pay all your husband's living expenses. It sounds to me like it means the child would still spend days with his father in the same apt. as he always has, but the child would go home with you (to a new place) in the evenings and, presumably, for the weekends, etc. I don't necessarily agree you should be the one who moves, though. Your husband could find his own place and come to your apt. daily to provide the child care. If your husband is not able to live on what you'd pay him for the child care, and doesn't find a way to make it work, (caring for another child at the same time?) he may decide to leave the area. So be it. He will have had a real chance to behave like a responsible partner, adult and father, and instead showed you (once again?)that he's not up to the challenge.

I don't see any reason why you should continue to be the one shouldering all the burdens involved with making this change or maintaining the status quo. If the father is only interested in sticking around and being involved with his child as long as you're willing to support him, and he won't try to be more of a partner, even at the risk of losing you both, well, who can blame you for wanting to separate?

I don't see anything at all wrong with what you say at the end of your message about what you want now. Best wishes to you


If you would like to email me, I would be happy to share advice I have read or tell you about some similar situations and how they worked out. It doesn't seem to be fair. I would think that he should be the one to move out specially if you have no family or friends to go to. (does he?)I would consult a lawyer before you move or do anything. If you have been working and he has not, I would worry about him wanting even more out of you. Your therapist may be suggesting this since you are already working 2 jobs. If you moved out you might have some space to think about what you could do. But I wouldn't pay him for childcare. Especially if he is not contributing towards his own rent and you have to go out and rent an apartment and still pay all the other bills. turtlesrus
What a difficult and painful situation. It sounds as though 1) your instincts are very trustworthy; 2) the most important thing to do is to take care of yourself and your baby and 3) that would mean the difficult but necessary task of letting your husband begin to fend for himself; 4) this might mean staying in your home and having your husband be the one to move out and 5) your therapist has indeed acted very inappropriately, more like an agent of your husband's interests than an impartial and mutually supportive sounding-board (just that the fact that the therapist is actually coaching one of you on specific actions is very problematic rather than leaving this important decision up to the two of you). I just find it outlandish that anyone - let alone a therapist - would suggest that you move out and pay your husband to stay home with your baby. You and your baby's interests should be protected and maintaining your irreplaceable bond with your infant should be paramount.

If I were in your shoes, I'd too want to see my very selfish husband move out, leaving me with primary custody, and contributing financially to the support of our child while I continued to do the same.

It might be useful to find a new therapist, all your own, who can help support you during this difficult chapter. You and your baby deserve a less biased and much more balanced and supportive arbiter in this decision.

Thanks for sharing your concerns with the digest community and best of luck with this process. I hope everything works out in a way that is most harmonious for all while still best for you and your baby. Best wishes.


Please don't move out! Trust your self and do what is best for you and your child. Your husband is a grown up and should start taking responsibility for himself (in my humble opinion!). Whatever you decide re: custody, I highly recommend you consult with an attorney before you put any formal custody agreement in place- it could be hard to change down the road if need be (I'm a family law attorney).

I also suggest finding another therapist who is solely there to support you in doing what is best for you. I think the current therapist's idea is ridiculous! (sorry, but your post really hit a nerve). There are MANY bad therapists out there and this one is pushing you to do something you clearly don't want to do which I feel is unethical. It would be different if you were a family unit, living together and he was a stay-at-home dad, because then you are sharing the burden of chosing to live on one income. But this is different.

I hope this didn't come off as too preachy- I wish you the best! anon


Your post is unclear in several respects. If you husband is the primary caregiver, and continues to be the primary caregiver, why would you have to give up breastfeeding if you split? And what does paying him to take care of the baby have to do with the cost to keep up the apartment?

At any rate, I think the therapist is trying to help you end the relationship gracefully. If this guy has free room and board, you will not be able to pry him outta there. You will have to leave the apartment. If you offer to pay him to take care of the baby, this will look generous. It is his problem if that is not enough money to live on. I suspect that he has no interest in nanny wages or the baby, and even if he agrees to take care of the baby he will not do so for long. He will likely find another woman to sponge off of. Sorry to be so harsh, but that is the way I see it. anon


Wow. I don't usually post responses to queries unless I have direct same personal experience, but I had to type on this one. 1) Get a new therapist if you are understanding them correctly. Perhaps the therapist is only suggesting you pay your husband what you would pay a caregiver to help him offset his new separate expenses??? Like an hourly wage based on local standards? I hope this is only what was meant. 2) I have a dear friend who just broke up with a long term partner (but does not have children) who took advantage of her financially for several years, despite the fact that he was able bodied and capable professionally and that it put extreme financial strain on her to singlehandedly support them in the style he expected. Granted, there was no ongoing child relationship to consider, but imagine her surprise when in parting he levelled the criticism at her on the way out that she made his irresponsibility and self esteem even worse by facillitating his dependency for those years (and the therapist agreed on that one.) Not only should you not leave your home and child to a person who is obviously less responsible than you are, but what kind of example and message will you be sending to your child if you ''reward'' the flakiness of your soon to be Ex by relinquishing your home to him, and financially sanctioning his lack of willingness to step up to the plate and assume both responsibility for himself and as a parent? Not to mention your child may feel you are abandoning them!

By the way this advice comes from a former executive now a sahm, whose husband has risen to the occasion to support our family, and who would not hesitate to return to work if it was putting stress on him and our family. Best of luck in this difficult situation, Cheryl


It sounds crazy to support him and pay him, too. Especially since his response doesn't sound very interested in the child. What about him getting a job and helping to support you and the kid? I think you need to find a new therapist right away that doesn't make you feel betrayed. Talk to other single mothers. For example, Neighborhood Parents Network has a single moms support group. (Ellen, 528-2797) Maybe somebody there can also recommend an attorney or mediator that you would be happier with. Good Luck! Sympathetic Mom
Posts like this, from spouses that seek advice about painful separation issues, do open the floodgates of response. As a witness to several separations, I (and many other observers) consistently find significant distortion, or dramatic self- serving, in the accounts of separating spouses. These stories are hard to ''decipher'' even when you're familiar with the person, their spouse, and have interpersonal cues like body language for help. An email account has none of these advantages, so is even more susceptible to distortion.

Good people who undergo relationship trauma will use any media, including a post, to alleviate pain by projecting a manipulative defense. I know I would be capable of it. But for casual readers to launch in and effectively validate this one-sided version of reality is troubling. This is especially the case when responders contradict professional advice, of which this post is not unique. Indeed, by now a regular reader of this page can expect an array of self-confirming responses from such a post. What better way for separating spouses to confirm their distrust in a lawyer, mediator, or therapist then have it reflected from a dozen literate voices. But very few separations are ''one- sided'' - of which professionals are well aware. Inevitably, a competent professional will diffuse a situation with reality- checks that are resisted from both sides. In our rather self- oriented society, this is already hard for parties to accept. So I'm not sure that a spontaneous reaction to an unverified and potentially distorted post serves the interests of the traumatized family.

Perhaps, at least, it is best when responders note their own marital background and experience, so our inevitably biased perspectives become a little more obvious. For example, I am in a long-term marriage that's overcome ebbs and flows, usually through the mutual assimilation of conflict responsibility. So perhaps I am biased towards a conflict-resolution approach, whereas a divorced person might be more attuned to pain avoidance. Brian


Alas, I couldn't offer any advice or help. But I do feel compelled to respond to Brian's recent posting.

Of course couples often distort the truth and seek revenge during the course of separating. And of course it isn't fair of us to offer support based on only one side of the story. Unfortunately, many things are unfair.

Regardless of how things came about, my heart goes out to this woman because in the midst of potentially biased information, the following (rather unfair) facts emerge quite clearly:

(1) The consequences of separation tend to fall harder on women with children. Mothers must create a secure environment even when they grieve and their own lives are falling apart; (2) Motherhood can be physically and emotionally exhausting even *with* emotional and financial support. This particular mother has neither of those; and (3) If a therapist makes the client feel betrayed, the therapist did something wrong. A good therapist should understand and respect their clients' emotional issues and boundaries sufficiently to facilitate growth and awareness of unpleasant truths, etc. without making the client feel betrayed.

I don't think that someone would post a message to half of the East Bay concerning such intensely personal matters unless they felt sincerely overwhelmed, isolated and in need of outside perspectives from a caring and knowledgeable community. Which is perfectly reasonable, since we all signed up to be part of such a community.

I appreciate your call for greater objectivity, Brian. We all should definitely consider the issues you raise. However, I also strongly believe that sometimes empathy - and hence subjectivity - is the most appropriate thing. Elisabeth


I am the original poster and I wanted to respond to Brian's thoughtful comments. Indeed, posting in this forum allows one to present a situation totally subjectively and using selective facts to describe one's position. My purpose in posting was specifically to strip away some of the details of my situation so that I could look at it from an outside perspective and try to get feedback from uninvolved parties, given the admittedly selective and biased information that I presented. As he rightly says ''What better way for separating spouses to confirm their distrust in a lawyer, mediator, or therapist then have it reflected from a dozen literate voices''. I fully admit that that is what I was explicitly looking for.

Yet not only did I get validation of my instincts (and there is nothing wrong with being told to trust one's instincts), but at the same time I received a lot of valuable perspectives on my stripped-away situation. I think Brian underestimates me and others who post seeking advice on difficult emotional and/or relationship issues when he says ''I'm not sure that a spontaneous reaction to an unverified and potentially distorted post serves the interests of the traumatized family.'' I am perfectly capable of seeing the spontaneous/emotional reactions to my situation for where they may come from and what perspective they are likely to be representing, and I know that my post was distorted and unverified...how could it not be?!! I also think he underestimates those who responded...of course they know that I haven't presented all the facts and that things may be distorted. They are not being asked to judge the verity of the information, but to respond given the admittedly limited information with which they were presented.

In giving their advice, people helped me understand the limitations of the therapist/therapy situation. Yes, some people were more vehement than others, but I found very helpful those who pointed out that maybe I hadn't made some of my issues clear and that the therapist is privy only to a finite amount of information from which to suggest resolutions and guide action (hmmm, not unlike this forum!). Yes, people ''contradicted professional advice'', but they backed up their contradictions with reasoned explanations and suggestions that I could then assimilate and use as I deemed appropriate. That was the point of soliciting advice in this forum!!

Finally, I will say that while Brian is correct that I am possibly trying ''to alleviate pain by projecting a manipulative defense'', this is not occurring in a vacuum. Of course I know that my (soon to be ex-) spouse has many good qualities and even that I am also guilty of some manipulation. I respect that Brian's marriage has overcome conflict in a way that mine has not, and that the same things that I may call manipulation he may have a more gentle term for. Nonetheless, if I *feel* manipulated, then I am, and part of extricating from this difficult relationship has been recognizing that for what it is, what it can do to a person and a family, and when it can be changed and when it can't.

That said, let me just say how grateful I am to be part of this community and thank you all for sharing your thoughtful perspectives and experiences. still remaining anonymous


To Brian, If she feels ''betrayed'' by her therapist, then, even the therapist will probably agree she should seek a new one. I didn't tell her to give up therapy, but to find one she is comfortable working with. I have been married for 10 years, and never divorced, since you wondered. I like to see couples work things out whenever possible. I still want to send that mom a hug. Anon
I am responding to follow-up post that discussed how distorted a one sided version of seperation can be. I respect that completely, but would also like to say that therapists are people, and as such, can respond to their own mental feelings and bias in their recommendations. I have had personal experience with therapists who have objectively looked at a situation and given good advice, and I have seen others that give poor advice. e

Hopeless in my marriage

August 2002

I am interested to hear how people make the decision to split up. Do you just "know" when it's too broke to fix? I've been with my husband for 4 years. Our relationship is characterised by ugly escalations. A year into our relationship, I said "couples counseling or it's over" because I was so upset by his raging, and we have been going ever since. Although it has really saved us thus far, for the past 6 months or so I've been feeling increasingly hopeless about ever getting my needs met.

The typical pattern: I express a need, he ''defends'' against it with accusation, blaming, raised voice, and it unravels from there. He gets incredibly ugly and mean - he is obviously fighting for his life and while on some level I feel compassion, I am sick of the lack of accountability for inappropriate, acting-out type behavior. I'm also very worried about how this behavior affects our 8-month old.

He's been getting treatment for clinical depression (meds and therapy) for the last 4+ months. I'm mildly codependent and focusing alot on how my stuff plays a part in it (reading books, therapy, Coda). We have both worked very hard but I am not feeling safer or more secure in our connection; if anything my trust in him is eroding. Lately he has been secretive about things, which doesn't help... he's an addictive type.

A lot of this obviously goes back to childhood, and knowing how unloving his was, I wonder if there is any hope. Do people with that degree of damage in their pasts truly heal, and if so, what does it take? And if anyone has been in a parallel situation and got divorced, what's your take on that, looking back? Thank you very much if you read this far and I appreciate any advice from those who have been in similar situations.


I can't advise whether or not to split, but I can say that I have two children and found the first year (first nine months, actually) of the babies' lives to be very challenging to our marriage. We found that the babies demanded so much of our time and attention, that we barely had time for ourselves, never mind for each other (and certainly not for things like kindness, thoughtfulness, accommodation, etc.). The situation changed quite a bit when the kids hit nine months and started sleeping through the night and generally being more independent. Since your baby is just 8 months, you may give it a couple of months before making any serious adjustments. Anon > I got out. My only regret is that I waited 2 years to do it. I don't believe that people filled with rage and blame will change so long as there is an available target. Only when they find themselves alone do they reconsider their choices.

I am now happily remarried to my perfect partner. Our 8th anniversary is coming up, and I feel just as delighted to be with him as I did the day we met.

When I run into my ex, I can't believe I was ever married to such a loser. It's incredible to me how he could wreck a perfectly a good day. Loser-free


As I read your post I actually wondered if you were married to my ex. I feel for you and I know how exhausting it is to stay in a relationship that takes more out of you than it gives in return. Years ago I was riding on a bus and feeling really horrible about myself because of a relationship that only got worse despite all the energy I put into saving it. I suddenly found myself evesdropping on two women who were discussing relationship problems. One of them said something that hit me like a bolt of lightning with its truth and simplicity. She said, ''You know, you don't HAVE to work anything out. You can just bail.'' This piece of random advice from a total stranger was exactly what I needed to hear. It occured to me that more energy I wasted on this relationship, the more I convinced myself that I had to make it work. It's true that being in love has nothing to do having a successful relationship. When I did finally break up with him, it was like quitting an addiction. Only you can tell when it's time to bail. It was one of the most difficult things I ever did, and you can do it too. Hopefully you'll find that when you spend your energy on your self and your baby, you get so much more in return. Good luck. anon
Your post made me cry. My own experience is that marriages go through good parts and awfully rough parts. For it to work there has to be some binding, unifying element. (And I don't mean having a child together.) The big worry in this situation is the child. At 8 months, you don't have much time before escalating hostilities could cement in some terrible damage to his/her basic psychological underpinnings. It sounds as if the two adults are so deeply conjoined in the mess that it's tough to untangle the habits and the mistrust. If you don't trust him (and that sounds like a pretty logical conclusion from your description), and the main component of the relationship is this tension and unhappiness, it might be a good idea to frame some sort of planned limited separation, just so both of you can figure out who you are again without the other one playing the other side of the court. I know it was the case with my first marriage. When we separated, I was shocked at how little I missed him, and, actually, how much of me I did miss. And he was a sweet guy. It just wasn't right. Do you have a support system? A group of women and/or men with whom you feel your inner feelings are safe and in perspective? Do you have your own private therapist? This is a crisis. Insurance has been known to cover such crises, if the cost is a problem. Gut level reaction on my part is that I don't like the sound of the whole marriage. But that isn't fair,of course. I wish we could talk, but the public forum is not a place for further revelations. Tobie
I was in a similar situation and did divorce because it was too much for me. I felt that my husband should have confronted and healed those issues before starting a family with me. I didn't want my children raised around that type of environment. And most of all, I wanted some peace and stability.

In restrospect, I sometimes feel like I ''wimped out'', that I should have stayed by his side, that I failed my marriage, etc. We have a pretty good relationship now but I still see that side of him, not necessarily directed at me, but sometimes I do and then I am reminded of why I left. I am still close to his family and we raise our children together so he is still important to me. I feel like I can still be there for him in a different household but he still hasn't faced that he has a serious problem and I have yet to see him get help for it. I don't know if it's bipolar, depression or what, but the characteristics you described were the same for my husband.

It is a hard decision and I don't advocate for divorce, but the way I came to my decision was to think of what would make me the happiest and that was enjoying a life that I would be completely at joy and peace; and that was sadly without him. anonymous


I just read the book, The Myth of Sanity, by Stout. It addresses the many levels of dissociation that we all use, from daydreaming to dissociative identity disorder (DID). Your patterns REALLY ring a bell, especially linking to the history of childhood trauma, and I think this book could be v. useful for both of you to read - it's a pretty quick read. On a positive note, the author does find many people heal from even the worst situations with the right insight and counseling. In my marriage, we found that while couples counseling is v. helpful, the real work and solutions to our problems come from us doing individual therapy, each working on own self to heal/grow enough to better participate in the marriage. Good luck to you. -Anonymous
Nothing is Hopeless,

As long as you are breathing there is still hope. You will not find the complete answer in counseling or in books or magazines the answers are in the Word of God.

The Word of God is a life manuel that tells you exactly how to conduct yourself right here right now, it's just up to you to decide, it your choice on if you really want to find out how to have a sucessful marriage that flourishes and grows in peace and joy and above all else Love.

I have been married for 10 years now and have seen miracles right before my eyes in regards to changes in my own marriage. The whole 10 years has not been peachy keen but the last 4 has been OUTSTANDING! For a good exposure into what Gods' promises are for your life and marriage, you and your family are welcome to come to New(it's time for something new) Light Christian Center on the Corner of Parker St. and MLK right here in Berkeley, the street address is 1841 Parker St. Bible Study is on Tueaday and Thursday Evenings at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday service at 11:00. Come out and build yourselves up on the Word of God it is a Life Saver! Anita


I came into my marriage with alot of rage and depresion. I had been in counseling for years from some heavy duty child abuse. I would often lash out at my husband (verbally) and go into rages. Ultimately, we went to couple's therapy and the therapist said point blank that my abusive behavior was unacceptable. I went on anti-depressents which helped alot. I also had to do a lot of work in therapy and learn how to manage my anger and heal my past. My husband also learned how to stand up for himself and set boundaries. We have gone through a lot, but ultimately decided we brought out the best in each other, not the worst.

I would adivse you to talk to the therapist about seting limits, determining certain types of behavior as strictly not okay (for us, it was not calling each other names, and me not throwing things). It is possible that your husband needs to be on different meds (although it can take a while for any meds to kick in). It is also possible that you are in a domestic violence situation, and that he will be abusive regardless of his treatment. I would talk to the therapist about his behavior to see if this might be a possibility. If he exhibits signs of a batterer, then he needs treatment for that as well. Some of these signs include controlling behavior, extreme jealously, putting you down or criticizing you clothes, cooking, etc. Please talk to the therapist or someone, because the ''ugly'' raging you describe could escalate and you might get hurt. I hope this helps and does not add to your confusion. Best of luck. anon.


I was very struck by this posting ''Hopeless in my Marriage.'' The responses that I saw were about how to stay together, but you seem to be asking the question how to decide not to stay together. I am currently separated and am divorcing my husband of nearly nine years. We have a 3-year old. Your description of your relationship sounds almost identical to my own. I commend you on how clearly you seem to understand the situation from a psychological standpoint. It wasn't until I had a similar understanding about my relationship with my husband that I began to make the decisions and set the stage for what is now an amicable breakup. I can hardly believe it myself. Even a year ago I wouldn't have been comfortable with the decision to divorce and even refused to discuss it in concrete terms with my husband. Both of us were reluctant to admit it.

I made the decision to divorce my husband after therapy with a wonderful and supportive person. I actually went into therapy with the idea that I was not doing what I wanted in life - nothing was really working for me - and I needed to understand my own value system. I was confused and unclear as to how to proceed. Through therapy and some very wonderful discussions with my best friend, I began to identify what kind of life and relationship I needed. [For some this may sound trivial, but for me it was a first.] In the beginning, I would express my needs and he would react as your husband did, (i.e., defensive, angry, blaming, rude, cruel, mean, and very loud - he was so unreasonable). My husband had anger issues and continually raged in the house, yet was not very communicative. [Many of our fights were about lack of communications]. He also treated my friends rudely. His anger created so much chaos in the house. I felt that my husband disregarded my son's happiness and wellbeing by uncontrolled outbursts.

I also studied the Bible with a Christian friend who is very knowledgeable on the Christian viewpoint. She helped me sort out the idea of responsibilities in a relationship and in a marriage. The Bible seems to be very sensible about what responsibilities adults have to each other and their children in a marriage, such as, kindness, support, leadership, love, tenderness, flexibility, open-heartedness, forgiveness, among others. Since I wasn't in a relationship that fostered these ideals, it seemed then I had to try to find out what the problem was. So, I decided to start with myself, instead of just blaming my husband.

In therapy, I began to realize that our frustration for each other was borne out of the very different needs that we had. It took some very delicate discussions with my husband to let him hear me out, and understand that I was miserable in the marriage. I had already decided by then that there were too many behaviors (both his and my reaction to them) that were stressful and distasteful to me for our marriage to work. Nearly nine years of proof told me that he wasn't going to change his very negative ways. But it was really my standing my ground and changing my own behavior that demonstrated to me that my husband wasn't going to change. In one of our delicate conversations, we had been discussing our needs as individuals and our expectations out of the marriage, when all the pieces came together. It seemed that he too was frustrated by our lack of compatibility, among other issues. Finally, I told him that I didn't want to remain in the marriage (still wasn't using the ''d'' word), and he agreed. It was only a couple of weeks later that we separated.

Now that we are separated, and are preparing our divorce, it seems that he is still the same angry person. Though, we talk more than ever, and we both feel free from the disappointment of our marriage. We really wanted to minimize the damage we have already done to our son from our poor relationship and the chaos in the house. We have collaborated to the best of both of our abilities to make the transition a very productive and loving experience for our son. I am hopeful for a peaceful and happy future with my ex- husband remaining a positive part of my life through my son.

At the end of this story, I guess I can't exactly say what were the criteria, except owning my own happiness (i.e., what were my needs and then pursuing them in a positive way) that made the decision unfold. I also realized that I couldn't have made the decision any sooner, because I just wasn't 'there' yet, so to speak. I only had the information and ability to process it recently. I might have been able to do it earlier on, but I wasn't ready somehow. A great person once said to me ''things are exactly as they should be.'' I realized, in this process of divorce, that I really needed to learn something from my marriage, and I did. Then I could move on.

If your husband is like my husband, however, it may be very difficult to get the kind interaction that allows for ''unfolding'' to occur, and then as a result, to have any resolution with your husband. I image that our divorce would be a lot more contentious if we didn't take the time to talk about our needs. I strongly recommend that you evaluate what your needs are, in whatever way is best for you, and begin to look for that in your life. I suppose we should all be doing that, but for confusing relationships that may mean putting an extra effort toward that goal. For me, my son's happiness and wellbeing, great(!) friends, paying my bills, and tranquility in my home are foremost. After that, it's all icing. anonymous


I wanted to thank the person who posted Hopeless in My Marriage. Even though I am a happily married woman with 2 children, I was impressed and moved by the woman's clear thinking and well written description of what happened to her marriage. Everything she said was right on the nose, from the talking about one's needs with their spouse before things get bad, the Christian viewpoint on loving relationships, and her making a stand and changing her behavior first. Congratulations on 'getting healthy' emotionally, and thank you for sharing your personal-growth experience. I love this network. anon

How to get out of a marriage

May 2002

I am feeling desparate to get out of my marriage. We've been married going on 11 years and I have brought up wanting a divorce many times. He refuses to go. And since I have a son (his stepson), lots of animals, tools of my trade that require a lot of storage space and zero financial flexibility, i.e. no savings and no means of saving, and tons of bills (including credit card bills), I feel that it would be much easier for him to go than for me. (We rent.) But he won't; he says if I want a divorce, I should go, then he forgets we ever had the conversation and can't understand why I'm not affectionate! It's driving me nuts. I admit that I got myself into this mess and not being able to get out of it makes me feel so desparate sometimes that I think the only way out is to leave the planet (especially when ''pms''ing and now entering perimenopause). It feels like a very slow death. Being 50 also feels limiting as far as my options are concerned (20 or 30 years ago, it would have been easy for me to go). I can't afford a therapist right now; have been to a few who really didn't help me fundamentally with my problems (not specifically this issue). Has anyone been in the same boat? What in the world did you do? I have no family nor friends to turn to - pretty pathetic. He is a good man having done a lot for my son and me, but passionless with no libido, not adventuresome and not interested in a circle of friends. The shared interests we have are his own interests he brought to the marriage; very few of the ones I brought. Help!


I would suggest getting some kind of support system in place before you try to get out. It's very difficult to do such a transition without people to help you. I got out of a marriage about 8 years ago, and I have never regretted it for one instant even though it was the hardest thing I have ever done. But I would not have been able to do it without the support system I developed.

When I first began to be unhappy, I had only one close friend and really no outside interests. What did I do? I joined a therapy group, much cheaper than one-on-one ($100/mo. at that time), loads of support, and one woman from that group is now my best friend. I also joined a folk dancing group and got to know people there. You say you have a trade. Reach out to others involved in it. You have to stop putting all your eggs in one basket. I found that, although I couldn't rely on one person for everything, I could rely on several friends for many things.

I know I did a lot of thinking about how can I get my husband to move out, how I am going to work out this and that, and it seemed like it was productive, but in retrospect, I see that it wasn't. It was me procrastinating and not wanting to face a lot of hard stuff. He was just as mean to me as I had always been afraid of when I finally told him seriously that I wanted a divorce, but when I had got to that point, I found that things did work out. But if you aren't clear with yourself first about why you're in a situation with a man who isn't compatible, you have few financial resources, and no family or friends to turn to, I'm afraid you'll find that this situation continues or another similar one pops up. The therapy I did helped me get that clear. It can be expensive, but it can be cheaper psychically than having your energy sucked away by a crummy life situation. The therapist I used was Pete Walker in Lafayette. He also supervises interns who are much cheaper ($25/hr?). But there are lots of therapists and groups out there. Make sure you find one that is non- blaming and non-judgmental. You don't need someone telling you you're not ok. You are. anonymous


I was in a similar situation a few years ago when I was about 40. Not a terrible marriage but just a discouraging one that was gradually getting worse every year. I felt like I was slowly sinking. I didn't realize at the time it was a bad marriage - I thought there was something wrong with me, so I never thought of splitting up, and anyway I was terrified to go off on my own ... I went back to school, met some interesting people, and realized that I could have a happy life instead of a sad one, and this gave me the strength to take action. I did go to a marriage counselor at my husband's request but it was clear I wasn't interested in staying with him, so she told me that I should move out, the sooner the better. That was a shock. I was expecting him to move out, not me, and certainly not right away. I had even been looking for apartments for him. But the therapist had a point - the breakup was my idea, so I should be the one to leave. I moved into my sister's living room some miles away. There was no room for my kids to stay overnight; it was so awful to be separated from them. I didn't have a car - we only had one car and my husband kept it because he had the kids and they were in school - so I couldn't get over to see them more than a few times a week. After a while I moved into a communal house where my kids could live too, had a new boyfriend whom I married a few years later. It was a very very difficult time for me, hard for my husband, hard for the kids. I'm sure I would not have done it if I hadn't had a new relationship giving me hope for better times. Things did get better, and things continue to get better and better every year in my new marriage. I am so glad that I did take that action. But it was a difficult one to take, and not one that I would lightly recommend. But if you have no hope it will get better, then I would recommend looking for a houseshare, and moving out with your son. Maybe you have to leave the animals behind. Maybe you have to rent storage space for your stuff. But your husband has no motivation to move out so I think you are going to have to be the one to take the action. I wish you luck and hope you can find some ''inspiration'' for making the change. Anonymous
It sounds to me like you're trying to find a scape goat for your unhappiness. Face it - you are depressed! Don't make your husband, your lack of finances, or anything keep you from being yourself and enjoying the things you're entitled to. I don't know if you need to leave your husband to do this, he may surprise you by supporting your decision to change. It's worth a try to incorporate some of your desires into your life and see how it goes with him. You're being classically passive by blaming everything and everyone around you for what's wrong with YOU! Get some therapy, possibly antidepressants. If you dig around a little, I'm sure there are low-cost alternatives for therapy, or, can you use your husband's benefits? Act now, get happy! anon
I have not been in your position before, but my sense is that for your own well being and that of your son do whatever it takes to get out of your marraige. Whether this means going to a women's shelter or taking a step down in accomodations, you need to leave and go through with the divorce. You may not feel that there any friends to turn to now, but they are just waiting to be discovered. Seek them out, members of support groups or shelters. My parents divorced when I was very young (6) but I know the impact that conflict brings to a child. Removing the conflict will bring more stability to your son's life and your own. You may not realize it but your son knows and senses your internal conflicts and unhappiness. In the short run the divorce may seem daunting, but keep the long run in mind and you can make it. Good luck. quinlan
DO NOT COMMIT SUICIDE. Your son loves you and needs you, whatever his age. As long as he is around, you have at least that one compelling reason to live. Do not leave him.

As far as solving your problems, my advice may not be the most popular, but I think it is the most practical: Learn to live with what you've got. Highlight the positive, downplay the negative, and begin to slowly build up the resources, independence, and support networks that you need -- and by the way, you need them even if your marriage is fantastic.

Here are my specific suggestions, in order of importance:

Depression -- Ok, so how do you make it through the day? Therapy is great, but VERY expensive. There are some low-cost options, but still. ...

I recommend that you talk to your doctor and try some medication. Even just to help you through for a short period of time. I say that not because I like think drugs can solve a problem (I DON'T), but because it may simply be the quickest, cheapest way for you to get immediate help -- if you have health insurance that covers it. I've tried some of them and they helped -- although I didn't like the side effects, which is why I wouldn't take that stuff long-term.

Another and possibly better option is over-the-counter stuff, natural and otherwise, that you can buy at the store. Depending on your health plan, this may not be cheaper. (I use these pills called ''Calms'', made by a company called Hylands. They work better for me than Zoloft or Effexor, the Rx drugs my doc had me try. Lots of people say that St. John's Wort helps; I don't know.) Could menopause be contributing to your difficult feelings? I bet yes. Again, talk to the doc. Pills could help.

Support -- You said you don't have any. Find some. Join a reading club, a sewing circle, a jogging or walking or hiking group, the Sierra Club, a political group. Get involved with some organization and start forming relationships and looking for like-minded people that whom you like. We all need people, and women in particular need other women to talk to. It may be hard in the beginning, but it will really pay off in the long term.

Finances -- Is there another job you can do that would earn more money? Can you consolidate and begin to pay off your credit cards? Try to be frugal, and find help. There are lots of organizations set up to help people in debt.

Your relationship/Sex -- You said yourself that he's a good man. That's enough, isn't it? I mean, count yourself lucky already. If you're not having good sex, buy yourself a vibrator and develop an elaborate fantasy life. As far as your husband being passionless and not wanting a circle of friends; he just sounds like a traditional guy to me. Lots of men are like that. That is why you need to make some women friends -- your problem is that you are just expecting too much from one person.

Don't wreak havoc on the lives of the only three people that you have any connection to (your son, yourself, and your husband) because you want better sex, more adventure, and more affection. You can do those things on your own, separately. As it is, you have a good home, a secure future, enough to eat, and a decent life, which is more than 80 percent of the people on this planet have.

IF ALL ELSE FAILS -- Just remember that women typically live longer than men by a substantial number of years. Eat carefully, excercise a little, and you'll probably just outlive him.

hoping to help


If the situation is as you say, the one thing you can do to remove your husband from the picture is to get a restraining order against him. I know it sounds drastic, but you've already stated there is a problem and he refuses to leave. You would need to file for divorce and get the restraining order at the same time to show just cause. A court order will make him leave. He will need a police escort to come back and collect his things. You didn't say if the place you live in was yours or his first or if you moved in jointly.

It doesn't sound like you have a very good relationship and the longer you put it off the harder it is going to be to get him out. You need to think of your son and yourself and do whats right for the both of you. One other thought, you didn't say if joint counseling had come up or would help the situation.

I would use the restraining order as a last resort. I have friends who have used it quite effectively. These woman were housewives their entire married lives and their husbands basically told them they weren't getting anything if they walked out the door, so they got the restraining orders and the husbands got the boot. Either way, you need to consult a lawyer. I believe this site has some references you could look through for advice on finding one. This site also has support groups for women in your situation. Get into one. They don't cost anything and you'll be amazed at how much better you'll feel knowing you're not the only one. anon


I have been in your situation before and I sympathize very much so I must point out a couple of things for you to think about. You are basing you logic and your request on a very self-centered (not in a bad way) point of view. In your opinion it is easier for him to move out. But it is only easier for you. He does not want to move out. Staying is easier for him. You are asking him to put himself out (literally) to make your life easier, when he seems content with things the way they are. He doesn't seem to believe you really mean it either.

This man is not mistreating you. He is not interested in what you are interested in and you are not leading the life you want to lead. Because of him?

Let me suggest the following:Make a list of what it is that you want. Friends? A social life? More interesting activities? A passionate relationship?

Make a list of what you don't want. Proceed to get what you want regardless of his interest in it. Do it without him. Go out. Socialize. Get interested in your own interests. End the realtionship. (I did this though he did not leave. I expected him to move into the spare bedroom - after all my bedroom had been my bedroom before he came along - but he refused and I ended up moving into the spare bedroom). Begin to structure and build your new life. Eat separately if you want, go out, etc. Take care of the unhappiness in your life and realize that unless he is directly causing it, it will still be there when he's gone.

The point of doing these things is twofold. 1. You will be searching for what you want to do, be etc. 2. He may believe you are serious about ending the relationship (right now he obviously does not believe you).

In my situation, my husband eventually left. He could not afford to keep our house, I could. If I had left, he would have had to leave anyway. But what made the difference was that I started to live my own life. I became happier even while he was there (though it was not easy having him there - he was somewhat verbally abusive). He would not leave, but eventually he realized that I was moving on anyway, that I was serious about it and he left. It took about four months. Good luck Anon


GEE WHIZ!!!! Wait a minute! The most key element in divorce is money. Money issues can last a liftime, while, with due work, grief, anger, bewilderment can be worked through in less than a lifetime. You sound broke. Can you earn a living? Can you earn a living that will allow you to remain in the bay area and live with some aplitude? 50 years is the beginning of delight. However, without work of real meaning and real monetary reward what do you have to allow you to remain here in well being? You sound miserable. However rotten he is, you need to find out who YOU ARE and get yourself together on your own road. Maybe then you can reacclimate to each other or you can go on alone in your own glory! anonymous for a reason!
Hello ; I understand you so very much in all the situations you're having right now; one of the things that had helped me is start working ;going out with some friends and speaking up my problems; I was feeling very bad ,my ex-husband was very violent and deal with domestic violence ;I know there are groups you can go and talk about your problem; please feel free to contact me. Denise
Thank you for all the (mostly) very caring messages in response to my situation. Even the ones that were a swift kick in the butt were helpful. It's very interesting to get perspectives outside of the tunnel vision that one sometimes has. I have to agree that it's time for me to get a life. Thanks very much!!! Love these lists!

My Mom wants me to leave my husband

December 2002

My mother was recently visiting and over the course of several days she and my husband pushed each others' buttons, and seemed to constantly bait each other to try to incite argument. And argument hardly describes the torrent of anger that they unleashed on each other..the visit ended with her telling my husband that she would be happy if she never saw him again, and her trying to convince me that I needed to kick him out immediately. Well, I was almost convinced, but he is not going so easily. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not, (I should say there are other problems with our relationship besides just that he doesn't get along with my mother).

What I need help with is trying to figure out what to do! My mother is going to be upset that I haven't taken her advice about getting him to leave, and yet I don't feel ready to end the relationship. He is a good father to our child, but not the best partner as far as relationships go. It hurt me so much to see him treating my mother so horribly, but if I step back I can see that she was treating him horribly too, and they were really just reacting to each other. We are going to try to get couples counseling, but any advice with regard to how to deal with my mother, and how to deal with him would be greatly appreciated. anonymous


Excuse me for being blunt, but I think your mom needs to stay out of your marriage. It's unfortunate that your husband and mother don't have a compatible relationship but that is separate from your relationship with your husband. You didn't say much about your marriage except that you were going to start counseling. I'm making an assumption that you have some big issues in your marriage that need repair. I hope the counseling helps you both decide if this is a marriage worth saving or if it's best to end it, but that has to be yours and your husbands decision, definately not your mothers. If you and your mother are very close and attatched to each other it may be hard to stand up to her and tell her to keep her nose out of it, but again, your marriage is not your mothers business. I'm sorry if I sound harsh, your letter made a strong impression on me. Good luck. anon
This sounds very difficult and painful and you have my sympathies. The question to ask is, while it's clear you're not completely delighted with your husband, would you leave him if she had no opinion, or for that matter was favorable to him? If you divorce, it will be you and your child who will take the consequences, not your mother. Yes, your mother will be upset if you don't take her advice, but a divorce causes a huge amount of upset for many people, in particular for the children. Since you say that he's a good father, it seems to me that your child would be the big loser if you take your mother's advice. Good luck, this won't be easy. Jim
I have a similar situation in my family. My sister doesn't get along with her daughter's husband. They are both difficult people, and they rub each other the wrong way. He is a good father in terms of working consistently and being present and involved with the children, but I have seen him do some things to my niece and the children that are borderline abusive. This is what upsets my sister; and my niece's husband is angry at what he sees as an interfering mother-in-law. They don't say any of this directly, they bait each other with political stuff and other side issues, and there have been big blowups.

My advice for you is to take a hard look at this marriage. You say that it hasn't been a good relationship, even though he is a "good father" to your child. In what ways isn't it a good relationship? How will that affect your child and what s/he learns about love and family? How do your friends and other family members react to him? Is there a reliable friend you can talk confidentially with?

I have to say your mother and your husband were both out of line to let their feelings run away with them. I am wondering what deeper issue(s) lie underneath the ostensible cause of the argument.

Regardless, it's unreasonable of your mother to demand you kick him out. You don't have to justify staying in the marriage to anyone. Try vague responses ("We're working on it"; "I guess I feel differently") if your mom puts you on the spot about your plans. If she persists, tell her the truth ("I don't feel ready to end the relationship yet.").

How does your husband feel about this argument? Is he embarrassed? Self-righteous? If he realizes he was out of line and he wants to talk about it, you could work out together how to avoid this ever happening again. If he doesn't see that he was at least partially at fault, can you be very clear that he has to be polite to your mother, no matter how much she baits him? You could point out that annoying in-laws are very common and strategize what you and he can do when she starts doing whatever she does that angers him. Good luck! Louise


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