Should We Divorce?

Parent Q&A

Select any title to view the full question and replies.

  • I'm 43 y/o in a loveless marriage, mainly because of my own feelings of complete disconnect and disinterest. If not for our son, I would have divorced long ago. Not because my husband is bad, but because I feel dead around him. I'm alive with and around almost anyone else. Being around him just sucks the light out of me. I can get through this marriage on principle because we have a child and he is a good father -- that's what I have been doing this whole time. However, I am afraid of the terrible example being set for our son of what it means to be in a relationship. I see the same passion and intensity in our son that I used to have. Now my fire is gone the moment I'm  around my husband and that's when my son sees me the most. It's all I can do to suppress the deep unhappiness I feel -- better to act dead than show my feelings through overt conflict or volatility around our son. Or so I thought... I realized the impact of this when he visited me in the office recently and later said he wants to do whatever I do when he grows up because it seems so fun and exciting. Make no mistake there was nothing exciting going on. I realized he just rarely sees me alive and the experience of being around my dynamic real self made a huge impression on him. The dilemma here is that my husband isn't a bad guy, we just have zero connection and I no longer have any interest in making one with him. Our values are not aligned, I no longer find any admiration for him, and frankly it's not fair to him to be stuck with someone who feels so negatively toward him for a wife. There is a lot of history there and I am just not as forgiving as many of the spouses who post here. My husband broke my trust and that killed any repect or love I ever had for him or our marriage. I read a lot about the importance of parental relationships on the future relationships of children, but does that trump the benefit of growing up in an intact nuclear family?

    I'm seriously considering divorce but don't want to initiate any steps unless fully committed to seeing it through in the most productive way possible. I see no reason why this can't be accomplished as a business-like separation, but my husband might still have feelings about it, so there's some unpredictability there.  Should I stay or should I go?

    I really urge you to talk to a therapist.  First by yourself, and then together with your husband. You talk about wanting to go through divorce in the most productive way possible. I first suggest that you figure out how to engage in your life in the most productive way possible, and I think that the best way to do that is to work through this all with a therapist first. Divorcing your husband will not divorce yourself from how you are currently approaching life. I'm going to give you a trite analogy, but it will be like treating the symptom and not the disease. You're externalizing the source of your despair, rather than looking at its internal causes. Best of luck to you on this journey.

    I just read your letter.

    Tears are in my eyes.

    You are so fortunate to be able to talk openly and ask for advice

    in such a private way.

    Good luck to you from the bottom of my heart.

    I had a strong reaction to your post. While reading it, I kept thinking to myself, "What an absolutely awful life," and "What a miserable way to live." Your talk of feeling dead around your child's father made my heart hurt for your family. I went back and forth between empathizing with you and feeling anger towards you for the way you talk about your husband and the choices you have made that impact your son. I have a few thoughts I will share. 1. I believe strongly that parents often become martyrs. Just because you have a child does not mean you are required to stay in a loveless marriage. You are a mother, yes. But you are also deserving of happiness. You shouldn't stay in a situation that is making you miserable for the benefit of anyone else, including your child. 2. Your child is not better off with two unhappy parents under one roof. You are not doing your son any favors staying in an unhappy marriage. If anything you are role modeling for him unhealthy relationships, poor self care and dishonest communication. I assume that part of my strong reaction to your post is that I grew up in a two parent house that lacked love and warmth. It was awful. In fact, it was confusing and has negatively impacted many of my adult relationships. I also no longer speak to my mom. My dad stayed with my mom despite my secret wish that they would divorce so that they could both have a chance to be happier. I assumed that they would eventually break-up after my sister and I went to college. Instead, my dad died two weeks after his youngest left home for college. He never had the chance to get a new start in life. He died married to a woman he had no connection with and without affection or love. He stayed for the kids, but ultimately, his decision to stay resulted in lots of unhappiness. I share this with you so that you understand that your good intentions of staying married for your son's sake, may have harmful consequences. 

    I think that you should talk to your husband. Either see a therapist or set up regular meetings with just the two of you. Talk about whether you want to be together or apart. Talk about how life would change if you uncoupled. Talk about finances. I think making this decision without listening to him is wrong. 

    Divorce is SO hard, it is worse than a death and it affect everyone around you. PLEASE try counseling, share your feelings, give your husband a chance. Good luck

    Sounds like you should go. What I would look into is maybe lining up a good family counselor to get everyone through what's going to be a difficult time no matter how you cut it. Expect your future ex to be angry for a good part of the process, and it's never "business-like", it's always messy, but keep your eyes on the prize: your future happiness and also that of your son. Life is short, you shouldn't spend the majority of it feeling dead inside.

  • Going on 10 yrs of marriage now. I realized gradually husband is a self-absorbed, solitary man at core & is happy that way. No affection, no emotional attunement, no sharing of feelings nor talking. Once he knew he had me, he reverted back to his shut down self. 

    I knew early, but couples therapy did not change the dynamic. I was pregnant at wedding and had two more, so have carried on. I do most everything, because if I pull him in to do housework or parenting, he gets short-fused, unglued and borderline abusive. The work at home business and obsessive hobbies are so compelling, that he comes up for air, hangs out for awhile and goes back to his world. I get lonely and depressed, but don't rock  the boat. He notices on some level I have retreated too-sex is over.

    There are positives: he is a good provider, is a homebody, stable, does not demand or complain and likes the idea of family. He is a "fun dad" who likes family outing, field trips and volunteers at school. Never criticizes. Generous, excessively with kids in terms of buying whatever they want. Shows his love for them with stuff.

    I work more than PT but not FT, do the domestic work, make the decisions, do the emotional heavy lifting and he never questions me. I make no demands, he does what he wants in terms of hobbies, friends, sports. I have no time for friends. I develop an interest, he has to come with and usurp it. I wanted to take a class for me, but evening out equals unfed crazy kids in dangerous situation while I'm gone. He will not take kids  anywhere without me, so I am never alone in the house. If I leave for awhile, he gets a sitter now. He cannot do the parenting thing. He is also bad with money, (makes it , spends it, then can't pay taxes, grrr) so we could not afford to live apart and couldn't leave kids with him anyway.

    .Anyone else stuck too? How do I carve a life out for myself? I've been in therapy for awhile, take medication for depression and once in a blue moon, when wide awake aching with loneliness, will smoke prescribed weed to sleep. He has no idea, BTW. I feel estranged from him and sometimes myself and I don't think he even notices. Any advice?

    I'm sorry that things are so hard.  ((Hugs!))  I think that a degree of disconnect is the norm rather than the exception in a marriage.  I say that not as a downer, but to let you know you are not alone.  My husband and I love each other, but we struggle to connect at a real level more than once in a blue moon.  I think males in our society have only recently been getting instruction and nurturing with how to share themselves in a real way.  I find many men are chatty at parties but silent cave-dwellers in their own homes.  On a more practical level, for your own future and your kids, you need to negotiate a way to have greater financial stability.  Siphon off and invest, if you need to.  A lawyer and financial planner can help.  The other thing you need is a regular baby sitter that will allow you to get out and develop your own friendships and interests.  This is essential for self-care.  It's like that old chestnut about in an airplane emergency you're supposed to put on your own oxygen mask before you help anybody else so you have a clear brain for the task.  You need supportive friends and some hobbies that make you happy.  Best of luck to you!

    Get away from this person. He is drawing the life out of you. You will have a time of grief but the relief of not having this perfusion in your life will be wonderful. 

    Something that was really helpful for me, that I still work on in therapy, was really focusing my efforts and energies on me and self care, rather than my husband. After 15 years of marriage I learned to be much clearer to myself about what I wanted and needed from any given situation and I can now communicate that to him. I also realized that I was changing my behavior in the marriage based only on what his wants and needs were. Once I noticed that pattern and did a bunch of work about why I felt so guilty setting boundaries about my wants and needs (deep childhood stuff here) I became much happier in the marriage and with myself. 

    Now my needs come first to me and it's up to me to find the support I need to make them happen. Sometimes that support comes from my husband, but more often than not it doesn't. He has his limits.. many of which I disagree with, but I can't really change them. My expectations have really changed of him.

    There are other people and experiences that can and do support me. (A high school kids does the after school afternoon schelp 3x week, we do take out dinner more than a previous version of myself would approve of, and I make sure that at least 2-3x per week I hang out with a friend or two.) I also own my own small creative business and once my youngest started kindergarten four years ago, I made sure that during school hours I only worked on my business and on myself. 

     Once I really started focusing on myself, the marriage has become so much more tolerable. I'm still not sure the marriage is truly what I want, but having the awareness to get the support I need outside the marriage, and shifting my expectations for my husband (who sounds similar to yours) has made me so much happier. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Separated for 4 years - time to divorce?

April 2015

I seem to like to put myself through this agony of ''divorce or not?'' My wife and I have been separated for about 4 years now. We have 2 kids, ages 8 and 5. I live about 5 minutes away and see my wife and kids 3 times a week, a few hours at a time. Our visit time is improved if it is just myself and the kids....things feel very ''high tension'' when the 4 of us are together (I visit them since the kids are living with my wife in her house.)

The separation has been pretty good for everyone involved. The kids appear centered, my wife is OK (not really sure what that means) and I really enjoy alone time - I always have. I guess now, for some unwelcome reason, I have the sense that I/we need to fish or cut bait here.l It is a disquiet. And, this being in limbo doesn't help the kids either because I think they don't really have solidity regarding their immediate family - is that my Daddy? Why doesn't he live with us? Why does Mommy yell at him? What is a good model for us kids about relationships/marriages? WHO AM I? So the huge stress of deciding is with me every day when I wake up.

My wife (in my layman opinion) has Borderline Personality Disorder. She rages uncontrollably at me (at me only) without much provocation at all. Even with kids present. We have gone to therapy together more than once. I don't know why it doesn't seem to work for us. Maybe because I have not wanted to ''reconcile'' and I go into therapy already decided. Being with my little angels is so wonderful. Each little moment. Playing with the next new toy, etc.

But I don't know the healthiness of my moving back in there. I pray about this because I don't feel I have whatever it takes to ''fix'' this. OK, I know I am rambling, and it's late.....Sorry about that, I will write again tomorrow

I don't know the totality of the situation, to be fair, but your indecisiveness cannot be easy on your family. It is my experience that, if you are fine with how things are, then others around you are accepting also (eventually). Why bother going to therapy if you are already decided that you don't want to reconcile? You are not doing anyone any favors, and it's not fair to anyone. Let your wife go, and allow her to find happiness with someone who wants to be with her. Your children will then have a definitive about their life - my parents are divorced, etc. Just my opinion. anon

I've been where you are, and finally turned things around. What you need is someone who can show you how to deal with this without blaming each other, and go forward hopefully . I've been married for 30 years, and the first 5 were just awful. Once I saw the hopeful perspective, and saw my part in the whole thing, (You mean it wasn't all his fault?? Darn!!) things began to turn around and we are now very, very connected and happy. Julie

Your questions don't make any sense. You are the daddy whether you divorce or not. Your wife will yell at you whether you divorce or not. I think the real questions here is how do you get your wife to stop yelling at you. I have to ask, are you provoking her? If you are, stop doing that. Are you yelling back? Stop that, too. Do you give in to what she wants if she yells? Give in before she yells. Don't react to her. I don't know what she gets out of the yelling, but I suggest that you figure it out and try to make sure that she doesn't get it. If you can't figure it out, go to therapy, alone or together. Maybe someone else can figure it out. Anon

I think you should get divorced. If your wife rages at you it probably stems from the dynamic between you and not from any mental illness on her part. It's so easy to put that all on her. You might want to take some time before entering anything new to consider what in the dynamic is coming from you. I say this with a lot of compassion and great wishes for all four of you going forward. Divorce can be a beautiful portal for everyone's growth, even though it is devastatingly hard at moments. been there

Hi, I read your post with so much sympathy for you. I totally understand your situation, having 2 children, and separating from my husband for a # of years before we finally got a final divorce. Our's, was I think out of laziness in not get a 'final'- then we both met someone whom we got serious with and who we both eventually, married.

You and your wife have been to therapy already,-so that's the first thing to consider. I thought your comments were very honest saying that perhaps you were resistant to the therapy sessions even before going in with your wife. I can understand how being with someone who might have emotional outbursts directed at you, might just make you say ''nothing, even therapy sessions together, will make me want to stay with this woman - in this relationship''. I am a Nurse, and I am wondering if your wife has had a full medical workup ? She may need to be on some medication for these outbursts.. She may have a Bipolar Disorder or something else going on mentally with her.. is causing these huge emotional swings. Has she had personal therapy with a Psychiatrist, who could prescribe medication for her or would she be open to this, could you persuade her to enter into this ? Does she want to stay with you enough to do this and then work on your 'issues' together ?

Deciding to Divorce is as you must realize is pretty heavy decision, but your writing in for help,shows that you are wanting some help and feedback before going forward. I would say if the rest of your relationship seem to be OK, outside of her rages at you and If she got medication, and calmed down then I would stay and try to work it out. Of course, you have to decide also if she wasn't yelling at you all the time, would you want to stay and try and make the relationship work ? I think these are important factors and things to ask yourself, because, if there is still love there [outside of her yelling at you] then there might be hope for rebuilding this relationship. If the love is still there, then I would let her heal with medication, and do therapy together again, with a new 'mind set' of positively moving forward together. If however, she is resistant to personal therapy and seeking to consider medication and is not going to give up her 'position' or 'stance' towards you of ranting and raging [and making you the brunt of things that she needs to work out on a personal level], then I think, for your sanity, and the health of your children, that you should divorce. It's a very toxic relationship as it is, not good for you or your children to have to endure. It will also give you peace each day, time with your children without feeling conflicted, and allow you to move on and either just live on your own, or find happiness with someone else. I wish you all the best in finding your resolutions. judith

I read your post with much sympathy for you. From what you say it doesn't sound like your wife has a personality disorder. If you are worried about that surely the therapist could give you more guidance there. It might be that she is losing it in part because you are withdrawing and she is trying to involve you and show you that you still have responsibility for what is taking place. If you are walking away, clamming up, or otherwise being unresponsive in the hopes of not escalating, it could in fact escalate the conflict and make her yell louder to try to get through. Try listening to her and saying something like, ''I didn't know you saw it like that, I'm so sorry.'' Tell her you can take in what she is saying if she is saying it calmly. Try apologizing and saying something like, ''I had no idea you felt that way.'' It doesn't take a lot to say those things -- they are pretty neutral -- and it doesn't mean you have to get back together. But it may mean a lot to her and stop the yelling. another parent

We're considering a separation but we still love each other

Feb 2011

Hello all

My husband and I are considering separating. I have primarily been staying at my mother's house, perhaps 6 days out of the week, with our 3 year old toddler.

The relationship proceeded very, very quickly. We met, moved in together 3 weeks later, were engaged 8 months later, and married 16 months later. In hindsight, I know we didn't have time to form a grounded friendship.

Early on in our relationship, he started angrily pushing me away, not wanting me to bother him while he was working on his hobbies, not wanting to talk while he was reading in bed about to go to sleep. I learned to just leave him alone.

He never wanted to get married or have a child. I honestly don't know why he did. When we met, he did decide he wanted to get married. Children was a maybe, so he says. He finally ''agreed'' because not having children was a deal breaker for me and he didn't want me to go and to preserve our marriage. We even had an agreement that he would never get up with the baby due to his need for sleep.

He needs his ''alone'' space. We moved into a new home because it was fairly large at 2500 square feet and 3 floors. He has his own floor to retreat to and work. I am always scared of making noise, especially with our baby in the house. We spent a few weeks out of town and he was as happy as a kid in a candy store.

Our sex life has been horrible as I have no feelings for him that way in the least. Most of the time I feel like doing nothing but throwing myself up in the air and waiting for it to be over.

So, I have been letting go for about six months now as he continues to be less and less emotionally available. I have been lucky enough to be a stay-at- home mom for 3 years, but I am terrified to leave. How do I re-enter the workforce? My degrees are in psychology and africana studies (useless!). I depend on him for money. I would love to go to nursing school, but the schools are saturated and it will take at least 3 years to complete my pre- req's and the program. I have let myself go physically, I am emotional wreck (I am already bipolar), deeply depressed and all I can do is walk with my head down. However, I always seem happy for my baby. I know the baby is feeling the effects of the situation and I want to do the best thing for him. So, we still love each other... My thought is that if we date, perhaps we can find what we saw in each other in the first place? I can't remember. Was there anything we liked about each other than the sex?

Thanks. Anon

What a painful situation! Please know that many of the emotions you are feeling are normal. Women who are seriously questioning their marriages/partnerships often experience an intense roller-coaster of emotions. Whether you are the one deciding to go or the one being left, these feelings can become incredibly strong in the period leading up to a separation. It is not uncommon during this phase for women to fear that they are 'going crazy'. It is difficult during such turmoil to think clearly and make good decisions. One strategy that seems to really help during this time is to gain a LOT of outside support. Talk to friends and connect with family members whom you can trust. Meet with others in person and avoid isolation. It can also be really helpful to join a support group of other women who are going through separation/divorce and understand the terrain.

While there is a shortage of nurses, most nursing school graduates aren't getting jobs because hospitals want six months to a year experience as they consider new nurses to be a big liability so I'd rethink your exit strategy. If exiting is in the cards I'd get your ducks in order. Start working on yourself, make sure you have some cash squirreled away, new tires on the car, your health insurance premiums are paid etc. You can get spousal support for half the time you were married and child support until your child is 18 so there will be some money. Maybe start a job search while your married just to see what options are out there?! Good Luck! ANON

Your deep sadness and confusion indicate that the first thing you need to get is clarity. By having conversations with a therapist you could at least try to get your thoughts and emotions into some kind of order so that you can see what it is that you really want. As you describe the relationship, there is really nothing there to salvage, but it also seems that you are so disheartened that you unable to understand your situation. You say toward the end of your e-mail that you still ''love each other,'' but there seems to be little communication between you. If both of you could do therapy together there might be a chance of opening up communication, but if he is unwilling, you must get into some kind of therapy yourself and treat your bipolar condition, if you are not doing that already. concerned

Wow, you are dealing with a lot of big, interconnected issues: whether to end your marriage, how to build a new career, how to guide your child through these huge life changes, and how to manage your newly diagnosed bipolar disorder. To me, these issues seem too complex for this advice forum. You need to find a good counselor/therapist who can help you get through this challenging time. Anon

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 [at]

Hello S., I'm sorry that you dealing with such a difficult is not an easy decision to make. I am a divorced mom with one child...I left my marriage when my child was very 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 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) problem there! You still have so much life to 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 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

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. 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: 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

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

He's having second thoughts - should I give it another go?

April 2007

After about 10 months of being totally withdrawn from the relationship and not willing to talk about why or go to counseling, my husband finally told me he thinks we should split up. Outside the relationship he seems like a nice guy, which in many ways he is, but the burden of raising our child, taking care of our home and finances fell to me. I've always wanted a partnership where we shared responsibilities, but relented when he seemed so overwhelmed with work. I thought I was being a supportive wife and felt okay about shouldering most of the responsibility until I realized that he is obsessed with his work and was really quite comfortable having me do everything, and I mean everything except some kind of special project and taking out the garbage.

Long story short, I became resentful, asked him to take on some of the responsibility, he'd say okay, never follow through, and the resentment would build. There's lots more to the whole dynamic, but to some of you the familiar theme of wife as the ultimate nag must be resonating, no? Here's one of my burning questions- how do other women take it all on and not resent it? Personally, I really can't do it all and even if I could, I don't want to.

After a few weeks of trying to sort out what my life will be like after a divorce, I think my husband is having second thoughts. I have been through the wringer emotionally and this is not the first time he wanted to bail on the relationship. Over 6 years ago we went through couples counseling for a few years when he wanted out before. The relationship flourished for some time, but with really tight finances it was impossible to do the once a week date thing, and he would never initiate anything anyway. 

So, here's my second question-for the sake of my child do I give it another go even though my hearts not in it? My third question-just how bad does it feel to have to move out of your own home, have to shuffle your child between two households, and know you may never be able to buy another home in the Bay Area? If the relationship can't be saved, I would at least like to find a way to keep my home. For those of you who have been through the same and can offer some helpful advice I would really appreciate it, including referrals to lawyers. Thank you! anonymous

I moved out of my marriage of fifteen years a year ago. It was my decision and I am happy with it; it surprises me now how little I miss a relationship that once was the center of my life. I simply lost my love for my husband after years of suffering criticism, chilliness, ambivalence, and other griefs. A few issues have been difficult. One is that my son has suffered and continues to have problems about the divorce, though he seems to be getting better now. That's toughest to handle. Another is that my ex is very angry and very bitter, which makes dealing with him difficult. I think I naively imagined that we could be calm and reasonable about the break- up, but he couldn't. The third thing is finances; as you say, it is very difficult to stay in the housing market, certainly at the level one enjoyed before. But I am getting adjusted to the idea that I made a trade -- my house for my freedom. It seems a good trade to me, as long as I am able to craft a life I can enjoy in other ways. Home ownership is not the be-all and end-all of existence, though people often seem to think it is. Now I am contemplating a better school for my son instead of getting back into the housing market. I think it's important to stay open to possibilities and not to cage yourself because of fear. happily single again

Yes, he can call you the nag and be right with his passive/aggressive behavior. With the workload that childcare is, he doesn't have to do anything at all and be the nice guy doing it because the default is that it's dumped on you. I've been there and could not accept the lack of respect behind a 98/2 division of labor.

''How hard is it?'' It is hard. It is hard in different but big and life-changing ways. Several factors affect the difficulty level - family in the area, owning a home, independent income producing capacity, his personality/degree of spite he might display through financial fighting/withholding, flaunting a girfriend, using the kids... The home ownership thing is major, although if you are half owner of a house, you have some leverage and a lawyer could tell you how to best use that. BTW, why must you and the kids uproot yourselves, couldn't you kick him out? The courts favor stability for kids. Personally, I wouldn't change my decision to leave the guy like that in my former life (with kids and no home) because being so untrue to myself I would die inside.

All that being said, it's not to be taken lightly obviously. See that lawyer so you know where you stand AND if there is a shred of a chance that counseling could help - if you have not closed down and don't love him any more - the expense of counseling is a tiny fraction of the expense of divorce, especially for the woman sorry to say. It sounds like he did respond to having his behavior monitored by a third party before. Inner change is preferable but there may be hope there. If there's a chance, I'd beg, borrow, or steal the money to go to counseling. As they say, you can't afford NOT to. been there

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: 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

Considering divorce after less than a year of marriage

December 2006

I am seriously considering divorce after less than a year of marriage, which is devastating to me. We have tried counseling, but my husband has dismissed the techniques we've learned there as ''stupid'', is angry about the time it takes away from his work, and I've realized that his past demons (being molested, emotionally abused and more) preclude him from committing to our marriage, being present, or even dealing with the day-to-day. And he has said that he's not interested in how I feel, is not able to fully commit because he needs an exit strategy. So it's not all guess work on my part.

So I now find that I need some advice from a family law or divorce attorney on how best to protect myself and my preschool son, whom my husband has absolutely no legal claim to (he is not his biological or adoptive father) but has threatened to press for shared custody - one week with me and one week with him, even though my husband is gone most nights. Not a good situation for my baby, especially since I made a career change to be able to work from home and be near him. To complicate things, we have a new baby coming in a month, whom my husband has no feelings for whatsoever - and has stated that in front of others - but will fight for as a possession. I'm freaked out, and worried about money - I am the primary breadwinner and own most of the house based on monthly contribution and downpayment, but I'm worried that my husband will be vindictive and fight me every step of the way. I need an attorney who can tell me how to prepare for all of this and protect myself and my kids before I formally file for divorce.

I know this is long and more information than anyone needs to know, but having the devastating realization that this isn't going to work has left me a bit incoherent. I will also not have the support of my family, which makes it worse. Thank you for any advice or attorney names you can provide Devastated

It's unclear from your post whether it's you or him who wants the divorce. The point I'm making is that one or both of you may be acting too fast. Divorce is too serious a thing to do without stopping for a moment and thinking. Could it be that your therapist is not working out and the two of you need a new therapist? I hear you saying on the one hand that your husband does things you don't like, but on the other hand that it's not guess work on your part. It sounds like you're not sure. What is definite is that you're feeling angry and desperate which is normal when there are problems in a marriage. However, could it be your interest in seeing an attorney is less about protecting yourself and more about securing an exit strategy? I know you mentioned it as something your husband is considering, but given that you're not sure, it seems that you may be the one in the marriage who is thinking about leaving and not him. There may be good reasons to end the marriage and from what you said if you were to divorce, you would probably need a good attorney.

However, by all means, do give marriage therapy a chance before throwing in the towel. It is often tempting out of fear and frustration to give up and become defensive, but until you and your husband have turned over every stone which you haven't yet, you should not be considering divorce. My advice is to first talk to your therapist about how the therapy is not working. If your therapist isn't responsive, then you will need to find a new marriage therapist. I know you are afraid but you must be strong and hold on to the hope that you and your husband can save the marriage and the love that brought the two of you together in the first place Anon

Andrea Eichorn is a wonderful, sharp attorney based in Piedmont/Oakland. Her number is (510) 652-0220. She does not do litigation but does mediation and collaborative divorce. And she can advise you even if she doesn't end up representing you. Good luck. It's a tough situation. Susan

Best divorce lawyer I know of is Bradford Baugh in Mountain View, California. There are other good lawyers in the archives. Get yourself a really really good lawyer and lock down everything that you can before you announce that you're getting a divorce. Good luck to you! ...

Dear Devastated,

My heart goes out to you. I am going through a divorce right now from a much longer marriage, and it is emotionally very difficult, even though I wanted the divorce and my husband didn't. I, too, was the breadwinner. I, too, have a vindictive former spouse. I would advise you to seek out a strong network of supportive friends and both legal counsel and therapy. Your pregnancy makes you that much more vulnerable emotionally and financially, and you are in great need of supportive voices, since it sounds as if you have had plenty of destructive voice in your life.

You should consult a lawyer to figure out which rights and responsibilities each of you has. If you have been the breadwinner, you may have to pay spousal support, though your marriage was short enough to perhaps avoid that.

I hope you have friends to support you if indeed your family will not -- don't assume that they will not without asking however, because I was surprised to find that my conservative, religious family members supported me to the hilt. I was narrow-minded that way. You can ask to contact me via the parents' network if you want to talk.

sending good wishes your way,
another divorcing mom


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,, 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 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! 

Having a baby made things worse - stay for the baby's sake?

May 2006

My husband and I have been married for five years, and we have a baby son. When our son was born, I came to the hard realization that my husband and I have nothing in common, and that I had been able to ignore this by involving myself so deeply with other things. Having the baby, I found myself homebound and suddenly dependent on him - I changed in terms of my needs, but he didn't really want to change in terms of his giving of time or of himself. We started going to counseling after I insisted on it, but almost a year later, things are worse rather than better. We really seem to hate each other. We fight about everything, although we try to refrain in front of our baby. We both adore our child, there is no doubt about that. I am financially dependent on my husband, and aside from that, I worry that my son will grow up with only one parent. I wish my husband and I could reconnect and patch things up, but I doubt that either of us is really capable of it. Yet, perhaps it's better to wait until the baby is older to take steps to end the marriage. Any advice would be welcome. Berkeley Parent

I can't say what is best for you personally, but thought of three things when I read your post.

1) I dont' remember where, but I do remember reading that couples are most at risk of divorcing during the first year with a baby. What you are experiencing is not uncommon at all. I know that my husband and I fought a lot more during first 2-2.5 yrs after each of our two children were born. I suspect that part of that was due to the combination of sleep deprivation and what I thin was post-partum depression on my side, and part to issues he had, and we had, that we needed to resolve through counseling.

2) After one year of counseling we still weren't there. You might want to give it more time. Trying a different counselor might help too. With our first couples counselor we spent so much time (2 yrs) fighitng the issues that we never got to teamwork. Then we spent one year with a new counselor who really helped us work on emphasisng and finding the things we liked about eachother and nurtured the caring part of our relationship.

3) When thought I wanted to throw in the towel someone told me this... Once you have a kid your relationship with your spouse doesn't end with a divorce, all the problems with the other person are still there, but with none of the good times that make them easier. Plus life is just harder ie: finances are tight, and your time with your child is rationed.

Obviosly, I decided to stick it out... but only you can decide what is right in your situation good luck

Get the divorce, a legal separation basically justs doubles the costs of legal fees. And there is a six-month waiting period before a divorce is final anyway -- divorce comes with a built- in separation period.

Regarding custody, all parties (me, my ex, and our daughter) are very happy with our arrangement. I have 100% custody, but my ex visits with our daughter a couple of days a week for homework, soccer, walks to get dessert. Once a month or so we have a family outing or dinner together much happier divorced

Deciding whether to divorce or not is a huge decision. And ultimately, one that only you can decide (or I guess, your spouse).

But getting educated on how to view your options is the best bet. You could get online and do some research to find mental health professionals that help people make educated decisions whether and how to go through a divorce.

One place to start is with Susan Pease. She has a thriving professional practice designed around supporting women in your situation called The Transition Institue of Marin. Her website is Andrea

What is the average cost of divorce?

Nov 2005

My lawyer held up my divorce proccess because I didn't pay them. The reason I didn't pay was because I thought a court date will be set up, so I wanted to pay after knowing the court date. Later, I found out there was a court date set up, but dropped without my knowledge. So I was late to pay 2 months, last bill was in August, but when I received October bill, I saw they charged the time they omitted in June, which was $1000 more. I complained about it and they withdrew their service. My divorce in on hold right now.

My divorce was supposed to be simple, with no joint property or money issue. We have one child and we came in terms with custody. We had one mediation session with the lawyer and most of the times, it was e-mail or phone communication. I was very shocked when I was told the divorce similar to may case should not cost no more than $1000, because I have already paid $3500 and they are asking for more! If you know the average cost of a similar case, please let me know! I may complain to the Bar. Confused and frustrated

If your divorce is as simple as you make it sound, $3500 sounds like too much money. I think initiating a fee dispute with the bar makes sense. Anon

$3,500 to $5,000 is probably about average for an uncomplicated divorce. It would be different if the lawyer told you up front that it would be about $1,000, but if the bills appear reasonable, you should pay. I assume you have a fee agreement that probably obligated you to keep current on the bills.

Although it's a hard concept for non-lawyers, lawyers are paid for their time, not always for something tangible. Would you expect another professional to work for you if you didn't pay the bill? Do you expect to walk out of a store without paying for something you take with you? You hired the lawyer for a service that they are apparently trying to provide. Given that they agreed to reduce the bill when you contacted them, I don't understand why you would go to the Bar. Pay the lawyer and be done with the divorce. A Frustrated Lawyer

I am an attorney who just left a family law practice a few months ago to be at home with my newborn. I don't know who told you that your divorce should be able to be handled for only $1000, but I've never heard of a divorce costing that little unless the parties had absolutely everything agreed upon when they came in, and just needed the lawyers to write it up and do the paperwork. The fact that you had a court date in your case suggests to me that it was not as simple a dissolution as you might think it is. For the simplest dissolutions, it is not necessary to ever have a court appearance. Once the parties start having hearings and going to court, the costs always sky-rocket.

I know that this is a very difficult time for you, and I wish you the best of luck in resolving this. I'm probably not ever going to return to family law litigation myself, after five years of the practice. My recommendation to anyone who truly has a simple divorce but wants an attorney to make sure that the filings are correct and that nothing is overlooked is that they should go to an attorney mediator. This was a big part of my practice, and I really enjoyed it. More importantly, I think that it is the answer for a lot of divorcing couples but that they are unaware of the option.

Best of luck to you- G

Are we rushing in to divorce?

Sept 2005

I'm considering divorce and my husband is also. We both suffer very much because of this, but it seems like we can't work it out. I don't even know if it's worth trying anymore.We've discussed our problems, needs, etc. hundreds of times already. I'm very unhappy. I was so inlove with my husband that I used to tell him - if you die first, I will want to die too. We've been married for over 2 years and togheter for another 4 years, before that. There are too many differences between us: he doesn't believe in God and he's mocking His name, he does't want kids, he has no respect for other people's feelings or the way they choose to leave their lifes, he's very angry when I want to see my sister or spend time with her, he doesn't help with the household at all, he doesn't want to travel or spend time out of the house anymore. All he wants is to work and make money.He tells me all the time , ''joking'' , that I don't make enough money and that he has to go to work to ''pay for his house''. It's like I have no contribution to any of it. I cook as much as I can, I work full time and go to school at night, which he doesn't appreciate at all, I take care of himself and the house by cleaning, paying the bills, making all the phone calls. He is really mad when I make mistakes about being late with one bill or forgetting to make a phone call etc.

I still love him, I guess, and I burst into tears when I think of separation. We've just bought a brand new house, which is lovely. There are times when we are VERY happy, and times when we are VERY unhappy. 80% of the time, lately, we are both VERY unhappy with each other. I don't feel like making love to him anymore and he's blaming me for this, threatening, as a ''joke'' that he will find someone else to ''help'' him with that. We don't have kids and we are pretty young - I'm 26 and he's 29. We're college sweethearts and we've come to buy the house and everything else on our own, with no help from others. Please tell me if you think we're rushing. I'm afraid I'll regret later that I didn't leave him earlier.I'm afraid of ending up alone, trying to find someone on ''''. I don't want to have kids who will feel neglected as I've always felt with him.He's very hardworking and smart, and I think he loves me in his selfish way, but is that enough?Thank you. anonimous

No one but yourself can make the very difficult decision on whether to divorce or not, but I hope my experience can help you with your decision.

I spent 5 years of my life (3 dating, 2 years married) with a narcissistic man who like your husband had no spirituality (or rather claimed he had it and suddenly became an 'atheist' after we married - typical behavior of a narcissist), was cruel to me (very indiscreet and open gawking and flirting, often right in front of me), never happy with me, my looks, my career or how much money I made, was obsessed with money, judged everyone by how much money they made, etc. I married him at 33 and our divorce was finalized at 36.

I am telling you this because what I didn't realize then and am so painfully aware of now was that I gave my last good years of fertility to a man who had no business having them. I never wanted to have children with him because I, like you, was very worried about how this man would treat them. (I know, people always ask if he was so bad, why did you stay with him and marry him? Well, it's easier to explain that with several years of therapy behind me, believe me.)

I believe you said you were 26, but my dear, if you have any desire to have children I would encourage you to evaluate your situation soon. I don't know how long you've been pondering this, but I wouldn't spend more than 1 more year of your life getting clear on this. I would cut that in half if he refuses to get counseling so you can try to work this out.

I say this because now, happily remarried at 41, I am having great difficulty having children and it is painful to me to know what I gave away to someone so undeserving.

Divorce is awful and painful and I hope you don't have to go through that, but if you do, know that you will make it through and your chances of finding someone else at 26 are pretty high. I did it at 38. And I even met him online (craiglist - yeah!), so it can happen. Blogs are a great way to connect with people these days... if I was single, I would include that in my repertoire for sure...

Anyway, I don't mean to go on like an old hen, but you do have an important choice to make and I hope that what I've said can help you to avoid the pain I am going through now. -- been there

I don't want to be a pessimist, but I think if you are unhappy at 26 years old with no kids, chances are slim that you will be happier when you're 35 with 2 kids. From your description, you are not appreciated much less supported by your husband. I think you two should split sooner rather than later. wish you luck

You want kids, right? Then you need to pair up with a man who kids naturally like and you intuitively feel would make a great father. Your current husband does not want kids, correct? Maybe for a good reason, because he would like to stay in the center of it all and continue to make decisions based on his needs. A child would immediately change all that. Why would he ever want to change that, if he was raised to expect that he gets what he wants? A lot of wants can be purchased - no wonder money is high on his list. Other wants can be achieved through domination, control and manipulation and it sounds like he is quite skilled in that too. (He possibly couldn't stand having a small child around experimenting with the same techniques. What a competition that would be! You'd never see your husband then, he'll be working all the overtime he could find). Rid yourself of your insecurity that it would be hard to find someone else to deeply love. But keep in mind that finding the right father for your unborn children doesn't happen on your timeline, it happens in cosmic time. Given that, look carefully at yourself and decide how important it is to you to raise children some day. If you feel that it is a primary need of yours, you now know what to do. He cannot be their father based on his values and view of life. Your children obviously deserve better than that. Please just let him be who he is. I feel that counseling would be a waste of money in this case. Anonymous

I was moved by your message, because I've been there. I decided to stick it out with my husband although he had an affair 3 years after we were married, and we clearly had major issues. Now, 10 years into the marriage and a couple of kids later, I often regret I didn't have the wherewithal to leave when things first got bad. I probably will stick it out because its usually tolerable, but never great, and I love my children madly, I have to honestly say that the reasons I held on to the marriage (which were that I had once felt he was my soul mate, we had the most beautiful wedding, we had just bought a house we loved and were working hard to fix up, I really wanted children, I didn't want to be divorced, I didn't want to be single looking to meet someone else) now seem totally short sighted and sort of ridicules when I look back. I look back now and think I was incredibly young, had so much to give, we easily could have sold the house, I probably would have met someone else much more compatible with me, and I probably would have had children anyway, in a happier marriage. Divorce would have been very difficult and sad, and there may have been a couple rough years starting again, but I would have moved on and probably would be in a better place today. Someone once told me that once you begin to question whether your marriage will survive, it is already starting to die. I just want to give you this perspective: at 26, you are still very young; there are tremendous possibilities to find the life you want with someone who is compatible with you. It doesn't have to be about blaming you or him, but if you feel you're not in the right relationship, you probably are not. As wonderful as children are, having them adds new layers of stress you can't even imagine now, and that makes a difficult marriage even more difficult. Good luck, but listen to your heart. anon

Have you tried couples counseling? I would definitely recommend this before proceeding with divorce. You may still come to the same conclusion, but at least the counselor can help you guys negotiate difficult waters so that you can separate (or not) from a place of more peace and less anger. All my best to you both.

You are very insightful and brave to look for advice, and I truly feel for you. I was in a relationship that sounds very similar to yours four years ago, but was unfortunate enough to bring a child into it. From your description it sounds like your husband is very controlling. Men like this often try to make their partner feel worthless in order to satisfy their need for control, and to protect their own fragile ego. In the initial stage (at least in my experience), these men are incredibly charming, affectionate, attentive and loving. They want to spend every moment with you and make you feel as if you are the most important person in the world. The \xc2\x93I would die without you\xc2\x94 intensity is very common. But this love and affection is dependent upon your willingness to make him the center of your world. Men like this usually try to separate you from your support system and discourage relationships with friends and family (Why do you need anyone else but me? I want to spend that time with you, and I don\xc2\x92t like doing whatever activities your friends or family want to do, etc.) For me, bringing a child into a relationship like this was disastrous. My ex felt threatened by the attention our newborn needed, and his need for control skyrocketed. He became abusive physically and verbally, cheated on me openly, and tried to use our child as a point of control when I finally left after he attacked me. Men like my ex see their child as their personal property, despite the fact that they did not want the pregnancy, and do not have the maturity to contribute any effort to the work of raising the child. After finally leaving him, I have had to deal for years with threatening phone calls, an absent father who provides no financial help and rarely sees his child, and yet constantly makes demands on me, and a nightmarish process of obtaining custody. If you truly want children, run, don\xc2\x92t walk from this relationship. Think about how he treats you, and realize that a man like this will treat you this way (most likely even worse) in front of your children. Your child would grow up in a household where you have no respect and no power, and most likely, your ability to leave him will diminish significantly in the future. You and your child will be financially dependent on the support, and like most women, you probably will not want to leave the child without a father. Pray, listen to your heart and your inner voice. It will tell you what to do. You are stronger than you know. Finding the strength to leave made me a stronger, better and more whole person, and although the hardest part of my life, it was the best thing I ever did. Anon

While it doesn't sound like you're rushing, it also doesn't sound like you've tried counseling, which I strongly recommend. It may be that the counseling can help you to feel better about your choice of divorce, or it may help you rekindle and work with each other. I went through a divorce a few years older than you, and what I can tell you is that (as I was told), this is definitely going to be a time of personal growth for you. (''another F*ing growth experience'' is what I started calling them...). But really, if you seek out happiness in a compassionate way, you will eventually find something much better than you've got. It sounds likely that both of you have some serious growing up to do (and my personal opinion is that any man who threatens to satisfy his sexual ''needs'' outside of the marriage has a LOT of growing up to do). The good news is that it is easier to divorce and find new love when you are that young and without children. And I promise you, if you do divorce, you WILL find something better (even if you don't divorce, if you work for it you will be in better shape). You are far from too old, and live is big and wonderful and you will be able to find yourself a little more and find love that fits you well. Honestly. Fear is no reason to stay in a marriage. The bad news is that it will hurt, badly for a while, and you will have a lot of grieving, both for what you loved about your husband, and for the financial strain, and the pain of actually breaking up (which counseleing can also help with), and it may seem for a while like your entire world is falling apart because everything will change. But be nice to each other (and if he can't be nice to you, be nice to him anyway), be honest with yourself, be nice to yourself, read some good self-help and relationship books, get some good counseling, look forward to some hot baths and good Saturday nights with a great book, get to know your friends a little better (and start making new friends),find a counselor to cry to (because even your friends get tired of the complaints all the time), give yourself some time, and most of all, keep in mind that you WILL get through this.... it just may not end up as the fantasyland that you had in mind. And you WILL lose the things you love about your husband too. Your next partner will have different strengths and weaknesses (hopefully, because we hope you don't choose the same person with a different name next time, or else you'll be going through the same process again!) BEST WISHES TO YOU. I've been there.

I hope that writing, and re-reading your post gives you some clarity in this situation. If I were in your shoes I would get out now. The differences between you two, and his response to those differences, is sufficient cause. The time to leave is now before you have children who will be harmed by his verbal ''joking'' and your eventual decision to leave.

Whatever you fear about being on your own, its not as bad as what you are tolerating --- and you may find that BOTH of you are happier single than together.

If you are really torn, you might consider separating -- in my experience that will push the relationship one way or the other, and either way is better than where you are now. You're not married, you're stuck.

Good luck, You're already Gone

Given you don't have kids and all that you described, part ways NOW, before you impact childrens lives. One would question why you got married to begin with, noting that ''in love with'' is never enough to sustain a long term relationship when factors such as desire for children, religion, descency to others, life goals polarize you so.

STart over now, while you still can and maybe you can each find someone who mirrors your life goals.

Dear Rush, Don't just rush, RUN now! What you describe sound like serious problems. They don't get better over time without a serious committment to intervention - therapy. And things get much, much more difficult after having kids. You don't have kids, you're young. Yes, it's sad when love dies, and scary to start anew. But leave now before it's even harder and could affect children. Wish I Knew Then, What I Know Now!

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: 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

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