I fear you’ll not give me the answers I’m looking for.
My husband of seven years and I have two young, adored daughters, much loved within our families.
However, we’ve never been very compatible. There was chemistry once (attraction, humour, good fun), but it’s waned under the tedium of adult responsibility.
He can be very jealous, immature, and verbally hurtful.
I’m very free-spirited, ultra-sensitive to his outbursts, prone to saying too much, and hyper-aware of the model I’m setting for my girls.
If it weren’t for them, I’d have already left.
We both have complicated pasts. He had an unhappy childhood from strict, narcissistic parents.
I was sexually assaulted at 19, which I repressed until several years ago, when he encouraged me to seek counselling.
I have, but it feels like an uphill battle.
Would it be wiser to leave him? Or, am I being overly dramatic? I rarely smile when I’m with him.
He’s not a bad guy, and he’s a great father. I know we could co-parent well.
He’s been impotent since we started dating. And he resents me for not also having been a virgin when we met. Ten years later, he’ll still occasionally slut-shame me.
I have very little respect for him as a man.
We smoke marijuana to cope with our mutual unhappiness. I can take breaks from it, but he’s clearly addicted. We’ve been to a handful of counsellors. None have really helped.
When do I know that it’s time to give up and leave? I don’t want to regret it. Will my kids adapt and thrive?
Helpless but not Hopeless
Though you’re not “helpless,” you do create set-ups to be so, such as starting your email with the fear that I’ll give you the wrong answer.
I suspect you go to counsellors wrapped in that same defence.
The only answer you want is this: Just Escape.
Yes, your situation IS complicated, partly by ongoing actions on both your parts. You both leach onto the problems of the past rather than commit to potential solutions.
What has he done about his impotence over ten years? How hard have you both tried to find a marriage counsellor that feels right, or done the work that those counsellors suggested?
It’s good that you’re dealing with the effects of your sexual assault. You need that self-forgiveness that it wasn’t your fault, and the self-given permission to put it behind you.
But the marijuana usage, for both of you, seems a conscious distancing from confronting this most difficult choice before you.
You do have some solid reasons for wanting to “leave.”
But with no further learning on how to sustain a relationship, you’ll face some of these same issues – your hyper-sensitivity, for one – in any new relationship, even with your children.
You ask, will they thrive?
Co-operative joint custody is essential for that, but still, most children experience some negative reactions and difficult adjustments following a parental split.
My advice: Get serious about finding a couples’ counsellor you both respect. Even if you eventually separate, you’ll learn better ways to deal with each other as co-parents.
Clear your head of negatives, such as the “tedium of adult responsibility.”
Smile, about what’s great about your two daughters, your families who loves them, and any other positives in your life through work, friendships, etc.
It’s possible that you and your husband will decide to break up.
If so, do it from mutual discussion and serious efforts at other changes and solutions.
FEEDBACK Regarding the reader who wrote a commentary on the #MeToo movement, calling it a “witch hunt” (March 17):
Reader – “I was deeply offended by his charge.
“While I’m sure there are some attention-seekers who see this movement as an opportunity to sensationalize an encounter, or exact revenge on a former partner, I think they’re far from the majority.
“Consider how the victims’ internalization of trauma has ruined their life, in all aspects.
“As a survivor of date rape, I know that it can inhibit many aspects of my relationships.
“Trust and healthy sexuality are daily challenges.
“I do feel for anyone who’s been wrongfully accused. But to silence all stories would also be doing a disservice.
I understand where the reader is coming from, and perhaps he himself is a victim of malicious accusation.
“But not all victims are liars. And not all perpetrators are misunderstood.”
Tip of the day:
If separating a marriage/family, only do it when confident you’ve made the right decision.