I’m married to a man I don't respect and feel discomfort staying with him.
Basically, I don't like the way he tells his adult children (from two previous partners) whatever they want to hear.
I dislike that he urges me to tolerate their hurtful behaviour towards me as a small price for us being together.
We rarely see them, that’s his choice. This is my first marriage; I have no children.
He says he loves me, but I've never once felt I could trust him. From the start (ten-plus years) he lied to me about major issues.
There are many reasons why I haven't left, though I fantasize about it.
I don't have much energy because, coming from an abusive family home, I suffer from depression and anxiety. We enjoy a comfortable lifestyle, but I feel our marriage is an act. There's no respect, trust, or intimacy.
Marriage counselling isn’t an option because he's made a farce of it when we previously tried it. He insists if I'm not happy, the door’s there, but he'll fight me tooth and nail for everything and make my life a living hell.
I'm not looking for perfection, but I wonder if I'm being ungrateful or unrealistic. I doubt I’d ever trust myself to date another man. He's late 60s, I’m late 40’s.
At Wit’s End
Start re-building your self-confidence by getting therapy for yourself. It’s a self-empowering route, more needed than couples’ counselling at this point.
It’s also crucial to handling your depression and anxiety, in order to assure you are realistic about the future.
The fact that you don’t see his adult children often doesn’t excuse his letting them be hurtful to you… but it does mean they’re not a frequent irritant. More important, it appears he hasn’t ever known how to handle them himself, it’s not just about you. Nevertheless, you have the right to address their disrespect for you.
Personal counselling can help you decide what’s most important to you… the comfortable lifestyle, or the need for trust and intimacy.
Also, you’ll be able to look more clearly at whether his early lies still matter, or his professed love has made him more open with you over time.
What you need most now is your own self-respect, which professional therapy can boost, through helping you rise above the early abuse you suffered.
Then you’ll be more able to consider any true feelings you have or don’t have for your husband, and weigh your options.
You have a full life ahead, so you want all your inner strength available, to choose the best course that can provide the comfort you’re missing.
FEEDBACK Regarding the young woman worried that long-distance and demanding programs will destroy her relationship (Sept. 23):
Reader #1 – “We were in the same boat 20 years ago, both in our early 20s, both in demanding programs (he in medicine, me in pharmacy) at universities three hours apart.
“Through our four-years’ long-distance dating, we kept in constant touch by phone and snail-mail (email less common then, and Skype didn’t exist).
“We both became accustomed to taking the train on weekends to visit each other. Despite heavy workloads, we wanted to make it work since we knew we had something special. We were married after his first year of medical residency and finally lived together.
“Recently, we celebrated 15 happy years of marriage! Long-distance relationships can work, as long as there’s shared commitment, mutual understanding that there’ll be busy times, and regular communication and visits.”
Reader #2 – “You told “Worried Girlfriend” to try to make every effort to carry on in her relationship.
“Big mistake! If this young man’s busy now, when their relationship’s still fresh, it's not going to get better as time passes.
“This isn’t to say they cannot pick up where they left off, when they both finish school, if they’re still single and interested.
“But to tell a 20-year-old student to put her life on hold for years, in the hopes that a long-distance relationship will stand the test of time, is just wrong.”
Ellie - She’s also in a demanding university program, not putting her life on hold. Your view’s reasonable for many cases, but I based mine on clues from this girlfriend, who wrote me the following (as was published):
“We’re wonderful as lovers and best friends. We listen to each other's side of a conflict, and find a solution together.”
Sounded worth trying to stay together.
Tip of the day:
Personal counselling can help you face a major decision from inner strength.