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bfuddled
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How long to you fight to save a relationship/marriage before you give up?

 

My husband and I have been having serious issues for about 3 years. He has a lot of PTSD issues from being deployed that he has not worked through (and a possible TBI that we're trying to get established through the VA), and ever since his deployment (2005) he is prone to angry/violent outbursts. It was never physical, but increased in verbal/emotional abusiveness through the years, and then finally, within the last 12 months before we separated, he started to get physical.

 

Being the "good Christian wife" (and being scared out my mind to be alone with 4 kids. I tried everything I could think of to get him to change. We went to multiple counselors, I gave ultimatums, etc, but it didn't change until I told him that I wanted to separate.

 

In that time period he had a "coming to God" moment and really did a 180 in his attitude and a lot of his habits. We moved back in after about 4 months and things have been okay since then. While the physical violence has never returned, he often will get the same anger/tone and I can see him moving towards talking to me that way. I don't allow it to go any further, though and I tell him that he cannot talk to me like that and the conversation is over. That usually diffuses it for awhile till we can talk it out.

 

The problem is that I'm not happy.... at all. I love my husband. The man he is in his heart is someone that I really do enjoy being with and around, but that's not who is is 75% of the time to me. He was diagnosed with depression, but I suspect it's bipolar. he wouldn't let me go to the doctor's appointment with him, so I'm not sure what exactly was said, but the doc put him on medication for Bipolar depression. He has what I can only describe as hypomanic episodes, where he will sleep 2-3 hours a night and work on projects for 12-15 hours. He'll go on spending sprees and start all sorts of new projects in the process that never get done. Finally he will crash and sleep all day for a few days (besides getting up to go to work), and then will be relatively stable for about a month, before it happens again.

 

I know enough about bipolar to know this is pretty typical, but I can't convince him to get any more help than just taking his medication. I'm trying to get him into the VA to get examined for the TBI and see how/if that affected what's going on, or if this is something unrelated. All I know is that he did not act like this before his deployment, but I know that bipolar can/does develop later in life for many people, so it could be a coincidence.

 

I feel like I have stuck in there with him, thinking that things will get better/stable if I can just get him the right help/meds/etc, but part of me is losing hope. We have been married 13 years and there are some thing that I don't think will ever change.

 

Deconverting from Christianity has made me extremely aware of the fact that this is my ONLY life, and I'm already a good chunk into it. Do I want to spend the rest of it married to someone who can't/won't do the things they need to do to make positive changes?

 

You can only fight so long for someone until they need to do their own fighting. I'm not sure that he will ever do that, and I'm thinking that maybe it's time for me to move on and at least salvage MY and my children's lives.

 

The religious conflicts have exacerbated things, but they're not the main reason I'm where I'm at. I just don't know how long to hang on and try to make things work. I know no one else can give me that answer, I'm just exhausted trying to figure it all out.

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How about your children? Are they OK with the emotional stuff that is happening? I mean physical violence is a no go but emotional violence can be as bad as physical.

I remember my dad having outbursts and it always gave me a very awkward feeling like I was responsible for it...even though I was not at all.

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So in your opinion 25% of the time he makes you want to be around him and 75% of the time he makes you miserable?  That doesn't look good.

 

Like Redneck said only you can decide when it is worth it.

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Hi, Bfuddled,

 

I am sure you know that you asked the question that is unanswerable by anyone but you. But the very fact that you asked it tells me that you are suffering immensely.

 

Do your best to stand back and think as objectively as possible. Ask yourself, first, what is best for your children. It may or may not be to stay with their father. After that, ask yourself what is best for you. This is where it gets tough, because the last question is what is best for everyone.

 

I don't have the answers to these questions, but if you think of them carefully, you do have the answers. Do that which is right!

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Hi Bfuddled. I really feel for you right now, what a sad decision to have to be forced to make, no doubt not what you had hoped for or expected at this point in your life.

 

I wonder if you could put into words what it would take for you to be done with the relationship. If you aren't sure you are at your end point now, what, then, would it take? i.e. if *this* happened then I would be done with the relationship. Or the other way around: if *this* happened then I could see this working out and being happy again. 

 

My mom stayed with an abuser (PTSD after vietnam, dad is/was emotionally erratic/abusive to the whole family, at times physically toward my mom, though that eventually stopped) and continues to stay with him. He has "gotten help", but from my perspective he is still mostly intolerable. His outbursts are fewer and farther between, he is no longer physically abusive, but he continues to be a black and white thinker, has become addicted to religion, and is a bear to be around. My dad is and always has been the biggest stress and toxin in my life and currently I am kicking around the idea of going no contact with him.  I always wondered why and how my mom could have stayed with him and I have some resentment toward her that she did stay (though she is also an enabler, never set boundaries) and our relationship is slightly strained due to this and other factors. I have struggled with anxiety and mild depression at times, mostly stemming from my "fleas" from growing up in such a situation (tending toward black and white thinking myself, being distrustful of people and their motives, not knowing how to set and maintain healthy boundaries, being a people pleaser to the extreme, etc). 

 

Having said that, my anxiety and mild depression have been, so far, manageable and tolerable and I live a very full and happy life.

 

My dad also paid my way through undergraduate college, got me involved in sports (which I continue to play and love to this day) and instilled in me the idea I could "be whatever I wanted to be". I have a life I am quite satisfied with and feel competent to be able to make good choices and continue to have a life I'll be happy with, despite the anxiety/depression rearing its ugly head at times. 

 

So would I be better off if they had divorced? Who could ever say? So as much as I don't understand her staying with him and my now having a subpar nearly non-existant relationship with my dad, I do appreciate the good that I got from them as my parents. I don't bother with the "what ifs" anymore and just try to deal with the reality of my life.

 

Your situation possibly sounds similar for your kids in that he isn't ALL bad and they likely derive some good from you staying together.  It also sounds like you ARE setting boundaries and making it clear what behavior you won't tolerate, which in my mind is a huge upgrade from a parent who enables and justifies the "bad behavior" and brushes it under the rug and tells the child to forgive and act like nothing ever happened. I am no child or psychology specialist so take this as a grain of salt, but in my one little anecdotal experience I turned out okay, your kids likely will too and this decision will likely more come down to what you can tolerate. If the kids DON'T seem to be doing well/learning appropriate and healthy boundaries and behaviors/etc I would get them into counseling as well and make their emotional/social development a key point in your decision to stay or go. 

 

*HUGS**

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am I right in thinking that your husband will respond to an ultimatum re ending the marriage by doing more about treatment? Perhaps it feels wrong to try and change someone else's life in this way, but I think he would ultimately be happier.

 

The other major consideration is what the children are learning about how they conduct relationships.

 

I don't know how it all works in the US, but can you afford to separate with four children?

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As long as it's worth fighting for.  Unfortunately only you can decide how long that is.  

 

That's where I get confused.... I feel like my family and my marriage is always going to be worth fighting for... but can that happen if only one person is fighting for it?

 

Befuddled,

 

You might want to take the kids and get away for a few days and try to clear your mind. Think about what is important. You have to decide if it is worth fighting for. You cannot listen to your parents, friends or even what anyone well meaning and clueless tells you. I don't envy you. Only YOU can answer that. It might also do you some good to meet with a therapist of some sort, preferably a secular one, but even some Christian ones who are clinically trained and not put religious biases will even not be bad with this situation. If it were ME, I would draw the line at physical abuse first. If that is going on, GET OUT. Aside from that, it is what you can deal with. Good luck!

 

We have been to multiple counselors, and I just called one today that we've seen in the past to get a new appointment, so hopefully that will help some.

 

How about your children? Are they OK with the emotional stuff that is happening? I mean physical violence is a no go but emotional violence can be as bad as physical.

I remember my dad having outbursts and it always gave me a very awkward feeling like I was responsible for it...even though I was not at all.

 

The kids were not okay last year before we separated. They were being really affected by what was going on, that was a big reason we separated. We have made an effort to NOT expose them to anything like that again, and for the most part they've not been around it again. I'm sure they sense the tension at times, and he's cranky with them (not abusive, but just in a crappy mood), which does affect them.

 

So in your opinion 25% of the time he makes you want to be around him and 75% of the time he makes you miserable?  That doesn't look good.

 

Like Redneck said only you can decide when it is worth it.

 

I know, right? That's exactly what someone else said.. is 25% good enough to base your whole life around? I don't think so, but that little bit of good makes me want to fight for it.

 

Hi, Bfuddled,

 

I am sure you know that you asked the question that is unanswerable by anyone but you. But the very fact that you asked it tells me that you are suffering immensely.

 

Do your best to stand back and think as objectively as possible. Ask yourself, first, what is best for your children. It may or may not be to stay with their father. After that, ask yourself what is best for you. This is where it gets tough, because the last question is what is best for everyone.

 

I don't have the answers to these questions, but if you think of them carefully, you do have the answers. Do that which is right!

 

I've tried to figure this out, but most of the time I hit a wall. I think there's still quite a bit of Christian indoctrination in there that says "You do wahtever it takes to make your marriage work, no matter what or how miserable you are", and I can't figure out if that's how I really feel, or if that's the church talk motivating me.

 

I guess all I do know is that I'm not happy right now, so something does need to change.

 

Hi Bfuddled. I really feel for you right now, what a sad decision to have to be forced to make, no doubt not what you had hoped for or expected at this point in your life.

 

I wonder if you could put into words what it would take for you to be done with the relationship. If you aren't sure you are at your end point now, what, then, would it take? i.e. if *this* happened then I would be done with the relationship. Or the other way around: if *this* happened then I could see this working out and being happy again. 

 

My mom stayed with an abuser (PTSD after vietnam, dad is/was emotionally erratic/abusive to the whole family, at times physically toward my mom, though that eventually stopped) and continues to stay with him. He has "gotten help", but from my perspective he is still mostly intolerable. His outbursts are fewer and farther between, he is no longer physically abusive, but he continues to be a black and white thinker, has become addicted to religion, and is a bear to be around. My dad is and always has been the biggest stress and toxin in my life and currently I am kicking around the idea of going no contact with him.  I always wondered why and how my mom could have stayed with him and I have some resentment toward her that she did stay (though she is also an enabler, never set boundaries) and our relationship is slightly strained due to this and other factors. I have struggled with anxiety and mild depression at times, mostly stemming from my "fleas" from growing up in such a situation (tending toward black and white thinking myself, being distrustful of people and their motives, not knowing how to set and maintain healthy boundaries, being a people pleaser to the extreme, etc). 

 

Having said that, my anxiety and mild depression have been, so far, manageable and tolerable and I live a very full and happy life.

 

My dad also paid my way through undergraduate college, got me involved in sports (which I continue to play and love to this day) and instilled in me the idea I could "be whatever I wanted to be". I have a life I am quite satisfied with and feel competent to be able to make good choices and continue to have a life I'll be happy with, despite the anxiety/depression rearing its ugly head at times. 

 

So would I be better off if they had divorced? Who could ever say? So as much as I don't understand her staying with him and my now having a subpar nearly non-existant relationship with my dad, I do appreciate the good that I got from them as my parents. I don't bother with the "what ifs" anymore and just try to deal with the reality of my life.

 

Your situation possibly sounds similar for your kids in that he isn't ALL bad and they likely derive some good from you staying together.  It also sounds like you ARE setting boundaries and making it clear what behavior you won't tolerate, which in my mind is a huge upgrade from a parent who enables and justifies the "bad behavior" and brushes it under the rug and tells the child to forgive and act like nothing ever happened. I am no child or psychology specialist so take this as a grain of salt, but in my one little anecdotal experience I turned out okay, your kids likely will too and this decision will likely more come down to what you can tolerate. If the kids DON'T seem to be doing well/learning appropriate and healthy boundaries and behaviors/etc I would get them into counseling as well and make their emotional/social development a key point in your decision to stay or go. 

 

*HUGS**

 

Thanks for sharing your story. I know that a huge part of where our problems lie is that I have in the past (and still do in some areas) been an extremely codependent/enabling person. I don't like conflict, and I usually will put other people before me, even when it's not appropriate. So for many many years I just put up with stuff that was abusive/wrong. Some of it is wrapped up in the teachings of the church to put others first and/or how to be a good wife/mother, but I know part of it is just that I'm a people pleaser. I'm trying to change that part of me, and am slowly getting there.

 

 

am I right in thinking that your husband will respond to an ultimatum re ending the marriage by doing more about treatment? Perhaps it feels wrong to try and change someone else's life in this way, but I think he would ultimately be happier.

 

The other major consideration is what the children are learning about how they conduct relationships.

 

I don't know how it all works in the US, but can you afford to separate with four children?

 

Well, we'll see, I just scheduled an appointment with a counselor, so we'll see how he responds. In regards to the kids, that's a huge sticking point for me. I hate that I've modeled to my kids (my girls specifically) that you don't stand up for yourself, and/or that you allow a man (or anyone) to be emotionally/verbally abusive.

 

It's hard to figure out the balance sometimes. I grew up in what I've now realized was a very ABNORMAL home in terms of the level of conflict. I can count on one hand the times I remember seeing my parents actually fight. i wouldn't even consider it a fight, more of a very heated argument. I can remember one time my mom getting really upset at my dad and leaving for a few hours, and that was so abnormal that it has stuck with me into adulthood. Both of my parents are extremely level headed people, and did not/do not get emotional about things, so I grew up being very uncomfortable with emotional outbursts and I don't deal well with them.

 

My husband, on the other hand, grew up in a family of yellers. They would blow up and scream at each other for awhile, then get over it and apologize and move on. Not the healthiest way to deal with things, but there are things that he learned that I never had a chance to learn. When we first got married, I was mortified when he would blow up, and thought that he must be some kind of monster, but then i realized that my upbringing was actually pretty abnormal in that sense. I know the best place is somewhere in between, but it's hard not to automatically assume that the way you saw modeled to you is the "right" way to deal with conflict.

 

Financially we'd have quite a bit of trouble if we split up right now. I only just started working part time last month, and even if I was able to get full time hours where I'm at it wouldn't be enough to support the kids and I. Together our income is just enough to make it through each month, so splitting that in two and adding another household to the expenses would kill us.

 

Thanks everyone for the replies. It helps just being able to talk about it to someone.

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So sorry to hear things are this hard for you at the moment.  Your situation sounds very similar to what I went through in my last relationship of 6 years with a man who would not accept the help he needed and would not respect my boundaries.  It took me a long time to decide to leave and it wasn't easy (a huge understatement) but I am glad I did, and only wish I had left sooner.  

 

One thing that helped me figure out what to do was talking it over with a woman at the shelter I volunteer at. She helped me see what was my responsibility and what was his responsibility.  I realised he was going to be unlikely to take responsibility for his choices.  I had tried everything to make it work, and now it was time for us each to focus on ourselves.  

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How long to you fight to save a relationship/marriage before you give up?

 

My husband and I have been having serious issues for about 3 years. He has a lot of PTSD issues from being deployed that he has not worked through (and a possible TBI that we're trying to get established through the VA), and ever since his deployment (2005) he is prone to angry/violent outbursts. It was never physical, but increased in verbal/emotional abusiveness through the years, and then finally, within the last 12 months before we separated, he started to get physical.

 

Being the "good Christian wife" (and being scared out my mind to be alone with 4 kids. I tried everything I could think of to get him to change. We went to multiple counselors, I gave ultimatums, etc, but it didn't change until I told him that I wanted to separate.

 

In that time period he had a "coming to God" moment and really did a 180 in his attitude and a lot of his habits. We moved back in after about 4 months and things have been okay since then. While the physical violence has never returned, he often will get the same anger/tone and I can see him moving towards talking to me that way. I don't allow it to go any further, though and I tell him that he cannot talk to me like that and the conversation is over. That usually diffuses it for awhile till we can talk it out.

 

The problem is that I'm not happy.... at all. I love my husband. The man he is in his heart is someone that I really do enjoy being with and around, but that's not who is is 75% of the time to me. He was diagnosed with depression, but I suspect it's bipolar. he wouldn't let me go to the doctor's appointment with him, so I'm not sure what exactly was said, but the doc put him on medication for Bipolar depression. He has what I can only describe as hypomanic episodes, where he will sleep 2-3 hours a night and work on projects for 12-15 hours. He'll go on spending sprees and start all sorts of new projects in the process that never get done. Finally he will crash and sleep all day for a few days (besides getting up to go to work), and then will be relatively stable for about a month, before it happens again.

 

I know enough about bipolar to know this is pretty typical, but I can't convince him to get any more help than just taking his medication. I'm trying to get him into the VA to get examined for the TBI and see how/if that affected what's going on, or if this is something unrelated. All I know is that he did not act like this before his deployment, but I know that bipolar can/does develop later in life for many people, so it could be a coincidence.

 

I feel like I have stuck in there with him, thinking that things will get better/stable if I can just get him the right help/meds/etc, but part of me is losing hope. We have been married 13 years and there are some thing that I don't think will ever change.

 

Deconverting from Christianity has made me extremely aware of the fact that this is my ONLY life, and I'm already a good chunk into it. Do I want to spend the rest of it married to someone who can't/won't do the things they need to do to make positive changes?

 

You can only fight so long for someone until they need to do their own fighting. I'm not sure that he will ever do that, and I'm thinking that maybe it's time for me to move on and at least salvage MY and my children's lives.

 

The religious conflicts have exacerbated things, but they're not the main reason I'm where I'm at. I just don't know how long to hang on and try to make things work. I know no one else can give me that answer, I'm just exhausted trying to figure it all out.

 

How long do you 'want' to deal with it? Sounds like you're tired of it. I dealt with the first wife's mental illness issues about 8 years longer than I really wanted to.  I was ready to break up after the first two years but kept going for 8 more. I wanted to try to make it work. It wasn't all bad during those last years. I just figured her problems would be neverending and I didnt want to deal with it anymore. Divorce was a good thing. A new beginning.  I wish you the best whether you stay together or not.

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While all of the contributing factors are for more complex than the oversimplified statement I'm about to make, it was something that helped me.

 

If this were one of your children, what would you advise them?

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^^Excellent question.

 

What pushed me into divorce was knowing that I did NOT want my children to think that their parents' relationship was the norm.  I did NOT want my son thinking he could totally ignore his wife, and I did NOT want my daughter thinking she could be completely ignored in her marriage.  I did not want them thinking that their upbringing was what to be expected from marriage. 

 

The divorce was devastating to me financially (below poverty level for years and still struggling) and emotionally, but it's been 11 years and I'm still alive, so there you go.

 

I talked openly with both kids after the divorce (in age-appropriate ways, deeper over the years) so they would know the reasons I ended the marriage.  When I remarried, they now see me and and my new husband in an equal, friendly, loving marriage where we work together and support each other and openly communicate.

 

If we had not had children (we were married 15 years and things didn't get really weird til after the kids were born), I either would have divorced and walked out without an issue as we were both adults responsible for ourselves OR I might have stayed married but let him ignore me while I went and did what I wanted, discreetly of course (which I found out later would not have bothered him) and stayed married in name only and for our mutual convenience.  Since we had children, however, what was bigger than what I wanted was that I needed to set the best example I could for my children.  I tried working on the marriage with my ex for quite some time, until I was simply forced to give up.  I think my ex and I have given our kids the best example we could -- neither of us is perfect, he has some major issues, we both put the kids first and love them, we respect each other now that we're divorced and not living a lie together, we can all be together and talk together with absolutely no hostility or awkwardness.  I think we did the best we could with what we had to work with!

 

To sum it up:  after having kids I could no longer do what was easiest or least painful to me, I simply had to always put my kids first, no matter how personally uncomfortable (and I am SO not a fighter!), because I was the responsible adult in charge of young, dependent children.

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"and then finally, within the last 12 months before we separated, he started to get physical."

 

Bfuddled, I hope you're safe. 

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People change when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain it takes to change.

 

It looks like you might have reached this point. But only you can know when this has occurred.

 

Best of luck to you.

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Thanks for all the replies, everyone. I will reply individually to them later tonite (hopefully, if I get time), but I wanted to say THANK YOU for replying and caring. Things have kind of gone to shit here in the last few days so I'm trying to sort thru the mess and figure out a game plan. Thanks for caring.

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How about fighting to be happy on your own? For some reason, many of us women feel we need to keep hanging in ...in bad/toxic relationships...and we flower it all up by saying...'he showed signs of changing,' bla bla...

 

I'm not saying to dump and run at the first signs of conflict, but to spend YOUR life miserable in order to preserve a farce of a marriage, is illogical to me. Your life is passing YOU by. You can't change him, you can only change how you react to him.

 

Marriage isn't a prison. I don't agree with people staying together 'for kids,' 'for houses,' for whatever they've convinced themselves that they're staying for. You should stay only because you want to be there...you love the person...you are still excited and passionate about the relationship. All too often, those three items are nowhere in the reasons why people hold a crappy marriage together.

 

IT'S OK TO BE HAPPY...IT'S OK TO DIVORCE. Religion has convinced us that marriage is necessary, and that divorce is evil. NEITHER ARE TRUE.

 

If you are unhappy in this marriage, and it seems like you have been for a while...leave it. You are not doing anyone any favors by staying in it. There's no shame or shouldn't be, in ending a marriage in which you are very unhappy.

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So sorry to hear things are this hard for you at the moment.  Your situation sounds very similar to what I went through in my last relationship of 6 years with a man who would not accept the help he needed and would not respect my boundaries.  It took me a long time to decide to leave and it wasn't easy (a huge understatement) but I am glad I did, and only wish I had left sooner.  

 

One thing that helped me figure out what to do was talking it over with a woman at the shelter I volunteer at. She helped me see what was my responsibility and what was his responsibility.  I realised he was going to be unlikely to take responsibility for his choices.  I had tried everything to make it work, and now it was time for us each to focus on ourselves.  

 

That makes total sense. I KNOW that I've taken responsibility for his "stuff" and tried to force the changes, with little to no results. Boundaries are a huge issue, and while I've gotten better at some, it's still not where it should be. Sometimes I wonder if it ever COULD get to a place where correct boundaries are in place, because we've operated with inappropriate ones for so long. I think I've been unable/unwilling to focus on myself for years because the focus has been on him and his issues. I just don't know if it's possible to disentangle and refocus myself and still salvage our marriage. I'm starting to think that it's not.

 

bfuddled,

 

Maybe he interprets your staying with him to mean he doesn't have to do anything further. Maybe he is using your tolerance as an excuse not to take responsibility for his part. But there is no guarantee that if you were to give him an ultimatum or if you were to leave him for good, that he would do what is necessary.

 

I'm sorry you are bearing this burden mostly on your own, and I'm sorry your children are suffering because of the situation. I don't know what is the best thing for you to do. But you might consider that if you continue tolerating the situation as it is, you might blame yourself and feel guilty, later on, that you did tolerate it too long and allowed it to further traumatize your children. As others have commented, not only physical safety is important, but so is psychological and emotional health.

 

+ Human

 

You're right, and part of me knows it. I hate that my kids have been/are being taught unhealthy relationship dynamics.

 

 

How long do you 'want' to deal with it? Sounds like you're tired of it. I dealt with the first wife's mental illness issues about 8 years longer than I really wanted to.  I was ready to break up after the first two years but kept going for 8 more. I wanted to try to make it work. It wasn't all bad during those last years. I just figured her problems would be neverending and I didnt want to deal with it anymore. Divorce was a good thing. A new beginning.  I wish you the best whether you stay together or not.

 

 

I think I've come to the realization in the last year or so that his mental health issues are such that they will be an ongoing problem/factor for the rest of our lives. Part of me feels like that would be going against the vow of "in sickness and in health" to abandon him because of mental health issues that are not really his fault. But the other part of me is terrified that if I don't leave, my entire life will be about mitigating the damage from his issues and trying to cobble together a life in spite of them.

 

While all of the contributing factors are for more complex than the oversimplified statement I'm about to make, it was something that helped me.

 

If this were one of your children, what would you advise them?

 

If one of my kids had come to me with even a fraction of the story of things that have happened, I would have told them to get the hell out of there and don't look back. My own parents have been incredibly supportive and have allowed me to make my own decisions without butting in, but it got to a point with them that even they advised me to be done.

 

When you put it that way it sounds so simple, doesn't it?

 

^^Excellent question.

 

What pushed me into divorce was knowing that I did NOT want my children to think that their parents' relationship was the norm.  I did NOT want my son thinking he could totally ignore his wife, and I did NOT want my daughter thinking she could be completely ignored in her marriage.  I did not want them thinking that their upbringing was what to be expected from marriage. 

 

The divorce was devastating to me financially (below poverty level for years and still struggling) and emotionally, but it's been 11 years and I'm still alive, so there you go.

 

I talked openly with both kids after the divorce (in age-appropriate ways, deeper over the years) so they would know the reasons I ended the marriage.  When I remarried, they now see me and and my new husband in an equal, friendly, loving marriage where we work together and support each other and openly communicate.

 

If we had not had children (we were married 15 years and things didn't get really weird til after the kids were born), I either would have divorced and walked out without an issue as we were both adults responsible for ourselves OR I might have stayed married but let him ignore me while I went and did what I wanted, discreetly of course (which I found out later would not have bothered him) and stayed married in name only and for our mutual convenience.  Since we had children, however, what was bigger than what I wanted was that I needed to set the best example I could for my children.  I tried working on the marriage with my ex for quite some time, until I was simply forced to give up.  I think my ex and I have given our kids the best example we could -- neither of us is perfect, he has some major issues, we both put the kids first and love them, we respect each other now that we're divorced and not living a lie together, we can all be together and talk together with absolutely no hostility or awkwardness.  I think we did the best we could with what we had to work with!

 

To sum it up:  after having kids I could no longer do what was easiest or least painful to me, I simply had to always put my kids first, no matter how personally uncomfortable (and I am SO not a fighter!), because I was the responsible adult in charge of young, dependent children.

 

I've been telling myself that I have to figure out a way to make it work BECAUSE of the kids. Now I don't know anymore what is best for them. I have felt like the best thing for them is to try every avenue possible to make this work, because they deserve a family, and they love their dad (and he loves them). I guess I thought I was strong enough to hold it all together and stick it out for them? I know that's not healthy either, but I think that might be what the motivation is now.

 

"and then finally, within the last 12 months before we separated, he started to get physical."

 

Bfuddled, I hope you're safe. 

 

Thanks, Roz. I'm okay now, and I have a plan in place if anything were ever to happen again.

 

People change when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain it takes to change.

 

It looks like you might have reached this point. But only you can know when this has occurred.

 

Best of luck to you.

 

I think you're right. The pain of staying the same has been slowly overwhelming me to where it's practically unbearable now. At this point I'm just lost as to how to proceed.

 

How about fighting to be happy on your own? For some reason, many of us women feel we need to keep hanging in ...in bad/toxic relationships...and we flower it all up by saying...'he showed signs of changing,' bla bla...

 

I'm not saying to dump and run at the first signs of conflict, but to spend YOUR life miserable in order to preserve a farce of a marriage, is illogical to me. Your life is passing YOU by. You can't change him, you can only change how you react to him.

 

Marriage isn't a prison. I don't agree with people staying together 'for kids,' 'for houses,' for whatever they've convinced themselves that they're staying for. You should stay only because you want to be there...you love the person...you are still excited and passionate about the relationship. All too often, those three items are nowhere in the reasons why people hold a crappy marriage together.

 

IT'S OK TO BE HAPPY...IT'S OK TO DIVORCE. Religion has convinced us that marriage is necessary, and that divorce is evil. NEITHER ARE TRUE.

 

If you are unhappy in this marriage, and it seems like you have been for a while...leave it. You are not doing anyone any favors by staying in it. There's no shame or shouldn't be, in ending a marriage in which you are very unhappy.

 

I hear what you're saying. Part of me knows it's true. But there is part of me that is terrified. Terrified to be alone, to raise 4 kids by myself. I feel like such a coward saying it, but it's true. I don't think I would even know how to be happy on my own, as I've never done it. I went from highschool to engaged to married. I lived by myself for just a few months before my wedding, and wasn't really "on my own" then either as I was engaged and we practically lived together anyway.

 

The realization that this is my ONLY life that I get, and I'm spending most of it being miserable has been staring me in the face lately, and I can't get around it. I'm just so very scared of fucking things up. I don't want my kids to suffer, I don't want him to suffer, and I don't want to look back and regret that I didn't try everything I could think of to fix things.

 

I feel like a pathetic mess, and I really can't believe I'm here right now. I have been running the treadmill so long, trying to hold things together, and I feel like it's all crashing down around me now. All that effort and pain and trying, and I couldn't hold it together and make it work.

 

I'm sorry for this mess of a post. Thank you all for replying and giving your thoughts.

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you have had a lot of advice, and in the end, only you can decide.

I waited too long, I also had four children and it was a huge part of me staying

I have so many regrets about not leaving, the kids would have been no worse off, most likely much better off,

but for me, i can not see ever having another relationship, and for that I am still angry at myself for not leaving when I could have built another life.

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Part of me feels like that would be going against the vow of "in sickness and in health" to abandon him because of mental health issues that are not really his fault. But the other part of me is terrified that if I don't leave, my entire life will be about mitigating the damage from his issues and trying to cobble together a life in spite of them.

 

I think when people make that vow they may be envisaging staying together after their spouse became a paraplegic or developed an ongoing physical illness.  I think your husband's issues are quite different to that sort of scenario.  He is not taking responsibility for managing his mental health.  He is the only person who can do that, and at the moment he lacks insight into his illness.  The mature, reasonable thing for him to do would have been to include you in the doctor's appointments and involve you in his self-care plan.  I don't know if he will ever do this.

 

You have bent over backwards to try and create the conditions in which he could get well, or manage his symptoms, or meet his responsibilities.  He clearly doesn't want to do the work necessary to be a well man and a good husband and father to the best of his ability.  You are the one who is doing all the work here, and it won't ever be enough because he is not being open and honest with himself or you.  

 

You are already raising 4 children on your own, plus trying to deal with him which must be like having a 5th child at times.  You are exhausted, understandably.  I think you would be able to parent on your own and be on your own, because you have have years of practice doing just that.  He's not a source of support for you like a spouse is meant to be.  You are stronger than you think you are, my friend.

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I couldnt agree more Free, the struggle of dealing with a partner who is mentally unstable, or ill, is very stressful, the constant feeling of being of edge, never knowing what will set them off, trying to protect the kids.... its soul destroying.

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Aren't your children suffering already?

Isn't he suffering anyways?

Is it worth to keep on suffering yourself?

 

I think the vow of caring for each other in sickness and in health also includes caring for oneself for the others sake. It is his responsibility to care for himself as well in order to be a good husband. As you care for yourself too. How can he expect your love when he isn't loving himself and you enough to take care of himself?

I had a friends only relationship with an alcoholic once and he tried hard to become my boyfriend but I just could not. When I finally quit this friendship because I had to realize that it was naive to be friends only with someone who was into me I too felt sometimes like I could have make it work but never gave it a chance. Sometimes even now when I think about him and miss him I think maybe we could have worked it out. His favorite movie was Walk The Line with Johnny Cash. When we watched it together I felt like he secretly hoped me to be his saving angel who got him out of his mess...like in that movie. But I knew I was not strong enough to do that. And I hate that movie for making me feel responsible for someone else's problems. Especially since I have my own mess to care for. I also hate the saying that behind every great man is a great woman. Thats just BS. Many great women suffer for too long to support a man that never becomes a great man no matter how great the woman behind him is.

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Hi bfudded. I sympathize with your situation completely sweetie. I'd like to share my own experience with you.

 

I grew up in 2 alcoholic homes where neither my real dad or step-dad would look at the destruction they were causing. People don't think that alcoholism causes mental disorders, but it does and it effects everyone around them. So in that way, speaking from a child's point of view (as I was back then) it is NOT fun. The fighting and chaos it caused me has affected my whole life. It made me into a complete 'people pleaser' all my life because I actually thought I had the ability to make  both my mom's first and second marriage work. I spent a lot of time 'babying' my dad and my step-dad to try and make life easier for my mom.

 

I  also stayed in relationships far too long that were not working. Because of my up-bringing and thinking I could fix the whole world by being nice and helpful, I also got involved in an abusive marriage. I didn't know he was abusive at first. He was a man i would discover that had terrible mental disorders. But because he was a Christian, I thought it would be OK. I kept thinking that if I told him over and over how much he was hurting me, he would stop. But he didn't.  I also experienced a huge amount of pain in my next marriage. That is smoothing out now because I simply will not tolerate emotional abuse of any kind. I am seeing my husband put in a huge effort now to communicate with me in a much more mature way. He has a very very passive-aggressive personality and it caused a lot of pain in our relationship. This type of behavior is totally toxic. It was only in the past couple of years that I told him I would NOT tolerate it. If your husband is 'skirting' over the issue's of this marriage trouble, you may have to make a decision. Watch very carefully to see if he will not acknowledge problems because this is very passive aggressive. This will destroy your love for him.

 

I recently received a hate letter from my boy who is an alcoholic. It practically destroyed my spirit completely. I have had to let him go. And it has not easy. The pain is beyond any of my other relationships. I cannot fix him. He must fix himself. I cannot fix anyone. I can only fix me and what I will tolerate just as 'Human' very intelligently brought up in post # 11. If a relationship causes more pain than pleasure and both parties are not willing to look at it together, there is no hope. It takes two people to be open and honest about the relationship. If only one wants it to work, it probably won't.

 

My heart bleeds for you in making this horrible decision. I will say this as an ole' gal. Do not spend your life trying to fix a broken person who refuses to look at themselves.

 

I give you a k-zillion hugs today as you try to make this decision about your life. 

 

Sincerely, Margee

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bfuddled--at your reply to me...

 

It is very normal to be afraid to leave a relationship, and I can only imagine with 4 children. It is often 'easier' for lack of a better word, to stay in what is familiar, and yet painful...than to venture out into the unknown. (which most likely, will be better in the long term for you)

 

Only you can change your life. You cannot change your marriage, nor your husband. Only you can change how you wish to view it, or if you wish to stay in it. I hate to see you so unhappy. I've been in unhappy relationships, and was once in an abusive one. Very hard to leave, even when I knew leaving would help me grow and feel better about life.

 

There are a lot of good books out there that might help you to see you're not alone. My only advice is to not stay in such an unhappy place for so long, that it becomes normal. And that leaving it, to find something healthier...is viewed as abnormal. That might be where you are currently, and it's true, human beings can get used to nearly any situation. It's like people in prisons, or concentration camps. At first, they are terrified, but over time...they become used to their surroundings, and even afraid to leave them. Stockholm Syndrome may be what I'm thinking of, off hand.

 

I hope you find peace and happiness. You're in our thoughts here. *hug*

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Oh I feel for you. I deconverted 4 1/2 years ago. I fought for about 2 1/2 years to save my marriage to a nice guy. Not a lot of conflict on the surface but underneath it all, he was so disappointed in me and looked down on me for "turning my back on god", and it was too hard to fight against that every day. About 2 years ago I left him and we had a relatively amiable divorce. We have cooperated well and helped our 4 kids (now 8, 14, 15, 16) through it, and it was still really difficult. But I have not regretted it at all. It made such a difference being on my own, regaining my self respect and not having to live daily with the religious guilt and shame. But no one but you knows your situation from the inside. I hope you will have the courage to do whatever you need to do, either way.

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Oh I feel for you. I deconverted 4 1/2 years ago. I fought for about 2 1/2 years to save my marriage to a nice guy. Not a lot of conflict on the surface but underneath it all, he was so disappointed in me and looked down on me for "turning my back on god", and it was too hard to fight against that every day. About 2 years ago I left him and we had a relatively amiable divorce. We have cooperated well and helped our 4 kids (now 8, 14, 15, 16) through it, and it was still really difficult. But I have not regretted it at all. It made such a difference being on my own, regaining my self respect and not having to live daily with the religious guilt and shame. But no one but you knows your situation from the inside. I hope you will have the courage to do whatever you need to do, either way.

 

hey, how are you doing? glad to see you are still around

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