Are You in an Unhappy Marriage Just for Your Children?

Emotional distress

If you are in an unhappy marriage, is it better to stay married just for the sake of the children–or to divorce? Are the effects of divorce on children always negative? What really is best for the children?

Mary is a successful professional who works with couples in the throes of separation and divorce, helping them to separate with as much dignity and respect as possible, and as little harm as possible.
Besides extensive training and education for this work, Mary brings the painful experience of helplessly watching her parents’ marriage self-destruct.
The usual marriage-enders had been there since she was about eight. Mary recalls the late-night shouting, the blaming and criticism, the defensiveness and the utter contempt at times each seemed to hold for the other. She recalls the icy silences and her mother crying. The parents tried to hide or deny their unhappiness, but children always know.
Mary loved her father, but from about age nine she began to pray that her father would leave. He stayed and the conflict continued. Mary was at university when her parents finally divorced.
Mary resented both her parents for staying together and putting her and her brothers through all that turmoil. It took her another ten years and a couple of children of her own to get past that.
So why did her parents stay together in a marriage that was not working? Their explanation was they did it “for the sake of the children.” They didn’t want to “unravel the family.”
Many couples manage to turn a souring relationship around through counselling, but often the deterioration has gone beyond the point of no return before they seek counselling.
What is the damage from staying?
When children under ten see their parents in open conflict, they tend to blame themselves. They tend to put their own lives on hold. As they get older, they may just withdraw and become increasingly isolated from one or both parents.
A few will develop behaviour problems: acting out, defiance, deteriorating grades, bullying, etc.
However, the biggest long-term damage comes from their internalizing what they see modeled. It is the parental modeling that years later leads to the 26-year-old mother handling conflict with her husband by screaming at him, or her husband handling conflict by bullying. It is what they saw their parents do. At an intuitive level, they don’t know any other ways of resolving family conflict.
What is the damage from separating?
The issue for the children’s health and development is not whether the parents are together or apart, but how well they handle conflict. If separating gives them space to cool down and co-parent with mutual respect, the children, as children, will be better off than when their parents were together.
Later, as adult children of parents who were separated, they can draw on a model that says you don’t have to go down with a sinking ship. Their parents didn’t unravel the family by separating. Rather, they separated because the family had already unraveled.
Would you want your daughter or son to stay in a chronically unhappy marriage? Then be careful what you model.
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Dr. Neill Neill retired his psychology practice at the end of 2013. He maintains an active coaching practice via telephone or Skype with select clients dealing with alcoholic husbands or ex-husbands. Check out his book, Living with a Functioning Alcoholic: A Woman's Survival Guide.

111 thoughts on “Are You in an Unhappy Marriage Just for Your Children?

  1. Hi Dr.Neill,

    Thank you very much for your reply…My husband and I had a talk the other day and we both agree that seperation will do us good…at least for the time being…Today I packed everything and am ready to move out.My husband is very calm about it and said we may still see each other though..he suggested that we may even start dating again…well…I am not so sure about it…one voice in my heart still tells me to stay and give it another try… has been 9 years since we met…can’t be easy for anyone I guess….anyway…that’s all the news for the time being…wish me luck!:)

  2. Dr Neill,
    I read this & know i should separate from my husband. Although we rarely fight, we just don’t talk. My husband is also an alcoholic. However, I just can’t get past taking my children’s father from them & the fear of being a single mother. My children love their father, and there are good times between the kids & their Dad. My chilodren are 4, 6, and 9. Anyway, thank you for printing this excerpt. I just have to find the courage to do it.

  3. Many people stay glued to their marriage because of children or things like financial security. But I don’t think it is worth to spend your life unhappy and miserable.

  4. I am 37 with two children in a miserable marriage. My husband is an alcoholic- he has had DUIs, in trouble with his job which resulted him being in a 30 day rehab. We have been married 16 years and separated twice. The children are 7 and 12 now. Husband is verbally abusive I finally realized and does not refrain anything or words on his mind when fighting with me in front of the children, which happens drunk or sober.

    I am on the fence with what to do… I finally mentioned to my sister who told me my family sees it and says I try to cover it up good. Also this marriage has never been emotionally fulfilling with so much other things. He was the person I dated in school and then married because it was the “right thing to do”. Any advise?? How far do you let it go when the children are involved?

  5. Parents handling conflict badly (yelling, abusive behavior, etc.) has more negative effects on the children than the parents being separated. In other words, if separating reduces the amount of verbal abuse, the children benefit.

  6. On Monday my husband and I separated for the 3rd and final time. We have now been married for 10 years and although he was still hoping to make it work it just was not going anywhere. We just don’t make each other happy and seem to bring out the worst in each other. The final straw came when he left on Sunday for work in Scotland and I was relieved and I realized I felt better when he was away. I noticed I am a calmer person with out him here and instead of being down in the dumps and miserable and then getting angry with the children over little things resulting in heated arguments with my 7 year old; I was able to deal with his tantrums and calmly defuse the situation.

    I realized that I am not the parent I want to be and think it has everything to do with my unhappy marriage and realized I was doing more damage to my children than good by staying with their father.

    It hurts like hell to know I will be hurting my children and dread the day he comes home from Scotland and we have to tell the children as their little hearts will break. But, I believe if we stay amicable with each other and give our children 2 happy homes to live in they will come though this as happier little children.

    I have been fighting for 5 years from the 1st separation to make this marriage work and I have finally realized it will never change and my happiness is important for my children. Also, what message would I be giving to my children if I cant show them love and affection for my partner? I don’t want them growing up thinking that’s what a relationship is about. My son not being romantic and my daughter settling for anything less than what she wants! Good luck to you all in your decisions….

  7. Wow thank you for posting this. I’m not married nor have children yet but constantly hear about the damage divorce does to children. I always felt it was a very unfair characterization of divorce as the large scale studies always compare the criminal records and divorce rates of children of divorce and children of parents who stayed together. This is a ridiculous comparison of apples and oranges. Of course a child who grows up with parents in a happy loving marriage will be happier than a child who watched his parents marriage dissolve. A better question to ask is do children who grow up with parents in a miserable or unloving marriage versus parents who end a miserable/unloving marriage going to do better?

    Personally, I’m thrilled my parents got divorced and I had the opportunity to grow up in a peaceful, happy home with my mother and wonderful step father. Rather than the terror and chaos of living with a stressed out, miserable mother and angry father.

    I’ve known several friends who have either asked their parents to get a divorce or have said they were thrilled they did. Thank you so much for talking about this. I only wish there were more folks in your profession that did.

  8. Thank you for posting this. All this time I have been in a very unhappy marriage and even though I tell my husband I love him and want to be with him. I know in my heart its not what I want or need. Our 3 years of marriage has been a total disaster. I went from being so happy when our daughter was born–to not wanting to smile. With him, even when i see him everyday there’s no passion anymore and half the time I am around him I want nothing more than to run away and be free with my kids.

    We argue. We both always have to get the last words and put eachother down. I’m tired and have made many attemps to leave the relationship, but I feel my kids need both their parents in order to be normal. When you post about children acting out in these ways it explains alot of the reasons for my sons behavior. He’s 8. I never realized the damage I was doing untill now. I know I want to be alone but how to get there is the only struggle. I can’t seem to find a solution to this, but I know it will benifit myself and all my kids if i get out now and save their futures of becoming someone who others will adore. So, thanks for your info.

  9. Hi,
    Currently I am feeling that there is no other option but to separate from my husband. We have been together since I was 17. I am now 29 and we have three children together. I am no longer in love with my partner. I do love him, but I am unable to show affection towards him. I am so conflicted I do not want to separate my family. I always wanted to experience all the major milestones of a family with him, but I just cannot do this anymore. I try talking to him, try expressing the changes I need in order to be happy i.e spending more time home doing things with our kids, doing yard work together, cleaning out house stuff that I cannot lift etc.

    He is a very hard worker, supports our family and does not want me working until our kids are in school. He does come from a family that has anger control issues. He is trying to get a handle on things, but I feel like the damage has been done and my heart cannot forgive him. I do not want my boys to EVER treat women the way he has treated me in the past. I feel sick to my stomach thinking that this could really possibly be over, but I am so tired of wanting things for our family and home life, wanting him to have pride in us, the kids along with our house and yard, and he could care less.

    He is a slob, I am always picking up after him, and he’ll say he’s going to get to it, gets mad at me for reminding him and still he will forget and won’t do what he was supposed to do. He smokes pot every single night, all day on weekends at the lake, and sees no problem with this. What am I supposed to do? My life has everything to do with his family. I am the one who has to put all the effort into being with his family. Don’t get me wrong I love his aunts, uncles, cousins, I really do, but he does not see my family even a 1/3 as much as I see his.

    If I leave him it will be blamed on me, I will have to deal with him not cooperating, making separating even harder on our children. I am nauseas just thinking about the way he would act and treat me and blatantly blame me in front of our kids. On the surface we look like an ordinary family, who is social when need be, friendly to each other, who occasionally fights, but behind closed doors, I am the numb, depressed wife, anxious, sad, irritable and tired of so much I don’t even know where/what to start at that makes me more depressed about life. Him or me? I don’t know how to leave. I don’t know if I can. I don’t want to separate my family and be blamed or called selfish. I want amazing things for my kids, that is all I want. But, it’s hard to have energy to put into that when I am so miserable. What is wrong with me….everyone will think I am ungrateful if I leave him, no one truly knows what he is like. And I cannot handle the fake we are putting off, I cannot do it much longer. I just want to be happy, and active, and affectionate. Instead I am lethargic, most days I have to take everything in me just to have a decent day with my kids, it’s killing me.

  10. I love my wife and my children more than anything. My biggest fear is losing our family. When I read a compilation of studies spanning over 30 years regarding the effects of divorce on children, I was appaled. I recognized some of the effects on my own life from my parents divorce when I was five years old. I understand that some marriages can turn sour and become unsafe for spouses and children, and attempts to save them from the fires continuously fail. But most importantly, I know that it only takes one spouse who loves their family to salvage a marriage from the ashes. The way we are raised and our interactions with others while we grow play a big part on how we decipher communications from others. For example: I say, “I can’t relax in this house with it looking this way”. She hears, “I think you’re a slob and a bad mother for living this way”. What I meant for her to hear was, “I would like us to work on chores together in a way that sustains a clean house”. We have the hardest times hearing eachother and it is a constant source of unfounded hurt. But I love my wife and need to show her that I do more often and in more ways. For my family, my wife, and my children, I will walk through the fires of hell every day for the rest of my life to keep it alive and nurturing. I could never live with myself knowing how badly I have hurt my children and scared their lives by giving up on the partnership I entered with my wife, our vows and our hopes and dreams and prayers, and the littles lives we started from love of eachother. For them, I will never stop trying.

  11. I’m in an unhealthy marriage and plan to continue just for the sake of my kids. I think my wife would make things so miserable for me, that it would just be easier to stay the course for right now. I married her because she got pregnant and have now stayed together for about 15 years. We are clearly so different in terms of the way we view the world; our values, spirituality, culturally, sexually, etc. In fact, having sex with her is a real struggle for me and has always been so. I refuse to think of separating, as I love my kids so much and want complete access to them all the time. I’m a really involved dad with 2 boys. I spend quality time with them; coaching, homework, PTA, and all. I just can’t bear the thought of loosing them, although I know my wife and I would be happier apart. I’m writing this to see if there are other dads out their in a similar situation and are there resources for me to help me get through another 10 years in a dysfunctional marriage?

  12. Hi Kevin,

    I like your comment, however, have you imagined yourself with your wife after all the kids have grown up and they are living their lives on their own? If you come to think of it, it will just be you and your wife left alone in the house and no more kids to take care of (except of course if you are going to take care of your grandchildren)… then what will you do?

  13. Crystal,

    I just want to tell you that you are not alone. I share exactly the same problem you are facing. I had tears in my eyes when I read what you have written. Of course, everybody here is having a painful/unhappy life. But yours was something I could relate to very well. I just think that we must start a new perspective in life… Do not expect anything from your husband. If he does the’s good, if he doesn’t, don’t bother. Do the best you can. Remember not to set a high standards on anything in life. Do things that bring you happiness.

  14. Dear Dr. Neill,

    Thank you for publishing this. I’m an 18 year old girl who very accurately developed the behavioral problems you’ve listed. I’ve isolated myself from my parents and once I was of age, I moved far away from them as possible to get away from the turmoil at home.

    I’ve grew up very unhappy due to my parent’s conflict, and constantly asked my mother to divorce my father since I was eight. The reason they’ve stayed together was “for my sake”.

    My parents married because my mother got pregnant with me and for that reason they’ve been in a very unhappy marriage with nothing but conflict and scarce respect for one another. The year that their marriage was on the brink and with the knowledge that I was old enough to not be an excuse, they’ve conceived another child, not out of love, but out of desperation and an excuse to not face the uncertain future of financial independence. And thus the cycle starts again.

    For all the parents that read this, and worry what will happen to your child if you don’t get a divorce; DON’T. In the worse case scenario, they’ll end up like me: antisocial, bitter, and with little emotional connections with my parents.

  15. I have been married for 13 years and we have 2 children. I knew my husband for 8 years before we were romantically involved. He was a friend from the age of 20 and we got to know each other through the building we both worked in. For 8 years he would take me to nice restaurants, wine bars, movies, etc and this was a platonic friendship as for many of those years I was in another long term relationship. He wore suits, nice clothes, was well-mannered, chivalrous (doors opened etc). He was patient, calm, and loyal through and through.

    I had been single for almost a year once we started a romantic relationship. There were rocky times in the beginning of our relationship (i.e. he left me at a party once with all of his friends whom I had just met and he drove MY car home and went to bed. This was because he told me he was ready to leave the party and I didn’t leave immediately). After some relationship counseling, I felt it had just been an adjustment period where we were both trying to find our feet in the relationship. We got married after 1 year of dating, and we had our first child 18 months later. That is when our problems started.

    When our baby was 1 month old, he started criticizing me very heavily for not being organized enough ….. I ran out of clean baby bottles one morning after a long, sleepless night and when he saw me washing and sterilizing a bottle for a feed, he told me I was a “hopeless mother”. I had post-natal depression and he told me to “get over it … it’s not about you anymore, it’s about the baby”.

    His relentless criticism of me continued for 5 years, but we decided to have another child during one of the good periods. I remember him being angry with me in the car one day and he made me get out and pump gas at the petrol station, heavily pregnant because I had been “rude” to him. These are just a couple of examples of hundreds of moments over 13 years.

    At the time our 2nd baby was born, I had suffered a broken knee cap due to a fall a couple of days before the caesarean was due. I had to have knee surgery when our baby was a week old and my leg was in a brace for 6 weeks. When our baby was 2 weeks old, my husband turned 40. He actually gave me a hard time because I had not organized something special for his 40th birthday. I had a 2 week old baby and surgery 1 week before and had just come out of hospital. He made me feel like the worst wife on the face of the earth, and so what did I do? I rushed around organizing a surprise dinner with his closest friends.

    I have been a fool for 13 years, but now we are at the point where he berates me and talks to me like I’m a piece of dirt in front of our children and I can’t let them see this any more.

    He and I are in constant combat, but most of it is silent and he is now working on our 11 year old daughter. He puts me down to her, he laughs at me and involves her in the laughing at me.

    I have read psychology pages on ‘victim complex personalities’ and he fits the profile. He had a mentally and verbally abusive father who put his mother down for years until she left him, and his father was an uncaring, rude, dominating husband and father. I feel like history is repeating itself and I am the one paying for the fractured personality and interpersonal problems that his parents relationship caused.

    I love my children and as the daughter of happily married parents of 45 years, I NEVER thought I would have children in a broken home. I am worried sick about what divorcing will do to them and I don’ t want to hurt their childhood, but I believe I am doing them more psychological harm by staying with him.

    He represses them, but plays the victim and makes it look like I’m ungrateful. He’s extremely cunning, but I’m scared of what he’ll be like and what he’ll say to them if he gets half the custody time.

    The other night he made our 6 year old son do the naughty corner in a dark room with the lights turned off. He sat in the room with him, but he knows that our son is scared of the dark. When I questioned him as to why he was making our son sit in the dark, he roared at me to keep out of it and that he was disciplining our son “his way” and that I should butt out. He roared at me like I was a piece of dirt right in front of our daughter and my mother who was in shock with her mouth open in disbelief.

    He’s not normal and he’s very manipulative. He plays the martyr all the time and is very clever at painting me as though I’m hopeless and miserable all the time.

    I find myself crying privately a lot, and sometimes when he’s rude to me I find myself saying, “Shut up, God I hate you” under my breath.

    This is no way to live and I feel duped. I feel like he conned me with chivalry and manners until he “got” me and then all he did for the next 13 years was try to crush my spirit and control me.

    I have fantastic support from my parents (who have admitted to me they almost hate him after the things they’ve seen him do to me and others we know), but I am just so worried about damaging my children psychologically.

    What do I do? Our beautiful children are 6 and 11. Should I end this before my daughter hits the teenage years? I know he is going to try and turn her against me and I love her more than life itself.

  16. Hey Neill!

    I grew up with my sibling in an atmosphere where the father beats the mother to death. My mother was married to my father, later did she realize that she was betrayed and certain facts were not told to her which could have saved her from marrying.

    After the marriage, as usual, the whole cycle of beatings and abuses started. She never took the step of divorce. She threatened my father that she would take a divorce if he does not mend his ways. Its been 21 years since they have been together. And I am 20 now. I would rather blame her for not taking any step towards ending it. Had she done that earlier itself, at least my sibling would not have been born and at least one life could have been saved. I do love my father . But some times he’s vulgar. Huh ..

    He even beat me indecently many times! I don’t know what love is anymore. I feel that I am being enforced to live with certain people who say that they are my protectors and saviors. Well, they did not protect me anywhere. They can’t even stand up for me when I need them the most.

    My father is an alcoholic and he loses his senses when he fights. He drinks daily. Whenever I want to talk to him about studies in abroad, he brushes up the topic saying he does not have money. In India, almost every parent saves it up for their child. He did not. And its a tradition that for girls gold jewellery is made. He did not do that either. I hardly have any gold. I am not complaining about that, it’s just that I feel bad when my friends’ fathers who have same positions as managers make kilograms of gold.

    Every night, my father comes and shouts and fights. And my brother too follows the same path. He started scolding me with abuses back a long time. Sometimes he even raises the hand. Last night me and my father had an argument. And my brother abused me for a simple reason. My father does only one thing. He asks, “Why are you talking like that?” The next moment, he hits me on my face twice and it hurts my braces. I have braces on my teeth. I got little blood from the gums. I even called my best friend last night saying I don’t wanna live with them anymore. Even she has a very much similar life just as mine.

    My right side of the face still hurts and I am in pain . I wanna run away from here. I don’t feel if my mother is on my side anymore. She is not able to tolerate my thoughts anymore. She thinks I am flying in the air, castles type of girl. I don’t even know what to do. All the options of going away from here seems pointless. If I am not allowed to go out, they may put me into marriage and murder me. If that happens, I surely can’t live with it. I may end my life. I know this is much of confession rather than a complaint. I needed to share this to someone.

    Now look here; last night they fight and now they talk like lovebirds. And when asked why do thy do so they reply, “It’s for the children.” Come on, for me? I would rather love to live alone than to live with you.

  17. I hate my husband’s guts. He is abusive and cruel. I wish he would leave home, but he doesn’t. I don’t want the cops here, I just want my husband out. I hate even calling him my husband. It makes me sick to think I would wind up with a fat, disgusting, lazy piece of crap like that. I want out of this marriage. It is not healthy for kids, animals or anyone to put up with married people’s abuse. Divorce, divorce, divorce!!!!!

  18. Thank you for posting this, but still after 25 years of marriage and 4 children I still don’t know what to do. For the past 7 years after my youngest son was diagnosed with Autism, my life completely changed and the relationship with my husband became non existent at all. Him working 14 hours a day and me having all the responsibility of the house and my kids was just too much.

    It’s until now that he said that our relationship is not working and that we need to find help because he cannot take it anymore!!! He blames me for everything. I stopped working 12 years ago as his request and now I feel I’m in a disadvantage. He just said that if we cannot work it out it’s better to divorce!! What about me???? What am I supposed to do???

  19. Somehow it’s always nice to know one is not alone. I became pregnant for my then boyfriend of 9 months and decided to get married after many arguments about me not wanting to have my baby out of wedlock. So here we are 3 years later and I am miserable. I have spent hours crying tonight before seeing this site. I have tried so hard, but my husband is so manipulative and his ego bigger than his bank account. He puts me down all the time, blames me for everything, doesn’t help me out, speaks to me wrongly or not at all. He would spend all day on his phone playing games than talk to me. He has never on his own thought to do anything nice for me. But he loves our son and my son loves his dad so much it scares me.

    I feel worried about the way his dad treats me because I feel he might grow up picking those bad attitudes towards women. I’m scared that if I leave, I will be taking so much away from my son. And that there will be such a bad fight about custody and blames, all of which will be mine as it will all be my family’s fault. I am fed up. I want to be loved, to be appreciated, to be cared for, spoken to, I just want to have a happy life, not one with someone who really doesn’t want to be with me or is just with me for all the financial benefits there. I’m constantly giving and doing. I feel emotionally drained. Even if I was to leave, I have no idea what to do or how. I want to take my son with me without all the custody battles.

    What can I do??

  20. I’ve been in a ten year verbally abusive marriage I want to leave. I really need help. All she does is put down the two children as if she doesn’t want them at all. She yells and screams and flies into a fit of rage. She will not cook or clean or do laundry. I thought things would change, but they have not. I have been the sole provider for them for ten years she doesn’t manage money well. We’ve been living on a little nothing for several months. Because she doesn’t manage money, we have no money for groceries. We are always in the red at the bank or overdrawn. How do I leave?

  21. Today was the first day I left the house without my wedding ring. It made me sad, but made me feel strong like I wouldn’t have to put up with the verbal abuse and put downs any longer. It made me feel like it was time to stick up for myself and demand to be respected. I’m not perfect so I don’t feel like I need to list all the reasons why he’s wrong or has hurt me, but I’m at the point where I’m recognizing that his anger and verbal abuse is damaging my self worth and creating a reaction in me I’m not proud of. I feel horrible that my children have heard our arguing. I have confided in my parents so they are aware of things I’ve said and things he’s said and have let me know I can always go there…. at this point I don’t think that he’ll ever respect me unless I leave…. I hate having my parents involved, but I’m really thinking maybe that’s the best thing to do so he knows this is serious.

    Today he yelled because he misread what I said which started a huge fight…. then we have time apart and he mockingly says, “Hi, how are you?” like nothing happened or he can just pretend to glaze over things.

    Anyways we both know things need to change, I just don’t think he gets how ready I am to leave for good. If I was to say this he’d be like ‘good see ya, can I help you pack’ to be a mean person. I don’t know I left once for a day or so and he was dropping by my parents so maybe that’s what I need to do for him to wake up and realize what his actions are doing to me, and us.

    Like I said, I’m nowhere near perfect and when verbally pushed I’ll fight back as best as I can… it just breaks my heart and breaks me down every time and I don’t think he cares.

    Not sure where this will go… just felt like maybe typing this out would give some clarity, but it hasn’t so far.

    Just wanted to mention that today I took a big step and went in public without my wedding rings on and that was okay… I felt strong and like everything would be okay.

  22. With each and every post I have at least two things in common: I want to cry and I thought I was the only one that thought these thoughts and had these feelings, yet feels so trapped with nowhere to turn.

    I read on a therapist blog this afternoon this passage which for the first time in a very long time, I cried tears of happiness. It summed up exactly how I feel, how I should feel without me feeling ashamed of myself and my marriage. The passage goes- I didn’t consciously choose to be in an unhappy marriage but I can choose to deal with it with dignity and intelligence, no one can tell me what to do, it may be a lonely place but its my place. It is only my life to live.

    It’s simple, if I truly love myself and my children, I need to be happy. I need to be happy for them. I cannot continue to allow my beautiful children to be hurt by this marriage any longer. God bless you all and I wish happiness to you all.

  23. I can’t bear to lose my precious children. My wife and I have no chemistry at all. We don’t speak the same basic language it seems. I realized this when we first met, but I ignored it and made it my mission to win her. She was awful to my family immediately, which caused great pain and nearly ended our young marriage. But we stuck with it.

    We have three beautiful kids and one on the way. Some things are good. She’s very organized and keeps a lovely home. And she’s worked hard to make things better with my family. But we just don’t click. I don’t get to be myself because I know she doesn’t mesh well with that person. So I refrain from natural thoughts or tendencies often. And she’s terribly unfair with our kids and yells frequently. She’s frequently told me that she doesn’t feel that I love her. Sometimes things are okay, but I’ll never be truly happy.

    I forced this relationship even when the signs were there that it wasn’t a good fit. I can’t bear the thought that my five year old son would ever have to comprehend that his mommy and daddy don’t love each other. I don’t know what to do. I know that scars are likely inevitable either way. I want to be happy so bad, but it’s just not in the cards I’m afraid. My own fault, but I do love my kids more than anything else in the world. Any life where I get to come home to them every day can’t be all that bad, can it?

  24. Interesting article but I don’t buy it. My kids would rather us like each other and stay married but if we have to be unhappy then just be unhappy and keep things together.

    No one is completely happy, I have been married 29 years to a man I don’t like but I like my family, I like my kids living with a mom and a dad both who love them and I don’t believe a new girlfriend or a well meaning step dad is ever as good as mom and dad in the same house.

    If there is physical abuse or drugs and alcohol involved or worse abuse to the children of any kind I say leave, leave now, leave today.

    Am I teaching my kids the wrong things by staying? I don’t know. I am showing them that when you make a commitment you keep it, that you don’t just walk out on your family because you are not “happy” there is a lot of happy and unhappy in life and sometimes you have to make it work with what you have. I am teaching them that I value our family and I am willing to stick it out, take the high road, do what it takes to keep us a family.

    Be honest kids of divorce do horribly most times. I am one, I don’t have many friends or family that are not divorced at some time, and I have yet to see a happy ending. I know a lot of single moms struggling to make ends meet with fought for child support and a job they hate. Kids are now in daycare and new schools in crummy neighborhoods while Dad makes a new family with someone else.

    Happiness is something I need to find for myself. I find it with my kids and friend, and life. My husband thinks I owe him sex, I don’t agree so I assume he will find his “happiness” where he will. This isn’t just about two people, this is a family.

  25. Very interesting read. And it hits oh so close to home. I am stuck in an absolutely loveless and sexless marriage. I have no connection whatsoever with my wife of 16 years. We are roommates, and although we get along well, don’t argue, and are generally very cordial, there is simply nothing there. I have been thinking of leaving for sometime.

    One day, my wife asked me if I wanted to stay married. I answered honestly with a “maybe”. That spawned a lot of discussion, and we are now in therapy. We are both mature rational adults, its all very civil, luckily. I know in my heart of hearts it won’t work, but I have to try, as I see it as the right thing to do. We do have one teenage son, who always says “I love you guys”. It breaks my heart, and keeps me from pulling the plug so far.

    I am usually a very together person, but this is really painful for me, as I am sure it is for her. I think the kid kinda senses things, but he keeps professing his love for us both. I am in a place I haven’t been before, and its very disruptive.

    As I wake up at 50 plus years young, I just want to live the rest of my years being happy, healthy, and the being the great guy I am. I have a ton of friends, and always have a smile on my face. I would so love to meet a great woman who can appreciate all the love and good vibes I have to give. This is really, really tough. I love my kid and I don’t want to hurt him. Sound familiar?

  26. I have been married 21 years and am in the exact same situation as many of you. I have two sons as well and the challenge on this end is, due shaken baby syndrome from a sitter when he was younger, the oldest is a disabled. Had he not gotten hurt, I don’t know if we would be together or not. Then along came the second son who is active in sports. Both his mom and I are active in both their lives and activities, but that’s pretty much all we have in common at this point and have for a long time. Outside the home we seem like the all american family. Inside the home, we barely talk, spend most of our time in separate parts of the house, and when we do converse about something, other than kids, it often leads to a fight. I have found being in separate rooms reduces the conflict, but it’s really like living alone at this point anyways. I wanted to do the honorable thing and keep everyone together but, everyday this seems like an unrealistic goal. We married young, grew up together and are great friends, but from a marriage standpoint things suck. The youngest is a sophomore and I don’t know whether to stick it out 3 more years or just give up at this point.

  27. I guess I’m one of the few that really was blessed by my parents divorce. My step-dad is a wonderful man and has been a great dad to me. His family is my family. I had to see my father and step-mother’s extremely unhealthy and abusive marriage until he died when I was 13, and it horrified me. If their marriage was that bad, how awful must have my mom and his have been?

    Now I’m 25 and in an unhealthy marriage. I have a two year old son, who we both love more than anything in the world, and while I hate the idea of him not having both of us actively in his life on a daily basis, I know that me and his father are not giving him the example of what a healthy relationship should be, with mutual love, trust, respect, and good communication. My husband thinks it’s okay to say awful, cruel things in arguments because he apologizes afterward and doesn’t really mean them. It’s a cycle of verbal and emotional abuse that I will not tolerate any longer.

    I do not hate my husband. He has some very good qualities as well, but when there is that kind of verbal and emotional abuse, that far outweighs the good, it’s just not worth it to stay. I told him that I wanted us to both live in the same city (he’s in the process of getting out of the military, so we will be moving regardless of divorce/staying together) so that we can both be a part of our son’s life, but he wanted no part in that. He will move to Florida, but I have said from day one that I don’t want to live that far south, so I am moving with our son to an area in Missouri where I have connections in my pre-baby profession, which I have kept my license up to date in even while being a stay-at-home-mom.

    We’ve already started discussing logistics and plan to make our divorce agreement without lawyers, though we’ll go to JAG after we’re finished with it just to have someone who understands the laws and requirements look it over and make sure we’ve covered everything necessary. I think that if we can keep things calm and not throw out insults and accusations and attempt to be at least sort of friendly, we can still give our son a good life, even if we’re not married anymore.

    Divorce doesn’t have to be damaging to children if the parents can behave in a mature fashion and work together to continue to provide for the kid(s). It’s when one side or the other gets greedy and selfish or bad-mouths the other parent to the child that causes damage to the child.

  28. Hi, reading these comments I can relate to a lot of them. I’m a 38 male, married for 15 years, and have 2 beautiful daughters. I’m British and my wife is Spanish. during our marriage I have never insulted her, never left her to do things alone with children, and have generally been there for everything she needs. I was unfaithful to her after our first child was born and always have regretted doing that. I told her and she forgave me. I saw a counselor and on we went. Sex has been low always and has now become non existent. I do try to be more affectionate and just do the kissing and cuddles, but even though I do that there’s no response sexually. well, 15 years down the line here I am in a relationship that doesn’t fulfill me at all. we have absolutely nothing in common, nada!!!!!!! Not in homes, clothes, holidays, or religious views, nada de nada. I have recently returned from a 3 day trip to a trade fair and had a one night stand. My head is now in turmoil. Although I know the women I was with is nothing, which is sad, because she is everything I could want from. But it has opened my eyes to how sad I feel and how empty things are at home. I am now contemplating leaving and have mentioned to her we need to talk. She just says she has nothing to say and that she has enough problems in her life. So here I am in limbo as to what to do. My daughters are 13 and 9 and love them loads, but know I would do more with them if a was happier. is there anyone out there that could shed some light and advise, I would be so grateful.

  29. I have been unhappy in my relationship for years! We are not respectful to each other and we have been fighting every single day for years now. I want to leave and have wanted to leave for a very long time, but I can’t bring myself to do it because, I have three children ages five and under. My husband is such a loving dad and I can’t imagine how woeful he would feel not being able to see his kids every day. And of course my children love him too and I would never do anything to keep him from them, but I don’t want to live this way anymore. I have threatened to leave many times in the past, but never have, and so when I try and talk to him about how I feel about our relationship he refuses to listen and refuses to talk about anything. I really feel lost, and I feel like I could just idle this way for many more years- but I’m really not happy. My relationship is almost completely sexless and its been that way consistently for years.
    Maybe I need to see a counsellor?

  30. Kevin,
    We have a similar situation. I am too involved with my kids and think to stay married would be easier to be around my kids, than to get a divorce. I do in fact love my wife, but she comes from a double divorced family and abandonment, so divorce is natural to her because that what she knows. She just wants to be all about the kids and have me out of the picture. After her parents got divorced, her mom remarried and then, got another divorce and her mom left the kids for another woman. She and her sisters lived with their grandmother and she did not do a good job taking care of them so the step dad came and got the 4 kids a year later. This is due to dating another woman.

    Me, it’s hard to leave my kids so divorce is not what I want to do, but I know I should do. I feel like I’m dealing with all her past issues. I’m glad your staying married for the kids sake and for now so am I, but who knows how much more I can take. I love life and being with her is simply horrible but I have to do what I have to do.

  31. I’m in a marriage where I’m growing very uncomfortable. She’s not a horrible person, but she tends to be a control freak. She is constantly putting me down and criticizing me for almost everything I do. My daughter, of almost twenty, sees this happening. She doesn’t know what she would do of we separated.

    The wife is not very supportive and sees all the negative things that could come out of every situation. If she gets crafty or buys something, she shows it off. I like antiques, so when I bring one home, she just sees it as another piece of junk in the house. She’s Bipolar so that doesn’t help at all and I am OCD and tend to have a temper, whether it’s learned or genetic I really don’t know. My father had a temper, as well as his parents, so you be the judge . She wants me to support her with her problem but there is no support from her about my OCD. She uses her illness as a crutch against me so as not to point out her flaws. Examples are as follows: When driving she see’s me driving carelessly, but when she drives like I do she tends to say I’m worse. I get an allowance where she asks me what I spent it on. She has no allowance, she spends when she feels like it, which is all the time, and uses the excuse that she. “is buying things as gifts for other people.” If I question her about it, it becomes world war three. She has put us through two bankruptcies because of her spending. No matter, what I ask her she seems to have an excuse for everything.
    I am at a loss as what to do.

  32. I need advice from the men.
    I’m in an 8 yr relationship. I’m consistently finding pictures of random women. Pictures of woman who have no clue he’s taking a picture with his phone. Their asses and tits. Then the porno thing, he forgets to completely delete stuff, web cam girls, etc. It’s crazy to think he has a sex deprived woman with him and he wants to do that. Anyways, when I try to let him know how this is wrong, he shuts down and walks away, he does not want to talk. I have never felt ugly or had problems getting a man, yet now my self esteem is so low. Why does he do this?

  33. My story is kind of the same, but has a twist. My ex- husband and I have been on and off for almost 18 years. The off part is due to his alcoholism. He has had many DUI’s and has spent time in jail for it. The last strike was almost one year ago. He was incarcerated for over 3 months. Well, that was the straw that broke the camels back. I moved on, with the help of my parents. We found a new place to live and were doing fine, except financially. I am on work comp due to a severe back injury so I do not bring home a lot of money…..he was always the bread winner and still is. When he first got out of jail he was wonderful. He didn’t yell at the kids, he helped me in any way possible. Well, here we are almost a year later and the yelling and fighting have started again. We have 3 children. (16, 9, 7) our son has ADHD, bi-polar and severe mood disorders. When Dad was away this last time, he took it real hard. He is a huge Daddy’s boy!! My ex is not a horrible father, but he does yell at them all the time. I hate it!! He came from an abusive home as a child. His father, grandfather, great grandfather and so on, all have been alcoholics.
    We told ourselves we would work through anything this time. But, my problem is, is that he has done so much damage to me and not just emotionally. He ruined my credit, he didn’t pay our car insurance and I got into a tiny fender bender and lost my license for 3 months. Now, last week, I find out it’s suspended again from that accident because they are suing me for $11, 000 and suspended my license until 2020. Now I have to hire an attorney, which I cannot afford, to go to court for this. I am just having a hard time forgiving him for all of this.

    I’m not saying I’m perfect because I am not. When we first got divorced I found a man. Well, I also had a relationship with him. And to this day, 14 years later, I still do. He knows that I did have one and he never lets me live it down. If we get into a fight he is always accusing me of going to “him.” “Him,” and I are still friends…nothing more. He is going through a horrible divorce and I am just here for him when he needs to vent. That’s it. Well my ex had an affair this last time before he went to jail. She was the one who bailed him out and he stayed at her house for a month or so. He says he’s done with her, so I guess I believe him.

    I don’t know what to do. He is doing well for now. We are trying to save money again because we took all of our savings and had to use it for a lawyer. He had a MAJOR bill. So needless to say, we’re pretty much broke and live paycheck to paycheck.

    I can’t decide if I want to stay or if we should go our separate ways. I know my son will start acting out again. Last time, when he was gone, I had to put our son in a Behavior Unit about an hour away from our home. He is a little guy that already has enough problems and I do not want him to go through that again. Please help. I really could use someone’s opinion besides family.
    Thank you.

  34. I am a mother of 5 at age 29. I’ve been with my husband on and off since my first daughter, who is now 10. We got married in 2009, but had separated for 6 months in 2006. At the beginning of our marriage, I tried to be the best wife/mother, after a while, it became hard when the insults started it was one after another, name calling, put downs and little fights over the stupidest things. Money was always an issue, sadly to say. Now were have been separated since April and I honestly don’t see a future for us anymore. He, on the other hand, wants to work things out, but I don’t feel that love for him anymore. I’m scared to be a single mom of 5, but I know I’ve got to stay strong for them.

  35. HI

    My partner and I have 4 children, 2 of them are his step kids and the other two are naturally his. I am wanting to leave our home to return back to where I grew up in Manchester. I want to take my kids, but he keeps threatening me saying, “I have to go alone and the children stay with me.” The relationship has been in shambles for quite a while now. I am just hitting my lowest point of where I can’t take it any more. What are my options on this and being able to take my kids?

  36. I am a child from am unhappy marriage. I remember being 8 years old and wishing my parents divorced, the arguing the screaming and shouting is very damaging to see growing up. I am now 40 years old and would never get married. I came close once, but lucky for me he walked out 3 months before the wedding, saved me a fate worse than death. I see so many unhappy married people and I laugh and think what a bunch of weak fools, staying together for the children, that’s a load of rubbish you are staying because you are too weak to leave. I am a single mother of one and am so happy I have my freedom and my daughter does not hear any arguing or screaming she just gets love from me day and night and I love it. I work everyday and pick her up after school and drop her off. I am a parent who has her own house car and job and does it all on her own without help from the state.

    Her dad gives me hardly anything and doesn’t see her and I don’t care. I would rather make my own money have a life without resentment bitterness and arguing. I will not make the mistakes my parents made, my daughter says she loves living with me and being with me. I love a life with freedom and financial freedom. All you woman who are kidding yourselves, go out earn some money get rid of the man, you don’t need him and take care of the children. If he’s a good man and your the problem, then men get rid of her and be happy and free, your children will thank you when there older, children only want happy parents that’s a fact.

  37. We have been together for about 6 years now. I was 18 and he was 30 at the time, I had my 1st child when I was 21 and shortly after that, GE got hurt and has been out of work. We had a daughter in 2012. He is always drunk, but it’s like lately, every time he gets drunk, he wants to argue. it doesn’t matter what I say he turns it around, as if I’m picking on him or trying to start a fight. He yells and cusses in front of our kids so bad, that our 3 year old is terrified when he starts to yell and he just starts to cry. What should I do, stay or leave. He says stuff sometimes like he’s going to hit me in from of our 3 year old.

  38. Children need a loving home. Children need two parents who are on the same page. It is better to have one happy parent than two parents who are at war with each other or children will be afraid in their own homes, they will see abuse and be subjected to abuse. It is not good for children to see or hear their parents abusing each other. It is not right to have a parent or both parents coming home drunk and the children see them this way. It is also wrong to ask others if they should stay or leave! You should know the answer to that question. Do not think that two parents are better than one, what if one partner dies? You do not automatically seek out a new parent to take the place. I come from a broken home, it was both parents being abusive to the children, it did a lot of damage to us. We just wanted to leave home and live free of the troubles. Doing what is right for the children comes first, my neighbors had children who tried to hide when the father beat the mother and yelled at her. That is no life for any child. The welfare of the children comes first, staying together must be so that the children live in a loving home they are happy to be in and they do not have any dread at all. I used to dread going home, I was safer outside the home. Two parents are not always better than one. It takes wisdom and common sense to choose the right way, peace.

  39. Hi, I’m married to my wife and feel like my heart is not 100% in it. I met my wife in my early 20’s, this was a traumatic point in my life where I had confidence issues. I dated her because, at the time, not many women seemed to pay me any attention. Perhaps this was because I was very skinny, at the time, or it might have been due to me being too shy to initiate conversation to show interest in women I was attracted to. I’ve never been a jock/popular person while growing up and have always struggled with women because I have been rejected a couple of times and have not experienced many things that young people do, i.e. pull a total stranger in a club (female of course) and exchange numbers to successfully meet up again or have intercourse with a few women between dating. After 11 months of us going out, she became pregnant. At the time I was happy with our relationship, I think this was due to the fact we we’re young, naive and didn’t know each other fully and that I had not found my feet, in terms of confidence and self-belief.

    During my mid to late 20’s, we had another 2 children (twins). As I hit my late 20’s I became obsessed in bodybuilding and running, my physique had become bigger and more desirable to women. Now I’m 30 and I’m finding I’m getting so much attention from women that I’m very attracted to. This is very hard for me because I’ve rarely experienced this, in my younger years, which had left me terrified of women. I really would like to experience one night stands and have been with more than 4 women in my life or have gone on holiday and met a number of women to have intercourse with. Most of my friends have been with 30-60 women in their lifetime. They tease me about this, which I find hard. The point I’m making is that I find it easy to approach women now and have gained so much confidence which I find I can now re-live my youth before it gets too late. That and my wife and I argue a hell of a lot. We tell each other quite often that we hate each other etc. We try not to fight in front of the kids as this obviously really effects our eldest child and will do so with the twins in time. We both feel we have grew apart with age, but the only thing keeping us together is the kids. The kids also keeps me from committing adultery against my wife.

    I find it very difficult to flirt with other attractive women and say no to proposals from pretty women when I’m drunk, so I now no longer drink when I’m out with friends. I know some women out there will ridicule me for how I am and what I’ve written, but I just can’t help how I feel, due to my past experience’s from how women made me feel while growing up.

  40. Hi, my wife and I have been married now for 3.5 years and have grown apart. We have a beautiful little girl, who makes all the pain of my marriage go away . I am concerned because I don’t feel my wife can take care of our daughter if her and I split. As a husband and a dad, I work full time, take care of all the house chores and am responsible for all lunches and dinners for our child. I also drop off and pick up our girl from school . I myself come from a previous relationship where the separation ended up worse for the child, as the mother became vengeful and controlling, ultimately traumatizing our child. I am conflicted with the idea of separation because of our child’s best interest. Now in my current situation, I feel as though I would leave void in my daughters life, not being there everyday for her. My wife has become increasingly irritable and will ruin a moment if her O.C.D becomes triggered. My wife consistently accuses me of not being the right man for her and when she refers to our separation her focus is only on the new man she can’t wait to meet. As for now I just take her emotional abuse and stay strong for my daughter while I contemplate separation.

  41. How long do you stay in an unhappy marriage for the sake of your children, hoping it will change? I don’t love my husband anymore and haven’t for about 5 years. We don’t talk, doesn’t laugh and we can hardly look at each other. It’s such a lonely existence. It changes my personality and I don’t want the children to remember me like this. They see hear arguments. Doesn’t this teach the children this is how relationships should be? I feel trapped and worry that divorce would have irreparable damages to the children. I come from a broken home and know what long lasting, damaging effects it can have.

  42. Does anybody know of any chat forums that you can talk to similar people in similar circumstances?

  43. I read the article, I’ve been married for eleven years and for the past four, I have just been going through the motions. I feel nothing for her or the kids. I feel like a slave to them and I know once we do divorce I will continue to be just that. There is no hope for me or my situation, as the family court judge is going to fry me like an egg. Marriage is not for the faint of heart, I don’t recommend ever doing it to anyone because based on what it is (two people living as 1 unit) is pure foolishness from the start.

  44. Wow guys. I am so glad I got out 17 years ago and stayed single. No it was not easy on my kid, and we have zero relationship at this time, but I am not being abused or living with a mess of a person. Life is too short. His new wife is the new abused. She truly has no where to go.

  45. I see my situation in your stories. If I put worried sick and susy’s comments together that would be my story. Just wondered how things are for these two posters? Have either of you left? What age do people think a child should be to least be affected by divorce? In my mind I thought 16, but then maybe they get into drugs to cope or alcohol? What about 14? What if you have an extra sensitive child?

  46. Kevin,
    Why would you stay in a relationship with someone you don’t like? Your post says you have never enjoyed having sex with her? Maybe you should take some responsibility for your own actions? You make yourself sound like a victim of this woman, but YOU are in control of what YOU do or do not do. Are you really looking for “resources” to get you through another 10 years? Sounds like you just want some sympathy and you aren’t staying for the kids sake, more like you are just plan lazy.

  47. I have been married for 7.5 years. We got married young (I was 18 and he was 26). We have a toddler right now. He used to be in the military and had to get out (as he got injured), and has PTSD as well. I work full time and he stays at home with our son. My husband is so angry most of the time…and always yells at me, in front of our son, about stupid things. I have put up with it for so long, and I know a lot of it is his PTSD and him not being in the military anymore. He is a different person. He will say things that make me feel like I am a bad mom. In a fight a couple of months ago, I told him I was afraid of having more kids with him because I wasn’t sure we would be together. Well, that didn’t go well at ALL, in fact it made things worse.

    We are in a rental home and he has destroyed a kitchen cabinet from kicking it out of anger, as well as a door from throwing something at it…all in about 2 months. This aggression is new and it really scares me. He ends up apologizing later but it doesn’t’ make it okay. I feel like our son’s personality is getting shaped by this fighting/yelling and I feel like he is beginning to get more irritable because of it…maybe so, or maybe it is because he is a little more than 1 year old and starting the “terrible twos”. It also bothers me that my husband smokes pot all of the time. Of course it isn’t around our son, and I know it helps take away his pain related to the military injuries, but it really REALLY bothers me! He knows this too.

    It pains me to think about leaving and taking our son. My husband is a good father towards our son, but he isn’t a good husband. He knows he is this way too and admits not being a good husband sometimes. I just don’t know what to do! He refuses counseling, by the way. I am so torn.

  48. After reading some of these replies I know FOR SURE what I need to do. My husband and I are in the process of separation and now I’m confident that it is the right decision for our family!!

  49. I was in an abusive marriage for six years. He assaulted me while I was pregnant, yelled at me for hours on end, called me names, oh the list goes on and on. Yes, all in front of the children. So, of course, it was better for the children (and me) when he left, after one last hooray in which he nearly killed me in front of my son. Of course, it was crazy for me to have stayed thinking things would get better, or that I wanted the children to have a ‘father’ — he was no ‘father’; but, life afterwards has not been the ‘happy’ freeing story I read from others. Really, it has been devastating — not because he was gone, but because of the impact the relationship has had on all of us. Because of the ex, I had to move state, leave my home, leave the few friends I had managed to make while married to him, and leave a workplace where I really had nice people around me. We just didn’t feel safe. I have PTSD. Now, two years on, although we are better off without the chaos and abuse, we just have a whole new life of struggles (mine)– that the children may one day resent, and that are clearly impacting on us all. I am completely isolated, get up at 6 a.m. to get them ready for school, lunches made, two drop-offs to different schools (because of their ages), and then off to work (yes, I am lucky to have a job where I work full time, and get paid well. Shouldn’t I be happy?) Finish work, two pick-ups then home to make dinner, bath (if I can fit that in) and bed. It is all pretty ‘normal’. I try most days to keep it happy, but I am flailing. I am too tired to do all the chores (like put the clean clothes away which sit in baskets at the end of my bed), too stretched financially to pay for help, and the children–now 6 and 4 bicker with each other constantly, shout at each other, and the girl whines so loudly I could scream (I don’t, most of the time I do all the positive parenting things one is supposed to do: time outs, catching them being good, hugging them, kissing them, and telling them I love them, while slowly feeling that I may go insane. Lately, I am just not coping. The sound of their fighting this weekend was grating on me so much I just went and sat in another room. I then yelled that they had to go to their room. I don’t know how I am going to get through this. I am so unhappy. Then I feel like I am letting them down. I told myself ‘stand up’ ‘be strong’ ‘show the kids how we can survive’, and now I feel like I am drowning in a big lake without anyone around (or while people are all around but do not care), while the kids stand at the edge fighting with each other. Oh and yes, I see a counselor but really it isn’t helping because for all the talk, I still have to go back to my life.

  50. I was in a abrasive marriage for 9 years, I have 2 daughter but only is my biological daughter. After my daughter was born, he turned into my worst enemy, he stared saying I’m, “the worst mother there is.” We both were married before, he has a daughter by his ex wife, who currently in his life, he compares me to her constantly saying. “you’ll never be like her.” He tells me, “she’s a perfect mother” and I’m “nothing, dumb and stupid.” When he’s around his daughter and her mother, he make feel like the worst mother hes ever known, he even tell me to take my oldest daughter, and and get out. Before we got married my credit was perfect, he convinced me to get a credit card in his name, and stupid me did so, not realizing he had no intention on paying the bills and ran my credit low. I realize I have to get out this marriage before he’s ruined my kids happiness, they deserve the best so how do I start this process.

  51. P.S. The last was written as I sunk into a pit of blackness, flashbacks, and despair. That was a bad day, and reflects my struggle as a consequence of an abuse marriage. Everything, which now seems Okay, was too much. So not an easy journey moving out of such a marriage. But a few days later, and I wanted to add that when the fog lifts from those episodes, I see there is light at the end of the tunnel — and I cannot agree more that the children are better away from being subjected to an abusive man. (Also realized that perhaps I need to cut myself some slack, I figure now unfolded freshly washed clothes in a basket is OK; we are safe).

  52. ”I read your special report. I just wanted to thank you for putting that on the internet. I feel better and I know I have a roller coaster ride though hell. I know I will be stronger once I pass hell and turn into a stronger person. Thank you again. You are a good man to help people after what you went through. Maybe one day I can help people like you have helped me.

  53. I’m not sure how long ago this was posted as there are not dates, but I couldn’t help but respond from the “other” side.

    As a child of two divorced parents, I can’t help but call out some of the selfishness I am hearing in some of these posts. This does not include people suffering from physical or extreme emotional abuse. I definitely understand escaping a situation of alcoholism and belittling behavior. However, some remarks of “I’m not in love” or “I want to experience my youth now”….grow up. And no I do not mean that politely. I actually found this page while looking for a support group for children who hate their parents for their divorces.

    It is not your partners responsibility to make you happy. It is yours and yours alone. In many cases, people who dislike their partner’s behaviors learn this before they marry them (that is not to say that people don’t change, some do). If you knew who they were before you married and you married anyway, do not expect sympathy from someone like me for trying to bail on your partner now. “Falling in love” is a great way for people to make an excuse for loving being something out of their control. I am sure the romantic nonsense Disney feeds us on relationships doesn’t help. People often suffer from an unrealistic expectation of what marriages and relationships are about. The initial butterflies and jitters are NOT love. The relationship is what you get once all of that is gone. I believe this is the reason the divorce rate is high. I got news for you, if you are looking for someone you can live with but not fight with, have disagreements with, or experience general unhappiness with, then you’ll be looking for the rest of your life. Marriage takes WORK.

    My parents are selfish people who only thought about themselves. Not about how the damage of their failed decisions would affect me. Being transferred from home to home like traded property. I was NOT property I was (and still am) a person with feelings that deserved a voice. Thanks to my father’s issues I have siblings all over I don’t know. And my mother was so desperate for attention that she spent 90% of her time chasing some guy (or now in her current marriage) and catering to his will…even at the expense of how I was treated by the new “partner”. They used a whole bunch of time blaming each other for their problems instead of carefully examining themselves for how they BOTH contributed to their unhappiness.

    T think the poster Gabriell (loved her whole post) said it best – I am showing them that when you make a commitment you keep it, that you don’t just walk out on your family because you are not “happy” there is a lot of happy and unhappy in life and sometimes you have to make it work with what you have.

    Some of you need to really think of how you’d want someone to treat YOUR child. I’d hardly think you’d want someone to make them as expendable as you have made your spouse. And then to have the nerve to be surprised when the left behind spouse becomes bitter and vengeful. Please allow me to dump all over your life and then tell you, you don’t mean a thing to me after all you’ve sacrificed, but don’t be mad, okay? Let’s be a little bit more realistic on what emotions ACTUALLY tell the other person. One thing I can honestly say I never blamed my mother for, was her anger with my father and his need to constantly keep his pants unzipped.

    I just wish people took marriages more seriously and stopped entering them with the idea that they can “get out” at any time. It won’t feel so good when your daughter or son is crying in your lap confused as to why their mate has abandoned them. Remember your kids PICK by example. I would never tell someone in a drastically abusive relationship to stay. If this person poses a threat to you and your child’s safety and mental well being, that’s different. But simple unhappiness? That’s for the birds. Arguments can be overcome if both parties can be mature enough to compromise. If you can not argue while separated, you can not argue while together. Get to the core of those issues, why you’re angry and move on. Don’t think jumping into another relationship is going to alleviate arguments.

    And for the guy who’s getting attention from women now and wants to have one night stands? Yes I AM going to trash your post. Why? Because you are going to put your family, your KIDS through the pain and psychological damage of divorce for something as temporary as a one night stand? You’re a real piece of work.

    I just want you all to know from someone who IS A CHILD OF DIVORCE, exactly how your crap becomes our crap. No, not in all cases, but many of us don’t realize until we are much older just how much of YOUR baggage we carry. We aren’t property, we shouldn’t just have to “deal with it”, we aren’t trading cards. Just as divorce means a lonely Christmas for you, how the hell do you think we feel? Who to invite to holidays? What not to say to the other parent to prevent hurt “feelings”? Who sits where at our own weddings?

    If you have the opportunity to make it work, then WORK. Marriages are WORK. Don’t go off making new families while leaving the one “behind” in shambles.

    Angry rant (sorry about any spelling mistakes)

  54. I’m staying in a miserable marriage for our baby. He was the product of us giving one last shot at having a normal sex life. Of course, now that he’s here our sex life is completely nonexistent. I’ve come to the conclusion that I could never be happy with ANY woman, so moving on to another relationship is pointless. Since I wouldn’t be moving on, since I guess I’m just not marriage material, there’s no point in divorcing and losing half or more of my time with my son. Actually my wife is a VERY good mother. She’s just a horrible wife.

  55. Okay here is my story: I been married for 3 years and have a son 3 years old. I was not sure about getting married but as my girlfriend was pregnant, I married her thinking its all going to be okay. In the last 3 years, I opened my own restaurant and I’m making very good money and providing good life for my family. My wife hasn’t been working in the last 3 years and I don’t mind that at all but, she is a miserable women and is making me depressed. I can’t be around people while she is with me, as she makes me very uncomfortable with her sad face, and she doesn’t like my family or my friends. I want to divorce her, as I’m not happy and can’t make her happy, but I worry about my son. I have had girlfriends in the past and it has been great. I am starting to hate my wife and I’m tired because I am working hard and can’t sleep at nights thinking how am I going to get out of this, plus she is going to take everything from me, as she has never saved any money for herself. Any advice please?

  56. onrebrof – Sorry honey but you set yourself up. Its written all in your language. “I can’t be happy with any woman?” It sounds like nothing your wife can do would make you “happy” anyway. I am no therapist, but it sounds to me there are some esteem and issues YOU need to address. People need to understand their spouses also REACT to their partners. Her discord toward you may be coming from your self loathing. I’m going to be harsh when I say, it is not her job to make you happy…..period. If you base your marriage SOLELY on levels of happiness you are dooming it before it starts. Happiness and unhappiness change and fluctuate. Making decisions based purely on emotion is a dangerous game. I’m curious what makes her a “horrible wife”? Are you sure that you are being the best husband? No I don’t know your whole story, but just that short paragraph says a lot about the state of mind you are in, and it’s not her. There is turmoil in you that you are reflecting onto your relationship with your wife. You need to seek a certified counselor and get behind YOUR issues before you can attack hers.

    Edi – where to begin? I see this mistake a lot. What are her reasons for her unhappiness? People who exhibit depressive behaviors are suffering (internally) and they may not realize it. Before you go jumping off at how miserable she is have you ever thought …WHY??? Did she give up HER dreams to stay at home? Does she feel she has lost herself? Are YOUR friends and family critical of her? Are these people disrespectful of her when she isn’t present? People are painfully aware of others even when we think they are not. If she is suffering in personal turmoil she will exhibit detrimental behaviors to you and others. What can YOU do as the “stronger” partner to SUPPORT your wife? I’m also going to be harsh when I attack your language. Don’t you dare do yourself and your wife the disservice of comparing your relationship to “girlfriends” from before. To do so is selfish and in hindsight of the life before you. From your post it sounds like your still chasing the “single” life of dating and the thrill of the chase.

    People are so easily manipulated into thinking the grass is greener elsewhere. You are being manipulated by a world that encourages you to just “be happy” for you, everyone else will just get over it. Do they? Do they really? Do the children escape the turmoil of two part time parents? The sake of YOU is worth the pain and heartbreak you’d leave someone else in for a few moments of always fleeting happiness? I got news for you, kids don’t just get over being shuffled from home to home. They don’t just get over wondering who to spend holidays with and if it will affect the other parent. They don’t just get over seating arrangements for their own weddings. They don’t just “get over it”. There is a lifetime ahead of learning to balance YOUR immaturity (no I’m not attacking you, you’ll hopefully understand in a moment).

    Your were not ready for marriage and not ready for what “love” brings to the table. These two things do not ask what the spouse can do for you, but what you can do for your spouse. You have to be READY to bleed with this person and believe in them when they don’t believe in themselves. You have to be willing to stand TOGETHER when outside forces try and tear you away. MATURE relationships survive because they have achieved a bond to stand even when they themselves believe there is nothing left to give. LOVE is not what Disney feeds us, its not Twilight,it is WORK. “Falling” in love is void of responsibility and implies one doesn’t have a choice. Of course you do. You can choose to improve or choose to give up. If you base “love” on ALWAYS fleeting infatuation you are setting yourself up for failure.

    This woman was with you before you were successful right? Don’t allow the allure of success to cloud your judgement. This moment in time will one day pass, but the scars will not. This “she’s going to take things from me,” comment speaks loudly on your character. These things mean NOTHING. If the world were to end tomorrow, what good were all your things? Life is not guaranteed tomorrow. What is your legacy Edi? If you are really more concerned over things rather than getting to the core of your issues (yours and your wife’s) then it’s not your family failing you, it’s you failing your family.

  57. Reading through a lot of these comments, I feel much of the same emotions. I’ve been unhappy for awhile with my wife, but I’ve tended to brush off the hostility as the “low point” of our relationship.

    My wife and I haven’t had a horrible relationship. I’m 34, she’s 35. We’ve been together for 14 years, married for 7. We have two wonderful children, one 11 and the other 6.

    There’s never been an issue in the bedroom as we have a sexual chemistry, but emotionally I am not there. She does love me, I know, but I just don’t love her anymore. I care for her tremendously and have known her since we were teenagers, but that emotional bond just isn’t there.

    I work in the Emergency Services, so my schedule is wild and varied. Come in a female partner (10 years my junior) who I’ve become emotionally attached too (and her the same with me). One of my fellow co-workers said to me flat out that she wants something more, and truthfully I do with her.

    She had left for awhile last year and this past January she returned to duty, and when I saw her at a training we had, my heart melted. I felt like I was given a second chance. We have hit it off again, texting each other constantly, talking on duty, and when we are alone we flirt. We are professional on the job and around the station at all times though.

    I have not had such feelings for a girl in sometime, I don’t even remember feeling this way with my wife. I enjoy the talks we have, the similar interests shared, I just love being around her. My heart races around her, I am all smiles when I get a text from her. I’m infatuated with her and long to be with her. It’s not even a sexual longing (we have had no physical contact although the chemistry is there), just that longing for a emotional bond that we have so intensely.

    I am going to my counselor this Tuesday (whom is also a marriage counselor) and then a marriage counselor jointly on Thursday with my wife. I have been requesting a separation for over a month now, because I believe that I need space to confirm for me that we are truly over as a married couple. Some may say this is just a crush with my co-worker, but for me its more than that.

    I don’t want to hurt my children anymore in a home where the parents aren’t in love (I grew up in a house like that where my parents stayed married and HATE each other with a passion). I don’t want to hurt my wife anymore with prolonging something for her that isn’t there. It’s just such a hard period to go through because so many emotions race.

  58. It certainly is almost unattainable to find well-aware readers on this subject, nevertheless you seem like you understand those things you’re raving about! Thanks A Lot

  59. It is actually mostly not possible to find well-educated parties on this matter, still, you look like you fully grasp exactly what you’re writing about! Cheers

  60. Jason – I admire you for actually trying counseling first. And I must say that I would agree with the others that this is a crush. Long term relationships over a period of time become redundant and stale. You said in your message that your relationship with your wife lacks an emotional bond, something you are getting from the woman in question.

    I would invite you to consider the following:

    1) If this woman is willing to “come on to” an already married person..what further trust does that offer any potential relationship?

    2) Should you and this girl not work out, would it have been worth your relationship with your family?

    3) What do you feel is missing from your life overall that you might be searching for elsewhere? Is it purely emotional satisfaction?

    There is not much anyone can do if you have already made up your mind to leave, but I would invite you to leave for better reasons. If she is abusive to you or purposely neglectful those are grounds to protect yourself. However, for the thrill of the chase (which it does sound like it is) may backfire. This girl is new…and interesting…for NOW. Even if you did not feel this strongly for your wife, at one point she was also new and interesting. Interesting enough for you to decide to ask her hand in marriage.

    You are a representation to your children. Would you want someone to treat them this way? Would it feel the same if you had to comfort your son or daughter who found themselves in this situation and left behind by someone chasing a “dream”?

    I know most of you have made up your minds, and aren’t necessarily asking for an opinion, but as a child of a divided home, I come back to share my voice. A voice I did not get in all of my parents decisions. They assumed they affected themselves…and were in a direct pursuit of themselves, but unfortunately with a child involved “yourself” goes out the window.

    I find it interesting that most divorce counselors, legal venues, etc will tell you that putting yourself aside and doing what is best for the kids POST divorce is best, but rarely do they seek to advocate such practices BEFORE the divorce. It’s just one of those things that makes me go “hmmmmmm”. I just don’t think folks realize the reality of divorce, especially when a step parent comes into play *sigh*

  61. It’s difficult, I am a child of a divorce, which for me, was catastrophic. It affected my education, job opportunities, and wiping out a good part of my youth, in a war with the new “partner,” which I never accepted.

    Now I’m all grown up, married with my own daughter, who I adore more than life itself. But my marriage is dreadful, my wife and I are from different planets, and we are better off separated. We are totally different and do not belong together. When we were in love none of the issues we have were apparent. I had some doubts but being in love I took a gamble, I was optimistic, I thought we could work things out. Well we can’t, and it’s as clear as the bright blue sky that we are never going to work.

    So what do I do now? Take the risk that my daughter may face the same situation I did? No way. Live the remaining part of my live with someone I do not love and drives me insane? I think I could live with the latter, but secretly I would have a very miserable existence, and sooner or later I will not be able to hide it. At this point my daughter would be affected and I would have to do something.

    I just don’t know what the answer is. I really am stuck. It’s so easy just to carry on regardless.

  62. Dearest Anonymous,

    Firstly, I am very sorry to hear that you have had to deal with the turmoil of divorced parents. You and I have had similar feelings toward the matter of dealing with our parents and their new spouses.

    As for your own marriage, I am absolutely a proponent of “working it out”. However, as stated before, this is not “realistic” in instances of abuse and severe neglect (spouse never wants to talk to you, ignores you, etc). In your case, I am quite curious as to what makes your spouse so dreadful.

    Time and time again I hear this “falling” in love business. This is a misconception fed to us at very young ages. It implies a lack of responsibility for ones actions. You can’t help “falling” out of love because you couldn’t help “falling” in love…but you can. If this is the take on love, people will constantly chase from person to person.

    With cases of marriage and intimate relationships, I will always ask the person to look within first. Have you dealt with the emotional baggage left behind from childhood? Do you fear the same pattern in your partner?

    My uncle once told me, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” Those initial butterflies make us think this person will change over time and those little things we dislike, are little things. Then, we become dismayed when our partner doesn’t change. We don’t understand how their love for us, didn’t transform them into what we think they should be. This is a big mistake (in my book).

    Here’s what I mean. I invite you all to investigate something…fill in the sentences:

    1) I dislike my spouse because….
    2) My spouse does not give me enough….
    3) I would like my spouse better if….
    4) When my spouse _______ it annoys me the most.
    5) My spouse is different from me because….

    Now conclude that with, “I don’t love my spouse anymore, I want to separate from them.” (As it seems this is where many folks are now)

    Now…take every single one of those statements and replace it with your child. Does it begin to sound ridiculous? Did your emotions change? Would you “divorce” your child for the same reasons?

    We are “wired” (not all people are) to exhibit unconditional love for our children, yet many people are incapable of applying that same love to a spouse, a neighbor or a stranger.

    This is getting long, but there is a book called, “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle. I would invite you all that are interested to read it. It is a GREAT look into the human condition an brings out some great insight into the constant search for fulfillment and happiness.

    Would love to hear from you Anonymous. Above all else, understand you aren’t stuck.

  63. Being a parent is the most important job in the world and probably the hardest. Being in a happy marriage/unhappy marriage or separated won’t make you a good or bad parent. Your actual parenting will decide that.

  64. Hi Dr. Neill,

    I have lost the love for my wife and she needs love and care too much. I know I’m not the guy for her anymore. I’m so scared to leave because something bad might happen to her. That is the whole reason I got married to her.

    Here is my situation, we have been married for 4 years now and that was after 8 years of dating. We have 2 months old, lovely daughter.

    6 years out of those 8 years I was helping her to fix her depression issue. She was depressed, but not because of me. Then, by the time we should be married, I was so tired and I told her that I could not marry her. Then, she got depressed again and so stupidly, I married her because I thought she would commit suicide if i did not do it.

    the first year of our marriage was terrible, but I could not leave her. I thought she would be in trouble if I left. There were so many fights. I kept looking for a time where she would be safe if I left. That time never came. Since then, I have been so tired. The biggest issue is/was having sex. Since I reject her, she thinks I have someone else, but that is not the case.

    Our daughter came to this world because she was desperately asking for a baby. I finally gave in because I thought, she needs someone.

    We hardly fight now, we just sleep it over if there is any argument. The whole world thinks we are such a lovely family. I’m not a guy who does the bullying. My major issue here is I no longer love her, but I do care for her. I want the best thing to happen for her. she needs somebody who can romantically love her, but I do not have that part anymore.

    I want to be the best father in the world to my daughter. Can I do that while leaving my family? If yes, what is the best way to do it? I don’t want to hurt anyone. 🙁

  65. I have a 2 year old baby girl that I love more than life. I have a partner who is 20 years younger than me and we are from different cultures. We have constant personality clashes, different interests, different social lives, different likes and dislikes of food and more. I never would have stayed with her, but I accidentally got her pregnant. She didn’t want to abort the baby. I stayed, sported and provided for them. I am not attracted to her physically or emotionally. With all that said, I do love her and want what’s best for her. I financially spoil her and she has never worked since she got pregnant. I shower her with gifts and money. She has always been insisting that I should marry her and every time we see something on t.v. or in a paper about marriage, she is showing me her ring finger. Since our baby was born, we have only slept together a few times. She and the baby need me now. She has permanent residency in Australia, so if separated we can’t share child custody. Custody is not enough for me.

    I realty don’t know what to do. I never will fight for sole custody because mothers have right and priority, when it comes to children. I read some useful information:
    1.It is more damaging for kids to stay in unhappy and bitter relations with constant arguing between parents.
    2.My partner deserves someone who can accept her and love her for who she is.
    3.I have been watching porn on the internet and maybe that is contributing to my loss of interest as well (wrong of me).
    4.By staying with her I feel selfish and I make her lose her self esteem. She thinks that I think she is unattractive or has some thing wrong with her looks (I relay that and now she feels that way about her self) I always tell her she is attractive and is true, but she never believes or respects what I say.

    Tonight she opened Pandora’s box and talked about my ex girlfriend. I have always told her not to do that. She asked me why I broke up with her. I said, “I regret it.” She cried and it broke my heart. Then, she went to her room (we sleep separate rooms).

    I know that you will all say, “move on and separate.” I wish that it were that easy, but they both need me. She told me that she won’t judge me for not having sex with her as long as I don’t have sex with any other girls. I agreed. Then she went back and started criticizing and accusing me of being with other girls and being a bad father. Her words hurt me.

    I don’t know what to do. We can’t control our feelings, standards or principles in life. We are very different. I really love them both and especially my little princess. I know I will never let any woman get close to my heart from guilt again. I don’t know if I should have this time or not. I did the honorable thing and supported them and I will sport them for many years to come, financially at least. If the mother stops being bitter, I want to be a dad and share custody, but it didn’t work before. I wish she would find a lover and get her rocks out and then come home and smile and be family. That is only way I think that we can be a family. One last thing, I have been going through a loss of one of my family members and have always had depression. Anytime we had sex I really enjoyed it and told her we should do that more often. The sex is good, but there is not much feeling I have toward her.

    Any words of wisdom? Please consider everything.

  66. Phil,

    As I state quite often, I am no expert but here goes.

    Firstly, a few statements have concerned me. The first is that you “accidentally got her pregnant”. I am not sure of your age, but this statement lacks a little bit of ownership. I regularly suggest to friends they shouldn’t be sexually involved with anyone they aren’t prepared to have a child with. Rather it was an “accident” or planned it does not negate the child nor should the child “eat” the repercussions of your decisions or lack thereof.

    Next, the statement that, “we can’t control our feelings, standards, or principles,” is also a lack of ownership. People by nature tend to look for means to justify or validate their behaviors, even when it is wrong or has the perception of being wrong. You are absolutely in charge of your emotions, standards, and principles. Does that mean you should just drop your standards and let them fly by the wind…no. However, making statements that one can’t “help” themselves is misguided. I will related it more bluntly to what I hear in previous statements: “I just couldn’t control myself, I had to ______”…you can fill in the blank with things like “sleep with him” or “buy her anything she wanted”. Nevertheless, you CAN help yourself, you CHOSE not to. That is what I mean by ownership. You made decisions, and did not expect those decisions to have the outcomes/consequences they did.

    Then, there is the statement of “when the mother stops being bitter” always makes me cringe. I do NOT understand how people expect others to have a different reaction from one they would likely have themselves. We do things to people we wouldn’t want done to us, yet we EXPECT them to be OK with it. I am floored by this response. You really expect to tell someone, “By the way…I don’t love you anymore. So I’m just going to go, and I expect you to be okay with that.” Realistically, how would you feel being on the receptive end of that statement (being the person still in love or wanting to save the relationship)? How does that feel to a parent who is raising the child while the other lives his or her life as he or she pleases? It sounds reasonable, because you are the one wanting to walk away, but if we wouldn’t be okay with someone, say, hitting our car and saying, “Oh wow! I hit you’re car, but I am just going to walk away. You’re okay with that, right?” Why on EARTH would we expect the immensity of a relationship to be different?

    So what now?

    I am not a “go with the herd” kind of person. I will not simply tell you to, “move on and separate.” However, from your statements, I get the sense there is something you are either avoiding (not dealing with the relationship) or are having trouble facing and it is something that has been affecting you for quite some time. Here’s where I am drawing from:

    “I know I will never let any woman get close to my heart from guilt again. I don’t know if I should have this time or not.”

    “I wish she would find a lover and get her rocks out and then come home and smile and be family.”

    and the source…

    “One last thing, I have been going through a loss of one of my family members and have always had depression.”

    You essentially want your wife to project an appearance you yourself perhaps feel incapable of maintaining. Problem is her going to “soil her oats” outside the marriage will neither solve the problem nor create a solid foundation for marriage. This isn’t a “her” problem. I can not suggest for you to stay or go. It is NOT an easy decision to make, but you’ve already begun the process of trying to justify what you want to do, in your mind.

    My advice, is counseling, counseling, counseling. I am not sure what you were searching for jumping into this relationship, but it sounds like you had a flight response from your previous girlfriend. This isn’t going to go away but hoping out of a relationship or staying in this one, but it will leave an incredible amount of hurt behind for the people you involve, especially your child(ren). You have GOT to solve the YOU problem first before you can you can completely submerge yourself into the ocean of a relationship. No, I’m not saying to leave and I’m not saying to stay, but there is some ownership you need to take and some emotions you need to solve before a rational decision can be made.

    I know I am coming down on you (I am sure your wife needs a “talking to” as well), but I only have your statements to read. I will never make it easy to walk away because it shouldn’t be. Being through at least two relationships, you should know by now they will never be perfect nor conflict free. However, if there is a “you” problem you have yet to face you will rinse and repeat this pattern for a very long time and drag others down with you, and the people who DO NOT deserve to share that pain are the children left behind.

    Hope that makes sense.

  67. I really would like to hear some comments on my situation. I have been married for 10 years and have 2 children ages 4 and 8.

    Myself and my wife (she is a homemaker) are both totally miserable in our marriage. We are completely disconnected emotionally, communicate poorly and are not intimate with each other. She won’t even touch me, and won’t let me touch her and she has had zero interest in sex for about 7 years. She hates her body, in spite of me telling her I still find her attractive. It is completely demoralizing when your wife won’t ever initiate physical contact and refuses my advances. After a while I just stopped trying.

    Recently, my wife has started having daily nuclear meltdowns with our kids on their bad behavior (not listening). She is also very frustrated with the messy state of our house. She rants and raves, slams doors and runs around the house cleaning frantically. I offer to help her, but she won’t let me. Living like this is pure hell – every day is hell.

    We are like roommates who barely talk. We don’t fight, don’t have money issues and do our best to put on a brave face in front of the kids. We are also very very close to her family, where I am closer to her parents than my own parents. I have always believed in working hard to stay together forever, and that kids should have 2 parents. It would absolutely kill me to have to tell my children that I’m moving out. So I am working through this to try to make it work.

    It all feels hopeless, I am severely depressed, feel stuck in a life that is miserable where I have no way out. I am also an alcoholic. I started drinking heavily a few years ago as a way of medicating to make myself feel that it would all be okay.

  68. I need help on leaving my marriage of 23 years. We have 7 children. 6 are are still at home. The husband refuses to move and my children and I have no place to go. Can you help me with some advice? Please, all we are doing is hurting our children and they have no fault and deserve SO MUCH MORE than what they are living now. Thank you in advance.

  69. I have been with my wife on and off for 6 years since she got pregnant. We just got married and now are getting a divorce. We have been married for only 4 months. I decided to leave due to the fact that we have been having the same issues, that explains why we broke up so many times. I can’t have any time for myself, go out with the guys or do anything on my own. She doesn’t trust me. She is very jealous and always brings up other girls. Sexually it is always the same boring sex, she’s never willing to try anything new. She has very low self esteem and I can’t ever see her fully naked. She always says that if I wanted to date a stripper to go get one. She always wants attention and to be cuddling all the time and complains all the time that I don’t show her affection. She is always stuck in the house with the kids and complains that I never take them out, which I do. She doesn’t want to get a job because she feels as if she will be working to pay daycare. I love my kids to death and I hate to leave them and not see them but a couple times a year, but I can’t take it anymore. Both my parents are making me feel very bad regarding the situation and basically telling I’m forced to be in a relationship with her because of my kids and it’s my responsibility to take care of them. I grew without my father and I always said when I was younger I will always be there for my kids and my family, but now I understand why people divorce.

    I feel like such a horrible person for doing this to them and my wife she is really hurt by this, but I can’t deal with it anymore. When I told her I wanted a divorce she said that she’ll change and that she knows she’s the problem, but it’s too late. I’m so unhappy and I’m only happy when I’m alone with my kids or at work. Now that I’m trying to co parent she feels as if I don’t care about her nor the kids and one day she says I’m a good father. She says she’s not trying to keep the kids away from me, but she’s tells me not to call her anymore. I don’t know what the hell to do anymore. She’s driving me insane even when we’re not together anymore. She claims the reason why I keep breaking up with her is because I want to live the single life and go clubbing and drinking and that’s not why. Yes I do like doing those type things and I even wanted to experience it with her. It’s a form of entertainment and going out dancing and having fun. I never knew that was such a big problem. I just feel horrible and no one can understand me. My son always asks why we’re fighting in the middle of the night. He wakes up and I don’t want him seeing that and growing up with that. I’m just so unhappy, but everyone is making me feel so guilty!!! Ugh I just feel like disappearing!!

  70. I have no idea where to start, but here goes. My husband and I have been together for a long time. Our relationship has been rocky to say the least. We argue a lot and have not been very nice to each other at times. I admit that part of it is my fault. I had been unfaithful in the past and that was probably the wrong way to try to end the relationship and it didn’t work anyway. We have 2 recently turned adult children and I have tried to leave several times and end up staying for the children and my husband got upset and I felt bad so I stayed. The last time I tried to leave was a few days ago and my husband got so upset he made himself sick. He told me we should settle things like adults and I agreed, but I knew what would happen if I stayed. He cried, I cried, he promised things will get better and I promised to stay. I have not been happy for a long time and ended up finding someone that I fell completely in love with and want to be with, but I feel guilty for upsetting my family and I am staying, but I feel it will kill me eventually. I don’t know what to do.

  71. I have just left my wife and daughter of 5 years old after years of trying to make this work between us. We have been to counselling which worked for a while.
    The problem was my 2 stepdaughters could never accept me and were jealous of my daughter and always trying to get me to leave their mum by being downright horrible. I stuck this out for 3 years and finally had a nervous breakdown one day and walked out to get help. My wife would never accepted the girls were to blame. Divorce was filed and we went our separate ways. 8 Months down the line we stopped the divorce and tried again for our daughters sake, but I knew in my heart this was the wrong decision completely, but went along with it. One year later (I am afraid we both felt the same) one day during an argument (our daughter was in her room) we were shouting and she closed the door, this broke my heart and I knew the time was now to leave. This was 4 weeks ago just before Christmas, but I knew it had to be done.

  72. I’d like to converse individually, so let’s go with Chris.

    Just from reading your statements about your wife…has she ever seen a licensed therapist? The recent behavior is indicative of underlying anger/distress about something completely unrelated to the outbursts. Has she ever specifically mentioned being angry at you over the same subjects? Did she deal with the same sort of responses as a child? I only ask these sorts of questions because sometimes we don’t see it until it is asked. If it is something from childhood, that kind of emotional scarring is harder to address, but still possible with a therapist specializing in that kind of care. Nevertheless, something has triggered the new behavior.

    I am also curious about the lack of intimacy. She has shown no interest in 7 years, but you have two children within that range. Did something else occur around the time intimacy seemed to get the cold shoulder? I can tell you that people who lack self confidence will resist sex because they don’t feel sexually desirable. There is a lot of media and peer pressure affecting the female mind when it comes to femenine sexuality and what it means to be sexy. So, I am rather curious about the source of her insecurity. I will say, it is not necessarily a reflection on you that she avoids sex. Again, I really think she needs to consider seeing therapist.

    As for you, you have some “you” work to do too. First, thank you for being honest about your struggle with alcohol. This is definitely something you’ll need to address first. Addressing that will also help you with facing the depression. This site specializes in alcoholism, so keep reading and reaching out like you are doing now.

    You can not fully address the situation with your wife, well neither of you can, when you do not approach it as a whole person. You will both need clearly defined goals to determine where to go from here. That doesn’t mean reaching a point of being problem free. It means getting the help you both need individually first before trying to address a relationship. Conversations will not be productive if neither of you is in a frame of mind to have one. You both must first, find a place where the “baggage” you both currently have can be sat at the door. Once you can be in the PRESENT moment ONLY…the conversations can begin.

    I will also say, although the task is great, it is not hopeless and you are not alone.

    Best wishes,


  73. My situation is very similar to yours Chris. I am 28 and my fiance is ten years older. We’ve been together since I was 18. We have 2 beautiful daughters together ages 5 and 6. We are miserable these days ( at least I am). We live like roommates. I take care of kids and cook and what not and he works. He comes home, drinks a few beers , hangs out outside until dark, then comes in and eats dinner and then falls asleep on couch. Pretty much everyday. When he works out of town I am so much happier. The girls and I have good times and he’s not home to make me mad. When he is home I just feel angry all the time. I don’t want to live a miserable life with someone. I want to be happy and find a partner that gives me attention and I can talk to and laugh with. Any advice?

  74. Hi Neill,

    I can relate to most of these stories. I have been struggling in my 22 year relationship with being hopelessly unhappy. My spouse and I have no connection. We are in counseling to seek ways to enjoy sex with each other (how pathetic). We have 3 sons and our middle son is autistic. I am emotionally withdrawn and can not seem to pull myself together enough to be honest about my terrible life and the morals I am passing on to my boys. Never would I ever wish this emotional turmoil on my kids or anyone else’s. My parents separated when I was 12 and feel obligated and responsible to stay, although it stops me from being my authentic self. I am a good father, but can be a much better father on happier term. I recently had a much needed affair with a super awesome woman. She is like an angel from above. She makes me feel whole. We have such chemistry and an undeniable connection. I don’t want to lose her. She saved me from self destruction. I feel wanted verses needed! My spouse and I are very aware of the reasons why we stay together. We are together mainly for financial reasons and mostly for the kids. I really resent this life with her, but don’t resent my kids.

    I left my home and I feel extreme guilt. I am in love and happy and I feel terrible for waiting so long. I really wish more people looked at the whole picture before judging ones situation. My sons will one day understand why I left, just as I understand why my father left. I am now 42 years old and am finally truly happy with a partner that brings the best out in me. My boys visit and are adjusting very well. I am a better man today.

    PS: I do wish the best for my ex but she is responsible for her own happiness. Live and learn.

  75. @Kat: When I found a facebook post my wife put up about how happy she was and how perfect of a husband she had and how she was so proud to be married to such perfect husband, I realized I wouldn’t even come close to saying the same about her. I’d say I’m disappointed, embarrassed, deceived, disrespected, unloved, and regret marrying the woman I married. I put tons of effort into becoming the best husband I could, I self-sacrificed and I walked the extra mile. That facebook post told me I’d succeeded. but for what…she never did.

  76. @Kat the reason I say I wouldn’t be happy with any woman is that my wife (and prior serious girlfriends) have me convinced that the things I want from a wife aren’t available from any woman. I know I have issues. I work on them, I see a therapist, I go to groups and I ACKNOWLEDGE I need to work on myself. 14 years of being together, she hasn’t even acknowledged needing to work on ANYTHING other than her weight, which is no big deal to me at all.

  77. Please help me understand:
    My friend is in a loveless marriage. He has gone through several marriage counselings and has stuck it out for the one child they have together. Just a few weeks ago, he found out he is not the father to the child he has raised, for the last 5 years. He approached a physiologist to see if they can help him do what’s best for the child, to prevent any mental harm from occurring, and seek some advice. They told him he needs to think what’s best for the child and basically suck it up and stick with the wife. Both the wife and him want to have a divorce. He does have feelings for another women, who wishes to have a relationship with him, but he feels guilty over the idea of not giving that child the life he never had and he is torn. The wife he is with can not have another child, so if he does stay with her, he can never have a child of his own genes. I understand the doctor is looking out for the well being of the child, but what about the father. He was lead to believe the child was his and feeling guilty each time he goes to the psychologist because he wants a fresh start, but also wants to do right by the child.

  78. Dear Sir,
    I am extremely grateful for this publication. I have been married for the past 15 years. My wife has been slapping me anytime she gets angry, even before the children. Her family does not respect me, as they labelled me in different ways, for nothing I have done. My children always witness their mother and me yelling at each other. She makes the decisions and I do not get to talk. If I make suggestions, she will make me look so foolish before the children. The last time she slapped me, she took off her wedding rings and threw them at me and asked me to get out of her life, I packed up. Now my uncles, brothers and sisters are asking me to go back into this marriage for the sake of the children. They are not happy with what they see and it is effecting them, I am never respected and my older child can insult me. I have planned for separation and a divorce. She went about asking people to beg me, pulling my penis before the children, embarrassing me before others, it is just enough to get out of this marriage. She will apologize and start all over again. I will always forgive her, but we cannot be together anymore. How can I convince my relatives that I cannot be in this marriage?

  79. Hi Dr. Neill,
    I have been with my partner for 15 years, on and off. We have 5 children together. Since our relationship, he has slept with 2 other women and nearly a 3rd. However, the last was over 3 years ago. For the last year I have been very unhappy in the relationship, as we’ve slept separately (he sleeps on sofa). I want to cut our losses, but I feel guilty because of the kids and also, his temper can sometimes be unpredictable. He isn’t usually be violent to me, but my car or house phone/television cables etc. We haven’t been intimate for 2 months, as I have no desire too at all. I am an over thinker, as I now have 2 jobs (1 is weekend nights). I don’t speak to my family anymore due to “family situations” (this does not bother me) but I know if i went my own way with the kids, he would be very awkward. He can’t take some of the children due to his job and I don’t like the idea of splitting kids up. What can I do? I feel trapped and depressed due to me over thinking possibilities.

  80. Gee, I read the above and can see so many mirrors of my life.
    My wife and I have been married for 10 years. We have 2 lovely girls ages 4 and 7.
    I still love my wife, there is no abuse etc., but there is not affection, connection or sex either.
    She is a stay at home mum (which I initially supported), but I find myself doing a lot of the basic housework, which is never done during the week. She is not interested in working, as she says she needs to be at home for the kids, even though we are in a challenging financial situation. I recently got made redundant at work. Her action has been to wait and see, meanwhile she has booked an overseas trip with the kids. I suspect she has become very comfortable sleeping in and hanging out with friends during the day so doesn’t want to work. In the last 2 years, she started going to “church” meetings. These meetings go on until 3 in the morning. I never really know where she is and who she is with and what they are doing. We no longer sleep in the same room and I can hear her on the phone after midnight. I am pretty sure she is up to something. She also started hanging out with relatives who like the party lifestyle. I want a wife who is responsible to her family not one that is out on Monday night at 3 a.m. She has become someone I am lacking respect for and I have wanted to leave her for quite a while.
    I am sure she must feel the same. We don’t talk much. I feel no physical affection for her anymore. I am more of a stay at home sort, so I know she is bored.

    My problem, like many others, is that I love my kids and I know they love their mum. She is good with their homework and music etc. I don’t want to make their life harder. At the same time, I feel I am stuck with an irresponsible, financially ignorant woman, who is re-discovering her teen years by smoking and drinking. Basically the type of person she wasn’t 10 years ago and the type of person I would never have married.

  81. She and I started dating for 2 years, after she initiated an interest in me. But we lost touch for a majority of that time in between, due to a long distance relationship. There was a time when she never bothered to stay in touch at all despite all my efforts.
    However, I did manage to stay in touch with her sister as a well wisher.

    Then one day she decided to show up and expected to marry me, out of the blue, based on conversation/advice with her family (mom and sister). Her dad passed away when she was a teen. We have been married for 10 years now after 3 years of dating. We have 2 lovely little kids ages 9 and 6. I love them more than my life. They are probably the only reason I’m still in the marriage. Both kids were/are termed as “accidents: by her to me many times. She does love them, but only not me. As she has hated/despised me no matter what I did to please her starting right from our dating days. My parents warned me prior to marriage that only I love her and that she didn’t seem to reciprocate it at all.

    Anyways, I married her hoping all will change when she came back to me. Guess I was wrong. We don’t have any physical relationship at all other than the “accidents” (my kids) as termed by her. Every time she has her friends over she expects me to be very nice and welcoming to them, which I do. But if I call anyone over, she doesn’t contribute to any help at all.

    She hates my family (my folks and siblings). So even I don’t speak with her family anymore, she is always very secretive, even when talking over the phone to anyone be it her friends or family. I am the opposite of that. She always ridicules me in front of her friends, who I think are just a bunch of fakes/plastics. They Just hang out at our house because we have an very upgraded life style. She always defends them. She always tells me that I’m too sensitive and it’s me who has an issue and not her friends and her.

    She loves our daughter more than our son, although my son loves her a lot. I am assuming that this is because she was only with her mom and sis. She, at times, told me in the past that she despised her dad because he was very strict with her when he was alive. Maybe this had an effect on her hating me or not loving her son more, I don’t know.

    My son is the sweetest boy in the world. Very gentle, well mannered, always stands up only for truth, never takes any of our sides, but always encourages us to love each other and live as a happy family. Many times our kids tell us not to get a divorce. My Daughter is a lovely kid as well, very caring and loving of both.

    I am actually going through hell everyday, she makes basic food to take care of our kids, when I come home from work, there’s no dinner for me. I am left to fend for myself. She is a home maker. She likes only to shop and watch stupid reality shows on TV and text/talk to her buddies. She doesn’t even take interest in our kids extra curricular activities at all, other than just dropping them off at school and making them do their homework. As soon as I get home from work, she sends them to me for everything, except for having dinner. I don’t resent that. But even my daughter, who is 6, asks me how my day was and tells me, “I’m so happy your home,” but nothing from her at all.

    All this has driven me to stop loving her anymore. We basically don’t talk to each other at all. I’m not saying I am perfect, but what can I do if anything I do for her is not good enough at all? I can’t divorce for my kids sake, as I love them the most.

    I just feel she married me just for security. We have been living separately, in the same house. I try my best not show all this to kids, but they are growing and I’m sure they can see our arguments all the time, for even the pettiest of things. She always wants to pick a fight with me and prove me wrong.

    I had many women fancy me, but I don’t cheat and it’s because of my kids. But I am human and also need some love. I guess it’s safe to say that I am like celibate monk right now. My point is, if she doesn’t like me, then why is she staying with me and enjoying all the luxuries, vacations and shopping that I provide? Why doesn’t she go and live with her family or elsewhere?

    I love me kids so I’m not going to divorce her. Sometimes I feel like am I am the most unlucky guy in marriage. I don’t talk abut this to my folks, as it will upset them a great deal. But I am sure they know I’m not happy.

    Is there anyone with a similar situation?

  82. Salutations,

    @onrebruf Thank you for replying. I am very glad to hear that you are visiting with a therapist. As for your wife, have you spoken with her about going to a counselor? If I may ask, what is it you are looking for in your wife?

    @Mary What a terrible situation. My first question is, does the child know that your friend isn’t their father? I also see where the psychologist is going BUT it can also be damaging for the child to find out some years later that he isn’t the father. Nevertheless, your friend should not pursue any other relationships until he resolves this one.

    @Charles Your wife is in a classic cycle of abuse. Has she been diagnosed with any personality/mental disorders such as bipolar or borderline personality disorders? Either way, it is NOT okay for her to physically or emotionally abuse you. It is especially dangerous that she is doing it in front of your children. With abuse, I don’t think any reason for leaving needs to be justified. If you really do wish to enlist their support, I’d start with everything that has been going on. Also, please see a counselor to address any hidden effects of her abuse.

    @stressedmum Infidelity is incredibly hard to “get over”. Every time they are late, your mind will wonder if they are cheating. You need to see a family counselor too. If you still harbor hatred for his past transgressions then, nothing he does will be perceived with clean intentions. Deeply and honestly evaluate how you feel about him and if you can truly let go of the past.

  83. Hi Dr. Neill,
    It’s been 5.5 years since I have been married and it has not at all been a happy marriage, from the beginning. Even the initial months were full of fights and torture. My husband had doubts on me and it took almost several months to bring it down, though not completely recovered. My husband says he was able to overcome his doubts with the help of alcohol. He drinks alcohol for his pleasure, but puts the blame on me. He humiliates me a lot in front of his family. He hates my family members and always talks bad about my parents. We have a 2.5 year old kid now and she is often the victim of our arguments and physical abuse. I am suffering from this unhappy relationship thinking of her. She loves her father so much and wants both of us together. Now my husband has started to talk bad about me to our little one also, which is unbearable for me. Every where I see, communication is very important to save a marriage. I have tried a million times to make him understand how I feel about his deeds. He doesn’t even give a damn about it. So I feel it’s better to keep a distance and don’t indulge too much . I am scared to think about a divorce, at the same time, its difficult to continue like this. Please give me suggestions.

  84. I never thought I’d get divorced, but it is hitting me lately. I have an 11 year marriage. My husband quit his job, spent all of our savings and went to his home country to try to start a business there. He still came home to visit, but did everything against my blessing. I stuck it out 6 years ago and now I’m dealing with the same behavior again. The kids are used to him traveling. But I’m lonely and do not want a husband that makes such huge decisions with out me. Does anyone agree that this is an impossible scenario?

  85. Dear Sir,
    I have seen almost all the experiences shared by so many people and it so interesting and it gives me some good thoughts.
    I am from Ethiopia and I am married. I have one princess and found unhappiness in marriage, but I love my princess. I hate my wife and we have had so many conflicts. She is so aggressive and we married because she got pregnant. When I try to divorce her, I think about my child and how much I love her. I can not live with out my child and I am conflicted on what to do. What is your advice for me?

  86. I have been with my husband for 7 years. I thought our marriage was okay, just needed to work on some things, until last year when a box of lies just poured out. He had been cheating on me for more than a year so I don’t know how long ago he had another girlfriend plus how many other girls he was talking too. He also had a fake Facebook account for years to talk to girls. He has been lying for years and I was so blind. Everything dropped like a bomb. We have a son, but I am so unhappy. I can’t stand to be near him. I can say I hate him or maybe I hate myself for being so blind. I don’t know what to do. I love my son and he loves his dad..I’m stuck.

  87. Hi. I never really posted to one of these but here it goes. I am 26 and my girlfriend is 26. We have been together for 5 years and have a 5 year old boy. I work a lot, 6 days a week, and bring in the only source of income. I was fine with it at first thinking I’m going to be a good father and try my hardest and not be a dead beat dad who left when things got tough. But now, I’m finding it hard to not want to leave. Please let me explain as I am not perfect either. My girlfriend drinks a lot. I mean a lot–an 18 pack a day about 4-5 times a week. She gets so drunk. She blacks out and starts fights with me where she yells curses, calls me names and puts me down until I give in and agree with her. She will go to sleep and then I sit in a corner hoping things will get better. When she wakes up she does not remember and tells me I’m making those things up to make her feel bad about drinking. I recorded her a couple times to show her how I was feeling and that I was telling the truth. In return, she smashed my new computer in response. My son, who is now 5, does not see me as a father figure. He calls me by my first name and when I say, “No, I’m your dad”. He tells me, “No, You’e a monster and a bad man” which breaks me inside. I ask why do you say that and he says mom tells me you are bad so I don’t love you. Then I’m destroyed. I cry inside but smile and tell him I love him and not to worry but his response is to say “no”, spit on me and try to smack me so I walk away and go back to my corner (by corner I pretty much mean my computer area). When she is sober she tells me she wants to talk and is sorry for the things she does. She even tells our son he is your dad in which case he responds with “okay mom” and then calls me dad but only after she says it is okay.

    I keep wanting to leave. She refuses to work. Out of our 5 years, she has had two jobs for 1 month each. She quit because it was hard. She worked at McDonald’s and Pizza Hut. I’m worried if I leave my son will not get the help he needs with her and that she will just do whatever and continue drinking, If I leave her, she will probably be homeless because she just can’t stop drinking.

    Now let me tell you about me one night. I came home late from work and my son was crying. I asked what happened. He said his mom and hit him so I asked her. She was already 9 beers in and was ready for a fight. She said he was being a little bitch. I asked her what it meant and then she grabbed a bottle and threw it through the window shattering it. At this point my son is crying profusely. She then grabs him by the neck and lifts him off the ground choking him. I panic rush over get between them and shove her off. She trips over drunk, lands against the door and hits her head. She calls the police and I’m arrested for domestic violence. I explain my case and I received 12 weeks of anger management and spent a week in jail. Not a fun experience but I feel bad so I stay with her because now I’m the bad guy. I did something terrible and I feel that way to this day which she rubs in my face every chance she gets. When I try to play with my son catch or race cars he screams, “Help! Dad is going to hurt me like with mom.”, so now i feel even worse. The court says they will never grant me custody of my son so if I leave he is stuck with his mom. I worry she won’t take care of him and use the child support money to by beer. If I stay I’m miserable.

    Please help and am I really the bad parent? Am I so terrible for thinking I need to leave? I don’t know what to do anymore. I feel empty, lost, and depressed everyday.

  88. Interesting stuff. I read all of this to try and find closure, a solution, but I have to say that I am now as confused as ever. Three years in a conversation-less marriage and I feel like I have to try harder to fix it for the sake of our two year old son. At the same time, I feel like I don’t know how to handle it when he grows up enough to realize that his father an I do not talk or agree on anything. Help me. I have spent three years in tears hoping things may get better.

  89. I came from a bad, abusive physically, emotionally and verbal household. My dad was evil. I used to beg my mom to leave him and when I was a teen. Well, I married my high school boy friend just to say now after seven years of marriage, I get the same abuse. I feel guilty that I can’t leave in fear that my kids will hate me because they won’t be around their dad all the time. I have 2 boys. My 3 year old talks back to me and I’m not his boss because his dad is the boss of all of us. I have a 9 month old baby girl too. I got hit when I was pregnant with all them. He had a hard life too. Now that he has all the financial stress, he lashes a lot more for no apparent reason. I feel like shit all the time. When we were on a break before marriage, I went out with a friend and ended up getting drugged and raped by a couple. Well, I told him thinking he would understand and comfort me. He made me call my parents and tell them and he well bring it up time to time when he’s drunk saying that I enjoyed it. Well I just remember me wanting my mom to leave and I don’t want that with my kids. I don’t know what to do.

  90. I really liked your post. I was born with Social Anxiety Disorder and live in an country where arranged marriages are the norm. I was using alcohol to ease my anxiety prior to marriage, especially once I started working. I thought marriage would cure all that. It was an arranged marriage and I was extremely nervous when I went to ‘see’ the prospective bride. I had seen her photograph and she ‘APPEARED GOOD LOOKING’ and the image stuck to my mind. I was under the impression I would not get a better looking wife and I agreed to the marriage. The day of the engagement ceremony, when I really got see her up close, I knew I had made a mistake but didn’t have the guts to tell my folks to call it off fearing social stigma. So the marriage went ahead and we had a baby after a couple of years (no love in that sex – it was sex just for having a baby on the insistence of my wife). Once my child was born, whom I love more than my life, I was caught in this trap of living for the children (or child in this case). It’s now 18 years of a marriage filled with sad punctuations. I abused alcohol heavily, had arguments with my wife and also told her when my parents were around that I wanted a divorce (was drunk at that time) but she is just bearing it and sticking on. Again, I am guessing, mainly for our child. In the process, we are making our lives miserable and I don’t know what is actually going on in my child’s mind. I do not want to continue like this and have contemplated suicide many times; but that’s cowardly. I do not want to grow any older with my wife but my hands appear to be tied. God help me.

  91. Dr Neill,

    I have supported a man through a very ugly separation from his wife for about five months. They agreed to separate in September 2015 after trying couples’ therapy and trying ‘staying together for the children’s sake’ for nearly two years beforehand. They had been struggling for years and in 2014 she made it clear that she did not love him anymore. It was still a huge decision to separate as they are devout Catholics.

    He asked me out on a date in October, and since then I wondered if it was a sense of freedom, or his desperation to torpedo the relationship that made him do that. He told me that he simply really liked me. As soon as the estranged wife found out she reacted very aggressively: locked him out of the house (made him homeless), made domestic abuse allegations with the police which were completely ridiculous (the police agreed) and only allowed him to see his children on Fridays from 1-4 pm for about three months. The police, however, advised him not to go near her as she is clearly malicious. With that, an incredibly difficult time began for everyone, especially for him and his children and he had no control over any of it whatsoever.

    By December his mental health started to deteriorate and he was signed off of work and put on medication (Diazepam, Zopiclone, then Mirtazapine). Mirtazapine, lack of work, lack of stability together seemed to be making things worse, so in February he changed to Citalopram. By this point he had regular panic attacks and constant, severe insomnia, and was fighting suicidal thoughts. He was constantly saying though, that although he missed the house and the children, there was no way he could go back, as they could never be happy with each other. He had to move back in with his parents 70 miles away from his actual life in order to be looked after as he could not spend the days on his own.

    The wife claimed that all the bad things that happened were a consequence of HIS actions (homelessness, children stressing out, him feeling poorly) and that it all happened because he had gone and f*** someone else and thus he made it ‘impossible for her to separate amicably.’ (her words)
    She actually told the children that ‘daddy left because he doesn’t love mummy anymore and because daddy’s been hitting mummy.’ Catholic ‘friends’ in the meantime phoned and texted telling him that he betrayed his children and God. They stated that his guilty feelings (excessive guilt is a sign of depression) was God trying to tell him that he did something wrong. I’m not a believer, so for me it was hard to say anything convincing to rationalizse his fears around him being a sinner and being punished for his behavior with all the horrible things that were happening without sounding like I was being dismissive of his beliefs. I tried though.

    The wife was off of work also in a hysterical state initially. She has been off again and the children started to suffer too. From their point of view mummy was a mess and daddy was never there. They are only three and five. They did not understand what was going on. Mummy says it’s all because of the husband. That he abandoned them. That he is an absent father and this has already damaged the children who are crying themselves to sleep. However, she was the one that would not let him come over to the house and denied access to the kids for months.

    From stories and little things here and there, I found out that she had been very abusive towards him verbally and emotionally and even physically and sexually over the years. (His self-esteem was very low when we first started dating due to some of the things she had been saying, eg. ‘Daddy is an idiot… say, daddy’s an idiot’ to the children, etc.)

    I don’t think she is upset because of losing her husband whom she realized she still loved. I think she could not bear losing control. I also think that I was a trigger as he was moving on before she was moving on. My friend and I suppose boyfriend (although in the midst of this chaos there was no chance for actually building a relationship for us) became a shell of a man. He was reduced to a minimum–something that was barely resembling the man who asked me out in October. I was trying to support him as I felt really bad for him and I cared for him deeply. Unfortunately, he caved in and she got her way again. He texted me this week to say that they will try to reconcile their marriage for the sake of the children. She asked him to come back for the children. He is desperate and deeply distressed due to depression. She is a manipulative, malicious person with some deep rooted issues and a tendency to aggressively lash out against him and put him down. They think they can work this out for the sake of the children even though they had been through therapy and tried everything for years, before he went and had a girlfriend for 5 months, and before she did all those horrible, malicious things to him. I worry that he just signed his life over to an abuser who has, in a very disturbing but highly effective way, manipulated him into submission yet again through using their children and putting him in an impossible position which ruined his mental health and his relationship with friends and their church community. He is at his absolute weakest at the moment and she is turning the knife where it hurts the most: ‘the children are suffering because you are not at home with them.’

    What do you make of this whole case? Do you think it is possible for two such damaged and hurt people to stay together for the sake of their kids, even if they don’t love each other anymore, without creating a toxic life for everyone?

    I am a caring person and I find this whole story deeply tragic. Please let me know what you think. Thanks, D.

  92. I am 37 years old with three children. My husband was an alcoholic for years. I suffered emotional as well as physical abuse for years. I decided to stay because of the kids and honestly, it wasn’t bad all the time. We would go for dinner, trips–normal things happy families do. Then, when he started to drink, the happy times just disappeared. And then came outbursts, cursing and his uncontrollable behavior. Sometimes the turmoil would last for hours. The next morning, it’s like nothing happened in his eyes and then he’s the perfect father and husband for the remainder of the week. A few years ago, he cut his drinking down and his behavior became tolerable. We just had a baby and the fighting has started again. I have found myself at my wits end. My older children want me to leave. While I do, I think about the consequences, both financially and emotionally living without him. I really do not want my baby to grow up in this environment as my other two have. Just last night he cursed me out because I told him that he had too much to drink. For years, I have put everyone’s happiness in front of mine. I worry about what our parents, neighbors, etc. would say because we seem so picture perfect. Please, I really need some advice. Should I leave or stay and try to work it out? By the way, he said he will never change!

  93. Everyone says it’ll be better if you are divorced but not if you have to share custody with an alcoholic crazy person. I’ll have no control of what’s going on with my children. My husband is not a good man and will fight me tooth and nail. My kids lose either way.

  94. I moved out of my “husband’s house” because according to him it’s his house since he pays the rent. Anyway, we have two children. A two-year old boy and a six month old baby girl. My husband and I have not been happy for a long time now. I’d like to say from the very beginning that we got together in 2013 and up until now has been hell. It’s been a roller coaster of off/on, I love you/I hate you, I can’t live without you/I can live without you, type thing. It is a very bipolar marriage but truthfully he doesn’t appreciate me. He’s not affectionate, he loves to be right all the time and always blame me for the cause of any fight. He never admits when he’s wrong. He verbally abuses me. He picked up a habit to want to kick me like I was some dog every time we argue and I’m in his face. Anyway, point is, I know we both want out and we are fed up with each other. All I know is we love both of our children and it is very difficult to stay apart from each other for too long because we want to spend every minute of everyday with our kids equally. I left the house a couple months back but only lasted two days before I was crying and feeling severely depressed for not being able to see my children when it was time for them to see their dad. So now I’m moved out again for good. It’s been the second day and already he is asking to see our son (not our daughter because he knows she needs to be with me more at this stage of life) but wants me to take our son over and it’s barely been the second day I’ve left. I too feel like I cannot be without my son so this has always been the hardest part for me to leave!!! I know my solution isn’t to be selfish and keep my son all to myself and never let him go because I’m not that type of female. I understand that my son has a father who loves him and wants to be with him just as bad as I do. I just don’t know how to cope with the depression when my son isn’t around and that’s not good because then my baby girl isn’t getting the the full attention she deserves as well. But when I have them both I feel like nothing else matters. If I wanted to have it my way, I’d be that selfish female and keep them to myself but that would probably also ruin the chances of the kids having a bond with their dad and I cannot do that to my children. I need some consolation from someone going through something similar. A friend once told me they went through it and it is the hardest stage in separation but it gets better with time. I find that so hard to believe being that I cannot even breathe properly with just the thought of sharing custody.

  95. I am in a conversation-less marriage. An emotionally void and sexless marriage. He has NEVER known how to “please” me. The only way he can and does is financially, which I have grown to RESENT! He replaces money with everything. Oh, women might love this but trust me.. money doesn’t buy it. I am no longer attracted to him. We have a nearly six year old son.
    I cry so much! I constantly google “can an unhappy marriage kill you”. He uses finances to guilt me. He gives me reasons why he can’t “afford” to support me. I can only work part-time because he takes work business trips and because of his work hours. I have to be available to take my son to school, so I work opposite hours from him. I’m so sick of crying myself to sleep and the constant stress and worry! I respect him as a man and the father of my child and if we were put on this earth to procreate, he is a wonderful father. Still, I can’t be unhappy like this!

  96. I have been married for seven years to my husband. We have a four year old daughter. My husband is the nicest person with a soft personality. I have not a one bad word to say about in general, (as a person). But I feel that he’s not a good husband. I think I am going through depression.
    Last year his mother went through serious medical problems which were life threatening. My husband has two grown and well settled siblings but I was the one who ran like a crazy dog and saved his mother’s life. I put my 1000%, ie; emotionally, financially, physically. I even talked about taking out all my 401K retirement savings and my pension. I was at a point I got so lonely and frustrated for not getting enough hands to help that I shouted at my brother-in-law to contribute something. My in-laws couldn’t take that and yelled at me. The brother-in-law blocked my cell number on his phone and blocked me on FB. And my husband was on his family side as well (tearing). I was so hurt. My husband is the last I expected to shout at, after all I played his role. He could have easily stood up for me. He could have easily, proudly support me. Its been a year since this has happened but I can’t forget or forgive to this day. I couldn’t be right for him at my best so what should I expect from him when I am at my worst? What does it really mean to have a spouse’s back?

    This is so hard for me! I am having thoughts of ending this relationship because this thing bothers me everyday and I will never be happy and keep him happy. But we have this beautiful daughter who didn’t do anything who doesn’t deserve all this.

    What I am struggling with is:
    1. We have a child and I can’t imagine seeing her raised in two different houses.
    2. I know I will never find a man like him but feel just because he’s such a nice person I have to stick with him?

  97. Thank you for this article. I am in an unhappy marriage with a 4 year old daughter who is our life. I don’t have an abusive husband but he never talks to me. I am an emotional person and he is insensitive. It’s been more than 6 years from our 8 years marriage that we haven’t enjoyed our sex life. In fact, my daughter was a surprise (which we do not regret). I know that my husband is a product of unhappy marriage as my father-in-law is a alcoholic and my mother-in-law told me about how she has been abused all her life. I guess that has affected my husband’s mind set. But I am suffering now as I am not happy living life day in and out with out any emotional attachment. My husband is a good dad and we both love our daughter a lot, but is it good to stay in a relationship just for her? Please help.

  98. I have been married for 17 years to my husband. I believe he only stayed with me because of the kids. He has told me through the years as they grew that I better had thanked my lucky stars up above that I had those kids. Throughout the years he has cheated on me, he has went with other girls, he has drank and even used drugs. He’s also an abuser. He doesn’t respect me or anything. Now the kids are 17 years old . He told me the other day that there was nothing holding him here anymore. It kinda makes me feel like I’ve been used for 17 years. The only reason why he’s with me is because of them. When they get 18 I believe he is goingmto bail on me. So yes, I have been used.

  99. Thanks for this outlet. I have been married to my wife for 11 years and we have two kids (8 & 11) together and I have one 13 year old daughter prior along with her two older daughter (17 & 18). We have a total of five kids between us with thee at home–one now off to start college this summer and my daughter living with her mother. I met my wife 13 years ago and we immediately became a couple. I am two years younger. We started dating when I was barely 22 years old. Her two little girls, now all grown up, have been in the picture since day one and for some reason I could never have walked away if I wanted to considering the kids were part of our relationship. We went on to date for two years. We found out she was pregnant with our first born just after the first year. We are incompatible in a number of ways and my wife possesses no drive or ambition which has driven even more of a wedge between us. Let’s not mention the sexual incompatibility. She makes this seem like a daunting task. She has the same excuses she had since day one about her limitations in the bed room and I hate that. I respect many things but I love my wife and have done anything to please her, not getting the same in return. She’s been a stay-at-home mom for most of our relationship/marriage. She possesses a cosmetology license and is not applying that skill, not even with our girls. I am at the point where I realize I have no connection with her and am doing it solely to be close to my kids. I feel that she too feels the same way even though she says differently. I know she means well but she just simply doesn’t cut it for me. After years of expressing what I expect of her and compromising, I am ready to separate to see if this is where we’re truly supposed to be. There is no passion or affection between us and I find myself irritated with everything. She’s happy as long as I am there and working to provide but I want better. A dagger that has really killed things for us has been her inability to express acceptance of my oldest daughter whom lives with her mother. This has been a constant issue for me and I’ve always tried to justify her actions over the years. This past Christmas was an awakening point for me as she purposely left off items from my daughter’s list for her own selfish reasons. That was my breaking point with her. I immediately felt that I needed to make a decision to stand up and question her love for me and walk away from someone that could not accept my daughter while I have raised and accepted her two girls like my own with no questions asked. There is so much more. I don’t want to make the wrong decision in breaking up my family. Please help!

  100. Dear Crystal and Lonely,

    I too had tears in my eyes reading Crystal’s post. Our situations are similar. I hope things get better for all of us. The fear of how my husband tried to destroy me when I first attempted to separate is incapacitating. We have two beautiful and happy little girls. He immediately started cancelling their extra-curricular activities and other things they loved to hurt me. I’m a SAHM with nothing to my name but an MBA and a whole hell of a lot of legal and street intelligence and I still feel paralyzed with fear from this person. He is borderline personality and lied about it and hid it from me and his own family until after we were married. Also, he has physically abused me for years. Despite everything, I feel so trapped because of not wanting him to hurt my girls that I don’t know what to do. It’s like I’m drowning and watching it happen yet can do nothing. I wish I never got married. I often wish I were dead. In fact, he often tells me to go kill myself in front of my three and five year-old children but I can’t leave my girls with that individual. That would be just downright criminal. Praying for us all!

  101. I am the verbal abuser in our marriage. We’ve been married for 11 years and have two daughters, aged 10 and 7. I have been married before. My ex-husband cheated on me. My husband is 6 years younger than me, but much more mature than I am. I don’t feel in love anymore with my husband for various reasons. Trust being one of them. I just can’t seem to get over it. He explained himself and I know that I overreacted, but I have difficulty trusting him. I have been hurt so bad in my previous marriage that I really cannot go there again. He is good with the kids and they love him dearly. He tells me he loves me, but I cannot say it back. I really am the bad person in this relationship, but I struggle to get over the negative feelings I have for him. I don’t like him touching me. I get goosebumps. We haven’t had sex for over a year now and I can honestly say that I do not miss it at all. I sleep mostly in another room or with my eldest. He wears a mask at night for sleep Apnea. The noise is terrible. I am tired all the time and I hate my teaching job. I am so unhappy and cause everyone around me to be unhappy as well. It feels as if I cannot get out of this black hole. I am on pills for depression. During this past year I have gained a lot of weight and I hate how I look. I am disgusted with my fat body. I hate myself like this. I just don’t feel anything for him. I am really hurting my children and I do not know how to approach this. My parents were divorced when I was 11 and I still feel the pain of that. My husband’s parents are still happily married. I am the bad apple in this relationship. I’ve been to a hypnotherapist, but this was a joke. I felt nothing and no relief. I try to shelter my girls from these emotions. It would be devastating to them. My eldest daughter already has problems in school and I caught her lying to us. I acted out real bad. I screamed and yelled and said terrible things. I don’t believe anything she says to me anymore. I’ve thought about suicide, because I am a terrible, bad mom, but I am a coward as well. I don’t know what to do. In my mind all I see is my children’s eyes if they find out what a hypocrite their mom is. Even though I know I’m hurting my husband, I cannot stop saying the things I do. I am sarcastic, put him down and call him names. Everything is so messed up at the moment. I know I have to leave him, so that he at least has a chance of a better and happy life, without the stress I cause him.

  102. I think if unhappy you should not stay together for kids. I think as long as they see both parents enough they will be okay. Obviously there’s no way to know for sure what affect staying or divorcing would be on them. That is why you should do what you want as there is no way to know if staying is better or not you cannot know the future. I want to take my own advice and split up properly from my son’s dad, but the only reason I haven’t yet is being a single parent seems scary. I have social anxiety and my son has not even started school yet but when he does I don’t know how I can cope with helping him to have a social life as I am very shy. I don’t feel that I can talk to other kids parent’s to arrange his friends coming round but his dad is fine with people and would be better at this. Plus, his dad can take him places but I don’t drive. So without his dad to drive us, it would maybe be that I would not take my son out many places. Plus I just don’t know if I want to live alone with just my son as it may be boring for him just seeing me at home but I think I should not worry about those things. It is just more worry for me with my anxiety but I don’t get on well with my son’s dad. We aren’t sleeping in the same room even so I should tell him soon. I think I will eventually.

  103. I am 38 years old and have been married for 9 years with 3 boys (6,4,1). I am sure that my marriage is falling down. I have tried with my wife a lot but our feelings are cold. She is very cold. She never gave me attention since she had our first boy. Although we have three boys now, our sexual relation is still zero. In addition to no proper communication, she has helped once financially and I have been humiliated about that several times.
    When she leaves the house I feel comfortable and relaxed or when I leave the house I feel better. However, I love my kids so much, but I don’t feel like I can continue with her.

  104. Thank you for posting this. I been married for 16 years now and have 2 children. Most of our marriage I have been unhappy. I was belittled by my wife in front of friends and family to the point that I was belittled by her brothers. I decided to stick it through because of our son. Years have passed and I am still being belittled and there is always arguing. We had our daughter and I wanted to be a good father for my children so I stuck it through. It finally came to a point last year that I had enough of being in an unhappy marriage decided to separate. I thought being a good father was to stay in the marriage for them but it was causing me to get depressed and shut myself from the world.

  105. Thank you for the post. My husband passive aggressively stonewalls me once every few months for small and not so small reasons. Sometimes it will be for a few days, but this time it has been for 16 days today. It takes a toll on me every time, but this time I think his unresolved anger issues are getting the better of him. He has no intention of cooling down. He looks at me with deep disdain. I did apologize once but it did not work.

    I am tired too. These years of emotional detachment from him have made me into a messy anxious person. I suffer with low self esteem in spite of being a high achieving Phd student. We have one adorable son. He is 5. I love him more than anything and cannot break his heart as he is a fragile emotional and loving child. My husband is a good father and my son loves him. My husband is good when he does not do this to me, but when this happens it kills me.

    The problem is I cannot go anywhere as I have no income right now. I need to finish my dissertation and then get a job. It may take a year and I am scared he may end this marriage before then or worse still, stone wall me for a year until I leave. I don’t know if I can live like that.

    We don’t scream, shout or do any of those things. We just don’t talk and I feel bad we are modeling this for my only son. But where can I go and am I over reacting?

  106. I’m looking for advise. I’ve been married for 14 years to the only person I have ever really known. We met each in the fourth grade and have three kids. His affair led me to leaving him. I moved far from everything–family, work, and everything I have ever known as well. I left to get away from the situation and let him live his short term relationship. That only lasted weeks. After two months he relocated where I now live and moved right in. The kids love their dad. He always has been the fun one etc. They were extremely happy. When I tried to say something in an argument, the two older kids blame me. How do I move on without my kids resenting me? Moving here made my salary a lot less. East coast pays less than what I’m used to. So I’m going through a divorce and he moved in because he has nowhere to go. I feel stuck. I can’t even run to a family member’s house to visit for 5-10 minutes. I just feel stuck.

  107. I do not want to be married anymore. My husband is a complete idiot. I don’t see how divorce is the right decision, as he would totally mess up the kids during his days of custody. Counseling is not an option, he refuses. He sees nothing wrong. He laughs at conversations about parenting and laughs at conversations about our relationship. He literally does not care about anything. I do not want him in our lives anymore but divorce seems the worst thing to do.

  108. All of this just pulls at my heartstrings! I have been married for 29 years. High school sweethearts. I knew something was wrong over 20 years ago, but my personality is one that is a people pleaser who puts myself last so I said nothing. We have basically been struggling for all this time and it has come to a head. We waited to have kids until later so now have teenagers who are my life. I am happy in every aspect of my life besides my marriage. I think my issue is I have grown into who I am and have gotten more confident and realized that there is just no connection with my husband anymore. He is a good man, husband and father, but we think very differently and I am not sure if I have truly been connected or in love with him for some time. He has a very outwardly strong personality, which can be very negative at times, and he can be harsh. He also is not happy with his work life, has few friends and has always been very needy when it comes to me. I handle all the finances and have always taken care of everything and given him all that he wants. Our marriage has also been close to sexless for awhile now, with us maybe having sex one every few months. This is mainly on my part, because I do not feel connected with him anymore and its hard for me to pretend and have sex when there is nothing there and I have not been attracted to him for some time. His way of connecting is through sex. Lately I have been focusing on being happy and doing things with our teens and my friends, because when we are together alone it is so awkward and uncomfortable and we end up fighting. My husband does try and he will be better for a week or so but then, if he does not get what he wants, he spirals back to the negativity. It is really hard for me to make an effort when I know it will end up back to the same thing.

    Recently, I discovered he has been looking at porn a lot, emailing women off the sex sites asking for pictures and other things. He also has been looking at apartments but he is not aware I know all of this completely. I did confront him months ago and he blamed me for it because he needs attention and said he would not do it again but it continues and he is more sneaky about it. To me I see this as him cheating. This has caused me to decide to speak to an attorney because I want to protect myself and my children. I am the primary breadwinner and can easily afford out house and expense on my own. He has thrown out a few times that maybe we should separate but only to get his way and when I actually agreed last time he backed down. At one end he comes off as someone who wants to really save the marriage and work at it, but then behind the scenes he is looking at porn, emailing girls about having sex and looking at leaving, so it scares me.

    I have been to counseling myself and we have gone to couples counseling a few times but it is a struggle to get him to go and he always says that I am to blame. He really needs to go to counseling for himself. We are going to start going again because we both are so frustrated. However, in my heart at this time, I feel that I am just done and I am not sure I will ever be truly connected with him but I am willing to go to counseling to see or at least dig through what the real issues are and decide if we can make it work or at least part in a way that is good for us and our kids. When I think about life after the kids leave in a few years, I cannot see myself staying with him. I just want us both to be happy. I have been honest with him about my feelings but every time it throws him into a deep dive of depression and negativity and it makes me feel awful. He honestly has not done anything majorly wrong, but we are just two different people that have grown apart. I see other couples who have such a connection and passion to be with each other and I have not had that for years.

    What scares me is my kids. They see the issues. I know they do. However, they are also great kids who have both parents whom they love in their home and they have only known this life and house. If we split I would want to keep the house and primary custody of them so that they still have that anchor, but I would also not want to deny their dad rights to be with them so my hope is that we could co-parent and work out a good routine and schedule without it getting nasty. I hate to think of them bouncing back and forth from place to place during the week. It breaks my heart. My other worry is I make around three times more than my husband and I know he will struggle on his own to find a place to live and pay expenses. I would even be willing to not ask him to pay for almost everything related to the kids if he agrees not to make us sell the house and not come after me for support and let me be the primary caregiver.

    So that is where I am. I am in a sea of limbo trying to decide what to do and wrecked with guilt. If it was not for my kids, I would have left years ago. I would love to hear the stories of others and what path you took. It’s nice to know I am not alone or totally heartless.

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