Seeking advice on sorting out marriage - stay or go

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by WNC Gal, Jun 4, 2009.

  1. WNC Gal

    WNC Gal New Member

    I'm sure this happens often in difficult child families.. the stressors just get to be too much and the marriage crumbles..

    I've been very happily married for 20 years.. but when our oldest started having psychiatric issues 3 years ago, all of that changed. I was the "power house" mom - traveling to all hospitals, meetings, slaving to get admissions, funding, placements, etc. Dad just beefed about the expense and shut himself down. Now that our 16 year old difficult child is back home.. it is apparent that our marriage is not what it once was. husband prefers to do his own thing and throws a fit every time anything comes up with kids that requires his time/attention. There is virtually no passion, romance or fun left in our marriage. We do work together in a family business which is stressful in and of itself.. never get to turn it off even at home.

    I have been sooo unhappy and depressed with marriage for past 3 years. I have been through individual counseling, couples counseling, family counseling, etc. and feel I have made positive changes. But hubby refuses to change anything and has dropped out of all counseling. He has such dispectful fits of anger toward family, that my parents refuse to see him, or visit our home ever again.

    Even my 16 year old difficult child said to me one day.. Mom should deserve better.

    BUT...things are not *horrible*.. just days of neutral inattention punctuated by bits of anger and obnoxious temper tantrums by dad. Is this BETTER than splitting up and trying to secure my own personal happiness ?

    I know the kids are aware things aren't great... but divorce has got to be more stressful than the status quo. Their dad with his immature and vindictive nature would surely make it an ugly experience. But I imagine 8 more years until my youngest graduates from high school living like this... and it makes me cry.

    Any advice on how one sorts it out??
  2. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    WNC Gal--

    I am so sorry to hear that your marriage is crumbling....I wish I had some advice.

    Sending (((hugs))) and support.

  3. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Only you can know what the right decision is for you. Divorce is never easy, on anyone. It takes two to make a marriage work.. and if only one of you is putting forth the the effort, it is incredibly draining. No matter what you decide, be sure you have a continuous support system in place for yourself and your kids.

    I think you have to weigh all of it, and ask yourself the infamous Ann Landers question: "are you better off with him, or without him?"

    For me, it was the latter.. I decided the stress of being WITH their father was worse on my kids than being without him. The divorce was messy, and undoubtedly contributed to and even escalated the kids' issues (don't even get me started on how nasty their dad was, and still is) .. but I truly believe things would have been worse if I'd stayed.

    Hugs to you, no matter what you decide.
  4. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Can you take a day just for yourself? Go somewhere quiet and make a list of the good and bad of staying married, the good and bad of getting divorced and the good and bad of staying married for another 2-5 years with the hope that having difficult child out of the house stabilizes things. Do this without anyone else's input. The path may become clear to you.

  5. recovering doormat

    recovering doormat Lapsed CDer

    First, hugs to you. I struggled with the "do I stay or do I go" question for many years before my ex and I separated, and we separated shortly after my difficult child 2 had been discharged from his third inpatient hospitalziation for anxiety. Unlike your story, I did not have a happy marriage until my children started experiencing emotional trauma. I rushed into a marriage and realized too late that my husband had a lot of his own issues to deal with , but he was not interested in seeking help. So I tried to do it on my own. It didn't work. He was emotionally abusive to me and to a lesser extent the kids, but it was his escalating aggression towards our two older kids that made me leave. He didn't do anything that would get him arrested, but he was psychologically abusive to them. By the time we separated my family had absolutely no use for him. Even his mother, who lived with us, was on my side! (HE was abusive to her as well).

    I was emotionally battered, not working outside the home, and had no money of my own when we separated, so the day to day hasn't been easy. And my kids were of an age (14, 11 and 8) five years ago where they experienced a lot of trauma over having to shuttle between two homes (we live four miles apart). To his credit, ex is able to be civil to me for the sake of our kids, and we have not badmouthed each other or gotten ugly in front of them (except for one verbal exchange that got out of hand). Many people who have helped our difficult children remark on how unusual it is that we can be in the same room together! But we do it to lessen the stress on the children.

    All I can tell you is, before I moved out, I used to dread the soundof the garage door opening at night. I never knew what kind of mood he would be in, would he be talking to me or not, would he spot a smudge on the wall and demand to know who did it, would he start opening his mail while I'm getting dinner on the table and wrangling the kids away from the tv and the computer, and get on the phone to argue with Amex while we're trying to have a family dinner. That knot is gone. I love my little house that is one-third the size of my marital home.

    Filing for divorce didn't mean everything got better that day. Breaking the news to the children was the hardest thing I've ever done, because he insisted on doing it together and he was devastated. Our youngest cried and ran into her room, the middle one looked like he'd been hit over the head with a board, and the 14 year old sneered "What took you so long?" Actually, the two older ones had been begging me for years to divorce him because of his moodiness and anger. But when it actually happened, I didn't get gratitude, rather, attitude over disrupting their lives. Oldest kid went downhill in school, got involved with drugs, middle child was unchanged, youngest had a rough time but with counseling and wonderful teachers, found a haven with school and friends. She's still doing well. ONce in a while the kids will try to guilt trip me now about making them live in two houses, but they have a pretty good deal and they know it.

    Don't know if I've made you feel better or worse. Feel free to PM me if you want to know the down and dirty.

    Hugs again.
  6. graceupongrace

    graceupongrace New Member


    I am so sorry for your pain. :sad-very:

    Do husband's fits of anger involve violence toward you or the kids? If so, that puts the situation in a different category.

    Is husband depressed? The strain of dealing with a difficult child and its impact on the rest of life can cause situational (as opposed to more chronic) depression.

    There are no easy answers, as I'm sure you've discovered. I certainly don't have them; my own marriage ended several years ago. But if husband is not violent, I would encourage you to go slowly and look at the first 20 years as well as the last three as you consider what to do. That doesn't mean you should stay at all costs. But I've learned that raising kids by yourself is harder than you can ever imagine, especially when one is a difficult child. And the arguments with husband don't stop entirely when the divorce papers are signed; they just occur in a different context.

    Your signature says you have several kids. So the question isn't really "Would I be better off with or without him?" but "Would the family be better off with or without him?"

    Again, I'm so sorry.

    Sending you hugs and prayers.
  7. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip


    I had a lot different situation with XH - he was the difficult child... Since he was not physically violent I had a hard time leaving him.

    Now husband's X - BM - was violent. Mostly though she emotionally scarred him and the kids. It took him 4 years of being with me to stop apologizing for answering the phone. His phone. I'm also learning what she did to the kids (slapping, kicking, punching) - and the threats to not tell. At this point, since the end of February difficult child 1 refuses to see her or speak to her at all. difficult child 2 used to be petrified - scared to DEATH - of her - and now is being spoiled and bribed, so he's happy about visiting - sometimes. He used to hide under chairs to avoid going with her.

    So what it comes down to is this. I disagree about whether it involves your kids. If you are unhappy, the kids will not be happy - and you will all spiral downward.

    That said, if he is violent to any of you - get out. Because someone who is violent to one can be violent to all in the blink of an eye, even unintentionally.

    Good luck and keep us posted.
  8. aeroeng

    aeroeng Mom of Three

    You don't want to cry for 8 years. It sounds like you have tried everything reasonable. And the fact that your parent refuse to see him is not a good sign. For the marriage to work he needs to be a part of the solution and commit to change. It sounds like he is not. Although I read somewhere that men respond better to the layer then the therapist. In that they often refuse to work with the therapist, but realize they need to turn things around when you talk to the layer.

    It is not true that kids always do better in homes where the parents are together just for the kids sake. Status quo is not always better then a divorce . They feel that tension as well. Many of the problems recovering doormat had with her kids might have happened anyway or earlier. If there is a lot of fighting or even just general disrespect it is not a good environment for the kids either. Remember your relationships are the main way they learn what relationships should be like.

    I have three divorced sisters. (Sister #1 left because of abuse. Sister #2 left because she believed in fidelity and he did not. And, Sister #3 left because he had mental illness, tried to kill her. She actually stayed until through the treatment for the mental illness until she discovered all the girl friends.)

    The kids of sisters #1&3 had a more difficult time, because their spouses were very vindictive and punished my sisters by hurting the kids (usually emotionally). Sister #2 kids had little troubles as they did not fight over the divorce they just separated and always put the kids interest first. Yet all the kids are now doing reasonably well. (But none of them are really difficult children). All my sisters are much happier.

    I agree with your daughter, you deserve better. If you can make the changes needed within the marriage then making it through the rough years can be really rewarding. But if you can't don't sacrifice your own happiness.
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2009
  9. graceupongrace

    graceupongrace New Member

    Sometimes the answer to the question "Would the family be better off with or without him?" is "without him." I didn't mean to imply otherwise.

    More hugs.
  10. skeeter

    skeeter New Member

    you have to do what's best for you.

    But both of mine have come to me and asked me, completely serious, how I stayed married to their father for so long. Since the divorce, they finally experienced their father without my running intervention.

    They are happy because I'm happy, and they love their stepfather. They love their father, too - but when they need something - advice, an address to have something mailed to, help - it's me and their step father they ask.
  11. First off, hugs to is so difficult to deal with the issues our special kids present to us without a partner to rely on for respite. I deal with alot of the same issues myself, but in addition my husband does not believe there is anything wrong with my DS.

    What I always ask myself is this: What would I think if my daughter were in a relationship like this?? Would that be okay with me??

    Unfortunately, we are subconsciously teaching the children what to expect from their future life partners. Taking that into consideration, if you wouldn't want your child in a relationship like yours, you need to do what you can to teach them otherwise.

    Hang in there and have faith in your instincts.

  12. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    It's very much an individual decision.

    You mentioned the counselling - how much has he been involved with this in the past? YOu said he's opted out now - what were his reasons?

    Blokes often aren't good attalking about their feelings (or talking about anything). But they can still hurt. Often more, because tey don't know how to express it.

    I don't know where he is in this. He could be shutting down to try to use avoidance tactics ("if I don't think about it or acknolwedge it, then it can't hurt me") or he could be simply biding his time waiting for the other shoe to drop.

    Every relationship has its rocky tiimes. And even the best relationship can fail if it comes against an obstacle that can't be overcome. If the relationship has never been tested, how can you know if it will last? It isn't how well you get on during the happy times, it's how well you can communicate and work as a team when things are tough.

    Only you can know. Sorry. If we advise you to leave him and get a life, you might find that although you're glad to be away from the bickering and occasional explosions, you really feel lonely. Or you might leave him and wish you hadn't wasted so much time agonising over the decision but done it sooner.

    My sister was married to a pig of a man. He had little idea of a normal family life. He was controlling. A philanderer. A bully. Inappropriate with her friends, with the children, with me. I could handle it because I didn't take it on board. My sister of course, being married to him, had little choice but to take it all personally. He destroyed her self-esteem systematically over 25 years of marriage. She finally threw him out when she got unavoidable proof he was cheating on her (and sticking her with the international phone bill and the air fares).

    THen she regretted throwing him out. He had a number of his mistresses dump him as soon as they realised they could "win" the prize but one of them accepted him and married him. Meanwhile sis was raising the kids (who were confused and resentful). She struggled on her own - not necessarily financially, because without him, she at least knew where the bills were coming from. The decision-making was hard especially given her lack of confidence.

    The crunch came at a family wedding (one which itself failed after 4 months!) at which she was in tears and miserable because she was on her own, the kids were now all independent and she was seeing her life stretching ahead empty. Even her ex was happy, although his second wife was ill.

    She was amazingly lucky - she met another bloke. He isn't what I would have picked, I can't stand being around him for too long, but he makes HER happy and I will forgive a lot for that.

    Soon after she met this blooke (now married to him) her ex-husband's wife died. Within weeks (or less) he was round on my sister's doorstep asking her to have him back - he needed someone to look after him.

    My sister says that if it hadn't been for her new man, she would have taken the (*(*& back.

    We're glad she didn't. Nobody should ever be that desperate.

    So you must make your own decision. WHatever you decide, it must be anew beginning and a decision fully endorsed by yourself. You must be fully committed to your choice and make it work.

  13. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Staying married to Useless Boy (Miss KT's father) would have literally had me in a psychiatric ward somewhere. All his antics were just crazy-making, and he chose to believe everything was wonderful, when he wasn't being totally P/A, or lying about something somewhere, or blaming me for whatever...we separated when Miss KT was 4, and managed to remain civil until about four years ago, when I took him to small claims court. Now it's open warfare with his mama (from whom all monies flow) right in the mix.

    Divorce is never an easy option, but sometimes it's the only one you have to maintain your health and sanity. You are the only one who can decide what is right for you. It sounds to me like you are the only one trying to make this marriage work, and that isn't a good sign. You said you had a family business...will you have to continue working with him even if you divorce, or can you find another job?

    I agree with the suggestion to get away, all by yourself, and sort it out for yourself. You deserve happiness. Many hugs to you.
  14. Jena

    Jena New Member

    you got alot of great advice here. I think at the end of the day the classic line is if you get quiet with you you'll know the answer....... is this just a patch of rockiness or is this a consistent ongoing stressor that is killing your inner spirit and you no longer see the man you once loved?

    Either way i send you alot of hugs, relationships are difficult enough than given the added stress of warrior mom title just makes it alot more interesting :)

    I"m sure you will make the right decision for you whatever that is, and we will all support you in your choice.

  15. WSM

    WSM New Member

    There's a wonderful book: Too Good To Leave, Too Bad to Stay that walks you through evaluating the marriage. Maybe it would be worth a look.

    I'm so sorry you are in this horrible, miserable place. I'm there as well.

  16. mstang67chic

    mstang67chic Going Green

    You know, growing up, there were many times I told my mom that we should just go. Her and my dad (step dad, adopted me but usually referred to step when I tell stories because I still see my bio dad and talk about him. confused yet? LOL) would have horrible, drunken fights and he was physically abusive to her. They actually did split a couple of times but got back together both times. Sober he was always a good guy. Kind of strict but a good guy. He worked hard, took care of us, helped his friends, took care of his mother, taught me a lot, had his hobbies and interests, etc. Once he got to a certain degree of drunk and/or high just stayed the hell out of his way. He has since quit drinking and as I used to joke, totally messed up my attitude. Their marriage is now the way it should be although their health issues put a lot of constraints on things.

    My point is, I think kids are smarter than we give them credit for at times. They know when things aren't good even when it's not the very obvious like my childhood. But as Recoveringdoormat said, that doesn't mean the kids will be fine with it either. Logically they may know or get somehow that a divorce is for the best but emotionally it's still hard.

    I agree with the others. I think you need to make a pro/con list and do some hard thinking. What would you do if it was just you and no kids to think of? You know your kids, how do you think staying or leaving will affect them? Are you prepared to deal with the affects of whatever you decide? Of course there are also the finacial aspects. Would you be able to afford a reasonable place to live, normal expenses, insurance, etc.

    You've obviously put work into your marriage and have tried your best. This may not be the answer you're looking for but you have to decide if it's worth staying with someone who, at least at this point, has no interest in putting in the effort of working on his marriage or being more active in his kids lives. My husband isn't always as involved as he would like because of his schedule but he wants to be. I don't know what I would do if he didn't have that desire.

    I hate to say good luck because it somehow doesn't sound right but that's all I have. Post again though if you need to talk things out. We can't make the decision for you but we can at least listen and offer support.
  17. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    It's been almost forty years since I faced that issue and truly hoped that "someone" could give me the right answer for my family. Sad to just doesn't work that way. Although my husband was attractive, faithful, successful and still thought I was "hot", he and I were in total disagreement on difficult child. difficult child truly drove me crazy then and still drives me crazy now BUT I felt I had an obligation to do everything possible to make her as "normal" as possible. Ex wanted her out of the family so the easy child kids, he and I could continue to live the happy lifestyle we had enjoyed.

    I hated the environment that was in our home. I did not want to be the first ever family member to divorce. Finally, I opted for "a separation" with counseling to reunite us. It hurt Ex. It hurt the PCs. It really hurt difficult child who suspected her influence. It hurt me and my entire family. I stuck to the mantra "we are just separated for awhile and are getting counseling and then probably everything will be better than ever". NOT!

    All three of my children suffered emotionally from my decision. Even the PCs had to go into counseling because once their Dad was no longer at our house, he moved on to a sweet young thing PDQ. She did not like kids and he felt like a "man" again. This week difficult child's younger son (difficult child who lived with us for seven years) graduated from high school. Ex and his 5th wife attended. Care to guess whom he sat next to for the ceremony? difficult child! Yep, the very one he wanted to institutionalize!

    It's you choice and yours alone. You'll have to take responsibility for it.The results will last a lifetime .... so take your time. Good luck. DDD
  18. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    I'll second all of this by DDD. I grew up in a dysfunctional family--parents who couldn't get along. It was bad when they were living together but it was bad--if not worse--afterwards for different reasons. My mom's mental health suffered, she was exhausted trying to provide for us financially, and it deteriorated across the board during our teen years. My difficult child brother didn't stand a chance without any parents at home.

    That experience left its mark on me and when faced with a not so happy marriage situation my choice has been to **** it up and stick it out. I know not everyone can live in a situation where a marriage isn't a real marriage but once I was able to recover from the emotional aspects, I've been okay. And I know in my case my kids are far better off this way than the alternative. Their father is a good person; we're just not a good marriage partnership.

    I know from posting this once in the past that it will make many women cringe, but I won't regret the sacrifice to give my children the stable home I never had growing up.
  19. sosotired

    sosotired New Member

    Probably a good part of the reason my X and I split up was because of difficult child. He still refuses to acknowledge there is an issue, especially since he's probably Aspie himself.

    Don't ever assume you know someone. We were married 20 years and when the time came he did things I would NEVER have expected. Sadly, he chooses not to see his children although he does call once in a while (again, something I never thought he'd do).

    easy child, old enough to get what happened (I've never told her details) is full of rage and wants nothing to do with her dad. difficult child was too young and just misses him terribly.

    It's been heartbreaking. I did not have a choice as X left me but it has done quite a job on the kids. I didn't think it was all cookies and cream either but know most marriages aren't and was willing to work through whatever I had to.

    You are the only one that can make the decision although having him out of your and the kids daily life may change friction and difficulties you have today, divorce just brings different ones. A different c rap, different day kind of situation.
  20. WNC Gal

    WNC Gal New Member

    Update: Fast-forward to November... I am now starting to file for divorce. I have done a lot of soul searching and reading and seeking counsel from trusted friends. It is a very very challenging decision to leave the marriage. I read the book Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay. I felt that the book illuminated more areas of concern in the marriage. We have tried counseling but to be honest, it didn't last very long because a) he felt it was too expensive and focused on financial issues with me, and b) I felt like I was going through the motions because my love/passion for him is truly gone.

    The most challenging part about this is that I am terrified that I am choosing my own happiness over that of the stability and status quo for the kids. And *is* my lack of love/passion for him a sign of my own personal flaws, or just that our marriage has been through too much to recover ?

    He seems to have dealt with our difficult child's issues (and she is doing just GREAT now by the way) by becoming more cynical and judgemental. I have dealt with her issues (and my feeling like a failed parent) by seeking validation from others.. My self-esteem definitely took a toll.. between worrying about what we were doing wrong to cause her to have all of these horrible issues and my marriage being under such duress.

    Now my marriage is emotionally neglectful and I feel like a platonic automaton - which has driven me to a string of affairs.. not emotional but physical and for validation. Ending the marriage seems like the fair thing to do.. he, on the one hand, has become cynical, rigid and non-passionate about me - while I, have become a secret serial cheater - not for a true relationship, but for the validation and comfort and affection that I'm not getting at home. I know everybody will say - GET COUNSELING - which I have done in the past.. but counseling will simply rehash the thought processes that I have already been through hundreds of times. Should I stay and get my affection/validation/physical needs met by others? Or stay and attempt to rekindle the passion with my spouse who is a very negative and pessimistic person? Or be honest that the marriage has disintegrated to the point that I don't really *want* to save it.... and even IF we both make drastic changes (I stop cheating and he tries to be a more attentive spouse)... is there anything really left?