My husband and I have been together for 10 years and we have 2 beautiful kids (8 and 5). I know in a relationship (marriage especially) it’s not supposed to be easy. But between his drinking, his drunken anger, his constant need to stay out till 2AM while I stay home raising our kids, and his ability to gaslight and stonewall like a pro whenever I go to him with my hurt, I have fallen out of love with him and actually have grown to really resent him. I am thinking about divorce.
It’s been a 10 year struggle to help him see that he needs to make some changes (although I don’t feel it’s my place to tell him he needs to change). He will make changes for a month or two, but that usually is when I am ready to get papers and the ball rolling on our divorce.
Where I am at now, I am ready to leave. I feel a strong sense of peace within me that this is what I need to do on my quest for a happy life (or at least a content life) but he doesn’t want a divorce and is certain that he will change in the ways he needs to and he’ll make it stick this time. And I’m so far gone out of the relationship that I don’t even want to attempt to try anymore, which makes me feel absolutely guilty and like I’m a failure. I don’t know what I’m necessarily trying to ask in this email.
Here is my response:
I would never tell someone to leave or to stay in a marriage, but here is what I can see from an outsider’s perspective:
First of all, drinking, drunken anger and staying out till 2AM in a marriage is a huge problem, and no one should have to put up with that for 10 years, or even 10 minutes for that matter. It is unacceptable, immature and hurtful.
There is a possibility that he’s an alcoholic. He is certainly displaying signs. But regardless of whether or not he’s an addict, what is he trying to cope with that he is literally running away from his family till 2AM, getting drunk, and then being mean to his wife? What pain is he trying to numb?
She says it’s not her place to tell him to change, but I say it definitely is. He is a husband and father and needs to start acting like one instead of a frat boy.
I actually have two friends who confronted their husbands with these same kinds of issues and basically said “If you don’t change, you need to leave.” One friend’s husband went to AA the next day and hasn’t had a drink in 4 years. They are very happy. I’ve actually run into the guy and he has said that his wife threatening to kick him out got him sober and it was the best thing she could have done. My other friend’s husband said, “OK, if you don’t like it, let’s get divorced” and that was it. So, if she lays it on the line, it could go one of these two ways.
Also, what kind of example is this father setting for his children? They are growing up thinking his behavior is normal–that Mommy takes care of us and Daddy can do whatever he wants and then be mean to her. Not good. That’s another reason I think there might be a drinking addiction issue. Because he can’t see the pain and damage he is causing his kids through the need for booze.
I also want to address something else. Why on earth is this woman feeling guilty and like she is a failure because she’s considering leaving a man who is acting in an abusive way and not living up to what a husband should be?? That is baffling to me, but the reason I think she is this way is because:
when someone is in an unhealthy marriage for a long period of time, self-esteem suffers and expectations get to an all-time low. In other words, you forget that you deserve to be treated better because you are so used to being treated poorly that it almost becomes normal for you. That’s very sad to me and she needs to recognize it.
In closing, leaving is really really scary and the beginning of a divorce feels like a war. Financials, custody battles and all kinds of rage that comes out that can lead to bad judgment, poor decision making, intense resentment and anger, and doing things out of impulsive haste. Opening that divorce door is truly life changing and should be thought about carefully.
Then again, staying in a situation like this is really really scary too. Alcoholism only gets worse over the years, and as kids age, problems and personalities become so much more complex.
Each individual has to do what he or she thinks is right for them. So, if she decided not to leave ever, or if she decided to wait, no one should judge. She is the only one who should make the decision.
I wish this sweet woman all the best. She’s in a really tough spot.
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