Dear Zanny – I have listened since almost day one to the Divas and was so glad to hear you are doing this show… I value your advice!
My background is a Bachelor of Science in Family Relations and Child Development. I worked counseling parents of disabled or delayed children birth to three and coordinating special services for their children for almost 10 years. My ‘specialty’ was micro premature babies…
I have been with my husband since 10/2000 and we were married 5/02. He was a confirmed bachelor when we met – he is 10 years my senior (I am 33) and I had to threaten him I would break off our relationship if we did not get married – and he ‘caved in’ and we married the following May. I was hearing my ‘clock ticking’ since I wanted two children and I knew with his age he would want children sooner than later or we’d miss that window. I know now I should have left him and found another – but I did not. I was burned in my first marriage by a cheating man and divorced him prior to graduating college. I dated a high school sweetheart almost a year and he did pretty much the same thing. I found my husband through a dating service (this is before Match.com and such!) and liked him since he was OPPOSITE my other ‘men’ I had dated/married. He was a civil engineer, quiet, did not like to socialize. I know I did this out of fear of a cheating man. But I did it any way.
Now here we are, 6 years into marriage (next month) and I think he can be a nice person. I love him for giving me my (just turned) three year old son. But I am not IN love with him. He can be verbally abusive. He is selfish. He never helped out with our son when he was a baby – I was (and still am) like a single mother. He is addicted to on line porn – so I never want to be intimate with him – it has been 2 months or more since he has even tried to touch me. All of this has caused – and still does cause – arguments to this day. I asked him for divorce TWO times. Once we went to counseling (last year). It did little to help him. He does better for up to3 days or so then back to himself. In his eyes he can do no wrong and I am the problem – I am a martyr he says. The second time I asked him he asked for another chance and did not want a divorce. I know he just wants me around to be his ‘mommy’ and cook and clean and care for his child and him. He says he loves me, but his model of a relationship from his parents is so out of whack… they don’t love each other – they hardly talk and they have had separate rooms for 35 – 40 years! I have tried. My friends don’t know why I stay with him. My parents feel the same way. No one hates him, just wish he’d change his ways. But I stay for my son. I have already told my husband I do not want a second child any longer, as I can’t take care of my son and my childish selfish husband and a baby and be happy. I try to take care of myself, but it is hard (since I work full time and give my son full attention after work – when is gym time or massage time or nail time???) Husband says he wants me to loose weight (I am stress eating and have only gained weight since our son was born) and I am 80 – 100 pounds over weight… but when I go to the gym he complains I am not home to take care of our son and he has to eat and do his stupid sports boards after work… he will play with our son for about an hour a night. I do all morning and evening rituals with him. I do get one night a week for choir and one night a month to scrapbook for our son’s photos…
I can’t believe this is what life is to be like. I know I would tell a friend to leave him too. But I want my son to have both parents. I can’t imagine a night with out him. I have been on this fence for a year now. It is wearing me out. I know if we stay married we have a wonderful income and can provide a wonderful home and activities for our child and vacations… but I also think I don’t’ want to model this as a relationship for our son. His dad sleeps until 10 or 11 am and gets mad (sulky and grumpy like a teenager) if he is woken up early on weekends (he is on sports boards and porn until 2 am or so) – I can’t let him live in a separate house where he can’t have a parent who is awake in the mornings! His father has never even taken him anyplace in the car alone except to his parent’s house in our neighborhood because he is loud and can’t control himself. I seem to never have problems taking him anyplace!
Am I crazy for wanting out of this relationship? Do I keep trying to make it work? We are going to Vegas for his business trip and I will be with him for 2 -3 days with out our son – I hope this helps my heart grow for him – but I really do have concerns I am postponing the inevitable. I know you can not say LEAVE HIM YOU FOOL! But what kinds of harm may I be doing to my son for staying vs. leaving? When our son is around I keep a smile on my face and act as if nothing could be better than our home life. But once he goes to bed, I go to the bedroom to watch TV and sleep. We are room mates. If I stay with him we have a very nice house with nice things and nice vacations… if I leave him – not so much. We both make good money and my family ‘has’ money, so I know we would not be ‘without’, but who wants to rely on their parents for the extras of life?
I know I can go on and on with details – you have heard this a hundred times I am sure! Could you please discuss the harmful effects of divorce vs. unhealthy family life? I want to do right by HIM. And if divorce is in the future, I would think the younger the better… I would stay in the same town (both of our parents and siblings and families all live in this same suburb so family support is easy to be found…)
Thanks Zanny! Shannan
Phew! You have so much energy going on. So let’s look at the big picture: You say your husband is emotionally abusive, selfish, and addicted to on-line porn. You’ve asked him for a divorce twice. Does this sound like the type of partnership you wish for your son someday?
Divorce does have a huge impact on children – no doubt. AND, so do dysfunctional marriages. The debate continues about which scenario most negatively impacts children. A room full of experts could make sound arguments for either side. So, you don’t need their advice, you need to follow your heart. You mention that currently between your two salaries you can afford nice vacations – those vacations and nice life style are not enough to fulfill you – do you think it will be enough to compensate your son for two unhealthy parents? Because by staying in the relationship, in its current state, makes both of you emotionally unhealthy. You say you want your son to have both parents, ask yourself, are both of you fully present with him now?
1) Get a good therapist. If your husband won’t go with you again, PLEASE go by yourself. Get support.
2) Tell your husband your trying counseling again. It’s his choice to participate or not. You may want to give yourself a pre-determined amount of time before you make a decision. For example, you may decide to try to make the marriage work, one last time, and tell yourself that within 12 months (no more than 24) if you’re still unhappy, then you need to explore ending the relationship.
3) Be a good example to your son. You may not be able to save your marriage – but you owe it to your son to save yourself. By emotionally over eating to 80 – 100lbs over weight your health is at risk. Your husband’s addiction to porn is a huge obstacle in your relationship – especially sexually. These toxic dynamics will impact your son.
Lastly, whatever you decide, don’t try to do it without support. Enlist your close friends, trusted family member’s and a great therapist. With that combined support, you’ll know what to do then have the strength to do it. Good Luck!