I can no longer cope with my husband’s neglect. There have been many examples of this over the 15 years of our marriage, but the worst was when he went alone on a planned holiday when I fell sick and was rushed to hospital. That was three years ago and I
You describe a desperately sad situation and my first concern is for your mental health and wellbeing. You are clearly struggling and I’m glad that you have the support of a counsellor. While counselling is a solution-focused and therapeutic approach, if your depression worsens, this must be addressed as well with additional treatment as necessary.
Your marriage sounds distant and unloving. I wonder why your husband appears to show such indifference to you. Is this how things were before you experienced mental health difficulties, or is there something about your vulnerability now that he struggles to engage with? It seems as if he resents your vulnerability and is angered by your sense of helplessness.
Certainly, the more distant and uncaring he is, the more (understandably) needy you are, and the further he may pull away. You are both, therefore, stuck in a negative cycle of need and neglect, helplessness and hopelessness.
You seem to have made the decision to end your marriage, but has there been any attempt to address the difficulties? I’m struck by your anxiety about losing your children and wonder if that is because you fear being seen as depressed and therefore compromised in meeting their care needs. Take this one stage at a time, starting with finding additional mental health treatment (which may include medication) to enable you to feel stronger and so present yourself in a way that doesn’t compromise how you are judged as a mother.
Approach this difficult situation from a position of strength and with purpose. Having the right treatment for your depression alongside your counselling will enable you to feel empowered to make the right decisions for your happiness and wellbeing (and also your children’s).
While you may not feel that marital therapy would work for you and your husband, it would still be in everyone’s best interests for divorce to be discussed and managed as amicably as possible. Rather than involve lawyers from the outset, which sets an adversarial tone and can cost huge sums, I advise that when your mental health feels more robust, you look to engage in mediation with your husband. You can contact Resolution (resolution.org.uk), an organisation of lawyers and other professionals, who believe in a constructive, non-confrontational approach to family law matters. On the website, there is information about mediation, supporting children and also thinking through the enormity of divorce before taking the step.
Finally, couples therapy might be helpful. You both appear to be caught up in a destructive and unhappy cycle, and there are many questions that need answering. To have the space to look at this together may enable you both to free yourselves up within the marriage – in whatever directions that eventually takes you.
with Professor Tanya Byron
Professor Byron is a chartered clinical psychologist. Each month, she counsels a reader going through an emotional crisis