My men­tally ill hubby black­mails me so I stay in a love­less mar­riage

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - MARY O’CONOR -

I have been mar­ried for over two decades and we have a large fam­ily, with the older ones be­ing adults. My hus­band was di­ag­nosed with a se­ri­ous men­tal disor­der mid-way through our mar­riage, and has spent time in a psy­chi­atric hos­pi­tal. He is on a lot of med­i­ca­tion, which he al­ways takes. How­ever, this has changed him from the man I mar­ried and I no longer love him. I stayed with him be­cause I am a pretty loyal per­son and would not have left him dur­ing this dif­fi­cult time. He is now pretty sta­ble and I am ready to go, but he is not ready to let me.

The phys­i­cal side of our re­la­tion­ship was never very strong, on my side, and un­for­tu­nately I ig­nored this and thought the other side would be enough, but with his di­ag­no­sis, this changed be­yond recog­ni­tion. I con­tin­ued to have sex with him, be­cause he would have sulked oth­er­wise, but it has been noth­ing to me for years.

I have not al­lowed him to kiss or touch me in any in­ti­mate way — it is not an op­tion. I could put up with the sex act, as long as there was no at­tempt at in­ti­macy be­fore or af­ter. I had re­signed my­self to this be­ing my lot in life and to put up with it for the chil­dren, but I have com­mit­ted a car­di­nal mis­take by get­ting emo­tion­ally in­volved with some­one else and this has changed how I feel. My hus­band dis­cov­ered I was tex­ting and he was des­per­ately up­set. Even af­ter this, we had sex, but I told him I wasn’t will­ing to con­tinue in a sex­ual re­la­tion­ship with him and would pre­fer if we sep­a­rated. This is not some­thing he wants. It’s not only the phys­i­cal re­la­tion­ship that is the is­sue — I find my­self not want­ing to be in his com­pany at home, or in any so­cial set­ting.

I re­alise this is a very sad and dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion for us all, but I feel that I would be happy when it is all done. We have two prop­er­ties with not a huge debt, I have a rea­son­able job and he is on an in­va­lid­ity pen­sion. My two adult chil­dren are aware of the sit­u­a­tion, in­clud­ing the emo­tional af­fair, and while they are sad and con­cerned, they are un­der­stand­ing.

I feel my hus­band is us­ing emo­tional black­mail, by telling me I am de­stroy­ing all our lives to make my­self happy and that I have gone mad due to menopause. I am wor­ried about the long-last­ing im­pact on the chil­dren, but not sure they will thank me, in the long run, for stay­ing just for them.

How­ever, I don’t want to de­stroy them ei­ther. I don’t know if any­thing will come from the sit­u­a­tion with this other man, but I feel I would ul­ti­mately be hap­pier alone, than an­other 20 years with some­one I don’t love. I have men­tioned how I’m feel­ing to some close friends and fam­ily mem­bers and have only met with sup­port and un­der­stand­ing. I didn’t tell them about the emo­tional af­fair.

The sit­u­a­tion is now quite bad and there was one vi­o­lent out­burst — due to al­co­hol on his part — which in­volved all the chil­dren and was quite dis­turb­ing, but not phys­i­cal. There is lit­tle com­mu­ni­ca­tion as we have reached an im­passe. I want to sell our home and buy an­other for my­self and the chil­dren and he can have the other prop­erty with what­ever ac­cess to the chil­dren he wants. He does not want this and threat­ens to tell them what a whore I am and how I ru­ined ev­ery­one for my own ben­e­fit.

Do you think coun­selling would help me or the chil­dren? He doesn’t want to hear about that, as he says I’m only look­ing for val­i­da­tion and I do know that coun­selling will not change my feel­ings or bring back any kind of de­sire that, if I’m hon­est, was never re­ally there to be­gin with.

ATHIS is a very com­plex sit­u­a­tion and some­what be­yond the scope of an ad­vice col­umn, so I urge you to seek help in the form of coun­selling. Even if your hus­band doesn’t want to at­tend, you need to speak to some­body on your own, and ul­ti­mately fam­ily ther­apy may be re­quired. The web­site www.aware.ie is a good place to start as their fo­cus is men­tal ill­ness.

It seems to me that un­til you met the other man, you were pre­pared to stay in the mar­riage, even though you were un­happy, par­tic­u­larly sex­u­ally. How­ever, meet­ing him has made you look at all as­pects of your mar­riage and come to the con­clu­sion that you can­not re­main in it. Your hus­band, mean­while, has had to deal with the on­set and di­ag­no­sis of men­tal ill­ness, the loss of his job and is now fac­ing the loss of his wife and the loss of face that this will en­tail. I think that any de­ci­sion you ul­ti­mately make should be taken with a view that this other man may not be a fea­ture in your life. That would be much fairer to ev­ery­body. You will have to be aware that if you leave your mar­riage you will be ac­cused of not hon­our­ing your mar­riage vows ‘in sick­ness and in health’. But I un­der­stand that you feel you can­not con­tinue with your mar­riage. So seek help and guid­ance for what is ahead. You can con­tact Mary O’conor anony­mously by vis­it­ing www.dear­mary.ie or email her at dear­mary@in­de­pen­dent.ie or write c/o 27-32 Tal­bot St, Dublin 1. All cor­re­spon­dence will be treated in con­fi­dence. Mary O’conor re­grets that she is un­able to an­swer any ques­tions pri­vately

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