Life too valuable to waste in a loveless marriage
Dear Carolyn: I’ve heard “life is too short” a lot lately. It makes me think I’ve wasted signi icant time, energy and money in a 23-year relationship that has caused me so much pain.
My husband is dif icult and controlling. Both tendencies come from his family: His mother is a controlling narcissist.
When I was younger, I thought I just needed to improve. It was not until I had children that his tendencies really caused me to question what I was doing.
We live close to his family, all of whom have — on several occasions — given me the silent treatment, called me names, and generally caused me a lot of stress. After therapy, I’ve been able to establish good boundaries with his family. And I’ve tried in many different ways to talk with my husband to make him understand what I am going through.
He now has meltdowns on a weekly basis that include the silent treatment and sometimes name-calling. I respond calmly most of the time, because I just have to accept him for what he is, since he refuses to seek help. I have three small children and a household to care for. I also am the sole provider for my household. So, I work full time and have a full-time household with little support.
I may have the opportunity to move for my job. I think perhaps physical distance from his family might work. Does it ever help in these situations? It is the only thing I haven’t reasonably tried.
— Life Is Too Short
You haven’t tried divorce. I’m not saying you should have, just that you haven’t.
Divorce is a valid legal and emotional remedy for 23 years of pain and buffer against 23 more.
I’m glad you found therapy helpfu. But allow me to suggest that wasn’t a solution unto itself, but instead was Part 1 of a dif icult but overdue long-life/shortlife overhaul.
Please explore Part 2 in private consultation with a very good lawyer, and in therapy again, solo. Read “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker. Don’t skimp on self- and child-preservation, or safety, especially given a possible relocation. Assume he’ll make this as tough on you as he can.
But ask yourself: If you were your child, would you want to grow up in this home?