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Advice or resources for dealing with guilt/fear in a divorce?
February 16, 2011 8:45 AM   Subscribe

How do I stop myself from second-guessing my decision to get a divorce? Does the little bit of doubt mean that I'm doing the wrong thing? Are there any books or resources for people in my situation?

I've been with my husband since we were seniors in high school. We dated throughout college and moved in together afterward, and got married 3 years ago.

For the past couple years, I have grown increasingly doubtful of whether our being together is the right thing for either one of us. I feel like we've sort of grown into incompatible people, though he disagrees with this. We have been in counseling for a few months, after a ridiculous fight during which he shoved me hard. I think it was at that time that I just fell out of love with him.

It took me 15 minutes to write a list of >50 reasons why I just don't think it will work out with him (for my own benefit). In short, I see him as inconsiderate, extremely critical of me, dismissive of my feelings, difficult to have a conversation with, difficult to have fun with, and pessimistic. The pessimistic part may not seem like a big deal, but I've battled with depression & anxiety for the entire time we've been together, and I've started to wonder if being on my own would help me rise up out of it.

He travels for work a great deal, and I've started to look at the times he's away as the only time I can actually *breathe* in my home. When he's away, we barely talk at all, and I don't really miss it or him.

That said, when I first brought up the issue of separating, he was completely shocked and upset. He thinks things are fine and have always been fine. He remembers situations differently from me, and he doesn't think it's a big deal that we have never really had anything much to talk about.

Counseling has really only brought to the surface the things I suspected -- that he pretty much "puts up" with the things that I like about myself, even though he doesn't like them or understand them. He can't tell me what he likes about me or why he wants to be with me, aside from "I love you" and "sometimes you're fun".

And yet, I keep backpedaling whenever I think I've made a solid decision. We're both the only relationship and adult life either of us have ever known. We have pets together. We have a house together. Almost all of our friends are mutual friends. He does seem to love me and I do feel like I can trust him when it really matters.

But I also realize none of these things are really good reasons to stay together. It's primarily fear and guilt, and really, he deserves someone who isn't constantly debating the pros & cons of leaving him. A lot of this is making me hate myself and doubt myself. What if I expect being on my own to make everything all better, and am underestimating the challenges of being on my own?

And yet, I feel like maybe I need the challenges of being on my own, so I can finally learn to take care of myself without spending all my energy trying to make a relationship that doesn't want to work work.

I just haven't found a lot of support -- no one I've confided in seems to want to actually say that I'm doing the right thing or that I'll be ok. Most books I've found are targeted towards women who are in *really* bad marriages or who have been the ones to be dumped. Online, I'm having trouble finding any forums or sites that aren't really just crap sites trying to sell divorce services. Is there anything out there to help me figure things out?

I am seeing my own therapist, but an hour a week is hardly doing this justice. Even if I went up to a few sessions a week, I just really want to hear other people's experiences of things like this working out in the end. Any suggestions?
posted by catfood to Human Relations (43 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
You're doing the right thing and you'll be ok.

Full disclosure: I'm divorced.

That being said, it's going to hurt and it's an awful process. But the end product will be two happier, healthier people.
posted by unixrat at 8:49 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think it's a natural thing to question any major decision in life. I always freak out about whether or not it was the right thing to get a new cat, for god's sake. The breakup of a marriage is a huge change and it would be odd if you weren't examining and reexamining this decision.

That said, from what you have posted here, it seems obvious that it is the right thing for you. Print it out to read over to yourself in your moments of doubt.
posted by something something at 8:55 AM on February 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


If you want permission to divorce your husband you have it from me.

I am divorced. My ex-husband is a very nice person. My family was against the divorce and thought I was making a mistake. We tried couple counseling for a while. But I didn't love him and I was just going through the motions to make others around me happy. In the end I knew that the marriage was never going to work for me.

The divorce process was rough, expect a some bad years ahead. However, I am much happier now. It was completely worth it.
posted by ephemerista at 8:58 AM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


It sounds like you need to leave, and you're clear on that. If you have an idea of the positive things that will come of leaving and can focus on getting to the point where you can enjoy them, it will be easier to get past the hard hurdles. And you also need a plan for navigating the hurdles.

So perhaps you could start by planning the life you'll have once you leave. Where do you want to live? Do you want to buy a home of your own, or rent for awhile? What kinds of things will being free enable you to do? Starting a new hobby or taking courses that your husband thought would be a waste of time, wearing a colour you liked and he didn't, taking trips to places you never wanted to go, spending more time with friends of yours he didn't like?

Then you can start figuring out the practical things: finding and speaking to a divorce lawyer, figuring out what to do about the house and the pets, deciding when and how to tell family and friends about your decision.

It must be hard to leave a not-terrible marriage when you've spent your entire adulthood so far with the man, but it definitely sounds like it needs to happen. You're doing the right thing, and things are going to be okay.
posted by orange swan at 9:07 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't have much to offer in the way of resources, but I certainly understand how you're feeling. I'm sorry you're going through this - it's a scary and difficult time.

I stayed with my ex-husband for years out of guilt and fear of what people would think, that I was making the wrong decision, etc. He was abusive and shitty - but it was still overwhelming to even think about divorce. I fantasized about it for two years. But since the day after I ended it, I have not spent a single moment wishing I'd stayed. I'm more bothered that I lost two years to fear.

You will never be completely sure until/unless you do it. It's a huge life change. It sounds like you are doing the right thing - even therapy has confirmed it. This is what trial separation is for - to see how it goes.

I look at it this way - every day you stay is a day lost finding someone who'll be nicer to you. Even if that person is just you.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 9:08 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I married and later divorced a man I met at eighteen. I actually passed a milestone last week... Wednesday marked the day that I'd been divorced for longer than I'd been married.

My first law of relationships: any party can leave at any time for any reason and not be "the bad guy". Repeat it out loud, right now. I'm not kidding. Any party can leave at ANY time for ANY reason and not be the bad guy.

I'm not sure why, but a lot of people feel like they can't leave a relationship that's not working until the other party does something absolutely heinous... and even then, they feel compelled to "give it a fair shot". This is bullshit, my dear. I'm all about fighting for relationships that are WORTH saving. But every single thing you wrote indicates that this isn't a great relationship... it's not even a COMFORTABLE one. It's just one that has endured for a number of years. A number of other shitty things (the Vietnam War! Feathered hair! Mubarek!) lingered well past their sell-by date... "protracted presence in one's life" alone is not a virtue.

It doesn't matter why you want a divorce - although you seem to have many, many good reasons. It matters how you act before, during and after the process. You basically cannot go wrong doing everything very deliberately (with lots of thought and prep) and as kindly as possible. You're not the bad guy for wanting to end the marriage. You can still BECOME the bad guy by going about it in a dickish way.

The year immediately after my divorce was the hardest, scariest, loneliest, wildest, craziest, biggest, most amazing year I'd ever experienced. I would not trade it for the world.

Feel free to MeMail me for any reason whatsoever... sometimes it just helps to hear that someday, you WILL have a new "normal", and it will be both amazing and unlike anything you ever could've imagined.
posted by julthumbscrew at 9:09 AM on February 16, 2011 [31 favorites]


It took me 15 minutes to write a list of >50 reasons why I just don't think it will work out with him

Keep that on you. Look at it and ask if those things have changed. If not (and they likely won't), don't feel bad, you're making the right choice. The fact that you could do that in less than 15 minutes (and especially if he has no comeback or remedy for that) is huge.
posted by cashman at 9:10 AM on February 16, 2011


You will be OK. You already know you are OK when he is away on business. You can manage on your own and the world does not end.

You will find some new hobby, you will get a new haircut, you will do the housework for yourself and only yourself. You will get a new place, or rearrange the furniture. You will have tuna on toast for dinner if you want to, or full roast dinner for one if you want to.

Sometimes you will be a little bit sad. But you will be OK.

(Have not been divorced, but have left a very long-term relationship and am much the happier for it).
posted by emilyw at 9:10 AM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


This:
That said, when I first brought up the issue of separating, he was completely shocked and upset. He thinks things are fine and have always been fine. He remembers situations differently from me, and he doesn't think it's a big deal that we have never really had anything much to talk about.

Doesn't mean that you are wrong. It means you are wrong for each other.

This:
He travels for work a great deal, and I've started to look at the times he's away as the only time I can actually *breathe* in my home.

Means you are making the right decision.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 9:13 AM on February 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also: I got divorced when I thought I was too old and fat and etc. to ever be wanted by anyone else. I've now been with my second husband for longer than I even knew my first, and damn life is good!
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 9:15 AM on February 16, 2011


I've been divorced and I'm married again. Relationships are hard, even the best ones; they're just hard work. One of my biggest life lessons so far is that it's simply not worth the investment of yourself, this deeply, to tie your life to someone else, unless you're really, truly "all in" and you know & FEEL in your bones that you are "all in".

You sound like you're doing the right thing and you know in yourself that you're doing the right thing. Doubts are normal, and you seem strong enough to plow through them. Keep on keepin' on.
posted by flex at 9:15 AM on February 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


I am divorced.

It took me a full year to get used to the idea that I could live without my ex because I just didn't know what that would look like. When I looked at the future, I couldn't see him in it so I knew the marriage was over. But I also couldn't imagine being single (notice I did not say "being without him"), and that is where my doubt ate at me. It's a little bit of the fear of the unknown.

Your question sounds like you know what the right answer is. Trust me, this isn't about what other people think about your marriage ("it could be worse, etc"). Most of my friends were relieved when I split up from my husband because they could just see that it was going nowhere, but it's hard to talk about so they just went along with what I was saying and doing.

Don't forget that separation/time apart in your very own space can also do wonders to help clear your head. The fact that you can relax when he's not around tells you something. Honor yourself in this situation...you will be just fine.
posted by MultiFaceted at 9:18 AM on February 16, 2011


I hate divorce; my parents' divorce made my life confusing and difficult, and I think marriages are worth fighting for to a much greater extent than modern popular opinion seems to.

And I think you are justified in seeking, at least, a trial separation from your husband, given what you've said in this post.
posted by SMPA at 9:20 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


No kids? Then divorce is A-okay in my book and it's no one's business. The only reason I can imagine for people not supporting you in this is that they fear the mean lady is going to hurt poor Nice Guy's feelings! Bullshit. He's had fair warning. He's a grown man. You may have to drop those "friends" who side with him and find some new confidants.
posted by Nixy at 9:37 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ultimately, you are entitled to your own happiness. It sounds like you've made an honest effort to repair your marriage. The house, pets, and friendships make this messy for you. But life is messy. You should deal with the mess if it means the difference between a happy and unhappy existence. Also, remind yourself that just as your husband deserves a wife who doesn't weigh the pros and cons of leaving him, you deserve a husband who can verbalize how he feels about you and why.

Best of luck.
posted by litnerd at 9:49 AM on February 16, 2011


I am divorced.

It sounds like you are doing the right thing. You don't sound like you like him very much and I don't think I like him very much. And, even though you believe he loves you, what you describe doesn't sound like you like the same things about yourself - and you deserve that. And it is a bad marriage if he shoved you, is inconsiderate, critical and dismissive and doesn't think there's anything wrong with your interaction.

Of COURSE you have doubts - even a bad "known" feels safer than the unknown sometimes and you've been with this person a long time. And the truth is that it will likely take a long time to feel normal again, and sometimes you may feel like you never will, that you made a mistake. It may not be a steady improvement - some days will be better than others - but you'll live and you are right, the challenges of living on your own can be very rewarding.

Good luck.
posted by Pax at 9:49 AM on February 16, 2011


Well, I wouldn't want to carpool with a guy who creates the kind of atmosphere you describe your husband as creating. Has he always been like that? Is this something that's been worse recently?
posted by anniecat at 9:55 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


We have been in counseling for a few months, after a ridiculous fight during which he shoved me hard.

This is all I need to hear to say that you are doing the right thing. Your doubts are part of the mourning process that comes with letting go and moving on and facing fears of being alone or making a mistake. It sounds like you already know in your heart what you (both) need.

I had my doubts about wanting a divorce, but after I brought it up with my now-ex and he failed to make any attempt whatsoever to save the marriage and kept insisting everything was fine, I knew I had to get out to save my sanity and sense of self.

I've battled with depression & anxiety for the entire time we've been together, and I've started to wonder if being on my own would help me rise up out of it.
Maybe so, but it's going to get a lot darker before it gets any lighter, trust me. Memail me anytime.
posted by motsque at 9:55 AM on February 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I just haven't found a lot of support -- no one I've confided in seems to want to actually say that I'm doing the right thing or that I'll be ok.

You're doing the right thing. You'll be okay.

You're not happy. He's not happy. He shoved you, for heaven's sake. Counseling isn't working. The Magic 8-Ball says "DIVORCE TIEM" and you'll be happier for it. (He might be, too.)

Yes, a happy marriage is always better than the most amicable divorce. But sometimes a happy marriage isn't possible between two given people. It's not like you haven't tried your best.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:59 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay was the book that helped me to eventually get out of a marriage I should have left 13 years before (and I only say 13 because my youngest daughter was 13 when I left. Which means I could have added almost 9 months to that before anyone points out the obvious!)
Anyway, I really liked it's main message - that it's being in the "shall I? shan't I?" limbo which is destructive for everyone.
posted by sianifach at 10:11 AM on February 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


"he shoved me hard" would be, for me, the deal-breaker right there. Never ever ever EVER any excuse for this, short of life-threatened self-defense. Your 50+ reasons are just icing on the cake.

Disclosure: I am divorced. I knew 12 years in that it was hopeless and would not last. Nevertheless I managed to find reasons to stay for an additional 13 years with a partner who was hopelessly, irretrievably, and defiantly toxic. PLEASE do not do the same kind of sales / con job on yourself that I did on myself!
posted by charris5005 at 10:19 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


You've made your decision (which sounds the right one!) and are experiencing normal doubts and cold feet. Two suggestions for keeping your confidence: (1) visualize the life you want -- where you can breathe, and be free to find someone who's safe and fun to be with. He's not in that picture, is he? Stay true to the vision. (2) as long as you're living and sleeping with him, you run the risk of getting pregnant, which would drastically change the situation for you. Now, with no kids, it's easy and obvious. Make a clean break and go get what you want.

(And for God's sake don't listen to people who spout generalities about what they think other people should do with their marriages. They're not in your marriage, are they? They weren't shoved and belittled, were they? Their opinions, especially when they're vague platitudes about how marriage just isn't what it used to be, aren't relevant or useful.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:21 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I married the man I began dating in high school, and wound up in a similar situation. For me, the thing that kept me in the relationship long after I knew it was not the great true love 16-year-old-me had believed it to be was fear that I would never find anyone else to put up with me, or that I couldn't hack it on my own.

I did wind up divorcing him. And I was happier. I was happier on my own & single than I had been with him. I was happier casually dating people I knew I didn't want to wind up with forever than I had been married to someone I had come to resent. And oh, my god, I am so VERY much happier now that I somehow, miraculously, found someone who loves my quirks, accepts my faults, and isn't a constant negative force in my life. Not everyone is going to find their perfect mate. You may not, but you've got an infinitely better shot at it than if you stay with someone who you know not to be.

You're already happier during the times that he's not in your life, so make that all the time. Your happiness should be worth enough to you to outweigh feelings of guilt for leaving him. You don't owe him your life as a sacrifice to his complacency.
posted by kitarra at 10:21 AM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am not divorced. I think it's TOTALLY NORMAL to have doubts when facing ANY major life decision -- marriage, divorce, moving in together, having kids, not having kids, whatever.

Is it possible to take baby steps and separate for a while first, get an apartment, etc.? I expect you will discover that the separation is SUCH a relief that your doubts about the divorce will disappear. (I suppose it's also remotely possible your husband would get a kick in the pants with you actually MOVING OUT and that would make him actually want to work on the relationship, which, hey, you'd get to do from a position of much less pressure if you felt like it was worthwhile.)

As another possibility, can you go on retreat somewhere for two weeks? Religious, non-religious, I don't think it matters as long as there's quiet and peace and a minimum of distractions from the outside world, so you can focus and think and relax and be and SETTLE, and I think when you have a chance for things to SETTLE, away from your husband and/or the knowledge that he'll be back shortly, you'll feel a little more clear about your decision being the right one.

"I just haven't found a lot of support -- no one I've confided in seems to want to actually say that I'm doing the right thing or that I'll be ok."

I'd be so, so reluctant to tell a friend this because until it's a done deal, you don't know that it's going to happen, and you don't want to foreverafter be "the friend who supported us getting divorced! imagine!" I have a friend who talks about leaving her husband, and in my heart of hearts I think she probably should, but life is complicated, they own a house and pets and have kids and a budget and all this other stuff, and they do have feelings for each other, even if those are just the feelings of 15 years of co-existing and having children together, so I just make supportive noises about how of course I'll support her whatever she decides and try to keep my real opinions about her husband to myself. Because, well, she's been talking about it for three years and there's been no motion and sometimes they're having good sex and going to parties together and she seems happy with him, and other times they're in separate rooms and living totally separate lives and she's very unhappy with him, and as a friend I just don't think it's remotely possible for me to say anything about that situation that isn't ... unhelpful? problematic? potentially friendship ruining? If and when she decides it's time, I'm on board 100%. Until then, I'm as neutrally supportive as I can be. Your friends probably feel similarly, it's hard to watch a friend go through and there's no real good things to say.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:23 AM on February 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


he shoved you. really not OK.
And this too that he pretty much "puts up" with the things that I like about myself, even though he doesn't like them or understand them

This is NOT the man for you. Alone is better. really, it is. As a bonus, you will be free one day to meet a fella who IS right for you.
posted by pointystick at 10:25 AM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, I maybe should say that I have never been divorced, am currently very happy in my marriage, really never want to get a divorce, and nonetheless ABSOLUTELY think you are doing the right thing here. As someone currently in a happy marriage, I wish that joy for everyone who wants it.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:25 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I want to second the book recommendation sianifach made a little ways up, for Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay. It's essentially a diagnostic manual (a la, "people in this situation are usually happier divorced" or "if thus-and-so is present in your marriage there's a basis for finding your way back to a happy relationship") and can be very very helpful in clarifying your thinking.

This is a big decision and it makes sense to consider carefully. Good luck.
posted by Sublimity at 10:32 AM on February 16, 2011


I was in a not decent marriage and lasted for 21 years. When I finally went for my divorce, i asked my lawyer, a close friend for many years, why it took me so long. He said: You get a divorce when you are ready for one and not till then. And no one can tell you when it is the right time.
ps: I have been re-married now for 27 years.
posted by Postroad at 10:32 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


no one I've confided in seems to want to actually say that I'm doing the right thing or that I'll be ok.

Sometimes people pick up on what you're feeling and reflect it back. So if you say "I'm thinking of this, but I'm terrified," there are some people who will reassure you, but there are other people who will just reflect back to you, "oh that sounds horribly frightening." Perhaps try saying confidently, "I'm nervous but I'm also feeling hopeful and strong, like I can get through this to a life I'll like better," and see if you get different responses.

Sometimes people cannot support someone else when it threatens them or their values in some way, for reasons unrelated to the wisdom of your choice. There are many possible reasons that they might not voice support that have nothing to do with you -- if someone is persevering through their own marital difficulties, or if their parents got divorced, or if they don't believe in divorce for religious reasons, or if they have fears of their spouse leaving them. Those things don't apply to you: you're willing to consider leaving, you believe in divorce, and so forth. So, you don't have to take their own fear or reticence as a reflection on your decision at all. I hope you find support, but even if you don't, I hope you trust your own opinions. Nobody knows you or this situation as well as you do. Best of luck.
posted by salvia at 10:34 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just want to say thanks for all the great, supportive responses so far.

I had put "Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay" on a list of books to look into, and I will bump it to the top of my list after the recommendations here.

Also, julthumbscrew's comment really struck me:
"I'm not sure why, but a lot of people feel like they can't leave a relationship that's not working until the other party does something absolutely heinous... and even then, they feel compelled to "give it a fair shot"."

I think this is sort of where I've been. I can't tell you how many times I've wished he'd just run away with some other woman or do something else so blatantly unforgivable that it would be crystal clear that I was making the right decision. It meant a lot to hear that you can leave and NOT be the bad guy ... I think that is a part of my fear, too.
posted by catfood at 10:42 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Instead of hating and doubting yourself, you should feel proud of yourself for having the honesty, insight and courage to face these knotty issues.

I don't know of any great resources to suggest, only my own somewhat similar experience.

My life story has a few chapters much like yours--a young marriage after a relationship that had been exclusive since early in high school. We matured into very different people. He was satisfied with a marriage that was safe but very dull; I, like you, felt like I could only breathe when he wasn't around. I had no idea who I really was. That's no way to live.

I was terrified, and I felt awful for hurting him (still do), but divorce was the right thing. From the moment he walked out with his suitcases, I have not had a single moment of wishing that I had stayed in that marriage. Often enough I wonder, "did I do the right thing?" And every time, the answer is "yes."

The marriage wasn't terrible; he was a perfectly nice person. We had been married for >10 years; we had a house that we literally built together, and a great dog, mutual friends, holidays with in-laws, the full catastrophe. Unwinding it all and figuring out how to move on was HARD HARD HARD. But NOT impossible. The only way to do it is one little step at a time. Do it with as much kindness and decency as you can.

Being on your own is challenging and scary, but it's exciting and rewarding too. It's way under-rated in a society that assumes that marriage is the ideal state for everyone.

The above is relevant only in the case of NO KIDS. If my ex and I had had children, I would have tried to keep the marriage going. It was not nearly awful enough to justify imposing that kind of pain on kids.

MeMail anytime if you need a cheerleader, or just an "ear."
posted by Corvid at 10:48 AM on February 16, 2011


FWIW, I'd say that disparaging the things that you likes about yourself and grudgingly participating in marital introspection when his spouse is clearly unhappy count as "heinous". Certainly it speaks volumes about where he is regarding growing together (you got married young--this is bound to happen and how you navigate it is crucial)--where he is regarding the marriage in general, and how you feel about it, and about his role in making the marriage good for both of you.
posted by Sublimity at 10:50 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


He says he loves you, but his behavior proves otherwise. Love isn't something you say; it's something you do by honoring, respecting, and valuing someone. Based on what you describe, he doesn't do any of those things. Furthermore, love is something you do by genuinely *liking* someone (again, you say he doesn't), and by not fucking shoving them! (You're worried about being the bad guy? The bad guy is the guy who shoves his wife. Seriously.)

You deserve someone who cares about you and won't make you miserable. I've been in relationships that were very unhappy and went on for far too long because I was too insecure or deluded to leave--and looking back, I wish I could get that time back and either spend it alone, or with someone worthwhile. Best of luck to you.
posted by tetralix at 11:07 AM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


That said, when I first brought up the issue of separating, he was completely shocked and upset. He thinks things are fine and have always been fine. He remembers situations differently from me, and he doesn't think it's a big deal that we have never really had anything much to talk about.

Okay. So what?

A relationship is made up of two people. If it isn't working for one of them then it isn't working. You don't add up your contentment and your partner's contentment and divide by two and conclude that since it's over a certain number then the relationship must be good. It doesn't work that way.

What you do about it might well depend on how the other person feels about the relationship (whether it's worth salvaging or whether you two should get yourselves to a place where you can leave with a minimum amount of drama or whatever), but it only takes one person to say "It's not working" for it to be true.

Not everyone is right for everyone else, but most of us are right for some of us. I love my friends, but being married to some of them would drive me nuts. Mrs. Lurgi feels the same about some of her friends. Luckily these friends have found people who don't drive them berserk and that's good for everyone. Two friends of mine split up years ago after a few years of hating each other. I'm sure they agonized about the divorce and what their families would think and etc and etc, but since they are now very happily married to other people I think it was a good call.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 11:14 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I also divorced someone I got together with young because it just wasn't good enough. Best decision I ever made for myself. Based on your description of your marriage, I can't support your decision here enough. Wow! Your life is about to improve by a tremendous amount and you don't know it yet. I'm very happy for you.

Guess when I knew it was time to get out of my perfectly-adequate-but-nothing-was-at-all-perfectly-right-marriage? When I realized the thought of having children with my then-husband filled me with worry and dread.

...

It's 10 years later and I've been happily remarried to the right man for 3 years now. I'm about to have my first child and my husband has been a SPECTACULAR partner throughout my pregnancy. I mean, I have no fear whatsoever about starting a family with this man...

And sometimes I compare my happy life now to what it was and could have turned into. And I know.


You can have the perfect life for you. Don't settle. You will be very grateful one day that you made the right (difficult) decisions now.


Please feel free to memail me if you have any further questions.
posted by jbenben at 11:45 AM on February 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Putting his hands on you IS blatantly unforgivable.

That's all I needed to read. That he thinks a relationship with physical violence in it is "fine" is crazy.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:47 AM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Guess when I knew it was time to get out of my perfectly-adequate-but-nothing-was-at-all-perfectly-right-marriage? When I realized the thought of having children with my then-husband filled me with worry and dread.

This is actually exactly how I am currently feeling and what has been driving most of my decision. I'm ~30, I think I want to have kids, but the idea of raising a child with him fills me with utter dread. Can't have them with him, possibly won't have them without him, but it does seem like my chances of being happy are better on the other side.
posted by catfood at 11:52 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


The pessimistic part may not seem like a big deal, but I've battled with depression & anxiety for the entire time we've been together, and I've started to wonder if being on my own would help me rise up out of it.

I can relate to SO much of what you've written, but this particularly stood out to me. My husband and I decided to separate about six months ago (we haven't yet started divorce proceedings), and I can't believe how much less anxious and depressed I feel without being surrounded by his chronic pessimism and anxiety. My situation may be a little different because I had already had problems with depression before we met, but being married to someone with that kind of mindset dragged me down, much more than if I had to deal with just my own depression. And once we separated, within just a few weeks, even though my life was in total chaos and uprooted and uncertain, I felt an incredible lightness and sense of relief. There was a ton of guilt and second guessing when it came to making the decision, but once it was made and I was living it, it really felt right. I still have a lot of sadness that this is what our marriage came to, and for who we used to be together, but the optimism of having made the right decision looms larger.

Also, thirding the recommendation for "Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay" - I felt like it had some really useful concrete ways of thinking through a big jumble of confused and conflicted thoughts.

Best of luck to you!!
posted by Neely O'Hara at 11:59 AM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I could have written your post word-for-word about a year ago. I have since divorced. You can memail me if you would like.
posted by coolsara at 12:24 PM on February 16, 2011


On the flip side, I have a similar story to yours. Except I'm happily married. Married young, still together. He's my other half, and he treats me like a queen. I miss him when he goes to work for the day, I feel like I can't breathe until he gets home! (Don't get me wrong we bug each other too, but the good infinitely outweighs the bad. )

My point is that this kind of happiness does exist. Was beyond lucky to find it at 18. You need to leave this relationship in order to find it for yourself. As above posters have pointed out, life doesn't end after divorce. You are drowning in your marriage, drop the dead weight and swim! At the very worst you'll be having an easier time by yourself, maybe by letting go you can find somebody who'll swim along side you. If you're really fortunate you may find somebody who will help you swim when you need it.
posted by TooFewShoes at 12:34 PM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm ~30, I think I want to have kids, but the idea of raising a child with him fills me with utter dread.

There's another great reason that you're making the right decision. I wasn't married to my ex, but we were together for 8 years before I left him. I adored his family, to the point where I'm still in touch with my ex-mother-not-quite-in-law. We spent holidays together, travelled together, hiked forests and mountains together, they were truly my second family.

Then, after years of disparaging remarks and increasingly overt contempt from him, he slapped me... because I wanted to buy ketchup. (He claimed it would make me fat.) Like you, at first I wanted to give it a fair shot; I stuck around for another month. Then he asked me to marry him (his "proposal" is yet another story...) and mentioned how nice it would be to have children. I'd long dreaded the idea of raising kids with him; would he treat them with the same contempt? How could I possibly do that to a child? So, for that and other reasons, I said "no" and broke up with him.

It was liberating. Now, I was in a foreign country (which is now my second home, I since gained dual citizenship), discovered that the apartment was in his name only (he'd lied to me about my name being on the lease, and like the trusting person I was, I believed him without checking), he canceled the lease and had me kicked out, also took all "our" (his...) furniture and my PC (my livelihood since I was a freelancer), and there I was, homeless and income-less in a freaking foreign country. And liberated. (And elated we hadn't been married, since we had separate banking accounts, so at least my meager savings were safe.)

It was hell for a few years, but that whole time, I was so happy to be able to breathe — every single day. Not just when he was gone. But every, single, day, for the rest of my life, because there was no way on earth I was giving up that feeling again. It's been 7 years since the breakup now. It took me a while to find someone new; I finally met a man I trust and with whom we both feel that "freedom to breathe"; a mutual respect, appreciation, and spontaneous joy, a few months ago. Only the future can tell, but I will say this: I would not give up the last 7 years for anything. I wish I'd left my ex earlier. Not just for myself, but for my future life partner and for any future children we may have.

You'll be fine. You have good reasons to leave. It will be hard, but you can and, I think, will be happier on the other side. Listen to your heart. Take care.
posted by fraula at 12:42 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just agreeing with the above posters that it's really hard to provide emphatic support for someone who might be divorcing -- so don't assume that your friends and family won't be there 100%. No one wants to feel like they're pushing you to end your marriage, but once you've taken the steps you need to, your support system can be there for you.
posted by freshwater at 6:52 PM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thanks again, everyone. I want to mark pretty much every answer here as "best". I feel a little sheepish in retrospect, realizing that what I needed was just encouragement to let me know I'm doing the right thing, but you have all been more helpful than I can even express.
posted by catfood at 8:53 AM on February 17, 2011


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