family support during divorce?
October 12, 2012 1:09 PM Subscribe
My family has taken a side in my amicable divorce. And it's not "my" side. How do I get support from them when I am isolated and depressed and really need them?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (26 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
A little family history: we have always been close, although we have had difficulties amongst ourselves, we have a history of pulling together during trying times and supporting one another. My aunt and uncle and my mother are in their 60's, my sibling, cousins and I are in our 40's.
My family loved my husband instantly, which was a large part of why I married him after only knowing him for a year. I knew when I married him that I was making a huge mistake – I felt no attraction. He was so *nice*, so I talked myself into going through with it, reasoning that I could live without happy sex. After six years of marriage, I could no longer bear it. I was fed up with his constant drinking and his refusal to take any responsibility. It became a constant cycle of him having a realization about his problems, completely forgetting it and then when he had the (same) realization a few months later, it was a whole new idea to him. While I understood how these issues arose in his family of origin, and how they were compounded by being in an unhappy marriage, I couldn't just be okay with the way things were.
Because of my resentment toward him for these issues he could not address, my disinterest in him sexually turned to repulsion. I was horrified to have him even see me naked; I felt like there was a creepy stranger from the subway in my bedroom, trying to touch me. I cried during sex, I gained a tremendous amount of weight, I built a fortress of pillows and blankets around me at night and fell asleep praying that he wouldn't try to touch me. I was severely depressed.
We went to therapy for almost a year trying to work through these issues. His pattern of epiphany/no action/re-epiphany continued during therapy. My revulsion deepened. I considered staying in the marriage and seeking sexual fulfillment elsewhere, but it wasn't that I was unfulfilled. The issue was that I felt trapped into a sexual obligation towards someone I was horrified to have touch me. I told him that I wanted a divorce. I knew he was unhappy and not admitting it, so his response did not surprise me. Initially he was devastated; now it has been nearly a year and he is doing okay. He agrees that the marriage had not worked and that divorce was the right thing. We are separated and waiting for a resolution to some property issues to finalize the actual divorce. (As an aside, we don't have any children.)
The problem is my family. Some of them are barely speaking to me. I have been told that I am not allowed to talk about the marriage, divorce or my reaction to any of it in their presence. I have been told by various family members that "There is no valid reason you could possibly have for divorcing him"; "After all he has done for our family, for you to do this to him is terrible"; "You did this and you have to live with the consequence of people being upset with you". I have been excluded from family events that he was invited to (and did) attend.
My husband has attempted to reason with them, but the only result of that is that they think he's an even better guy for sticking up for me after "what I did to him". My mother is on my side and agrees with the divorce, but is not a person who would go out of her way to stand up for me. My father is dead but, while my mother and I believe that he would have supported me, the rest of the family think that he would have agreed with them that I have made an unforgivable mistake. I feel totally isolated and depressed. My friends are all enraged at my family for this behavior; although my friends all love my husband, they could see the necessity of divorce.
I suspect that there is a lot of projection going on in my family around this issue – justification for unhappy marriages, anger at spouses who have left, fear about impending marriages, etc. is all being projected onto me. I feel like I have become the boogeyman for their relationship problems.
My question is: How do I get my family to stop seeing me as the enemy and to support me?