My husband and I have been married for 17 years. I have a 20-year-old son from a previous marriage. He has attention deficit and oppositional disorder. He tried the Navy and was sent home. He got into drugs. My husband and I did not handle it very well. We fought and the child just got worse. My husband kicked him out of the house and bought a ticket for him to go live with my mother. Then my mother got diagnosed with leukemia. I quit my job in Florida and moved here to Ohio to be with her. My husband feels that I abandoned him and I only came up here for my son. My family is important to me. I can't help anyone from so far away. I asked him if we could move within 500 miles so that I can be more available. Am I asking too much?
When we married, he was in the Navy and we moved where we were told. He is retired now. He says my place is with him and that I can twist and justify anything I want to make it look like I am right.
I feel like my feelings do not count at all.
I understand that you are in a very difficult situation: you must choose between staying with your husband in Florida or remaining in Ohio to take care of your mother and son.
You are right to feel that your feelings are not being considered. The way your husband reacts to your family problems is indeed inconsiderate, even selfish and childish. I suppose this is the result of a long and problematic relationship during your 17 years of marriage. It seems that from the start, your feelings didn't count. Obviously, you were less important than other things. You probably went through many difficult periods coping with your demanding husband and son.
In my opinion, it is understandable that you want to take care of your mother at this point in her life, especially when your son is living with her. There are decisions in life that only the person affected should make, no matter the consequences; they are personal and involve your own conscience. It seems to me that this is the type of decision you must resolve now.
Your husband says "your place is with him"; I say your place is where your heart is. No one but you knows the answer, nor does anyone else have the right to decide what you need to do.
Your husband says, "You can twist and justify anything you want to make it look right." Tell him this is the way you feel, and if he accuses you of manipulating him, that is simply too bad. It is his choice to look at these issues in such a manner, instead of supporting you during this very difficult time in your life.
You need to understand that what is happening between you and your husband is the result of the way both of you managed your marriage: changes must be made.
My suggestions are:
- Muster up the courage to make your own decisions, no matter what your husband says. Listen to your inner voice, to what your heart tells you. After all, if your husband loves you, he'll have to accept your decision and respect it - perhaps relocate along with you.
- Be faithful to your true feelings. This might change the way your husband perceives you and relates to you. He will consider your feelings if you consider them first of all. The more you respect yourself, the greater the chance that your husband will respect you.
- Your entire marital relationship should change, and my first two suggestions are the prerequisite conditions to allow for change. Another important condition is to speak to your husband, explaining how you really feel.
- Marital counseling could help both of you work out all these issues.
Arlette Simon, MSW