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Sunday, 25 March 2001

Should I Leave or Should I Stay?

Written by  Arlette Simon

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QDear WholeFamily Counselor,

Since I grew up in a dysfunctional family with an abusive, alcoholic father, I realize this is part of the reason I continue to make poor choices for myself when it comes to husbands. I have been married to my third husband for six years (first husband --10 years and second husband --10 years). This is his fourth marriage.

I'm ready to call it quits. My husband is an absolutely wonderful, charming, generous, fun-loving, popular, well-respected, community-minded man to the outside world. He is very clever because behind closed doors he has zero respect for me, and at times: ignores me, refuses to talk to me, yells at me, calls me names, picks, bullies, plays mind games, lies to get reactions, bickers and argues. He will not discuss anything openly, honestly, and/or calmly. He is extremely competitive about everything, gambles and MUST win at any cost.

We have very little in common and there is a huge generation gap -- he is 13 years my senior. We cannot discuss our problems without him ending up yelling at me and telling me how crazy (or whatever) I am. I come last behind his dog, his grown children, and his grown grandchildren as far as importance in his life.

I believe he is in quite a bit of debt, which scares me. I also know he has a large sum of money stashed away for his kids which I believe is fine and right. So I'm not really sure how he stands financially. We own a large home together, to which we have invested equally, but that is it.

I have such a strong urge to get out of this marriage and I am very tired of the stressful weekends. (I work all week; he is retired from the same company.) I am very embarrassed that I want to leave yet another marriage and I'm also very afraid of his anger and of how stressful this break-up could be. I almost left last summer. At the time, he screamed at me that he hated me, that no one at work likes me (it has always bothered him that people tell him I'm a nice person) and that he would spend every last penny he had to "ruin me." Also, he would never sell our house. I'm so unhappy but I don't want to make a big mistake by divorcing again.

I know I am not perfect. I'm sensitive and mild mannered, and dislike conflict although I will get just as nasty to him if he irritates me to my breaking point. I am, however, always ready to talk problems through.

Despite my childhood and failed marriages, I have two wonderful, beautiful, intelligent, well-adjusted daughters, 25 and 16. I have a good job, wonderful, close friends and family, a fairly good self-esteem and confidence level most of the time so I know I could make it on my own as I have before. I'm a Christian so there is a lot of guilt about divorce and I don't really believe it is right. I need some objective insight and advice.

ADear "Should I leave or Should I stay",

You describe an abusive husband who doesn't show any respect, love or consideration to you, and I suppose that you feel the same towards him. Did your previous marriages end because of the same dynamics?

You have many good things in your life like your daughters, your job, your belief that you could make it on your own. The problem is that for the moment you can't make it in your married life and it is about time to try to resolve this big issue.

The question is not "to leave or to stay," but rather to find out the reasons for your poor choices in husbands. Experience shows that leaving one husband after the other doesn't prevent you from making the same mistake. This time, it is crucial for you to understand the deeper reason for your pattern -- the unconscious system that makes you fail again and again in your marriages.

On the one hand you have self-esteem and confidence in yourself, on the other hand you choose a man who puts you down and takes these positive feelings away from you. As you write, the root of the problem is probably anchored in your childhood. You grew up in a dysfunctional family where the model of your parents as a couple left you with a negative image.

As long as you don't resolve this conflict within you and do not stop seeing yourself as a woman who "deserves" to be abused by her husband, staying or leaving wouldn't make a real difference.

My suggestion to you is to seek intensive and introspective psychotherapy. Only when you understand the source of your marital problems will you be able to make the right decision.

Arlette Simon, MSW

Last modified on Thursday, 12 January 2012 14:08
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Arlette Simon

Arlette Simon

Arlette Simon is a clinical social worker (MSW) and a licensed psychotherapist. She has more than 35 years experience in various fields of mental health, including work in welfare agencies, adoption services, general hospitals, and psychiatric hospitals. She has a private practice and is chief supervisor of a team of professionals in a rehabilitation community for the mentally ill. Her professional training also includes Jungian psychotherapy, transpersonal psychology, reincarnation therapy, guided imagery therapy, energy work as a Reiki practitioner and reflexology.

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