I’ve been wanting to leave my husband for years, why can’t I? – Irish Times

Dear Ro,

I am afraid of breaking up with my husband. We have been together as adults. We didn’t have a good marriage, and we couldn’t communicate our relationship in a calm and meaningful way. I was chattering and distracted; he refused, got angry or changed the subject. Nothing can be solved. I can’t get enough of him being reluctant to discuss or admit causing any harm or harm due to his past abuse and infidelity. I may have had enough 15 years ago, but something always pulls me back. Now I am determined, but afraid to step over the edge of the cliff. I don’t know what I’m so afraid of. Why can’t I tell him I’m done? Of course, things can’t be worse in the future than I feel right now, so what’s holding me back?

An unavoidable reality of life is that many times, two things can be true at the same time. Every reason you have to end your marriage is valid. You are unfulfilled and unhappy. He did not make up for the hurt and betrayal he caused you. Your communication isn’t getting any better. You are not living the life you want. All of these are true. At the same time, it is understandable why you hesitate to leave. You will uproot your whole life. You will end a long-term relationship that you have been working on for decades. You will step into the unknown world. You understand the difficulties you face in your marriage right now; it’s difficult, but familiar, unlike the strange world that awaits you when you leave, the strangeness is scary in another way. All of these things may also be true.

What I sense from your question is an underlying belief that if you’re afraid to leave, you shouldn’t, and if a part of you is still holding on to the relationship, then maybe it means there’s something worth holding on to. But what if you stopped seeing your emotions as fear and started seeing them as sadness? Grief is something we feel that allows us to acknowledge and accept the love, hurt, commitment, time, and familiarity we feel. Grief allows us to mourn and accept that we are going through a period of lost growth. Grief prompts us to commemorate this moment of transformation—and to begin to envision a new life, a new form of being, a new future.

You are married to someone you love and want it to be a lifelong relationship that is loving, fulfilling, loyal, and growing. This is not what happened. To leave your marriage is to accept that loss, that you’ve tried to make it work for years, and that you can’t make it work. Accepting this will begin the grieving process. The difficulty right now is that part of you is still holding out hope that something might change, that your husband might change, that he might be who you want him to be, and that you don’t have to go through the process of leaving, grieving, and starting over.

This is understandable. But what does it mean to transfer hope from this marriage to the rest of your life? Start thinking about everything you want from your life, your relationships, and yourself. Who do you want to be and what do you want your life to be like? Because you need to know that you deserve better than a marriage that makes you unhappy, and a husband who hurts you deeply and never admits it. Even being alone is better than being with someone who demeans yourself and your life.

I promise you that there will come a day when you will no longer feel lonely and sad and inextricably linked to this person; when your life is full of hope and you only embrace relationships—romantic or otherwise— —You feel respected, loved, and nurtured; when your husband is no longer the center of your universe, but a memory that has no power to hurt you anymore. One day, you will thank your lucky star and you bravely leave, grieve and move on because your life is now brighter, fuller, and more hopeful. You have to believe in this future, invest in this future, and get yourself there.

You may have to get yourself there, but you don’t have to go alone. Find yourself a therapist today, start talking about the life you want, understand your fears about leaving your marriage, and build the strength to do it. Tell your friends, family and support system how unhappy you are, that you are considering leaving, and that you need their support. And have a conversation with a lawyer about money, property, and what comes next. Doing this will give you a clearer idea of ​​what needs to be done next.

You also mentioned that your husband has been abusive in the past, so don’t neglect your own safety in your plan, as abusers tend to escalate their behavior when the victim tries to leave. Letting people know you’re leaving, having somewhere to go, or having friends to stay can be as important as saving some money and keeping important documents in a safe place. Thinking about these realities can be overwhelming, but starting to think about them now, before you leave, will help shape your thought process instead of putting everything in a big, vague unknown.

Then, when you’re ready, go for it. End the relationship as respectfully but firmly as possible. Tell your husband that you are leaving your marriage so you both can finally start living the life you deserve—a life that is happy, hopeful, and evolving, rather than stuck in a pattern that no longer serves you, a A relationship that no longer satisfies you. You will be able to do this because in important ways, both of you have left the relationship. He’s not trying to change or do anything new to fix the problem here. You are no longer growing emotionally and your hope has diminished. The time for trying, negotiating and haggling is over. So leave.

Grieving the good times, the hopes, the time spent in this relationship. Remind yourself that you tried and forgive yourself for missing familiar relationships at times. Remind yourself that he chose how to treat you, that he chose to hurt you instead of apologizing, that he chose not to make an effort to stand up and break unhelpful patterns in the relationship. Feel your anger, sadness and disappointment, sadness – and breathe. Congrats to yourself for bravely breaking the mold, leaving what was not good for you and taking the first step towards a more rewarding future.

Roe McDermott is an author, Fulbright Scholar, and Next Generation Award recipient, and holds a master’s degree in Sexuality Studies from San Francisco State University.If you have any questions or concerns you would like her to answer, you can submit anonymously to irishtimes.com/dearroe