Q: I’ve been in a relationship for 9 years, married 6.5 years and we have a 4 year old son together. My husband’s father passed away 2 months ago. We have been in marriage turmoil for over 4 years and I believe we are only still here because we don’t want our son to have to go through a divorce. We have been to 2 counselors and each of us has gone to individual counseling. Since we’ve known each other, we’ve had constant battles over his employment/skills, his anger and anxiety issues, and his use of pot. I have been trying to get him to go to school or get into a program so that he can get some lifelong skills that he can use for a better job. He went to a woods/cabinetry class and dropped out. He started taking classes to be an electrician and dropped out. Finally, he entered a plumbing apprenticeship and has just informed me that he dropped his class and is supposedly going to continue in a year because the stress of his dad’s passing is too much for him. I am having huge difficulties dealing with this. I feel like my life is imprisoned by him. I feel solely responsible for our child’s future, our financial future and I feel like I am stuck at my job which I’ve been at for 6 years because I’m the only one with a steady income and health insurance. He has trouble controlling his anger, and his anxieties cause him to become angry. He’s gone to counseling but there wasn’t any resolution and I am never sure whether he is going to be the “nice” husband or the “mean” husband. He isn’t physically abusive, but I feel that his yelling and blaming and bullying are abusive and I don’t know how to deal with it. He says he wants to stop smoking pot but he has been saying this for 9 years. I am done believing him. It is difficult to imagine my future with him and yet, the thought of not seeing my son every day if we divorced is unbearable. I don’t know what to do. Is this marriage worth staying in?
A: Only you can decide if this marriage is worth staying in but you have certainly listed some good reasons to leave it. If the problems you listed started after his father’s death I would definitely suggest that you try longer and give him more time. However, you describe them as ongoing issues and you have tried getting help together and separately… and you are still not happy. Barring abuse and other extreme issues, I always suggest trying therapy before giving up on a relationship, especially when kids are involved. You have done that so in my opinion you can walk away with a clear conscious. You also have the responsibility of raising your son in the best way you can and you should think about the example your husband is setting for him. If you are done “believing” that your husband will change you need to show him that with your actions not just your words. Maybe it is time for a separation at least. If he is serious about getting clean and getting a steady job then he can prove that with his actions and there may still be a chance. But otherwise it is time to go. You and your son may be better off in the end anyway. Good luck.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 16 Mar 2007
Counts, H. (2007). How can I cope with this marriage or have I coped too much?. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 7, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/03/16/how-can-i-cope-with-this-marriage-or-have-i-coped-too-much/