Is my marriage a lost cause?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Hello. My husband and I have been in a relationship off and on for 15 years, we have been married for 4 years and have 4 children. I was raised in a very abusive family and my husband was raised in a very dysfunctional one. Our relationship has always been rocky – one extreme or another, never calm or inbetween. It has been violent physically, to the point where I’ve had him arrested and pressed charges. He is an alcoholic and that has caused a lot of problems.

A few months ago, he wrecked our car and we did not have insurance. Already on a tight budgeted income, I’ve had to look for work to help pay for these debts. This last weekend he came home drunk (he did not drive thank heavens) and punched me very, very hard in front of our 10 year old son. Because I am so dependent financially on him the thought of leaving scares me to death. I read stories about women who move their children into shelters to get out of abusive situations…I just don’t have the strength to do that. It is effecting me mentally and physically – I’m taking Wellbutrin for depression now and the depression has aided in a weight gain of about 40 pounds.

My husband has had infidelities and he believes whole-heartedly that I have as well…I have not. Every time we argue or fight he calls me awful names and brings up things that happened ten years ago in our relationship.

At this point, I don’t know what to do. Is there even a chance to make this work??? I am not sure if he can let go of all the history that is between us to try and work this out and I’m not sure if I have the effort to coddle him along into doing it….Do you have any advice??

A: I think you know what I’m going to tell you. It’s way past time for this to stop. You and your children deserve much, much better. Your marriage has never been good. You are doing all the work to keep it going. Your husband hasn’t changed in 15 years so it’s highly unlikely he’ll change now. Meanwhile, your children are growing up watching your relationship and thinking that this is the normal way for a marriage to be, making it more likely that they will also make dysfunctional and violent relationships. Please take better care of yourself and your children. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1 -800-799-SAFE. There are counselors there 24/7 who can listen to you and give you advice about where to find the help you need.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 13 Mar 2008

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2008). Is my marriage a lost cause?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/03/13/is-my-marriage-a-lost-cause/