Where Did the Love Go?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

My husband was my first, and only boyfriend,and lover. We both came from sad, unstable, lonely childhoods, and when we were young adults, we sort of clung together for dear life. I was 19 when we moved in together, and I got pregnant. Despite his love of another woman, his abuse both physical and emotional, I stayed with him, had his child, married him, and had two more. Now we are in our early 40′s, with three children.

Our relationship is dysfunctional, abusive (emotionally for the most part) and I feel so hurt and devastated by his cruelty. His way of expressing anger is to put me down. My way is to hurt myself (self injury). Despite the pain he causes me, the hurt we cause each other (I am no angel myself)I feel like I would die without him. I can’t breathe just thinking about it.

I have no where to go, or money to get there, even if I could bring myself to leave. There is no home to run to, or family to take me in. I can’t leave him, my heart wont allow it. How do I disconnect this horrible reliance on him? How can I stop his anger, from being my pain?

A: You stay with him despite the abuse. He stays with you despite his disrespect for you. This is a co-dependent relationship that is destructive to you both and to your children. It took courage for you to face this and to write to us. That’s the first step toward change. Give yourself credit for that.

I do understand how helpless you feel. You’ve never lived apart from your husband. You’ve never had the experience of other people loving you and cherishing you. You don’t know whether you are strong enough to make it on your own or to support your children. Believe me, you are not at all alone in your situation. Many, many women share your story.

Fortunately, there are women’s shelters that can offer you the support and practical help you need. I did a web search and found that there is such a center in your town. Please contact them. Such places usually offer counseling, support and opportunities for women to get on their feet so they can make a choice about their relationship instead of feeling trapped in it. You don’t need to have made the decision to leave to get help. It’s enough that you want to figure out how to make some changes.

Writing us was an important first step. Now take the next one and make that phone call.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Jan 2013

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2012). Where Did the Love Go?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/01/06/where-did-the-love-go/