I want to ask this reader why she is staying with a husband who makes her feel terrible about herself. Here’s her question – she wants to know what she should do about her marriage:
“I’ve been married for 11 years. My husband has cheated on me twice. The most recent was 2 years ago. After the other woman ended it with him, we decided to stay together. He has never really treated me very well. He comes from a bad marriage, as his first wife cheated on him. He is verbally abusive to me on a regular basis. I have now met someone who makes me feel totally alive and special. I know that this is just a fleeting thing, but his treatment of me has actually brought a change in my whole attitude and the way I feel about myself. I feel beautiful and sexy again thanks to him. And, no, we have not had any physical contact with each other. We flirt on the internet. I know this is still considered cheating. How do I know if I should leave this marriage? I know my husband will never consent to counseling and always brushes me off if I try and talk about our problems. I have read all your articles, but am still unsure. We have 2 children together and I suppose I do love him, but I am no longer in love with him. Can you give me some advice?”
First, read Should I Stay or Should I Go?: A Guide to Knowing if Your Relationship Can — and Should — Be Saved. I can’t tell you what to do about your marriage – you need to decide on your own what is best for you.
Also, ask yourself this:
Why Am I Staying With a Husband Who Makes Me Feel So Bad?
Something is holding you back from leaving your husband. He’s verbally abusive, doesn’t care about working on your marriage, and has a bad history with women. He’s never been good to you, and he doesn’t respect you.
Why are you staying with him?
I think you need to write out the reasons you’re reluctant to leave your husband. Give yourself permission to be superficial and selfish. Maybe you’re staying with him because he pays the bills, or you really like his parents. Maybe you hate the idea of divorce…or maybe you think your kids will be devastated (that’s not a superficial or selfish reason – many women stay with men who make them feel bad about themselves, to protect their kids.
Maybe you’re staying with a man who makes you feel bad about yourself because you don’t think you deserve better. I’m glad you met the other man online, because you’re beginning to see yourself as beautiful, valuable, and lovable. This is the first step to making a healthy choice for yourself and your future.
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I think you should talk to a counselor. It doesn’t matter if your husband will never consent to marriage counseling. Don’t let his hang ups, insecurities, narrow-mindedness, or selfishness stop you from getting emotionally healthy! If you go to a counselor, you’ll hopefully learn why you’re staying with a guy who makes you feel bad. Getting an objective perspective from a counselor in person doesn’t mean you’re preparing to leave your husband…it just means you’ll gain some insight into your own behaviors and motivations.
The healthier and more insightful you are, the more clarity and insight you’ll have into what direction to take with your life.
If you’re staying with your husband because you don’t think you can make it on your own, read You’re Scared to Be Alone, But Know You Need to End Your Relationship.
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