Dear Annie: I have been married to “Tom” for five years. We had a shaky start, and now it is just horrible. Tom makes decisions for his own benefit, his job is out of town, he works night shifts, and when he gets home, he is a growling bear. I have a son from my first marriage, and Tom treats him terribly. He barely notices our baby. But our 4-year-old is the spitting image of his father, and Tom spoils him rotten.
Tom and I no longer have anything in common. We have spent no time together in the past eight months. He has even set up his own bank account and deposits his paychecks into it. I have no access to that money.
We tried counseling, but Tom didn’t like it and never went back. We have done Bible studies, read books and attended marriage retreats, but nothing has helped. I am a Christian, and there is so much pressure to stay together. I love the Lord, but I do not think Tom wants to be married.
I want to be able to enjoy my children and not be berated all the time and told that all of our problems are my fault and my responsibility. Tom is overbearing, controlling and apparently doesn’t like a single thing about me. I think we would be better off living separately. How do I keep our kids from getting hurt? – Never Enough in Canada
Dear Canada: Your children – certainly your oldest son – are already being hurt by living in a home where the parents dislike each other and the children are emotionally mistreated. Go back to your counselor, alone if necessary, and work on ways to create a healthier environment for yourself and your children, even if it is separate from Tom. Before doing anything, however, make sure you talk to a lawyer and protect yourself financially.