Dear Annie: I have been married more than 10 years. “Chet” is a great father to our kids, but not such a terrific husband. For the past five years, I have been emotionally neglected and put at the bottom of his priority list. When I beg him to pay more attention to me, things will change for a couple of weeks and then I’m back to being neglected again.
I have spent these years trying not to hurt anyone. I have sheltered my kids from my pain so they wouldn’t worry. After years of pleasing everyone else, I finally have decided I deserve to be happy.
I asked Chet to move out. He acted surprised, as if I’ve never mentioned our problems before. I gave him all my reasons again. He says he wants to change and I should give him another chance. But he’s had dozens of chances. How many more do I have to give him, knowing it never lasts? How many years do I have to be miserable before it’s my turn to enjoy life?
Chet refuses to leave the house and says he has nowhere to go. I won’t leave without my kids, and they need the stability of staying in their home. We have grown so far apart that I no longer have the energy to work on this. I went for counseling, but stopped when Chet said he was “too busy” to try the counselor’s suggestions. My family is acting like I’m out of my mind, but then, I don’t tell my family everything. How do I convince them this is the right thing? How do I make my children understand that Mom and Dad can still be friends even if they are not married? – Finally Getting Happy
Dear Finally: When young children are involved, splitting apart the family is often traumatic, and it will take time for them to adjust. We recommend counseling for your family, preferably with Chet, to help you better prepare the children. As for the rest of the relatives, simply ask that they not be overly involved in your decisions. If you are truly making the right choice, they will eventually see it.