I’m sick of telling this story, so I’m glossing over certain details. Hopefully it makes sense still. I can give more context if people think it’s relevant.
So for many, many years, my wife has struggled with lots of chronic pain. Like constant pain that can only be alleviated by hours of direct intervention daily (think near constant massaging). I did my best to help for years but it clearly began to impact both of our mental health. Eventually she moved in with her parents for additional support, but after a few months they were totally overwhelmed. In her time there the only relief she could get was through Xanax (a benzo). Everyone she had a physical and mental breakdown at her parents and moved out suddenly and moved in with her friend in a different city than I live in (I didn’t feel her moving back in with me was good for anyone, and she agreed).
Long story short, I help get her moved into a new more permanent place where she’s sharing a bed with a brand new friend who is now doing all of the physical caretaking stuff I used to do. I admit to feeling a little replaced and dejected but get lots of reassurance that it’s not like that. Not 72 hours later though she doesn’t want to talk to me at all, essentially ghosting me. I find out that she contacted my cousin and my child’s mother that she’s filing for divorce. This is bad enough, but she also goes on a smear campaign against me with both of them, sharing difficulties of our relationship in order to try and paint me as unhinged (with lots of contextual details omitted).
Here’s the thing: she’s really mentally unwell right now and everyone still in her sphere knows it. She’s chopping off contact with people left and right and it will eventually get to the point where she may end up hospitalized or homeless.
I’m not looking to reconcile at this point. With some time apart and reflection, it’s become really clear how unhappy I am. My life has absolutely revolved around her for years. I’ve cut out most of my hobbies and rarely saw my friends for the better part of a decade now.
I’m feeling guilty though still. If the scenario happens where she comes out of this after going to rehab or whatever and says “I was out of my mind, paranoid and delusional, please take me back”. More than anything, she’s hurting and suffering a lot. How do I just move on with my life without feeling like I’ve abandoned her in her time of need?
Even though she’s the one who is initiating it, I feel like the asshole husband who calls it quits when the going gets tough. But I just don’t see a future where I’m happy and married to her at this point in our life.peggyApril 13, 2023 at 10:28 pm #1119638
Hi. So sorry. An awful and sad situation for you. I think you did your best in a shitty situation and due to mental and physical issues,she has,which are beyond your control,things have gone sideways.
I understand because my partner has a lot of similar issues. I am hopeful the problems will be worked out and not get worse. However,if they do,I know I may need to walk away at some point. My partner has not rejected me in the manner you describe,but honestly,whether it is mental illness or willful rejection of you,for some reason…the upshot is the same. This is hurtful and it appears you have done your best and suffered enough.You are not obligated to sacrifice the rest of your time and life to a poor bet for happiness. Even her friends and relatives find this difficult or impossible to deal with.
I have personal experience of a relative that ended up homeless. It is a sad situation,but any help the family tried to give, came “to not”. Sometimes people can not or will not be helped.
Free yourself and build a better life. You can maybe still be a resource or friend and still be caring,but don’t let her problems consume you or the rest of your life. It sounds like you have done your time and tried to be/were a loving husband. I wish you well. Throw the guilt out the window. It does not/will not serve any purpose. It won’t help her and will unfairly hurt you.peggyApril 13, 2023 at 10:32 pm #1119639
Yes,simply put,divorce is okay.
Divorce is always okay.
I don’t remember your wife’s situation that caused the chronic pain, but it sounds like it’s mental. Like she’s mentally very unwell, and it’s manifesting as this condition of extreme pain. Is that accurate? Or was there an accident or something that caused this, and the pain is driving her crazy?
Either way, it sounds like it’s already over, and yes, of course it’s all right to move forward with a divorce. You can still care about her well being and support her in getting the help she needs, but you don’t have to be married to her.LisforLeslieApril 14, 2023 at 5:59 am #1119642
Yes, it’s OK to agree to the divorce that she asked for. Trying to care for someone without sufficient help can be overwhelming and all-consuming. And younger people don’t have resources or models for when you need full time (or near full time) care. Giving up all of your hobbies and being solely responsible for someone else is not healthy. But we rarely talk about care-giver health unless it’s to say stuff like “Well he’s been by her side from the start.” or “He’s just living his life not thinking about her at all” – there’s almost no middle ground. The healthiest of care givers get some kind of respite and maintain some of their social activities if only to be reminded that life continues.
So yes, you’re allowed to feel that weird combination of grief and relief.LucidityApril 14, 2023 at 6:05 am #1119643
Therapy is how you can process everything and move past feeling like you’re abandoning her. I hope you’re in a position to access professional counselling because this is heavy and not something you should carry alone. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.
It’s okay to divorce.AnonymousseApril 14, 2023 at 9:28 am #1119646
It’s absolutely okay to divorce. It’s even the best option many times.
I agree that therapy would be really good for you. You need to discuss how this has affected you with a good, impartial person. You’ve given a lot, it seems. More than is generally expected.Bloody MediocrityApril 14, 2023 at 10:46 am #1119647
@Kate – I’m always impressed with your ability to remember details about the regular posters here. Her conditions are both mental and physical but not the result of an accident. She has Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos, which for her basically means her bones constantly move out of place. She also has really severe PTSD and Fibromyalgia, which feed into each other. The end result is that any time spent alone triggers some type of PTSD, which triggers fibro flares, which yanks the bones out of place due to HEDS. It’s a miserable existence.
Things took a turn for the worse over the course of the last year. First, a new therapist tried a new type of trauma therapy that absolutely backfired. She never recovered but at a certain point she was overwhelmed and lost the ability to be kind any time she was suffering (Which again, was nearly always). Any attempt I made to say “Hey, I really can’t handle the way you’re talking to me” was met with “I’m in pain and don’t have it in me to mask anymore, so you need to deal with it”. I tried and tried, but eventually couldn’t hide my hurt feelings anymore which only made her more angry with me until she moved in with her parents. The same sceneario basically played out with them: They helped as long as they could, she made constant scathing comments to them and when they tried to defend themselves or address how she was treating them they were met with more hostility, until her mother couldn’t take anymore and made an aggressive comment to her and she stormed out to move to the MSP area.
I thought we were on a better path with a clear plan going forward but clearly I was overly optimistic, which I think is going to be a recurring theme for me as I process this.
@Anonymousse, @Lucidity, I am currently in therapy and it’s been helping a lot with my co-dependency issues already, but this has really thrown a whole new wrench in my recovery as I have severe issues with guilt.
- This reply was modified 5 months, 2 weeks ago by Dear Wendy.
So sorry you’re going through this! I echo everyone else’s affirmation that it’s not only OK to get divorced, but it’s healthy and even admirable to acknowledge when something has run its course and no longer serves you or has a future. Taking vows to be with someone through sickness and health and through good and bad doesn’t mean enduring unending hell with little to no hope for improvement or reconnection. You’ve fulfilled your obligation as a committed husband. But the relationship has dramatically changed and it’s ok to change the scope of your commitment, too. You can still love your wife, wish her well, and want the best for her without sacrificing your own well-being (which doesn’t really work to make her happy, anyway).
Stick with therapy as your process these changes in your life. You are probably on the brink of a breakthrough, though it might feel like. breakdown for a while. There’s hope and life and opportunities waiting on the other side.ronApril 15, 2023 at 12:03 pm #1119655
Wendy, just a note that you’re still having the commenting issue – when I went to comment Ron’s name and email were already visible in the boxesronApril 15, 2023 at 12:17 pm #1119656
Ah it posted the last comment as Ron – this is golfer.gal in case it happens again
Oh boy I’ve got a lot of experience with guilt when leaving a mentally ill spouse. My ex husband’s mental health was never great and I did a lot of caretaking, research for new treatments, getting him to see counselors and doctors, etc. But when he hit his late 30s it was like a switch flipped and everything got exponentially worse, as well as developing alcoholism and symptoms of borderline personality disorder (my ex mother in law was a diagnosed BPD and the way he grew up was…not good).
I had to leave for my own physical safety and mental health. In your case she’s the one doing the leaving, but I imagine the guilt of leaving someone objectively worse off without your presence is there. Also, it sounds like she might have crossed into verbal and emotional abuse territory. Recovering from that takes time and can get tangled in with the guilt as well because you know other people aren’t going to step in to help due to the behavior. Leaving is absolutely 100% the right thing. If I can give some advice, it would be:
1. Be fair as far as splitting assets. I was a little more generous than I strictly had to be in the hopes that he’ll use the money wisely to have a better future. If he doesn’t, oh well
2. Counseling for yourself and gather some information on emotional abuse. It’s really helpful in understanding what you’re going through
3. Give it time. The guilt will be there for a while but that doesn’t mean you didn’t make the right decision.
4. Don’t get sucked into future conversations about helping/staying in her life/second chances – I know that’s easily said but you cannot keep drowning to keep her afloat. She’s got to be responsible for herself
5. You really will feel better and you’ll feel the guilt less and less. My life is better in every conceivable way and I’ve got an amazing partner who supports me too, not just the other way around