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Where Do I Go From Here?

Question:

Anne, I have been separated from my husband for the past 4 months. We have been married 21 years and have 2 children, 1 at home (16), and 1 not at home. I feel as though for the past 21 years I was the one who sustained our relationship. I was the one who raised our children. Now I am tired of taking care of him. We are in counseling, both individually and together, but I see very little change in him. There are days when I want my freedom more than anything, and then there are the days where I feel that I am the bad person for not sticking it out. I am scared to move on with my life since this is all I have ever known (we got married right after I graduated). I have been suffering with major depression for the last 14 years and I am afraid of staying and afraid of going. Some days it’s just a miracle that I even get out of bed, but I continue on with my daily routine when all I want to do is to roll up into a ball and forget about life, forget about having to make decisions…where do I go from here?

This Disclaimer applies to the Answer Below
  • ‘Anne’ is the pseudonym for the individual who writes this relationship advice column.
  • ‘Anne’ bases her responses on her personal experiences and not on professional training or study. She does not represent herself to be a psychologist, therapist, counselor or professional helper of any sort. Her responses are offered from the perspective of a friend or mentor only.
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  • Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.
Answer:

As a mother, you know what it is like to give birth. You enter into a period of labor which can be (and frequently is!) very painful. In the middle of the process it seems that the pain will never end. However, the end result is a beautiful new life and that can make the pain seem worth it. The situation you are currently in can be likened to being in labor. You’re on the fence concerning your marriage. You’ve taken care to do a lot of things to salvage the marriage, including getting yourself and your husband into counseling. Despite this effort things don’t look good. It’s gotten to the point where you are separated from him now. Your fear of the unknown and your guilt about betraying your vows and the emotional commitments you’ve made to your family seem to be the major things keeping you from making a clean break. However, these motivations are not strong enough to get you to just grin and bear it and go back to life as usual with your husband. Where you go from here is completely and utterly up to you. However, I can say that you should consider that you are at a choice point, having expended considerable energy to get there, and you should consider making a choice one way or the other. To not make a choice is to make a choice too – one that will prolong the painful process of fence-sitting. I can recommend an excellent book that may help you clarify what to do. The book is called, “Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay: A Step-By-Step Guide to Helping You Decide Whether to Stay in or Get Out of Your Relationship”, by Mira Kirshenbaum. It is available online via Amazon.com, Half.com and similar retailers. Good luck.

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