Susan* is a 34-year-old mother of two young children from Brooklyn. Her ten-year marriage is on the verge of collapse and she is asking for Metro readers’ advice. This is her story:
In March, New York is to hold its first divorce expo, where you can get advice on how to deal with the financial, family, health and emotional issues of a marriage break up.
Count me in.
I’ve been married ten years and we’ve filed divorce papers three times. For some reason we never took the final step.
It’s happening again, though. The tension, the misery, the suspicion, the uncertainty, the worry about our two children – will I take the final step this time? I don’t know. I just don’t know.
My marriage is dead. I know that. I knew the first time he hit me and the first time he called me a ‘c**t’ in front of the children.
I knew when our little one started screaming: “Daddy, stop being so mean to mommy”; I knew when the menacing text messages started flooding my cellphone and when he admitted to using drugs.
It started when he began criticizing everything I did – from the way I dressed to the way I looked to the way I kept our house in Brooklyn – as if the state of the house was my responsibility and not ours.
We met in a whirlwind when I was younger and, according to him, more attractive. He has been through some trauma in his life, which causes me to feel so sorry for him. Is that why I have, so far, been unable to take the final step?
Now he’s unemployed and I’m the only breadwinner in our house. Sitting at home all day, or flunking the classes he’s taking to try to make something of himself seems to have made him worse. He wants to know where I am, and when. I’ve stopped attending social events with co-workers because the suspicion, the paranoia, the vile accusations that I’m having affairs with multiple men – all untrue – are just too much to cope with.
My mom and dad and siblings pretend everything is fine between my husband and I. They’re too embarrassed to say otherwise.
My friends and co-workers, too, know what is going on but they treat me as if I’ve been bereaved – they might as well walk on by on the other side of the street, afraid to help – or interfere, as they’d have it.
No-one knows how lonely I’ve felt these last few years. If it wasn’t for my beautiful children I don’t think I could have coped.
Sadly, I still recall how it was in the early days - how he, young and handsome, swept me off my feet and promised to care for me forever. I remember that first flush of adrenaline, pleasure and, yes, lust. I still yearn for that, foolishly, I suppose, because all of those emotions have been battered out of me.
But I cannot forget. In his better moments, when he’s calm and not on the drugs, he can be caring – even if those high points are always diminished in my mind because I know, as sure as night follows day, that the next volley of abuse, the next round of accusations, the next insult is just around the corner?
I know that the grass often seems greener on the other side. How would I, a single, working mom of two young children, cope in the big bad world, alone?
My marriage might be a disaster, but what if this is as good as it gets?
I know some will say we ought to seek counseling, but financially, it’s out of the question. The monetary implications of a divorce also give me sleepless nights.
Might it be a better option to just carry on, to get through somehow until the children are older, until something turns up – until he sees the error of his ways, and understands that no man who professes to love his wife would every use such verbal and emotional cruelty?
The awful, prolonged, accusatory silences are agonizing. The daily uncertainty about his moods turns my guts, even as I write this.
But the leap of faith to end the marriage has been a leap too far. So far, anyway.
*Names have been changed, with the permission of the author, to protect identities.
Have you been in a similar position to Susan? Can you help with advice? Leave your comments: