'Should I leave my selfish husband?'
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QUESTION: In 15 years of married life, we've both worked - he full-time, and me mostly part-time in between looking after the children and home.
He retired at 51 and has no intention of working again. I've been forced to go back to full-time work. He says he's “done his bit”, because of his small pension.
We've had lots of problems, but his unpleasant behaviour used to be made bearable by his being out of the house all day!
Now, he spends most of his time on the golf course. I'm not sure I want to spend the next 17 years of my life working, with him as a passenger. Should I leave?
ANSWER: Your life sounds absolutely grisly. And certainly some changes need to be made or you face the rest of your life with, it sounds, a selfish and unpleasant partner who you clearly don't love. And who, it sounds, doesn't love you.
Walking out, however, would be very drastic, and also financially rather unwise until you know exactly where you stand.
First, I would go to a solicitor (you can tell your husband or not, depending on how you feel) and find out exactly what you would gain - and lose - were you to get a divorce. Then at least you would have some cold facts at your fingertips.
Second, I would suggest relationship counselling of some kind. From what you say it sounds extremely unlikely that anything would come of it, but it's a tremendous shame to throw away 15 years of togetherness, which can't have been all hell, without giving counselling a go. It would be as stupid as, the moment a washing machine packed up, putting it out for the binmen instead of asking the engineer in to give an opinion. It could be that it's just fused or there's a bit of dirt in the filter. It could be that your husband has some hidden emotion or fear that he's too uptight to discuss with you. At one time, remember, you did love each other. Have you both changed as much as you think?
And anyway, if you talk about splitting up with him seriously, that might give him the spur to change his ways. Maybe he's just behaving like this because he knows he can get away with it.
Another reason for getting counselling is because of the children. Unless you got married when your children were young, they're obviously still teenagers, and for parents to split when the children are in the early teens is one of the worst times imaginable for them. They're just starting to think of flying the nest, when the nest breaks up and their world, which is for them extremely strange and new, just crashes down around them. Their secure base will have become as flimsy and uncertain as their future.
Finally, there is always the thought of divorcing but agreeing to live in the same house while keeping completely separate lives. Depending on what shape your home is, this might mean your having to install a mini-kitchen for your husband, and perhaps a small extra shower room, but sharing nothing except a front door. This would be the cheapest option, and means you could have the occasional meal together when you felt like it, and be there for each other if either of you became ill, but you wouldn't have the grating misery of feeling he's part of your life 24 hours a day.