You've seen celebrity clinical psychologist Dr. Sherry Blake, author of The Single Married Woman: True Stories of Why Women Feel All Alone in Their Marriages, keep the Braxton sisters calm on the hit show Braxton Family Values. Now it's your turn to sit in her chair...
Dear Dr. Sherry,
I am a 49-year-old woman who has been married for 28 years. I have devoted my life to my husband and my daughter. The moon rose and set on the two of them, and I had great faith in my husband and believed everything he told me as gospel until about five years ago. My husband had a 2-year relationship that almost tore our marriage apart. I asked him to leave and he move out. After three months, he said he had made a mistake and we reconciled. Fast forward to after the affair. I began to analyze myself. I had really neglected myself, to the point, I had gained weight, neglected to finish school and stop going out with my friends because as I was just too busy with my family. I gave up all my power as a woman to my husband. It was not his fault.
In 2011, I decided I needed a change. I had gastric bypass surgery and I’ve lost almost 70 pounds so far. I enrolled in college at my job and I’m almost finished and looking forward to my new career. I have also made new friends and go out at least once a week. I am having the time of my life! However, there are problems: My husband has been extremely resistant to my changes, I know he does not like it, and at this point his opinion no longer matters. Dr. Sherry, for the past three years my husband has been in the hospital because he refuses to take care of himself. He has a host of illnesses; diabetes, HTN, eye-problems, hearing problems etc., which all came about after the affair. Just recently, he lost his job, and then, for no apparent reason, stopped taking all of his meds. Last Thanksgiving he had a mild stroke, and my husband is only 52 years old. Also because of my husband’s last stint in the hospital and job loss, we are now behind in the mortgage payments and in foreclosure.
My husband is recovering from the stroke and has found a full-time job. We are now negotiating with the mortgage company. I’m tired and at the end of my rope. I'm tired of always having to run behind him and to put out the fires. My daughter is going off to college, and I no longer want to be married. I refuse to leave because he needs me, since he is still recovering from the stroke. Please help. What do I do? I love me husband, but I don’t think I’m in love with him anymore.
Don’t Know What to Do
Dear Don’t Know What to Do,
Congratulations on taking control of your life. Losing 70 pounds and going back to school are life-changing events. I am sure it was not easy, but you did it. Continue to move forward, sis. In your 28 years of marriage, it sounds as if you have learned the importance of taking care of self. If you do not take care of you, who will? I am sure that your husband is not happy or supportive of your changes. But, do you really expect him to be? As long as you were taking care of him and neglecting yourself, he was happy. Now the tables have turned.
His choice to not take care of his health may easily be his efforts to keep you there and maintain control. His health is “his” health. You should not allow yourself to feel responsible or guilty about it. It is his choice to take care of or fail to take care of his health. If you stay with him because of his illness, you will always be “stuck" with him. He will control you through his illnesses. If he thinks you are leaving or becoming too independent, he will have a medical crisis to keep you in check.
You have summed up your feelings about the marriage in a nutshell: You do not want to be married. That is a clear and honest statement. There is absolutely nothing wrong with not wanting to be married. Your husband has given you multiple grounds for wanting a divorce. His two-year affair is a major reason for grounds for a guilt free divorce, right there. You must make some tough, honest decisions. These decisions must be made based on what is in your best interest. You are smart. Act smart! Make the decision that is going to keep you moving forward. – Dr. Sherry
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