You've seen celebrity clinical psychologist Dr. Sherry Blake, author of The Single Married Woman: True Stories of Why Women Feel 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 have been married to my husband for almost 9 years. It has been a true roller-coaster. I married him when was 27 and he was 39, I had never been with a man that much older than me. They were always right around my age group. Right before we got married I saw something in him that was not right at all. He started being jealous of everyone in my life including my children who were born prior to my meeting him, my sister, mom, dad, best friend you name it. He did his best to taint the relationship I have with everyone. He acted as if he couldn't trust me around anyone with out him. Me being young and naïve I thought well once we get married he will see I'm not going anywhere. Boy was I wrong because it has only gotten so much worse. Not only has it been a constant fight to not be alienated from my family and friends but for 5 years of my marriage I was in the role of home maker. I literally did not have access to any money because he kept every dollar in his wallet and anytime I needed anything I had to got to him and thoroughly explain how much and why I needed the cash. When I would threaten to end the marriage I was reminded that I had nothing. No one would help me and I felt like a bad mom because my leaving my husband would mean my 3 children would also have nothing because he would take all the money and not give me any and not pay the rent or any bills. Finally I demanded to go to nursing school to be more independent but that was such a huge fight. I am now a licensed nurse and in a better position to support my self and children. Now my husband and I argue about how much I am able to work. If I work more than 12 hours a week, he is throwing a fit literally calling me at work making me feel so overwhelmed and small for not being at home. But when I'm at home, he makes me feel totally unappreciated. We still have the same problem we had in the beginning of our marriage--he still doesn't want me to go to lunch with my sisters or friends without him. He has a habit of checking my phone while I'm sleeping. I'm so over it I am ready to leave him and never look back. We've had several years of counseling but he just says what they want to hear like the manipulator he is. I'm not asking if I should leave him. I'm asking how to leave an emotionally controlling manipulator?
Help I Feel Like I'm Suffocating
Congratulations to you on several points! The fact that you are not asking if you should leave but rather how to leave is fantastic! That says that you are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Once you are really at that point in your life, there is no turning back. It is unfortunate that you have endured nine years of abuse. When you saw the first signs of abuse, you dismissed it by thinking it would change after marriage. Many women make that same mistake. Unfortunately, many women do not have the emotional strength and foresight that you had to push back and fight to get yourself in a position of becoming independent. Now that you have means to take care of yourself, the only thing is to develop what I call an exit strategy. The most important part of an exit plan is your safety. You know your husband better than anyone. While you have made it clear the extent of his emotional abuse, has he been physically abusive? That should be taken into consideration of your plan. You must take the time and line up all your ducks in a roll before your implement the plan if you are not in imminent danger. If you know that you are headed for divorce court, consult legal advice before doing anything. If you can retain a divorce attorney at this time, do so. An exit strategy requires a lot of quite planning to include the following: 1) Identify one or two people that you can really trust to tell what is going happening. It is critical that this is someone that will not dare share you information with anyone; 2) Open a safe deposit box and place one key where your husband will not find it and the other key with your trusted person; 3) Open a checking or saving account of your own. Have information mailed to your trusted person's address, keep some cash money on hand in case of an emergency; 4) Start collecting vital information about your husband (e.g. bank account and any other financial account numbers, social security number, driver license number; life and health insurance name and account number), place all collected information in safe deposit box; 5) Find and secure a safe living environment, preferably a gated community; 6) Identify the essentials things you need from your home and decide how you will take them with the least resistant from your husband; 7) Keep a change of clothing, any medication you and/or children are taking, and all of your important papers at your trusted person's home. These are suggestions but remember, the most important part of exiting an abusive relationship is your safety. So if it means starting over without anything, it is worth your safety and your freedom. Just like you have pushed though and achieved your other goals, you will do the same with this. Keep moving forward! --Dr. Sherry
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