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,
My husband and I have been married for 12 years. I am almost 70 and this is my second marriage. It’s hard to believe that I was in love with this man at one time because he is really only married to his family. I don’t know why he married me because the only thing that makes him happy is being around them.
He has a twin brother who is single and a son from a previous relationship who is also single. He has two daughters, one of whom has made my life miserable. She has tried to get him to leave me and he admitted that to me. She has been cruel to me and he never puts her in her place. My married life consists of him coming home from work and immediately calling or texting from one of them. If we are eating dinner, watching a movie or in the car going somewhere and they call, he continues talking as long as he wants. And this is with him having breakfast every Sunday with his brother, son, and nephew, and lunch two times a week with his son. He has a large family and once every month we are celebrating a birthday with his kids, their spouses, and 4 grandchildren, plus holidays.
I think I am known as a married single. Now, you are probably asking why I don’t leave. I am almost 70, have health issues and an income of $676 a month. Yes, he supports me. I gave a chunk of money towards the house we live in and I have a little in savings. But how long could that sustain me? He has been mentally abusive in the past and still is. I know my choices are limited but I need help.
Signed, a rat trapped in a box.
You may feel like “ a rat trapped in a box” but like any rat, you can escape! You are actually trapped mentally not physically. The emotional trap is sometimes the most difficult to escape. Your husband definitely appears to be more emotionally connected to his family than he is to you. This is likely to have been the case throughout your marriage but you now have less tolerance. The same is true for him being mentally abusive. After 12 years of marriage and your husband continues to neglect you for his family, his behavior is unlikely to change. I recommend that you and your husband seek couples therapy to open lines of communication and to be honest regarding your concerns. If he refuses to go and participate in couples therapy, seek individual therapy because the change must come from you. You must decide if remaining married for the financial security is more important than finding inner peace and your independence. Given resources may be limited, you may want to consider living in a senior citizen community based on income or in an assistant living facility if you decide to divorce your husband. You must also remember that you may be entitled to some of the equity in your home. If you are indeed unhappy and want out of the marriage, resources should not be the excuse to remain. A lack of resources may be one reason that you have remained in the marriage but emotional issues are likely the main reason. You have may still love your husband and have unfinished business with him. You must take time to sort your feelings and decide what is really important to you. Life is too short to be unhappy! --Dr. Sherry
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