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 filed for divorce in 2007 but we have remained legally married after 36 years. He remained living in our house and kept the one car we shared together for himself. We have two of three kids living at home and in our bickering, he said he would take the kids from me and I would never see them again. I am unable to work due to fibromyalgia, migraines, anxiety and no longer drive due to fear. I can’t live alone, I need family close by and unfortunately my parents and 3 kids are separated by many miles. I need help with housework and errands but am not to the point that 24 hour care is necessary.

During our marriage and even now in our separation, I have been a victim of his verbal abuse and emotional neglect. My husband is a narcissist and a smooth talker. When he talks to our children about the separation, he tells them I am a burden. He’s said he would take care of me financially but I don’t trust him.

My anxiety levels increase when he’s home. I am depressed but can’t take medication due to side effects, most linked to fibro. We’ve tried to make it work. We have been to counseling but it didn’t help because my husband was against it. I want the rest of my life to be happy and see my children as often as possible and hope to make some friends.

I want to have people, mainly family and fun times to look forward to. I have none of those things now. Where can I find help to move on and how do I tell our grown children if we do go through with our divorce because I fear that all that he has told them will risk me losing them.

Wait a minute! I am sorry but something does not add up!

You have been in an abusive marriage with this man for 36 years and have three grown children and you are still there? Why? I clearly hear your medical and emotional challenges. But they are just challenges, noting terminal or life threatening. 

If you are fearful of “losing” your grown children, you never really had them. You relationship with your children should not be based on or have anything to do with your relationship with your husband. They are adults and free to make their own decisions.

The challenges you face have more to do with you than your husband. It appears that you have become quite codependent on your husband and children. They may or may not chose to be responsive to you but they are definitely not responsible for you.

Regardless of your challenges, you are responsible for yourself. You are holding on to a dream of how you would like your family to be rather than the reality of how they really are. You can not change your husband and he will only treat you in the manner you allow.

The question is, how long are you going to allow him to mistreat you? It is time that you take a hard look at your role in issues. I strongly recommend that you seek individual therapy to address issues of codependency and self esteem.

If you want out of your marriage and current situation, then you must create a plan and move forward. I also recommend that you seek medical and social services through your local hospital or community agencies. You must focus on yourself at this time if you want to overcome your challenges and take control of your life. After 36 years of an abusive marriage, you deserve to find happiness. You have  been looking for it in all the wrong places outside of yourself.

Happiness is an inside job! —Dr. Sherry

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