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How do I leave?

by Anonymous

I have been married for 18 years. I was only 19 when I got married. I got pregnant soon after, and we have had 4 awesome children. Over the years, my husband has cheated and he has done drugs behind my back. He isn't doing those things currently, but his temper is getting out of control.

Everything angers him, and it is causing a lot of anxiety. If people block his way at the store, he gets angry and rude. If we have a long wait for anything really, he causes a scene. If I am there, I feel pressure and anxiety and try to hurry, many times not able to fully complete the task. Of course, he insists on going with me all of the time, and he starts a fight if I ask him to complete errands to help alleviate my super busy hectic schedule. When I tell him that he is getting angry too easily, he says that I am a push over and attacking him and that I am always defending everybody but him and that I never back him up.

If I am handling matters with any kind of customer service on the phone, many times he is making loud aggressive comments in the background about our dissatisfaction, and I get chastised for not being aggressive and mean. It causes me a great deal of anxiety. I believe that you get better results with kindness and patience. People shut down and don't want to help you once you start yelling at them. I have also recognized and pointed out and stood up for myself when people are taking advantage of me. I tried to explain that during this pandemic, all of these businesses are on skeleton crews. Business is down, and they have to follow state mandated room capacities and social distancing no matter how much their business was affected, which, many times, results in a reduction of staff. He thinks it is all so stupid whenever he doesn't get his way.

I am a giving person by nature. If I am able to, I always help others. I was a foster child and was exposed to both cruelty and kindness. Those acts of kindness have had a big effect on me, and I want to spread that. My husband won't let me. I can't do things for others, including my extended family.

He is a good and active father. We have had a lot of fun together over the years. He is always the life of the party and is well liked. He does have redeeming qualities. I also know I am not perfect either and have done things out of frustration or depression, but I recognize it, and I use it to be a better person. I feel like I am struggling to be a better person while I am with him. I am getting angry too. I have panic attacks and am depressed. I am losing who I am, my identity.

I just told him I want a divorce. He seems hurt by it, commenting that I am throwing our family away. He takes no responsibility or role in it. He thinks we are in a good place. I think he thinks that because he hasn't cheated on me the last 6 or 7 years, like that is the standard - the main thing he needs to do to be a good husband.

He refuses anger management or couples therapy. Any and all efforts we have made to save our marriage has cycled back to an unhealthy place. We will be good for a period, then deteriorate.

I have no idea what I am going to do. Neither of us have financial stability to be apart. I was a foster kid, so I don't have parental help. My siblings are struggling too and don't have the ability to help. He has fought with and chased away every friend I ever made. My only friends are his friends, who won't help either because they don't want to get in the middle, or because they don't want to be on his bad side.

I just want to know I am doing the right thing and what my next step should be. I don't want to stay with him out of necessity. I have done that before, and I resent him more. I feel it is a necessity to leave at this point but don't know how I should go about it.

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"You gave us counseling without making either one of us feel that you were taking sides.
You always maintained your impartiality with us. You encouraged Rita to be more assertive in stating what she wanted to get from your counseling sessions, as well as what she wanted to get from the relationship.
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Rita and Mark

Eugene Kayser, MA, MFT's profile on the Gottman Referral Network