Trying To Leave My Husband After 15 Years
(Lubbock, TX, USA)
I've been married for 15 years, we have a 14 year old son.
Before we were married, he questioned me extensively about my past relationships. he did this in a way that I thought we were just talking, until the questions became more and more personal, such as "who had the biggest penis" and "who was the best lover." I was uncomfortable, but answered, until he kicked me in the back after an answer and told me how stupid I was for answering that question. I'm the kind of person that if you ask me a question, I'll answer it.
Several years passed and he was getting increasingly controlling, possessive, and accusatory. He would call me names, and what I see now as verbal abuse, but did not combine it with physical abuse.
About 3 years ago, for some unknown reason he began to suspect that I was having an affair (I wasn't). I woke up one morning and he very quietly, and coldly informed me that he was going to kill me for this affair and all I had to do was admit it, and get it all over with. I told him I wasn't going to admit it, and I told him that he was not behaving rationally.
That made him very angry, he came at me, threw me to the ground, kicked me several times, and punched me several times, until our son came to investigate what was wrong, and then my husband chased him out of the room, and I was scared he would hurt him, so I ran after them, and heard my husband tell our child to bring him a baseball bat so he could teach me a lesson.
Then he went into the kitchen and got a knife. He never hit me with anything else, and he only made stabbing motions toward me with the knife, but he terrorized us for the next few hours. He destroyed our phones, so I couldn't call anyone, and just sat at the door to our room while my son and I sat on the bed waiting for it to be over.
He finally asked our son which parent he wanted to live with, and which would get to die, and that was how he was going to end it. My son said that he wanted me to live, and my husband left the house. I grabbed my keys, told my son to get in the car (it was in the garage) and we locked the doors, started the car, and as soon as the garage door was open enough, we left.
Unfortunately, I did go back after that, between financial, and my husband saying that his diabetes caused him to get out of balance and he was imagining things, and that he was sorry and would go to counseling if I would just give him another chance.
Fast forward to now. The verbal abuse did not change. The accusations did not change, and the counseling lasted until I moved back in. The physical abuse did not happen again, but he would constantly and consistently accuse me of having affairs, and say that I wasn't treating him like I should, that he needed constant reassurances from me that he was the best lover I've had and he would want me to say things that I wasn't comfortable saying, like talking dirty to him and stuff.
So, I left him, and moved in with my sister. For the first couple of months, he would alternate between threatening me and apologizing. He said that he was proud of me for leaving, but I should come back because this time he means it when he says he will change and never do it again. All the other times he didn't realize the extent, but this time he does.
I filed for divorce, he counter-filed to claim that I'm an unfit mother. We have a court date set for July 13. He has now said that the only reason he counter filed was to get my attention, but he hasn't withdrawn his suit. I've tried to be civil toward him, because he tells me that if I'd just be kind to him, it would help him through it, so, if I'm nice, he sees it as that we are getting back together, so then I stop being nice, and he tells me I'm untrustworthy and will make sure everyone knows how worthless I am.
So then I'm nice, and he tells me that it's a good thing that we are still in love. I have told him that I want a divorce. He just keeps saying that he has changed and I need to give him a chance to prove it, that he sees now that I'm serious, and that God wants us to be together, and I should respect the vows that I made and support him while he gets the help that he now sees that he needs.
I do not want to hurt him. But I do not love him anymore. He slowly killed all the love that I had for him. I feel like I have an obligation to him to at least try to get along with him, but every time I do, he switches it around to "if you would just call me" "if you would just text me" and he wants more and more, and I've told him I want to focus on me and my recovery, and that I can't be who he wants me to be. Then, there is a fear I have that if I make him too angry, he will follow through on his threats to hurt me or my family.
Our son is caught in the middle. He understands why we left, but he's having a hard time adjusting to the more limited finances (I don't get support from my husband yet) and the lack of privacy, in addition to his father is constantly telling him that he has changed and he loves me and I won't give him a chance and our son believes him.
Now that my husband is counter-suing me for custody, given our son's age, I realize that I may lose them both, and that my husband is using that as another means to force me to come back. And I've told him that losing my son is a risk, yes, but I would not change my mind, I will adjust to seeing my son every other weekend.
But, then he had to have a medical procedure, and I called him to see how it went, and now I'm getting long emails and texts about how grateful he is that I'm giving us another chance. I never told him that, I just called to see how he was.
And now that I've written this all out, I see that I shouldn't communicate with him at all. But we do have to talk about our child. I wrote him an email that told him that the most that I wanted from him now is his friendship, for the sake of our child. That I want him to quit calling me "Baby" and to quit flirting with me, because all that accomplishes is that I feel uncomfortable and I will quit talking to him at all if it continues.
What can I say or do differently to let him know that I want to be civil, but I'm serious that I don't believe he will change, and even if he did, I don't want to stay in the marriage? What can I do to help me stay strong in my conviction that this is the right thing to do?
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello Valerie, and thanks for telling your story here. You are exactly right about what you've concluded here. As little communication as possible would be best.
I think you'll find all of the help and guidance you need on the page about battered wife syndrome. You are working to be free of this syndrome, and you're almost free. You have to let go of the desire not to hurt him. That's not your responsibility. Your responsibility is to do the right thing for you and your son, and leave his welfare to him.
You are in the middle of letting go of a relationship, and it's time for you to focus on yourself and your own well being.
Trust and follow your own inner wisdom. You can't go wrong that way.
My very best to you,
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