HomeNewsI left my husband on good terms but now I feel out of control | Ask Annalisa Barbieri
I left my husband on good terms but now I feel out of control | Ask Annalisa Barbieri
January 14, 2022
I left my husband last summer. We have three young children who live with me, but see their dad regularly. Things are cordial and he is financially supporting us. However, the separation has highlighted the distance there’s always been between us in our decade-long relationship.
My husband is a hard worker but emotionally distant and can be blind to my needs and those of the children. We’d been living abroad, very rurally, for nine years, doing up a house – and I home-educated the children. I have become increasingly depressed since the separation and am kicking myself for decisions I’ve made and gone along with.
During our relationship, I kept trying to convince my husband that we should move to a town, but he was adamant we couldn’t afford it. That had been dragging on for years, with him insisting on doing the renovation work himself. Eventually I cracked, moved into town and enrolled the kids (one of whom I think has special educational needs) in schools.
My husband says he wants to move in with us again at some point, to keep the family together. What I want is time and space to get settled in this next stage, to support my children through all the big changes and prepare for a return to work. He’s very focused on keeping the family and marriage together.I just wonder if I’m making a huge mistake. I’m doubting every decision, having intrusive thoughts and feel out of control. I want to be a strong, stable parent, but I feel lost and wonder how I’ve ended up like this.
First things first: when you have these dark thoughts, please contact the Samaritans in your country (they do operate there, I checked). But going back to the letter, you ask if you’ve made a mistake, but not about what. Leaving your husband, or possibly letting him back into your life?
In your original, much longer, letter, you told me about your traumatic childhood and emotionally distant father; your lack of sex life with your husband; your dalliance with another man just to “feel something” again.
But you have made incredible progress these past few months and do have a road map for the next stage (whatever that ends up being). You’ve moved into town to have contact with people, you’ve got your children into a school and are having more of their needs – and, hopefully, yours – met.
I contacted couples psychotherapist Murray Blacket, who observed: “A difficult and protracted house renovation in a remote location in a different country does not sound like a very emotionally connected project. Did you share this dream?”
I wonder if you hoped that if you kept trying you’d get some warmth from your husband, but this seems to have come at the expense of your mental health. It’s time to think about your needs.
Blacket felt you had made some “big, decisive choices, none of which can have been easy to do or accomplish. It also sounds as if you’ve not been happy anywhere along the way.” Would you say this is true?
I think you know what you want but you don’t trust yourself. Your husband wanting to keep the family together is a laudable aim, but I think you both need to decide, and agree, what a marriage actually is, and I think this is at the heart of your issues, because you seem to have very different needs and expectations.
I would urge you to get some counselling (together if possible), and sit tight on any decisions – including whether your husband should move back in – until you know what you want. You clearly feel very unhappy and must listen to these feelings even if they seem to defy logic.