I’ve been married for almost 12 years. In that time, we’ve bought a house and a car, acquired a rabbit and had three children together. We’ve had good times, bad times, happy and sad times, and now I want a divorce.
The trouble is I’m scared to say that out loud to anyone.
My husband is not a bad man—far from it. His job means he is a very well-respected member of the community. People often say to me, “Your husband is lovely,” or “He’s such a kind man,” and he is. He is thoughtful, kind and loving to his children, a good friend and fun to be around.
My mother proudly tells people that I married a “good man” with a “heart of gold.” I am told at least three times a week how lucky I am to have my husband. How can I turn around and ask for a divorce when seemingly nothing is wrong?
We don’t fight, he’s not cruel, I haven’t met anyone else—nor do I want to—but we just no longer connect as husband and wife.
Since our youngest child started school, I have struggled to find work, which in turn has had a huge effect on my self-esteem. I don’t really feel like I am worth anything to anyone, except for my children. I can’t remember the last time anyone told my husband that he was lucky to be married to me. I don’t recall the last time he told me I looked nice that day, and I certainly couldn’t tell you the last time he called me beautiful.
I don’t think that’s because he no longer thinks that; it’s just that he’s stopped making an effort and started taking me for granted. We haven’t had sex for a year. One whole year. I am 35, and I don’t want to go without sex for the rest of my life.
I can’t tell anyone that though. It makes me sound shallow, and like I am only after one thing. It’s not even the act itself. I’d just like something more than the perfunctory kisses I get three times a day when he leaves for work, comes home and then when we say goodnight. I want someone to hold me, to smile at me, to catch me off guard and kiss my neck as I stand at the stove…anything.
All of that said, we do still get along, but it is more of a brother and sister relationship, and who wants to be married to their brother?
The other problem facing us is money. While I’ve been struggling to find work that works with the schedules of our three children, one of whom has a disability, the cost of living has been rising. We can cover our bills, keep our cars running, feed and clothe our children, but that’s it.
My husband tells me I should be happy with our lot and I am. I’m happy that my children are beautiful little people. I am thankful that we own our house. I am grateful that we mostly enjoy good health, but I want more out of life.
I want to be able to pay for music lessons for my children. I want to take them on vacation. I want to take them out to dinner without worrying where the money will come from to cover it.
I want to be able to sleep at night and not lie awake panicking about what to do if I don’t get enough work next month.
I’ve begged my husband to look for a better-paying job. He repeatedly comes back telling me I need to get a job too. The part-time job market, particularly for jobs that accommodate children, is flooded with applicants. I applied for 27 part-time office jobs last week. Most don’t even acknowledge your application. A few send out a standard rejection letter. Some give you an interview, which is even worse, because then you get your hopes up.
I want to make a better life for myself and for my children. I don’t want to be the “miserable mommy.” I want my kids to enjoy their childhoods. I’m not asking to buy them all a pony and an Xbox; I just don’t want to worry when they want to go to a camp that we can’t afford. I want to soar, he wants to plod along. Now that all the hopes and dreams we had when we first married have been realized, we are no longer compatible.
I can’t tell this to anyone, because I don’t want to be hated. He will be the victim. I will be seen as trying to reclaim my teenage years, selfish, heartless and cruel. I know, because a friend of mine left her husband two years ago and was called all of those things and more.
While society likes to pretend that divorce is okay, there is still a huge stigma attached. Unless a woman can say, “He had an affair,” or “He was abusive,” divorce initiated by a woman is a no-go.
Why would someone leave a man as perfect (to the outside world) as my husband? She must surely be having an affair. What a mean, money-grubbing bitch. Who could be so unkind? What about those poor children?
I hate that I have become so resigned to my fate. I hate that I don’t have the courage or strength to go it alone. I hate that I am becoming ever more bitter and resentful toward someone who is essentially a good man, with a good heart, and I hate that this is destroying me.
Someone was unkind to my daughter the other day. I overheard myself telling her, “Don’t stand for it. If they’re going to treat you that way, then walk away. Hold your head up. You’re beautiful, and you don’t need that negativity in your life.”
If only I’d learn to listen to my own advice.
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