Dear Annie: My husband and I have been together for almost 30 years, but we broke up in the last seven or eight years, despite marriage counseling which didn’t seem to help. About six years ago, he was diagnosed with an illness from which he is now recovering. Even though I wanted a divorce, I couldn’t bring myself to leave him as long as he was sick. During this time – while I supported him, being the sole breadwinner, taking care of the house and yard, and remaining very involved in his medical visits and treatments – he constantly lied to me about big things. and small.
He is of retirement age but acts like a child, refusing to take responsibility for anything. Physically, he also let himself down. I don’t believe he had a physical affair with anyone, but I discovered a porn addiction. He left our room 12 years ago without any explanation and hasn’t made physical contact with me for at least that long.
While his condition is improving and he should make a full recovery, I still hesitate to let him deal with it alone. His very small family and few friends are unable to help; my job offers good medical insurance that allows him to see a specialist. He seems to depend on me for all household and financial responsibilities. But I’m completely miserable, and all I can think about is how to leave him. I know he doesn’t like me, he doesn’t appreciate me and that I am nothing more than the person who shares the space and “takes care of it” so that he does not have to do it. Is it wrong of me, just north of 50, to crave peace and want to be alone? I can’t imagine being more miserable than I am right now. But the guilt of having left him while he is still undergoing medical treatment blocks me. — To go or not to go in the Northeast
Dear Northeast: The decision to end a marriage is a huge one and shouldn’t be taken lightly, but what you’ve shared tells me you already know that. Although your husband is facing an illness, maintaining the relationship you have is a battle you cannot fight alone. If he’s uncooperative and his behavior ranges from lying to potentially cheating to general discouragement, it makes the hole you’re in that much deeper and harder to get out of.
I would recommend sitting down again with your husband and your couples therapist for the most candid discussion you have ever had. It seems that both of you are staying in your marriage just for the fun of it, but neither of you can spend several more years being miserable. Whether you decide to take up counseling again and give your marriage another chance or call it quits, you are at an impasse that you cannot continue with. At some point, you have to consider what you want for yourself beyond being someone’s wife and honor it.
It is also possible to continue to support and help your husband even if you are no longer married to him. After 30 years together, he will forever hold a special and important place in your life, and you will share a bond, with or without wishes. But if things have really run their course, you should both be free to move on to the next stage of your life and find your joy again.
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