Whether or Not to Divorce

Updated on June 16, 2009
A.M. asks from Everett, WA
21 answers

I'm hoping people that have gone through a divorce (or if you thought about divorce and didn't go through with it)could tell me how you knew when it was time to divorce? Do you think it was worth the impact on your children? What made you finally leave and how did you emotionally cope?

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So What Happened?

What do you define as emotional abuse? When we first met I moved out of my moms and within a month into his place because I had no where else to go. The timing of getting together made me very emotionally attachted to him and to this day, he is really the only person I talk to. (literally) I ask what emotional abuse is because I feel like I don't have a clear view on anything, especially what is right and wrong within our relationship. I am not happy that is all I know. How to make things better, I'm not sure. I know when our relationship started, I should NOT have stayed. He physically hurt me and definitely emotionally hurt me. He drinks still and smokes marijuana. I feel like he loves me, but only for the sake of having a family. I feel like he hates ME. It seems as though he only wants things to go his way..though he denies it. I believe him but I still feel like not everyone would make me feel the way he does. Our daughter is so young (13 months) and I feel I owe her to figure myself out now and whether we will be together before she gets old enough to really understand. My mom divorced my dad when I was 9 months and I think it was the best timing possible. I left in december for 3 weeks because I didn't think I could handle it any longer, but ended up coming back because he said he'd change. Everyone told me to wait until he did change, but I missed him too much and wanted to believe him. He stopped drinking and smoking and being really nice for 5 days. Within a week of me being gone he was surfing the web for porn and got in contact with girl he used to know. We were talking on the phone and he was being very supportive and telling me how things would be better. I text him when we got off the phone and and immediately he ACCIDENTALLY sends me a text saying you are so hot do you have any more pictures blah blah and tried to deny it saying he intended on sending it to me. He appologized A LOT for that, and since we've met he has only gotten better. He is not as responsible or fair as I wish, but it's hard to just let go when I know he loves our daughter and he does try. I have no resources if I left, but I know I qualify for full fincial aid and I plan to become a Pediatric Nurse. I also know there are temporary free rent programs. I want structure in my life, financial stability and happiness. I feel like all around he is not want I want but I can't be that selfish to say that is enough. I hate thinking about my daughter's family broken up, but at the same time I know seeing at least one stable parent is important. How do your husbands help out? I would not be okay for me to have my daughter grow up and see her dad the way he is and me be with him. I like to have faith things will change, but when is enough? He loves to smoke and drink and be silly and eat out a lot. He acts like a child. I make dinner and put his portion in the fridge for when he gets home and most of the time he orders pizza instead. I don't want our daughter thinking thats okay. The marijauana ABSOLUTELY needs to stop, and thats the biggest thing. I just don't know if it will and when. It is so scary thinking about being on my own, especially with hardly any family, none that I'm close to and NO friends. All thoughts would be to myself, and I would be completely alone with my daughter. Some days I think I need to get out before I change my mind, and others I think he loves us and tries, thats enough compared to being seperated and tearing our family apart. I don't know if I could handle him being with another woman. That's just a sign that we're way too emotionally attached and I'm thinking only of myself. It's about my daughter. Ugh I am so confused. Thank you so much for all the people that replied. All imput is taken to heart.

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L.A.

answers from Seattle on

Granted I have never been divorced - however - staying together just for the kids is not a good idea, Mommy and Daddy deserve to be happy and sometimes that is not together.

It amazes me how many adults I know whose parents divorce after they are out of the house - the divorced parents tell them they only stayed together for them - which is worse.

So a loveless marriage is not a good solution - the kids will pick up on regardless.

If you want to work things out you can try marriage counseling. But don't stay together because you think it's better for the children because in the long run it isn't.

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L.R.

answers from Portland on

I'm not necessarily in the group that you wanted to respond, but I know a guy who divorced his wife, and he waited until the kids were grown. My pastor was sharing how he and his wife were almost ready to divorce once, but they heard that kids of divorced families have it worse off emotionally than kids of couples who fight all the time--believe it or not!

In light of that, I would recommend you contact Jim Hohnberger from http://www.empoweredlivingministries.org. He's a good friend of mine that has helped probably hundreds of couples make their marriage better. He has written a book called "Irresistibly in Love" and you can order it there on the website. He shared an experience in a marriage seminar he did recently about this couple that had it so bad that the wife left her husband, took the kids, and emptied his bank account! They were about the most incompatible couple on the face of the earth! But they're together again and very much in love. So it is possible to find other options than divorce--if only for the kids' sake. If you do contact him, tell him L. sent you.

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N.B.

answers from Portland on

Hello A.! My husband and I (mostly me) went through this "should we shouldn't we" about a year ago.. Have you tried counseling? I think at certain points in relationships you start to wonder: Am I really happy? could I be happier? Then we start to envision our lives as being "better" or "easier" without our spouse. Maybe we miss those feelings of a new relationship that change after years of marriage. Maybe there's been a lot of arguing or issues that never seem to be resolved. I think that all of this can be a normal and typical part of marriage. What you choose to do about these or similar feelings is just that, a choice. But remember, you also chose for better or worse, till death do us part, and your children are a bi-product of those vows. Now, obviously, I don't know your story and the above is a refelction of my own experiences and also that of which I think happens to most couples at some point. I'll tell you this much: my husband and I are still together and those bad feelings from a year ago are mostly ALL gone. Here's what worked for us: Identify the problem/s. We took the Northwest Family Services communication class you can look up at lastingrelationships.org. WOW, what an amazing thing to have the tools you need to communicate effectively! Life changing! Plus, these skills work for all relationships, kids, bosses, etc. We also read the book Getting the Love You Want, which was SO insightful into the WHY's of the things we do and how to get the love and relationship you want and need! We also worked on our spiritual growth during this time which I think was a big factor as well. Remembering our vows and the fact that we had kids and a life together was a big factor too. It wasn't the only reason to stay together but it was the anchor that helped us through the times when we didn't want to work at it. And marriage is WORK! Just like a business it takes hard work to make things run smooth, but there's also a lot of fun and great benefits! Plus, since marriage is indeed not a business, you get the added bonuses of respect, love, and all those great things a good marriage reeps. I think regardless of your specific situation, you owe it to the marriage and your kids to at least give it your best effort. Counseling, marriage classes, meetings with pastor, minister, etc. Good luck and I wish you the best!

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F.M.

answers from Portland on

Hi, A.--

I was in an abusive situation and, like another one of the responders, felt it important to stick it out for the sake of our child. It got so bad that I was terrified of whenever he came home because I never knew what to expect. The last time I saw my daughter start screaming and crying and pounding her fists over and over on the table because of what my husband was doing to me-- that clenched it for me. It was like a light bulb went off and I knew that I was not protecting her and that I could not protect her by staying in the situation.

Now I don't know your situation so I cannot answer when enough is enough for you. It took me a long time to figure it out for my own situation, but we had done a lot before it came to that point. I had gone to individual counseling and we had done couples counseling. I tried to make my husband happy by acquiescing to his demands and making sure that he got to have his time with his buddies, etc. I think I exhausted the options and it never would have been enough for my husband. Have you tried all your options?

I have a family member who also ended up getting separated this year. The couple was miserable together and the children were starting to act out in school, etc. The couple started working on their own issues while separated and recently started back to couples' counseling and really doing the work. They have both reported that it is working well, but that it will still take some time. In their case, the separation has been a bonus for their marriage and I think that it will help them create a positive and stronger marriage.

If you do separate or divorce, try to keep things as civil as possible for the sake of any children. Seek the advice of a good counselor and find a support net with your friends. You may find that some "friends" pull away not knowing how to be supportive. This did not happen to me with my closest friends, but I did see people in our church pull away not knowing how to respond. Okay, move on and don't get sucked into what others will think. You will have to do your own work and you can come out stronger for it in the end.

I hope that you can work things out with your husband if it is salvageable. I have seen some "hopeless" situations turn around.

Blessings and peace to you

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J.C.

answers from Seattle on

Wow- A.--- none of us have the right to decide such a thing for you- but you ask a good question-- how to know when it's just time to cut your losses??? -

I realized that holding on was hurting me and hurting my children- and that the pain was going to increase- and they needed me to put a stop to it. So I did. Sounds simple and it was terrifying. It was the best decision I could possibly have made for my children-- . They had ( after the divorce) a tired Mom--- a good day-care provider - and some measure of peace at home. It was a good bargain. I have never regretted the decision- and they all praise me for it ( they were 3, 9, and 14 at the time- are now 27, 33, and 38 )

Blessings,
J.--aka-- Old Mom

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S.T.

answers from San Diego on

It took me 11 years of marriage to an abusive, alcoholic man to get away from him. I had three children and I was scared to death because I had become isolated, unemployed, etc. He was good with them, or at least kind and gentle with them, but absolutely awful to me.
I thought I should sacrifice myself to give my kids 'a family'. Being married also allowed me to stay home with them. But I was dying inside. I was so unhappy and no amount of counseling, self-help books, giving, could turn it around.
Something happened at the very end when my then-husband left on a business trip for a week. I was so happy and free during that week when he was gone. I then realized, big AHA moment, that I needed to get divorced. I needed to save myself, or there would be nothing left of the mother my kids needed me to be.
I don't know what your situation is. Some other people here have touched on different problems that arise in marriage.
The biggest thing is the guilt so many mothers feel. We grow up thinking good mothers sacrifice and give - pouring yourself out to everyone around you. When I became a mom, I became lost to myself. For the first time all I could see was this baby, then toddler, then preschooler who was totally reliant on me. I forgot to look in the mirror and even comb my hair sometimes during those first years.

You love your children, of that there is no doubt. Now it's time to love yourself. Really stop whatever you are doing right now and LOVE yourself. Tell yourself kind things.

Then talk to your husband. Tell him how you feel. Tell him you are contemplating divorce. There is a way to do this and stay strong, keep your boundaries, trust your instincts, follow your heart, choose your words carefully. Tell him your feelings in "I feel" messages and totally leave him out of it. "Dave (or whatever his name is), I have been feeling empty and alone in this marriage for while now. I have been feeling lately like I want to get divorced. What do you think?" And leave it at that. Let him respond. You may already think you know what he'll say. You may be afraid.
BE BRAVE. This is exciting new territory you are heading into. Change is always scary, but staying where you are will just bring you more of the same.
I have an awesome resource for you now. Don't buy anything from this link, just read through the free stuff. I did buy her workbook and it's amazing.

http://www.coachrori.com/

Don't try to control his response to you. Let him be responsible for his own feelings. You can't MAKE him think or feel anything, so don't believe you are responsible for him that way, even if he tries to tell you that.

There are no "rules" about marriage, you know. We go into it thinking that there are, but each couple makes it up as they go along. Counseling can sometimes make you feel worse, believe it or not. Counselors are just people too with their own experiences. There are a lot of ways you can work on yourself to be strong inside that don't need to have anything to do with your husband. Mentally unstrap yourself from him. That doesn't mean stop loving or giving up on the marriage, just don't give him the power over your emotions.
Good luck, A.. I am sending you good energy.

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C.H.

answers from Portland on

Rule of thumb that some folks don't acknowledge is to do what is BEST for you and your kids. Staying is NOT good for you or the kids no matter how much you think you are keeping your marital problems from the kids. As an adult who's parents should've divorced years before they did I can tell you that I 'knew' something was wrong in their relationship long before it came to light and I always felt guilty for being the oldest thinking if I'd never been born they wouldn't being staying together.

If you are asking this question chances are you've already come to the point where divorce is inevitable. Don't suffer or make your kids suffer needlessly. Look for better days by taking action now.

Kids are resilient and the key to making sure that your kids aren't too negatively affected by the divorce you and your husband must be mature adults and end it amicably. Don't use the kids against one another and don't ask your children to be privy to the details of why you are divorcing. Don't put adult problems on children...the most important thing for your kids to know is that no matter whether dad and mom are married or not they are loved by both equally.

Again as an adult who grew up in a house where the parents should've been divorced it is NOT a good thing to stay together for the children...I repeat it is NOT a good thing!!! You owe your children at least one happy parent to grow up with...even if your husband is mean and nasty about the divorce be the one happy parent for your kids.

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J.R.

answers from Portland on

First of all Nancy B, I don't think A. is asking us whether she should divorce or not, she's simply wanting to hear other's experiences as a backdrop to what she is going through - that's called support. A., I agree with the other ladies that you should seek some counsel if you haven't already and try to get to the bottom of the issues that are forcing you to contemplate divorce. I have been married for nearly 15 years and believe me there are moments when I think about divorcing but in my particular case, my close friendship with my husband sustains me and when I think about what divorce would mean for my children, it stops me dead in my tracks. I feel that my children deserve the stability I promised them when I brought them into this world. Do think about how you would feel having to hand your children over to your husband for weekends or perhaps even whole weeks at a time. If there is something going on with him that is part of the problem in the marriage, you'd be better off trying to fix the problem than to subject your children to his issues unsupervised by you. Even if he's a wonderful dad, you will lose precious time with your children you can never regain and the emotional stress on kids going back and forth between homes is immense.
That being said, if you are in any sort of abusive situation then the children are better off not being in such a home and you should fight to keep your children with you at all times. You are the only person who can assess your own happiness.
Do keep in mind one statistic: women who divorce struggle more financially than their male counterparts and many end up in poverty. What are your resources? Do you work or do you have financial support for you and your children? I can speak to this issue first hand as it pertains to my mother. She thought divorce would bring her peace but it's brought nothing but dwindling resources, loneliness, and addictions. I certainly wish she had never divorced my step father and I'm sure deep down she feels the same. I guess what I'm saying here is consider all the practical matters as well as the emotional ones because they will have an impact on your health and happiness as well as that of your children.
Regardless of what you decide, you will need a lot of support. I hope you find a good counselor or advisor and lean on your friends right now. Good luck to you.

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D.L.

answers from Seattle on

I think if you are at a point in your relationship that you're not sure if you should divorce or not, there are some serious problems already. Unless you're in an abusive relationship (which you need to build a plan and get out of sooner than later), I would recommend going to couples counseling. No one can tell you and your husband whether or not you should get a divorce, only you two will know that.

Give counseling a try, and please know that sometimes you need to try a few counselors before you find the right one. Good luck with your journey.

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M.M.

answers from Eugene on

I went thru a divorce when my son was 2-3 years old. I realized that I did not want him growing up with our relationship as his example. It was too unhealthy and I felt it was better for me to be a single mom and happy than to stay married and be depressed and miserable. Plus kids feed off the stress between parents and their natural tendency is to blame themselves even though it's not their fault.
The way I coped with it was to keep myself busy between working, spending time with my son and going on walks, etc. The walking was a really therapeutic thing for me. It cleared my head and gave me time to think about everything.
I am now re-married to a wonderful man who treats my son as his own and my son loves him very much. I know my son is happier now than if I had continued to stay in a bad relationship. Every situation is different and you need to do what is best for you and your children. Feel free to email me if you need someone to vent to.

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J.W.

answers from Seattle on

Personally, I haven't gone thru a divorce, but I watched my brother agonize over the decision for almost 2 yrs and then the separation and divorce. First of all, the divorce is between you and your husband, not between you and the kids. And no matter what any one tells you, it will be difficult for everyone, as it is a change from the norm. If your and your husband have been fighting, the lack of turmoil, tension, etc. will be better for your kids. If you haven't sought out family counseling yet, I would strongly encourage that you do so. If your marriage can survive, you should make every attempt because there are kids involved. And each of you have ownership of the demise of your marriage, it's took two to make it, it will take both of you to break it. The separation/divorce was the hardest thing my brother has ever done, the parenting plan was torture because each parent thought they were the best parent to be the custodial parent. (My nephew is an only child, and to be honest, in retrospect, was 95$ of the fighting and turmoil in their family.) Emotionally coping, it's like a death, it is a death. You end up doubting all your decisions for a while. Afraid to make any commitments to anyone, including your kids. And you'll find yourself clinging to your kids even more than before, as they have become 'your everything.'

If your home is abusive, physically, verbally, emotionally... it's not healthy for anyone, by all means divorce. But if the fizz has left the marriage, you just don't feel the magic, counseling for both of you. If you loved him once and you love yourself, you owe it to the both of you to try to work it out and put the fizz back. Marriage is hard work. Sometimes the love just isn't there, but the friendship is. We have a tendency to let our friends get away with more than we let our lovers do. Treat him with same amount of consideration as you would want to be treated with. There are so many tensions and stressors out there today. Worrying about employment, making ends meet....none of it is easy. Divorcing will only complicate things for all of you and make living and supporting your family a financial nightmare.

Again, go talk with a counselor, your pastor or priest... someone who is impartial, and listen to what they have to say. Listen to yourselves and put the pluses and minuses on a piece of paper. Not only about your marriage, but about your husband and then about yourself. I'm willing to bet that you have more on the plus side of things than the negative. It just takes some work.

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G.T.

answers from Portland on

It seems like you have a lot of replies, but I'll add my thoughts, too. We attended a program through the Catholic Church that I thought was great. It doesn't glue marriages back together, but helps you find out if you should stay together. It's a lot of work, but will help you feel like you are making the right decision. They also make it clear that "staying together for the kids" is not an acceptable excuse, and will only lead them to patterning after a bad marriage, as well as feeling guilty about your suffering. Over half of the people in our group were not Catholic, but being Christian does help. Check out the website and see what you think.
http://www.retrouvaille.org/

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E.W.

answers from Seattle on

I encourage you to get some counseling or attend a marriage course. Churches often offer this type of thing, even if you don't go to a church, just look up some churches in your area and call them and ask. Call about six and say your interested in some low-cost marriage counseling or marriage course and see what they say. You'll find something.

Or there are a ton of great marriage books. I personally favor the ones that treat the husband and wife as equals, not where the husband is the "leader," but even those teach a husband to be considerate.

If you show your husband what you have written in your "what happened" post, maybe it would help him to understand and be willing to participate.

It sounds like he's not a bad guy, he just has some growing to do. A course or counseling, or making a commitment with another married guy who could keep him accountable would be helpful to your husband because it is hard to grow and change on your own. We all need guidance and someone to make sure we follow through with our choices. You guys need support beyond what just the two of you can offer. Everyone does. Get help, I think you guys can make it.

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J.C.

answers from Anchorage on

I was in the process of leaving my husband when I got some very good advice, wait. If my husband was willing to enter into counseling with me I would wait 6 months to make my decision on whether or not to leave. That was 8 months ago, and we have come so far. The therapist has help us see each other again in a way we have not for years. If, after 6 months of counseling and making a true effort (both you and him), you still feel the same then you can leave knowing you gave it your all.

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M.T.

answers from Portland on

This is a tough one without knowing the situation. If you feel you are in danger then without question get out. If it's more of a not sure if I still love him thing - I'd suggest you try working it out. My husband and I are currently doing the 'Love Dare' from the movie fireproof. It helps you to think about your partner from different angles and I think it's helping to make us better to eachother. (and appreciate one another more) We can't really afford counseling and this was the best thing we could find. As with anything you try - just be sure to commit to it and give it a fair shake (both of you). Good luck!

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V.R.

answers from Portland on

Well, I will tell you, as a "child" of a divorce, don't do it! I'm the youngest of four and was 24 when my parents finally divorced, right around the time I was getting married. It messes up the family. You are more likely to be happy if you work through your issues rather than trying to get away from them. I can also tell you that my mother, who sought the divorce, wishes she hadn't done it. But it's too late. It's been almost 10 years now, and it also makes an impact on the grandchildren. I have to answer the questions when my children ask why my mom and dad divorced. It tears the family apart and hurts everyone, even the next generation. My parents get along now, but it is certainly not the way things should be.
my advice, don't do it! I'm assuming you are not in any danger in your relationship, it doesn't sound like it.

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J.T.

answers from Portland on

I rarely respond to these, but I do read the summaries every day. Your post really spoke to me. I have thought about divorce many times but remain married. I'm glad I never filed. Marriage is difficult at best, then you add a child (especially if it's your first) and everything seems to fall apart. I wish I new more about your personal situation. How many kids, what ages, the specific reason(s) you are considering divorce, etc. I understand not wanting to post them on a public site. The only generic advise I can offer is "don't do anything out of pure emotion or impulse.
Feel free to email me at [email protected]____.com if you'd like a very sympathetic ear.

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D.B.

answers from Seattle on

Hi A.,

Everyone's circumstances are different I don't usually take the time to write back on this site but when I read yours I thought you might just want one persons point of view , My marriage was very distructive in many ways, my ex was a drinker , verbally abusive , severe gambler, and cheater, I guess that's a good start to justify divorce..... but what made the decision for me was did I want my son who idealized his father to grow up thinking this is how a marriage should be NOOOOOOOOOOOO....(instantly came to mind)

I discovered there will always be heartbreak, hard times, as I have no family for help, and basically how invoved will your ex be with the kids. My ex sees my son on rare occations ,doesn't pay support , is in contempt on just about everything on our court papers and HONESTLY OUR JUSTICE SYSTEM SUCKS........

but I will tell you this in hopes that you think long and hard about your decision
IT WAS BY FAR THE BEST THING I EVER DID with no regrets, I was unhappy and living a lie..... life is to short and if you have any doubt that you want something different for your family then you go for it . It is worth it in the long run .. I also came from a bad family lifestyle as a child and I remember so clearly how I prayed every night that they would just divorce so I could have peace of mind ,mine like many others chose to stay till the kids grew up I hated my younger years and have resentment towards my mother for not having the guts to stand up and get out of the miserable life we were living I used to listen to her cry nightly as my father slept on the couch as a child of divorce dont please ever stay for the kids it destroyed all my childhood memories

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S.W.

answers from Bellingham on

A.,
I think that you need to really think about divorce. It does have a huge impact on the children. Sometimes divorce is the only solution. Not sure if you have gone to counseling together or go on a marriage encounter weekend. This is a very positive weekend and have heard from many couples that it brought them back together.

S.

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J.L.

answers from Corvallis on

I was married for almost 11 yrs, and together for 13 when we seperated. We have been divorced for over 4 yrs and apart for 5 this summer. He left us on his own. Though we were both extrememly unhappy and he was doing everything he could not to be home, which eventually led him to finding a shoulder to lean on to cheating (though he swears he never slept with her, there was definitely feelings and he spent alot of time with her). I was so miserable that I starting fights with him over EVERYTHING, literally everything. I was griping at the kids, nobody was happy. I was contiplating taking the kids and leaving because I was so miserable, but I was still desperately in love with him. to make a long story short, we did seperate after 3 months of knowing how the other felt, and his loyalty took a turn for the worse.
yes at the time it was very painful for me, and assume for the kids. We talked to the kids together and tried to make the transition as easlily as possible , and constantly reassuring them this was between us and nothing to do with them. Yes we had our ups and downs the past few years, but we are still friends. Two of our children live with him and I have our youngest (who is almost 9). This works well for us, and have a very open schedual for the kids, but we have a planned every other weekend. My son comes over all the time, though my teen daughter is just starting to come around (she blamed me when they moved in with dad, his gf was filling her head, and now she is out of the picture soo..).
I believe if we had stayed together it would of been worse for the children to grow up in an enviroment like that. Children deserve to grow up in a happy healthy enivorment with healthy relationships. All three of them know we were unhappy and agreed they wuold rather we were all happy.
We did try couple counciling, but that failed mierably, he was not willing to try, and I was doing everything I could possibly do.
If the effort is there for both of you to work together , by all means go that route first. If not, it is a complete waste of time and effort. Obviously if you feel that you and or your children are in any form of danger, get out.
I wish you the best of luck and happiness. This sounds to bea very painful and confusing time for you! Turn to your loved ones for support!! Counciling helped me so much, and very true friends. Find something to do to help keep you occupied, I turned to word puzzles and sudoku, and also went back to school.
PS.
I went into the marriage with never divorcing, no matter what. I strongly beleved the vowels we took. I admire people that can work things out, but realistically it doesnt always happen the way we want.

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S.G.

answers from Portland on

Divorce is such an emotional, physical and financial strain that I would encourage you to do all you can before taking that step.

If you live in the Corvallis area, there is a program called Divorce Care by Healing Hearts (Karen Bull ###-###-####). It is a quality video series with discussion groups. Lasts about 8 weeks, costs about $30, w/child care. Gives you lots to think about w/o being preachy. Very supportive and educational, no matter where you are in the process or even if you are just trying to be supportive to someone else. Referrals to other programs/counseling if desired.

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