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My husband and I live apart and I’m ready to give up – what should I do?

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Dear Newsweek,

My husband and I are childhood sweethearts. It’s my second marriage. We had our first child in February 2016. He quit his 17-year-old job to stay home with the baby and me while I healed. We got married in June 2016. I returned to work in September 2016. He hadn’t had a real job since, that is, he hadn’t worked for more than three months. in a row. Our second child was born in May 2019. Then the pandemic hit.

We started living in separate houses in September 2020 and we are both still in New York but each living separately with our mothers. The children live with me and visit him every weekend. My husband had a history of alcoholism. He’s been sober for over nine months now. I bought a house in December 2021 but he refuses to live with me and my mother. I totally understand that.

I have no interest in having another intimate relationship with someone else, but I don’t like to treat him like a wife should treat her husband and not get 100% of the benefits of being a wife . No social security is constituted on its account. I pay for every date or family trip. I don’t even have the pleasure or luxury of waking up every morning to my husband’s face. I am ready to give up on his relationship after two years of separation. Please help.

Valtisha, New York

You have to accept that the marriage is already over

Dr. Chloé Carmichael, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and author of Nervous Energy: Harness the Power of Your Anxiety as well as Dr. Chloe’s 10 Commandments for Dating. Her approach is goal-oriented and emphasizes reaching our full potential through a strengths-based approach.

Dear Valtisha,

Thank you very much for this vulnerable sharing. This sounds like a very tricky situation, and I can understand why you’re considering giving up. Sometimes it’s an important step towards independence from a dysfunctional relationship. I’ll offer a few ideas, with the caveat that you’re the expert on your own situation. I may be missing or misunderstanding some facts, so please take my thoughts with a large grain of salt.

That said, you wrote that you could “completely understand” that your husband had refused your request to move in with you and your children, but you didn’t say why it was so easy for you to understand. From a general perspective of social norms, I would say that his refusal to live with his wife and children, coupled with his inability to support you in other basic marital ways, could certainly be considered an extreme lack of commitment to his role as your husband.

You also mentioned that he was “over 9 months” sober. While I’m glad he has a months-long sobriety spell, your statement also implies that he has a recent history of active alcoholism. I can’t help but wonder if this is relevant to other issues you mentioned, such as the chronic lack of jobs. Nor does it seem that his newfound sobriety is causing him to redouble his efforts to support you as a wife or mother since your letter said nothing of the sort.

From your letter, it appears that your husband is not “there for you” financially, emotionally, or even literally through his physical presence. In other words, it looks like the marriage is essentially over already; and a divorce would actually consist of revising the legal documents to reflect the reality of a defunct marriage.

Whatever you decide, Valtisha, I encourage you to get support for yourself. I also encourage you to surround yourself with friends, family, spiritual leaders, and possibly a therapist. Whether you’re fixing your relationship or dealing with a divorce, there’s a lot of emotional work to be done. On the positive side, there is also a great opportunity for growth and positive change.

Wishing you all the best,

You have already taken the first and most difficult stage of separation

Jamie Schenk DeWitt, MA, LMFT, is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice, based in Los Angeles, CA.

Dear reader,

I’m sorry you’re at this place of your wedding. After two years of separation, I understand that you are ready to give up this relationship. It takes a lot of courage to recognize what is wrong with your husband and then make the necessary changes to continue taking care of yourself and your children. It sounds like you want a more interdependent relationship.

An interdependent relationship is a well-balanced mix of partners where each can take care of themselves while being dependable, secure, and dependable for their significant other. When you say “No social security is built”, and you don’t even have the pleasure or the luxury of waking up in front of it every morning, you are clearly aware that your needs are not being met and it’s time to move on. . You’ve already taken the first and most difficult step of breaking up and coming up with a dating schedule that works for both of you. Now you have a few options to continue moving towards dissolving your marriage depending on what you both want and what is in the best interests of your two children.

I wonder if you and your husband have tried couples therapy. If not, this can sometimes be a good place to talk about your feelings and continue the process of dissolving your relationship. Many couples try to “consciously decouple,” and if you choose this path, there are therapists specially trained to work with you and your husband in this way. Additionally, some couples will meet with a therapist to discuss co-parenting options to get advice on best practices for helping children through divorce and the next phase of life. It can also be extremely helpful for you to have an individual therapist, if you haven’t already, so you can have someone to talk to about all of this on a weekly basis. Regarding divorce, depending on how you each feel, some couples will choose to call on a mediator who can guide them. It is important that you educate yourself about your options and consult someone who can give you legal advice on the appropriate steps to take to end your marriage.

Ultimately, I want you to know that you have options as to how you choose to continue to end your relationship and transform yourself and your children in this next chapter of life. As you continue on this path, know that you will experience feelings of grief and that is normal and to be expected. You may also feel relieved to be heading in this direction after many years of waiting for changes that did not happen.


“What should I do?” from Newsweek brings together experts to advise a reader on a problem they encounter in their personal life. If you have a WSID dilemma, let us know via life@newsweek.com. We can seek advice from experts and your story could be published on Newsweek.

A file image shows a woman taking off her wedding ring. Psychologists give Valtisha, from New York, advice on her dilemma.
Getty Images


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