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Divorce and relationship stuff

thisisanaltthisisanalt Registered User new member
Hello. I need an outside perspective on this. I'm going to try and present everything here in a relatively objective manner and keep my own judgments out most of the time, because again, I'm not sure how much I'm coloring my own views here. It's.... not short, I'm having trouble deciding what parts may be relevant.

Basics

I've been married for ~7 years, together with my wife for 10. We have a toddler. And (spoilers) I am currently thinking I want a divorce.

Details/Background/History

I'll start with the happy stuff. Keeping this brief because I don't think details help as much, but it's not reflective of the amount. My wife is very thoughtful in a lot of ways. She thinks of and prepares very nice gifts, plans trips/events that she thinks I (or whoever it's for) will like, has many sentimental moments where she just wants to hug and say sweet things, etc. We have had many, many nice moments and memories. Again, these happen a lot and are frequent, but I'm going to spend more time talking about the other side of stuff.

For nearly the entirety of our relationship, we have fought frequently. Loud, screaming/crying fights every month or two, smaller arguments every few days in between. As best I can recall, my wife is always the one who gets angry at the start of our fights, and her calming down is what ends the fights. As in, we don't ever fight because I am upset or bothered by something. The reasons for these vary from larger things like forgetting an important date/anniversary, to smaller things like not closing a cabinet or putting away the salt (not repeated offenses, just random one-off things). The content of our fights/arguments is always her being angry, me trying to placate her and apologize, until eventually she calms down.

To be clear, I am definitely not perfect. I do forget anniversaries, I don't do gifts nearly as well as her, etc.

In the bigger fights, she will occasionally get violent. Throwing things, hitting, kicking, biting, etc. Never enough to see a doctor or anything, but many objects (phones, lights, plates...) have been broken beyond repair. This has gotten more rare over time, but not nonexistent.

Verbal/emotional stuff is still a regular occurrence. She will daily insult my appearance, actions, thoughts, etc. She has several times threatened to kill herself so that, in her words, when I stand over her dead body I will regret [insert transgression here] for the rest of my life.

She doesn't have any job or volunteering or anything that gets her out of the house regularly. She has friends, but nothing that requires actual obligations or such that any outside activity would grant.

She used to see a psychiatrist for depression, but stopped for a random spurious reason. I used to see a therapist, but she complained about that off and on for random reasons until I stopped.

The (Pending? Not happening?) Break Up

I... am just tired and kinda feeling like I'm done. I think about what my life would be like separate from her, and think that it just sounds really nice. Not that I wouldn't miss my wife or the good moments we have, but I'm just not happy here with her. This is by far from the first time I've thought this way, but...

A few weeks ago, I reached out to a lawyer and started drawing up the paperwork for a divorce. I did not tell my wife that I was doing so. Last weekend after I finished gathering all the forms and docs and statements and sending them to my lawyer, I told her I wanted a divorce. She responded with sadness, crying, telling me how important I was to her and how life wasn't worth living without me. She said she didn't realize how hurt I was, and didn't mean the negative things she has said, and would do whatever she needed to do to be better.

It was touching and made me hesitate, but I didn't commit to not separating. Specifically I said I needed to think about it.

This continued for several hours, and she started to take a more depressed outlook. Talking about how our child and I would be better off without her, how she would probably kill herself if we split up (occasionally mentioning how I would regret it/feel guilty then), etc. Things also started to turn towards focusing on me not telling her I was talking to a lawyer and how this lying to her was a fundamental break of our trust.

Eventually, like always, I caved and told her we wouldn't be getting a divorce. It slowed her downward spiral (or at least that's how this seemed to be to me). She left the house to "think" and talk with her parents/friends for a few hours. We spent the next day or two relitigating the latter half of this discussion. Basically, me going "no I won't ever leave you, I was wrong for lying," repeated in a variety of different ways.

I.... recognize that this was probably not the best thing to do because I don't know if that's true or not, and that this is possibly just delaying a larger crash, but I couldn't think of what else to do then. Her mother is coming into town in a couple weeks (her family lives in another country and are unable to visit often). Basically I decided that if I were doing something that would cause her to crash, better to do it when she had another person as emotional support here rather than just me... I don't know if that was right and I admit some cowardice on my part probably played a part in the decision, but... it's done and happened that way.

So after a day or two of looping over that discussion, we've now mostly moved back into "normalcy." Today/last night, she's been especially nice and caring. One thing that stuck out in a recent talk yesterday was my wife indicating she felt it was morally wrong for one person in a relationship to decide to end it, depending on their responsibilities in the relationship and how much the other person would be hurt and such. I don't think I agree, but I also recognize that I'm not exactly an objective bystander here.

Conclusion

This is basically where we stand now. Life is "normal," I have promised to never even think about leaving again, but I still think I maybe will when my mother-in-law arrives in a few weeks. If that happens, I expect explosions/implosions. Or maybe it won't happen? Maybe things will actually for reals change for the better?

I don't really know what I'm looking for here. Truthfully, I think I want validation that I'm looking at our lives accurately enough that divorcing is an acceptable or even preferable thing to do. Even validation of the opposite would be nice too. I recognize that pseudo-random internet people aren't the best resource, and that probably most people here won't give something concrete either way, but hopefully it will be helpful.

I've skipped past considerations of our kid here, not sure how relevant those are for the help/advice I'm looking for? But I can talk more there if it'd be helpful.

Posts

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    CalicaCalica Registered User regular
    Your post describes multiple textbook signs of physical and emotional abuse.
    • Constantly criticising you for random things, making it impossible to anticipate what will set off a fight
    • Constantly insulting you, shaming you, and/or putting you down
    • Holding you hostage to her emotional state (fights don't end until you've said whatever she wants to hear)
    • Physically harming you
    • Physically harming/destroying inanimate objects
    • Threatening to kill herself if you leave
    • Isolating you from outside support systems (e.g., therapy)
    • Claiming she "didn't mean" the abuse and will "do better"
    • Claiming/implying that she has the right to force you to stay in the relationship against your will
    • Being extra kind and attentive after a fight (part of the cycle of abuse, in which an abuser attempts to placate their victim)

    She is currently abusing you. If she isn't abusing your toddler yet, she likely will. And of course, seeing one parent abuse the other is not good for kids.

    I think you should trust your instincts.

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    HeraldSHeraldS Registered User regular
    Yeah, that's abuse homie. Get out now, and take your kid with you (legally of course). Good luck and godspeed.

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    CambiataCambiata Commander Shepard The likes of which even GAWD has never seenRegistered User regular
    Everything that Calica said. She's manipulating you to make everything in this relationship about you constantly placating her to get her to her "good" moments, and even reasonable (and perfectly honest!) steps you take to protect yourself she treats as a "breach in trust" and "lying." This is all very, very wrong, even before we get to the threatening to kill herself to keep you in the relationship.

    Textbook abuse.

    Peace to fashion police, I wear my heart
    On my sleeve, let the runway start
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    CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    She sounds very Borderline Personality Disorder to me.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borderline_personality_disorder

    Don’t take this as medical advice. I’m not a doctor.

    Definitely get divorced and keep a record of the abuse so you get custody if you want it.

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    HappylilElfHappylilElf Registered User regular
    I can't say 100% because both sides etc etc

    But assuming everything you wrote is true, and I do, what Calica said is accurate, what HeraldS is accurate, what Cambiata said is accurate, and CelestialBadger is probably on point as well.

    Is it possible she gets the help she needs and things get better? I... probably not but it's theoretically possible.

    But until then I can't find any reason to argue that getting yourself and more importantly the tiny human out of that situation is absolutely the thing that needs to happen.

    My sympathies, this is not a situation I would ever want anyone to face :(

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    ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator Mod Emeritus
    I'm going to preface this by saying that no matter what else happens next you should start seeing a therapist again. Doesn't have to be the same therapist, but you should have one that you see because this seems like the kind of situation that could put you in need of one at a moment's notice. I'm going to make some assumptions here, please feel free to correct any and all, or not if you'd rather.

    - You are male
    - You are financially independent or capable of being so
    - You believe in your heart of hearts that she is safe physically and psychologically for the kid to live with and you don't want full custody
    - You can't think of what "repairing the relationship" looks like for you

    If you're looking for whether or not I think you should end your relationship in the context of your relationship alone, then yes, in my opinion you should absolutely do that without some pretty big concessions about her going back for help and you actually really wanting to stay. Those things are all terrible to have to live with, and I think if someone else was telling it to you then you would understand how bad all this sounds so I'm not going to dwell on it.

    I don't know what state you live in and I'm certainly not a lawyer, but I do think you need to talk to a lawyer who is experienced with family law and handling custody issues. They can hopefully tell you what you will need to have or show to get the kind of custody arrangement you're looking to make, and the best route to take with all this to get there. You don't need to go into your feelings about your child if you don't want to, but you should have a pretty good idea of what you want when you go in to speak with the lawyer. She's the mom, depending on where you are and your situation she'll have less of an uphill battle to get the kind of agreement she wants.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
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    zepherinzepherin Russian warship, go fuck yourself Registered User regular
    edited August 2020
    And while I think this relationship is toxic and you should extract yourself from it, this is going to be an ugly ugly divorce. Prepare for her working to turn your friends against you, prepare for her calling your work/showing up at your trying to get you fired (make you economically dependent on her). And it’s just a convo with your friends and boss. “Hey I’m thinking of leaving Karen, she may be petty and call trying to turn you against me/get me fired. Just giving you a heads up.”

    Lower your deductible for your car/get full coverage after you move, because it will get vandalized.

    And once you start the process you can’t stop, even when it gets real bad. Because when you try again it will get even worst, because they know if they go far enough you’ll give in.

    I’ve helped a couple friends leave abusive relationships before, and 100% of their cars were vandalized. Also on that note. Set up custody pick ups at your old house or the police station, DO NOT DO THEM AT YOUR NEW PLACE. They are much more likely to start a nasty fight in front of your neighbors than theirs.

    zepherin on
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    GnizmoGnizmo Registered User regular
    So a lot of what I can think to say has been said. So I want to add to it the one element that is the most important in my experience. What do YOU want? That is the ultimate deciding factor here. It doesn't make you a coward, weak, or anything else inherently flawed to want to stay. That is part of the cycle of abuse. It inherently works to rob you have your power, and ability to trust your own judgment.

    You know better than any of us ever could hope to know what is going on in your day to day life. All we can know is what you tell us. I encourage you to go build a strong support network that will care and love you through this whatever your decision is in the end. And it is YOUR decision. You have the power regardless of how it might feel right now. Anyone who would dare judge you for it is being an asshole.

    A good therapist will be there with you through this journey 100% supporting you in what you feel is right. Good friends will do the same. Stay connected and stay safe.

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