Dear Liz: I am desperate need of your advice. I am a 38 yr old mother of 2 (a boy and a girl) and have been in a difficult marriage for the past 17 years. I found out that my husband has been unfaithful to me for the past 5 years with a woman that already has a man in her life. I recently lost my job and have been very depressed over all of the chaos in my life. We live in a 3 bedroom apartment that is rent free because my husband works as a Superintendent, therefore the apartment actually belongs to him. I would like to get a divorce and move on with my life but I would have to be the one to move out. I don't have anywhere else to go with my children and the kids love our home. I don't want the kids to suffer because of our issues but I don't know how much longer I can tolerate my situation without having a nervous breakdown. So my question is: How can I move-on with my life without hurting our kids? Is it possible?
Bronx / NY
Hi –Thank you so much for sharing your story, I have to tell you it hurts to read this. I feel for you in such a big way. What a strong woman you are, to be able to endure your life at the moment. And don’t forget it is for “the moment.” Regardless of what you decide to do here, this will shift and change and honestly it will get better. You have your beautiful children and your concern for them shines though here in the letter. It is so difficult to imagine putting our children through any kind of suffering due to our own issues. Divorce is riddled with this consequence and presents such a struggle for so many.
How can you move on with your life without hurting your kids, I believe indeed it is possible to move on without hurting them. More importantly… you need to believe it.
I am sorry about the loss of your job, and would make it my first suggestion for you to do anything and everything possible to find another job. Maybe you have tried, but you must try harder. You must go at it like nothing you have done before, ask everyone you know, look in the paper, on the internet, do everything possible, even consider doing work you’ve never done, but you must find something as soon as possible.
With your life feeling so chaotic and overwhelming it ‘s my guess that some stability and sense of moving forward will come back to you if you’re able to become employed again. You will feel a sense of independence and strength and ultimately the beginnings of the freedom you so desperately desire.
Do you have any family or friends in your circle with whom you can confide and rely on if need? It is so important at a time like this. You need support. If you have lost touch, get back in touch. If they’re out of town call and share, and commiserate and build up your emotional strength.
I would suggest you plan to leave your husband, but you must set yourself up to be able to make it somewhat of a success for yourself and the children. The plan alone will help you to tolerate your daily life.
You have to be a warrior through this, what I mean is you will have to call on parts of yourself that are hidden inside you waiting to have to come out and take life on. Hard life is something you can handle you just have to know it’s going to test you, but it won’t beat you.
Your children…you hear it all the time but let me tell you it is true- they are capable of so much more than you think. They adjust quickly, and with less strain than we do. As long as their new environment has something that appeals to them at the onset. And as long as you are together and they can sense from you that the change is going to be a good one. They will follow your lead. If you believe in a new life, they will also! We think that change will devastate our kids, but in fact, it can be really healthy for them. Times are hard sometimes, they know that, now show them and yourself that you have the courage to do what you know is the right thing for all of you. Nothing great is ever easy. Remember that.
As the chaos you feel begins to overwhelm you, take charge of the things you can right now. Believe and hope that you can do more as times passes. Ultimately and with patience, YES you can do this. And if you believe it is the best thing for the kids, then it will be.
Great things for you and your life!