I’m Thinking of Leaving My Husband

Victorian glass negatives... lost Scotland by Dawn Parsonage - Woman at windowWriting recently for the Guardian, Adam Price has noted:

“Unionism’s Better Together line carries with it the not-so-subtle subtext of a married couple pondering the upheavals of divorce. Of course, unless there are four people in this marriage – a domestic arrangement that not even the most liberal Cameroon would sanction – then that relegates those of us in the rest of the UK to junior partners, hapless children cowering upstairs as the crockery of state is smashed to smithereens. Presumably London will sue for custody, though we’re not quite sure.”

Thinking along the same lines, and confusing us with some sort of Agony Aunt, Scotia
writes:

Dear Bella

I hope you and your readers can help me at a difficult time in my life. I’ve been married for what feels like centuries, and now I am thinking of leaving my husband.

He’s much bigger than me and sometimes I feel swamped, or threatened or simply taken for granted and ignored. I’ve changed and grown and now want different things; but he’s changed too. He used to me more caring but I don’t like the new friends that he brings home – they’re all rich and selfish and I think they secretly despise me for my working class roots that I’m still proud of.

We’ve drifted more and more apart over time and now I feel there’s very little holding us together.

My friend Alex has been telling me for years that I should leave, but it’s pretty clear he wants me for himself. He’s full of happy promises of better times and holidays, but I’m not so sure he’s right for me. My other friend Patrick doesn’t tell me what to think, but asks me what I want from life – and that’s quite hard when you’ve been so undervalued all these years.

I thought I had some other friends, but it turns out they were more his friends and they’re taking his side in all of this. Ruth, Joanne and Alistair especially are always moaning at me and I end up feeling weak, confused and stupid; and they make me feel it must be my fault that the marriage isn’t working, and that just makes it worse.

I am really torn. Part of me just wants to leave him, make a clean break and we’ll work out how to bring the kids up…though some of them have left home already (one’s a nurse and one’s a teacher) and the others would do fine, I’m sure. Even my ‘used to be’ friends admit I could afford it on my own, and my divorced friends are mostly doing fine.

But other times I feel I should stay…I think of all the things we used to do, the times we traveled the world together, though nowadays he only seems to drag me to some fight he’s got us into.

And just when I think I’ll definitely leave him, he does those eyes and promises he’ll change and it will all be different from now on honest…but he’s said that lots of times before and nothing’s changed, though I’m almost fooled and then I hate him and I hate myself for being fooled

He’s put a shed up in my part of the garden for his guns, even though I’ve told him I don’t want them here.…and he’s been stealing things from the house and selling them to his rich friends – the other day I found he’d even sold my Grandad’s stamp albums I was looking after for the kids. Some time ago, he forced me to clear one of the kids out and she had to go abroad. He filled her room with woolly parasites that ruined the carpet. I don’t trust him any more around the home and with the kids, and he just ignores our parents.

It was a forced marriage. I’d invested badly and lost a lot of money. I allowed myself to be convinced by a bunch of rogues that getting hitched to the man next door was a good idea.

For a while it worked out. But although he had a bit of money, he wasn’t very organised. So guess who ended up running the house, managing the money, planning all the foreign trips and doing all the thinking? I was quite inventive!

Was he satisfied? No – with him, it’s always take, take, take; even when I’m the one with the well-paid job. I feel he resents everything I’ve done for us and he hardly pays me any attention except when he wants something. Doesn’t he know I’ve got NEEDS?

Sure he’s here when it suits him, but I’ve been doing more and more to look after things myself – and d’you know what? Turns out I am good at it and now I just want him to butt out and stop interfering and let me get on with life.

Now he’s getting all his big and scary friends to say I’m rubbish and they won’t be nice to me if I leave him. But that just makes me more sure that I want away from what HE calls a relationship and find a different way of living where it’s not about power and threatening behaviour.

His moany ‘so-called’ friends won’t give me any useful advice about how to make things better. They just try to scare me into staying but we all know things just can’t go on like this. Even if I did stay, I’d want changes but I don’t see any effort on his part to even think about it.

Would it be enough for us to have separate bedrooms or split the bills perhaps? But he’d still be there in the kitchen; demanding dinner, leaving crumbs and dirty boots for guess who to clean up. I know deep down he’ll never change, and that I need to be strong, but part of me still loves him and hopes that we can be the way we were.

It’s all so difficult. I want to be strong and do the right thing for me and for the kids and I don’t want to hurt anyone.

I am in your hands,

Scotia

Dear Scotia

You are not alone! As you say yourself – if you look around, you’ll see many of your friends are divorced and most of them are thriving and have got their energy and independence back.

And you will not be friendless! You’ve seen how he throws his weight about and upsets everyone – many of your neighbours would be delighted to have you as a friend and they would make you very welcome in their club!

You could do all the things you’ve wanted to for years. You could throw the woolies out and use that room again for living in. You could tell him to take his guns out of your garden. You have your own independent income and can use it on the things that YOU want, not the things he makes you spend it on. And you’d no longer get dragged into his horrid pointless arguments.

I think you’re right to be cautious about this other man. He’s obviously very keen on you, but you have options and you might not want to rush straightaway into another relationship with someone who thinks he knows what’s best for you.

Look around and speak to your other friends who are interested in what’s right for YOU. There’s no rush – you’ll be a very wealthy woman so why not spend some time being single again and enjoying your freedom while you work out what you really want!

The future’s always scary – but it’s also exciting. It is very common for people who’ve been in a bad relationship to doubt themselves and to over-worry all the ‘what ifs’…

Ask yourself: Are you happy being scared of what he might do to you? Think of what you could achieve if you didn’t have to worry about pleasing him all the time.

You’ve already found out who your true friends are, and there are many more, waiting there to help you stand up for yourself. You are very capable and you know you are. And you may find you like ‘him’ more if you’re NOT married to him!

I can’t recommend you to stay or to leave, but I do recommend you to think hard about what’s best for YOU and those you care for; and then you’ll know what to do.

And now I invite our readers to offer their suggestion about what is best for you, dear Scotia.

Comments (10)

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  1. Excellent piece! Many women will relate to this! They may know that the situation isn’t THAT bad but it’s not great. They can see all around them that others are suffering more than them, so what’s to do. Do you take the bold step into the unknown or do you stick with the (kind of) safer, one who has been there for years….who keeps telling you constantly that he’ll look after you, he knows what’s best for you. He frightens you with stories that you’ll be skint, you’ll never survive without him? Talk to your friends. Some may hold back….but you may hear from them afterwards that you’ve made the right decision once you’ve gone. Others may tell you bluntly to get out right now..and ask why you’re still there. You’ll be able to make decisions that will suit YOUR lifestyle…not HIS! You’ll be able to flourish and be yourself. You can go places and do things that you never thought possible…..without having to ask or being told that you can’t..It will be your decision for once! Start thinking YES I CAN! VOTE YES!

  2. Brilliant take,i was already convinced,but how about sending it the papers “agony aunts?”

  3. Yes Scotia! You will be better together as rwo independent and EQUAL persons. You’ll be able to share voluntarily, by negotiation, what’s good for both of you. Sure he will try to strong-arm you and he’ll keep threatening you if you don’t give him his way; he’ll try to interfere with your shopping for groceries, clothes and other goods; he’ll try to prevent you selling the products you make in your kitchen, grow in your garden, and manufacture from your cattle and sheep. He did it before to force you into the marriage. He even got an army of his bairns to gang up at your front door in case you wouldn’ sign the register.Though the vast majority of your extended family were against it, your ma and pa were all for it because they were afraid of his gang, and because of the bride price he paid them, They even signed the register for you! You do have friends, and will have friends who believe in you. The y know your integrity, your strength, your skill and the quality of your products. He’s telling you that “ye canae dae it”. But you ken ye c’n dae it. Just have confidence in face of his barrage of threats, and put downs, designed to undermine your confidence in yourself. Say YES to taking responsibility for yourself, to do a right thing; a thing that really is best for both of you. Say NO to co-dependence. Say YES to a mutually beneficial relationship. Say YES to friendship with him.

    1. Bill Malloy says:

      Dear Scotia

      Dont be stupid, leave him, you’ll be much better on your own, and your children and their childrens children will be so much better off.

      You cant stay friends with someone you dont like! Thats stupid..

  4. BillfaeDenny says:

    Dear Bella,
    I am deeply touched by the plight of poor Scotia. How she has suffered over the years in this unequal relationship. Why has she put up with his domineering for so long?
    On every decision that concerned her bairns she was outvoted 12 to 1 by her selfish partner who squandered much of her dowry on his wealthy friends and grandiose schemes, unconcerned as 1 in 4 of the weans languished in poverty as a consequence.
    He’s had his chances and doesn’t look like he is ever going to acknowledge any wrongdoing or the need to improve the way he treats you . Scotia you have been a loyal and devoted wife to this bullying wastrel and have no reason to feel any guilt. Have the confidence to walk away when you can before it’s too late, stay and things will only get worse. You need not fear, better times await you and the bairns.

  5. R Ross says:

    The Better Together divorce analogy appears to be based on the premise that within this version of marriage the male is England and the weak, helpless little female is Scotland who needs a big strong man to look after her. A divorce would be a scary leap into uncertainty.

    This BT version of marriage is closer to the mediaeval situation where the wife became the property of her husband,than to the present day reality where marriage is a union of two equals. Times have changed, and now while one partner may be bigger, stronger and richer than the other, they are equal in the eyes of the marriage contract. The union is one of equality Thus, I conclude that the Better Together understanding of ‘union’ is flawed.

    I do not see self determination as ‘separation’, because it is a natural state for a country to enjoy. But I can see an independent Scotland engaging with its neighbour, England, in various forms of co-operation or ‘union’ which are based on mutual regard and respect and where each partner in the contract brings their distinct gifts towards a common cause.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      It’s a fair point,the analogy is problematic, and could play into the hands of seeing ourselves as less powerful.

      1. wanvote says:

        Agree, Bella and often wonder why a country is usually depicted as being female or in fact an individual person at all !

  6. Fay Kennedy says:

    Yes great analogy using a lousy marriage. And from personal experience it is the most empowering thing an individual woman can do even though it is very very hard the rewards just keep unfolding for there is nothing more liberating than respect for self and others which comes through not following the same old pathways but taking the risk of change. Just imagine if the human race had always followed the same old worn out pathways? The young need a chance at a new Scotland and I hope that those who have closed their minds to change move over and give them what is their birth right. Hail Caledonia.

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