CAROLINE WEST-MEADS: My husband has always been in control of my life
Q I have been married nearly 20 years – but for at least the past six I’ve not felt any love for my husband. He tells me he feels the same. However, we remain together as we have a ten-year-old son.
I feel that my husband has always been in control of my life and has made all the major decisions.
Initially I moved into a house that he owned and then, when he decided on a self-build project, he persisted even though I wasn’t keen and we moved without any reference to my wishes.
I have always contributed and worked continuously over the years, but he treats the house as his alone and has refused to add me to the mortgage or discuss anything financial to do with the house, apart from what he wanted me to contribute.
He doesn’t work – something I never agreed to – whereas I have to work full-time as the household bills are in my name. This is on top of being a mum to our son, with whom I’d love to spend more time.
Q I have been married nearly 20 years – but for at least the past six I’ve not felt any love for my husband. He tells me he feels the same. Stock image used
I even have to put him in childcare twice a week because my husband won’t help. I feel unfairly treated and want a divorce, but the house is in his name and he is unlikely to give me a share without a fight.
I know he would refuse to move out. I realise that I need legal advice but can’t face approaching a solicitor.
I also worry about how a divorce would affect our son – though I don’t want him to think the disharmony between us is how relationships are.
A Yes, you are being very unfairly treated. In fact, his behaviour could be considered financial abuse – where one partner controls the other through money.
There are so many red flags here, such as your husband appearing to be ‘in control of your life’ and refusing to share details of his finances with you – yet expecting you to contribute to the household income.
You are being forced to work when he clearly feels he doesn’t have to. His controlling behaviour is hugely concerning.
At the very least, it is deeply selfish for him to have pressed ahead with a building project against your wishes. Marriage should be about teamwork.
I understand your concerns about divorce affecting your son but staying together could be just as damaging. Children pick up on parents’ unhappiness.
It is because your husband has undermined you – and your self-esteem is low – that you don’t feel able to contact a solicitor.
So start with counselling to address this (relate.org.uk or bacp.co.uk, or contact your GP).
Once you feel stronger, there are two very good organisations that can help you.
Resolution.org.uk (a network of family lawyers) and Wikivorce – an award-winning social enterprise that provides free advice for people in your situation (divorce.wikivorce.com).
I CAN’T FACE A WEEKEND AWAY WITH THIS WOMAN
Q Our friends have invited us for a long weekend at their holiday home next month. I was looking forward to it, but they have now also invited another couple we know.
They are nice enough, but the wife is hard work. While she is well-meaning, she never stops talking. My husband and I usually only see them in small doses at events such as dinner parties. The prospect of spending a whole weekend with this second couple is very unappealing – and my husband is now refusing to go.
I can’t say I blame him because he has an incredibly demanding job and just needs to relax at the weekends.
However, it leaves me in a tricky position. He says he doesn’t mind if I go but would prefer I spend the weekend with him – as we get so little time together. I would feel so guilty letting my generous friend down.
Q Our friends have invited us for a long weekend at their holiday home next month. I was looking forward to it, but they have now also invited another couple we know. Stock image used
A In this situation you simply cannot please everyone.
I sense you would really rather be with your husband and it’s a shame that the weekend you were looking forward to has lost its appeal.
I suspect your friends may have felt obliged to invite the other couple but also couldn’t face them undiluted. It is difficult when people are essentially nice but, as in the case of the second couple’s wife, have no ‘off’ button or self-awareness of how much they dominate a conversation.
So I think, unfortunately, time with your husband might have to be sacrificed on the altar of duty for now, to avoid upsetting your friend.
Perhaps you could go for one night instead of two as a compromise – and take long baths or a pre-dinner nap when it gets too much! Promise your husband a weekend for just the two of you very soon.
If you have a problem, write to Caroline West-Meads at YOU, 9 Derry Street, London W8 5HY, or email [email protected]. You can follow Caroline on Twitter @Ask_Caroline_
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