I have decided to end the relationship with my husband after 15 years of marriage. When I told the children, they were devastated, but I knew I had to hold my emotions back.

My husband said I had no feelings to just tell the children. He wanted me to tell them in detail, which I could not do. I told them I love them, both of us love them and always will, but we grew apart. In life we have dreams for the future and our dreams changed with time.

I know I’m to blame for walking out, but our relationship was not the best. I got married at 19 when I was three months pregnant. I stayed with my in-laws for four years. After that, we built a flat on their premises and stayed for 11 years. I hated every minute of it and hated the promises we would be moving away to be on our own.

My mother-in-law had her ways and I had mine. She loves our two daughters and I appreciate all she has done. But somewhere along the line I lost myself. We moved away, but two years later we were a happy big family again, living with my in-laws and my brother-in-law’s family.

I cannot take it anymore. My private life isn’t mine. My husband has always known the problem, but in the end, it doesn’t matter. I feel I’ve been divorced for years. He gives his parents everything they need, but what about me?

I decorate the house, paint, garden, and if you ask him to bore a hole in a wall, he hates every minute of it. So I do that as well. Why stay married if you don’t get anything in return, except for sex and movies with the children.

Even if he wanted to fix everything, I cannot because I don’t feel anything. He is one of the best fathers a child can ask for. I told him that. I even told the children they can live with their dad if they want to. My youngest, 10, wants one week with me, one week with her dad. The oldest, 15, won’t speak to me.

How can I approach her to make things less miserable?

~ Pamela

Pamela, you are so worn down you have no energy to make a graceful exit from your husband’s family and from your marriage. You have expended all your reserves. Now, there is nothing left.

You give your husband credit for being the greatest father in the world, when he is not a barely adequate husband. That doesn’t work. He does everything for his parents, but you are outside his circle of care and concern. He cannot be a perfect father, and at the same time, be indifferent to the relationship that should be at the center of his and your daughters’ lives.

Where was your chance to be the matriarch in your own family?

In this large garden, there was no place for you to be tended. You were encroached on by weeds, overtaken by vines, and all you can do, with your last bit of strength, is rip yourself out of there, roots and all, and hope to find a place to thrive.

Show your older daughter this letter. “I have had no place in this clan. I can’t take it anymore.” She won’t understand now, but if she is allowed to have a family of her own, she may.

Now is the time to tend to your own garden.

~ Wayne & Tamara

Column for the week of June 24, 2019

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