Is She Right to Leave Him?

Q: My husband has cheated on me for years. Since I was brought up old school, I left him but always came back, hoping he would change. Our children are all grown up. My husband acts like he hates us. He never really interacts with the family but goes out and stays out all night. When I confront him, he just ignores me and continues to do whatever he wants. Now I have found out that he may have a sexually transmitted disease (I do not sleep with him - haven't for years). I think he knows he is sick but is angry at me for something that isn't my fault. I have never cheated or lied to him. I know that I have to leave because he won't, and I need peace of mind now and cannot continue living in a deceitful marriage. I hate to leave my home but really feel that I need to get my self-respect back. Everything in the house can be replaced. My question to you is am I right about getting out of this marriage? Some people tell me to stay because I may lose everything but now I feel that it's a chance I have to take. -- Gloria, 58

Dr. Susan: You are finally doing the right thing. First, see a lawyer because you might not have to give up your home and all your things just to be free of this user. But, as you say, most things can be replaced, and your self-respect is most precious of all. Now that your children are grown, what excuse other than inertia could there be to maintain this superficial shell of a marriage, when it's actually hollow?

You know it's time to let go, says Brenda Schaeffer in Is It Love Or Is It Addiction? (Hazelden, 2009, updated 3rd edition), when your intuition says so, you can't bring up problems without getting defensive reactions, or you stop feeling safe. That fits your case, I'd say. And then, suggests Schaeffer, find something you feel passionate about and do it, do something for others, get some physical exercise, and find yourself some support people. The friends who are telling you to stay with him might not be much help there. Life is just too short NOT to take this chance.

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