Trapped in an Unhappy Relationship?

by

Woman Confined Behind a Chain-Link FenceDo you feel trapped in a relationship you can’t leave? Of course, feeling trapped is a state of mind. No one needs consent to leave a relationship. Millions of people stay in unhappy relationships that range from empty to abusive for lots of reasons, but feeling trapped often stems from unconscious fears.

People give many explanations for staying, ranging from caring for young children to caring for a sick mate. One man was too afraid and guilt-ridden to leave his ill wife (11 years his senior). His ambivalence made him so distressed, he died before she did! Money binds couples who believe they can’t afford to separate. Yet, couples with more means may cling to a comfortable lifestyle, while their marriage dissembles into a business arrangement.

Homemakers fear being self-supporting or single moms, and breadwinners dread paying support and seeing their assets divided. Often spouses fear feeling shame for leaving a “failed” marriage. Some even worry their spouse may harm him or herself. Emotionally or physically battered women may stay out of fear of abuse and retaliation should they leave. Their self-esteem and confidence have eroded in the relationship, and the threat of abuse increases close to separations. Most people tell themselves, “The grass isn’t any greener,” believe they’re too old to find love again and imagine nightmarish online dating scenarios. Less so today, some cultures still stigmatize divorce. Yet, there are deeper fears.

Unconscious Fear

Despite the abundance of reasons, many of which are realistic, there are deeper, unconscious ones that keep people trapped – usually fears of separation and loneliness that they want to avoid. Often in longer relationships, spouses don’t develop individual activities or support networks other than their mate. In the past, an extended family used to serve that function. Whereas women tend to have girlfriends in whom they confide and are usually closer with their parents, traditionally, men focus on work, but disregard their emotional needs and rely exclusively on their wife for support. Yet, both men and women often neglect developing individual interests. Some codependent women give up their friends, hobbies, and activities and adopt those of their male companions. The combined effect of this adds to fears of loneliness and isolation people that they envisage being on their own.

For spouses married a number of years, their identity and role may be as a “husband” or “wife” – a “provider” or “homemaker.” The loneliness experienced upon divorce is tinged with feeling lost. It’s an identity crisis. This also may be significant for a noncustodial parent, for whom parenting is a major source of self-esteem.

Some people have never lived alone. They left home or their college roommate for marriage or romantic partners. The relationship helped them leave home – physically. Yet, they’ve never completed the developmental milestone of “leaving home” psychologically, meaning becoming an autonomous adult. They are as tied to their mate as they once were to their parents. Going through divorce or breakup brings with it all of the unfinished work of becoming an independent “adult.” Fears about leaving their spouse and children may be reiterations of the fears and guilt that they would have had upon separating from their parents, which were avoided by quickly getting into a relationship or marriage. Guilt about leaving a spouse may be due to the fact that their parents didn’t appropriately encourage emotional separation. Although the negative impact of divorce upon children is real, their worries may also be projections of fears for themselves. This is compounded if they suffered from their parents’ divorce.

Denial

Denial of problems, including addiction, is another reason why people can get stuck in a relationship. They may rationalize, minimize, or excuse their partner’s behavior and cling to hope or occasional “good times” or expressions of love. They believe broken promises and hope things will improve . . . “if only” often, denying their own pain, which might motivate them to get help and change.

Lack of Autonomy

Autonomy implies being an emotionally secure, separate, and independent person. The lack of autonomy not only makes separation difficult, but it naturally also makes people more dependent upon their partner. The consequence is that people feel trapped or “on the fence” and racked with ambivalence. On one hand, they crave freedom and independence; on the other hand, they want the security of a relationship – even a bad one. Autonomy doesn’t mean you don’t need others, but in fact, allows you to experience healthy dependence on others without the fear of suffocation. Examples of psychological autonomy include:

  1. You don’t feel lost and empty when you’re alone.
  2. You don’t feel responsible for others’ feelings and actions.
  3. You don’t take things personally.
  4. You can make decisions on your own.
  5. You have your own opinions and values and aren’t easily suggestible.
  6. You can initiate and do things on your own.
  7. You can say “no” and ask for space.
  8. You have your own friends.

Often, it’s this lack of autonomy that makes people unhappy in relationships or unable to commit. Because they can’t leave, they fear getting close. They’re afraid of even more dependence – of losing themselves completely. They may people-please or sacrifice their needs, interests, and friends, and then build resentments toward their partner.

A Way Out

The way out may not require leaving the relationship. Freedom is an inside job. Develop a support system and become more independent and assertive. Take responsibility for your happiness by developing your passions instead of focusing on the relationship. Perhaps you’re unsure and need help in asking for the changes that you want. Leaving is voicing a big “NO.” Practice setting smaller boundaries to build your confidence, especially if you’re with someone abusive. (If your partner is highly defensive, see Dealing with a Narcissist Learn to be assertive in my ebook, How to Speak Your Mind – Become Assertive and Set Limits. If you feel guilty leaving, see my e-workbook, Freedom from Guilt.

©Darlene Lancer 2013

 

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francesca
francesca
3 years ago

hi
i have been with my boyfriend for 3 years and now i can t have sex with him. he is a good person, he loves me and taught me how to be in a healthy relationship, he helps me and care but i feel so bad i don t enjoy sex with him i text other guys and feel so guilty. i care of him a lot but i don t know what to do.

Cj
Cj
3 years ago

I’m extremely unhappy with my marriage and I’m totally trapped. I was married before for 8 years to a cheating spouse who ruined my credit and messed up my home so bad the kids and I were made homeless. It was done out of spite for leaving him. Fast forward to now I have overcome homelessness, illness and a major job loss. I was trapped living with a relative who has always been abusive after being homeless with the kids. I’ve spent 4 years enduring hell to ease into a relationship with a man in another country. I lost everything… Read more »

Chris
Chris
5 years ago

I have read the article and I have finally found something I can relate to. I met my wife 24 years ago, we were very young. 2 years later, we bought a house together, then 2 years after that, we were married. Children never came and we have been through many emotional episodes. 9 years ago, I met someone else, but was afraid to leave. I guess I am conditioned. Now, I feel it’s too late and I regret not doing something earlier. I want my life to change. I would love to be a father, but I feel that… Read more »

Kartik
Kartik
5 years ago

Hi Darlene Lancer, I married on very small age now I am 28 year and from starting I dont like that girl but my family and her family forcing me too much accept her and live together, All are very emotionally telling me for future and family relationship and reputation. I am on very emotional stage now. I tried many time for accept that girl I cant I am completely not feeling with her and i feel like when I will leave this place. now I told already both family’s people but no body ready for understand. Kindly please guide… Read more »

mia
mia
5 years ago

I have a history of coodependant relationships. since i was little. after several hurtful outcomes i decided to keep people at arms length. i can only do intimacy for a small amount of time. i got married to a very loving man 2 years ago and in that time i havent been able to be myself. i have been cylcing between: really wantin to give him love, trying too hard, forcing myself, feeling stifled, hating myself, using masks, putting up barriers and feeling anxious and wanting to run. Its getting worse ive tried to become more independant, journal, understand but… Read more »

Mara
Mara
6 years ago

I found your site one day and kept reading and realized that i fit the description of codependent. My upbringing was one of a shaming father. I have been married over 25 years & have been in marriage therapy twice, this most recenr for a year & a half. I’m realizing i need to change the way i respond. I can’t change someone else. I am unhappy in the marriage but don’t feel i could leave. I long for my independence I married someone 23 yrs my senior so now im married to a parent. I want to be on… Read more »

Harold
Harold
6 years ago

Hello. I just got 21 years old. Studying my first year. I have been in a relationship since I was 16 and I was madly in love and could not even think of losing her. The last 1-2 years I have more and more thought of other girls and all my possibilities. Together with my gf I have evolved with better clothing and I am not at all afraid of talking to girls anymore: I do also know much of girls try to flirt with me and find me desirable. At the same time I know that my gf is… Read more »

abhishek
abhishek
6 years ago

Hi, I am 28 years old & working as a Computer Engineer ,i am married before 4 years very soon when i was on 24 due to my parents force to marry. and have a son 3 years.my wife always point finger that i have an affair from day 1 of marriage.i tried to understand her like an child but she is not getting.we always fight by mouth i am unhappy with her.No one is in my life after marriage but she is not getting.due to this i am not able to concentrate on my future.i am very upset. i… Read more »

Becky
Becky
6 years ago

Hi everyone Just wanting a bit of advice. I am 22 and have been with my boyfriend for 5 years, but sadly I have fallen out of love with him. He has anger issues and deals with anger by smashing things and shouting and screaming, although he has never been violent to me, I am scared to try and stop him or even defend myself in an argument because he ends up ruining our things. I have wanted to leave him so many times but he currently lives with me and my mum and has refused to go. The main… Read more »

lostandfound
lostandfound
6 years ago

Hello, I am writing because I am at a loss. I am 32 years old and have two children. My wife is the same age as I am. We have been married for six years. To start I love my wife. I have a deep sense of desire for her and would do just about anything to make her happy. My wife has this guy she has known since she was in her early 20’s. In the beginning of our relationship before we were serious she sent a few pictures to him when she was drunk. I found out and… Read more »

Neha
Neha
6 years ago

Hi, I am Neha from India. India as you all might know is a country rich in culture and tradition. Arranged marriages happens to be a very integral part of this culture. I am 27 years old and got married in January this year. Like many other marriages mine is also an arranged one. I was working in Mumbai until November 2013. But I had to leave my work because I was getting married. OK so let me start from the start. August 2013, my parents arranged for me to meet this man, who I am now married to. After… Read more »

Gary
Gary
6 years ago

I have been married for almost 6 years. When we got married Her mother was living with her but had not planned on staying and, unfortunately got sick with bone cancer. So, we bought a house together and moved her and her then 29 year old son in with us. Trouble started soon after as I didn’t realize what an addict and thief her son was. He was rude, disrespectful and quite frankly not someone I would’ve ever had any association with had it not been for his mother. Finally after about a year and a half I threw him… Read more »

christal
christal
6 years ago

What a helpful article and comments! I’ve been married two years, together for three. It was a quick courting time (two months) before being asked to marry. After saying yes, I moved in three months later, given the ring two months after that, married six months after that. The entire experience was terrifying as the emotional/verbal abuse began at the three month mark of the relationship. I was so perplexed, scared, confused, and lost that I somewhat froze. I left twice and at both times came back after he had a revelation and changed. He did change and he continues… Read more »

Maki Pupov
Maki Pupov
6 years ago

Some people may read my story and not think much of it, however this experience has really struck me and I have found myself emotionally destroyed. I have left the guy because I realised I was involved in a vicious cycle which was ruining every other aspect of my life; however it does not make it any easier. I’m a 24 year old woman who has had several relationships and have managed to recover from each one just fine. This one however, is really burdening me and making me withdrawn and distraught. My ex from the very first beginning was… Read more »

Me
Me
7 years ago

I’ve been in my relationship for 15 years and we have 4 kids. 12 months ago I found out I had an STI and when I confronted him, he denied it and to this day has not admitted. Over the last 12 months there has been turmoil and the relationship suffered. I also fell pregnant with our 4th child who has since been born. I decided to forgive him BUT, since it is now the anniversary of finding out about the STI all the memories are flooding in and I’m not coping. In fact, I’m in pain every day but… Read more »

annonymouse
annonymouse
7 years ago

Hi there, My common law husband and I have lived together for 5 years. we were both married and had children with other people before. I am frustrated and angry, depressed and afraid. This relationship has been so hard. A lot of stress and difficulties. He has an anger problem and I’m always trying to just be happy in spite of it. I’m going crazy. I’ve lost my joy and spark for life. My son’s grew up and moved away about the time we got together and I am having trouble finding me. Who am I now. What do I… Read more »

Manii
Manii
7 years ago

my boyfriend I love him, i wish to marry im but i’m not happy with him. I can’t bear the state he will be in if i leave him. We argue almost everyday. I cry at night sometimes while his sound asleep. we are two very different people. i had hope it would work out but it didn’t. I dont want to leave him but im not happy in this relationship, we have rare happy moments. he doesn’t see that im upset. i have tried to talk to him and tell him, he just thinks im going through mood swings… Read more »

Stephanie
Stephanie
7 years ago

This article and the 14 tips for letting go have both been very helpful. I am married to a man who has been diagnosed with “sex addiction” by a certified sex addiction therapist. My sister who is also a therapist disagrees with the diagnosis and says that he has BPD and NPD. He has had more affairs than he can count. Once I found out he started drinking and is now a functioning alcoholic. He has wrecked two cars and has had one DUI. I am beyond miserable because he has become so severely depressed. He says that he just… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
7 years ago
Reply to  Stephanie

What I hear is that you’re putting your husband’s needs and feelings ahead of your own, which you’ve likely done throughout your marriage. (Narcissists expect this – and the two diagnoses don’t conflict, but nicely dovetail). Where’s your empathy for yourself? He’s broken your trust and doesn’t deserve more sacrifice from you. Moreover, you cannot help him. There is help for depression: medication; help for drinking; A.A.; help for sex addiction: S.A, and help for him in therapy. None of this is your role. You’ve become an enabler by not asserting yourself. If you haven’t already, start Al-Anon meetings, find… Read more »

Shana
Shana
7 years ago

I am in one of those unfortunate situations that many people are in. I am 50 years old and stuck in a marriage because house is upside down. Husband has been sober for 3 years now and unfortunately there’s still nothing there. I do not live him and want out. I am intrigued by the concept of autonomy and continuing to detach myself from his behaviors that repulse me still. I am going to try and wait a few years until my son finishes school. Don’t want to ruin my credit at this age with foreclosures or bankruptcies. Any recommendations?

Darlene Lancer, MFT
7 years ago
Reply to  Shana

Sounds like you’re taking care of yourself. I’d only suggest you attend Al-Anon meetings. They can provide great support, understanding, hope, and direction.

anna
anna
7 years ago

I’m 24.my husband 28. my husband and I have a 5 year old daughter. we’ve been married since I was 19. together since I was 16. He was my first real boyfriend and I feel like I’ve invested so much of my life into this relationship and horrified at the thought that a divorce could have on my daughter. When I met my husband, I was in a very vulnerable state. I was being abused by my father, I was depressed and suicidal and he was there for me. At the beginning, he was or seemed like a very caring… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
7 years ago
Reply to  anna

There isn’t any reason why you should lose your daughter if you divorce. Courts want to protect what’s in her best interest. He’s escalating his anger and control, because he fears losing control. See my blog posts and for some ideas of how to talk to him. If you need help setting boundaries with him, get my ebook, How to Speak Your Mind. Couples counseling would be helpful, too. (See my blog, “Do We Need Couples Counseling?”) You can get additional support in CoDA.

Daniella
Daniella
7 years ago

I’m feeling the same. Been married for almost 25 years and dated for 7 before that. I feel like we’ve grown apart. He is complacent in the marriage. I’ve told him I’m unhappy and then he tries for a bit and then nothing. I feel he is not engaged in the relationship or the family. Our interests have also changed. I love young people and love to go dancing. He has joined the legion and is on a committee there. If I don’t plan something we never do anything. I went for counselling and he reluctantly agreed to come once… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
7 years ago
Reply to  Daniella

Your complaint is common. I hear a few themes – one that you feel the need to be alone, which is a natural reaction to the ongoing rejection you feel, and that you fear what others will say if you leave, which is shame. It doesn’t sound like you’re ready to leave, and when you are, the second issue may slip away. I sense a great sadness, too, in the loss of your partner, marriage, and parts of yourself. Taking some time for yourself is always a good idea, whether or not you want to leave. It can further your… Read more »

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago

My Fiance and I are having trouble getting along. We just recently moved in together and cant stop fighting over the littlest things it seems we’re not as compatible as we thought we were. We just bought a house together so breaking up is out of the question but we’re both so unhappy. Due to get married in April, I’m seriously having second thoughts about this relationship but love him to death. I cried when I went for my dress fitting because we had a fight prior to the meeting. I cried my first night in my new house because… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
7 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Hi Lynette, You don’t say how long you’ve dated, so I don’t know how well you know each other. True love takes time and is a process of accepting differences. On the other hand, you or he may be experiencing the issues of lost autonomy that are raised in this post. It often happens when couples move in together. Suddenly, one partner feel encroached or trapped, and arguments ensue. It’s a good time to work out these issues and talk openly about mutual needs for space and closeness. (See my article “The Relationship Duet” aka “The Dance of Intimacy). If… Read more »

Calla Lily
Calla Lily
7 years ago

This article completely captures where I am at right now in my life. I am a codependent who has been living my life for my husband of 11 years and now I have a 2 year old son as well. My husband is a recovering addict and chronic pain patient. I’ve detached from his issues, maybe too well? All I know is I am unhappy and feel suffocated by him now that he is fully, if not overly involved in the relationship. We are losing our house and money is a nightmare with just my income. I feel empty in… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
7 years ago
Reply to  Calla Lily

I hope you’re in Al-Anon. Talking with a sponsor and therapist can be a big support and help in making life changing decisions. It doesn’t sound like you’re ready to leave. Examine your fears one by one, grieve the death of your relationship and hopes and dreams, and that may help you. A relationship should be supportive. Sounds like yours is draining. Create a happy life for yourself, just as you would have to do if you were single. Have a life to go toward if you decide to leave.
Best of luck to you.

Anna
Anna
6 months ago

You mentioned in the article that there was a guy who died before his 11 year old senior partner. The few lines were truly sexist and as a reader, made me feel there was something terribly wrong with a woman being older than a man in a relationship. I myself am with a man who is 12 years younger. If men could choose to be with a woman who is 12 years younger n no eyebrows are raised, why was it a big issue in your article if a woman is older in a relationship?? Mentioning it in brackets meant… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
6 months ago
Reply to  Anna

There is no sexism here. That is your interpretation. The point was that he felt guilty leaving his ill wife and though he was much younger, he died first.

Sha
Sha
10 months ago

I have been in an unhappy marriage since I got married over 13 years ago. During my marriage I was taking care of an elderly parent and couldn’t handle all the things I needed to do to get out of it. That parent is gone and now I want out. We have nothing in common. We have no children, no friends in common. He has never wanted to have a married life only someone to be arround to cook and clean up. I am preparing for it right now. He has battled with health issues, but I just cant hang… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
10 months ago
Reply to  Sha

Do get some counseling for yourself if not both of you to either improve your marriage or move on. Attend CoDA meetings and find out what keeps you bonded to your unhappy marriage, now that you have no excuse to stay. Read my books and raise your self-esteem.

Kare
Kare
8 months ago
Reply to  Sha

I love my husband I have done everything for him I have 3 kids but he has never done anything for me. He works a lot. I work when he has days off. I have a ba degree but he refuses to work around me knowing I could make more $ Anyway we live pay check to pay check I take care of all the financial now because in the past he just sucked at it to the point we had no water or heat or electric he spent all my savings and ruined my car’s Everything he breaks I… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
8 months ago
Reply to  Kare

He needs you more than you need him. Atten Coda meetings, set boundaries, and overcome your codependency.

Unknown
Unknown
11 months ago

I have a complex problem My current GF of 4 years is very difficult to be with. She wants me to change to be something I am not she often starts arguments if I disagree. She has moved into my flat without my permission, sounds crazy I know I just kind of agreed as I felt bad and she was pressuring me to move in with her. I like my own space and time to myself but she does not appreciate this. She was abused as a child badly by her father and when we argue she often hits out… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
11 months ago
Reply to  Unknown

It’s really simple, not complex. You’re describing your codependent behavior and lack of assertiveness. Join CoDA, read Codependency for Dummies, my ebook and/or webinar on How to Be Assertive, and get counseling to free yourself from this pattern of pleasing and self-sacrifice.

Phillip
Phillip
1 year ago

2 bad marriages . Current marriage 17 years and its been hell. Cant wait to leave. Feel trapped and worst of all immigrated to Canada . she always threatens to starve me and kick me out of the house. She stole my money even signed agreement that she would pay me back , but she refuses to return my money. she is also having an affair. and always pays bills late as possible. I am unemployed in a new country and terrified. This woman is a psycho. I want to reurn to my country with as much of my belongings… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
Reply to  Phillip

The problem isn’t marriage but your codependency. Do attend online CoDA, and do the exercises in Codependency for Dummies.

Toya
Toya
1 year ago

I have been married for 5 years together for 10. We have 3 Children I am trapped. My husband and I don’t get along anymore at all. Everything he does irritates me and drives me insane. Recently he was out of his job and I had to put all of our bills and monthly cost on my credit cards so now I’m in debt really bad, all of our children’s medical bill are also in my name, my vehicle and all of our everyday monthly bills are in my name I’m in Debt up to my shoulders and I’m a… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
Reply to  Toya

Do attend online CoDA meetings, which are free. Try to get low-fee counseling in your area.

Muggs
Muggs
1 year ago

I’ve been in a relationship for 19 years. I owe everything to my partner, from career to my domicile. She is talented, creative, a perfectionist and extremely abusive. Verbal abuse is much too frequent for me to tolerate. And yet we have a network of mutual friends and also collaborate on teaching classes. Our lives are so intertwined that I can’t bring myself to quit the relationship out of a combination of guilt for all she’s done for me, and the severing of a whole social life. We’re rarely intimate. I feel very backed into a corner. I’m not looking… Read more »

Christina
Christina
1 year ago
Reply to  Muggs

You sound like me big I am a woman with a man I just have grown to not like .he is so negative and never compliments me. I am told I am a very attractive woman even at 60 people take me for late 40s and I love adventures and just laughter and silly things, am very childlike, and will never grow up as don’t want to! He is educated and just bloody dull and moaning most of the time. I say omg look at the beautiful sunset he says why? It’s just the sun !!! We are financially ok… Read more »

maria
maria
11 months ago
Reply to  Christina

I am in a similar situation, I have been with my dull guy for 5 long dull years. he is very much as you describe your partner. I cant find a way to break away and free myself. I too am very bubbly and love to laugh but he seems to suck the fun out of me….

Phillip Badboy
Phillip Badboy
1 year ago
Reply to  Muggs

I am in the same situation although we now have screaming matches, it is truly unbearable and she owes me money , she signed agreement on money loan but refuses to pay. I will have to take her to court to get my money back so I can leave the country. So many problems , I just need to leave. Enough is enough.

Aaron
Aaron
1 year ago

I’m in a relationship with a very nice good guy, I want away from. It makes no sense on the surface, and everyone tells me how I’ve finally found a good guy, but I’m not happy, mainly because I moved away from my hometown for him, thousands of miles away and I reset him for missing out on my friends and families lives. I can be away for a while, but I can’t imagine staying away from them forever. Yet if I stay with him, I will never end up back in my hometown till maybe retirement. I stay because… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
Reply to  Aaron

Things won’t change on their own, unless the relationship ends due to unhappiness. Instead, seek couples counseling to have an honest conversation about your feelings and needs and try to find a compromise. If not, accept your choice to stay, and make a happy life for yourself where you are. Use my books and ebooks to develop your self-esteem and assertiveness skills.

Christina
Christina
1 year ago
Reply to  Aaron

Totally get it I moved to the other side of the world. I love it but he has changed so much there is no laughter anymore and it was his sense of humour that made me fall for him. He has just turned into a negative contradictory Person we argue over stupid things that don’t matter he’s bitter and twisted. He is a good provider and for 20 years I did love him but we haven’t slept together for 8 years! He has nil interest in me. I am so miserable.

Berta
Berta
1 year ago

I’m trapped in a 19-year relationship with a very rude, passive-aggressive person who has no desire to do anything. I can’t leave because of our dogs – they love both of us so much and I couldn’t take them away from her, as she is wonderful to them. I can’t seem to get myself motivated to just become independent while in the relationship. All of my friends live out of state. I don’t have a support system. I never thought my life would end like this.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
Reply to  Berta

My guess is that the dogs aren’t the real reason, especially since you’re projecting sadness onto her. Join CoDA and start counseling for support and to move forward.

Christina
Christina
1 year ago
Reply to  Berta

Omg that is me we have 3 beautiful dogs and they love us both so much one in Particular loves him so much
I think I just will have a affair

Louise Richards
Louise Richards
1 year ago

I’ve been married for 31 years. Problems started with jealousy with his parents on the wedding night. My husband, i believe loved me then, I had my first daughter a year later, got postpartum depression, and I was 28, had been dealing with anxiety and I turned to alcohol, panic attacks since i was 12. He never understood what they were. he took away my lorazapan, so i turned to alcohol to calm myself down, only during anxiety attacks, otherwise I don’t drink. He changed then, and started getting mad at me.From then on, whatever set him off, he’d turn… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, LMFT

Seek counseling for the abuse and your anxiety and panic attacks, rather than use alcohol. Attend Coda meetings, and learn to set boundaries with your husband. Get my ebook and webinar on How to Speak Your Mind andHow to Be Assertive.

Jeff
Jeff
2 years ago

I continually find myself staying in unhappy relationships out of sheer guilt. I cannot stand the sight of a hurt woman. Tears reduce me to a useless heap. Is that normal?

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeff

No, it’s not. Seems like you care more about others than your own feelings and needs – typical of codependents. Attend CoDA meetings and get some counseling. Read “Codependency for Dummies.”

Elizabeth Nondo
Elizabeth Nondo
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeff

This is exactly me.

Emma
Emma
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff

Gosh. I’ve told my Husband of 11 years that things really aren’t working between us anymore and he acts as though he couldn’t care less. Hate is bad, but apathy is just soul destroying. He is so stoic it’s like he’s a robot. He doesn’t show a single emotion. He didn’t even cry at his Z Mother’s funeral and I know he lived her very much. I know some men find it hard to show emotion, but sometimes I wonder if he actually had any! I wish my Husband could be at least a little bit sad that things have… Read more »

Christina
Christina
1 year ago
Reply to  Emma

I know that feeling so much
Omg every one on here sounds like me we’re are you all from I just typed I can’t stand my husband and this popped up !!!!

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
Reply to  Christina

Maybe it’s time to stop focusing on your husband and to explore what keeps you there and unhappy and how you can make your life better. Happiness is an inside job! Read Codependency for Dummies and join CoDA.

Ricky
Ricky
2 years ago

Have been in a relationship for just over 5 years. Not married. We have 2 boys, one each. I’ve raised her son since he was six months and he knows me as his father. Since day one, I’ve have waited for her to change her ways. She doesn’t help with anything. I grocery shop, cook, clean, iron and do laundry, get the boys ready for school, teach them valuable lessons and how to work with their hands, as well as how to do everything i listed above. She always says she’ll change and start helping but never has. She lives… Read more »

ola
ola
2 years ago

Have being married for 7yrs now and it’s has being very difficult for me cos we never dated,we were connected by our families and since the wedding I realized that we had nothing in common.he is a good man but their isn’t the connection I think one needs to be in a marriage and I have told him so many times that if we weren’t married that I would have left him cos I have being so unhappy .we lack communication and I have tried all I can to get him to realise that we need to talk things out… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
2 years ago
Reply to  ola

Definitely see marriage counseling to improve communication. If your husband refuses, then go yourself.

werner booysen
werner booysen
2 years ago

I’m from south africa I’m a male but i think you two maybe just talk past each other in other words you miss communicate if you trust each other stay with each other. Everything will work out just fine but it will take time it’s not gonna be easy but its worth the wait.

Laura
Laura
2 years ago

I have been married for 15 years. I am not in love with him anymore. I work over 60 hours a week and he works 40 hours a week. I am also the one doing most of the parenting, cooking, cleaning. I feel a lot of resentment towards him because of how hard I have to work and how little effort he puts forth. I feel completely trapped and alone.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
2 years ago
Reply to  Laura

You need to be more assertive. Learn how in my ebook and webinar. Also, see my blog on passive-aggressive partners.

Erin
Erin
3 years ago

I feel trapped with my bf of 5 years. We have a young child and he has a child that lives with us. I live many states away from my family, and financially am unable to just walk out. I love my job here which also prevents me from leaving because if I left I would move back to my family’s state leaving my job behind. I’ve tried for about 2-3 years to talk it out and work on things but I feel he never does the work he needs to do for us to last. I don’t want to… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
3 years ago
Reply to  Erin

Find a therapist or clinic in your area and attend CoDA meetings. Also, speak to a lawyer regarding your support and custody.

francesca
francesca
3 years ago

hi
i have been with my boyfriend for 3 years and now i can t have sex with him. he is a good person, he loves me and taught me how to be in a healthy relationship, he helps me and care but i feel so bad i don t enjoy sex with him i text other guys and feel so guilty. i care of him a lot but i don t know what to do.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
3 years ago
Reply to  francesca

You don’t say why you don’t have sex with him. A frank conversation could change things in a positive way, rather than flirting with other guys and feeling guilty.

Cj
Cj
3 years ago

I’m extremely unhappy with my marriage and I’m totally trapped. I was married before for 8 years to a cheating spouse who ruined my credit and messed up my home so bad the kids and I were made homeless. It was done out of spite for leaving him. Fast forward to now I have overcome homelessness, illness and a major job loss. I was trapped living with a relative who has always been abusive after being homeless with the kids. I’ve spent 4 years enduring hell to ease into a relationship with a man in another country. I lost everything… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
3 years ago

What if there’s outside pressures? I’m trapped with an abuser because I am unable to afford to pay rent on my own and pay for my medical bills. I have investigated both public and private assistance and told I an ineligible because it’s not built for people with my problems. I work full-time but spend thousands every year paying for my medical care, and I have been told it will be several years before I’m considered experienced or educated enough to get a better job. I want to leave, but I don’t make enough to support myself and I have… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

You’re in a difficult situation, as many women and children worldwide. Learn to be assertive to change the dynamics in the relationship. If you’re being physically abused, contact the authorities. Read How to Speak Your Mind and webinar, How to Be Assertive – also Dealing with a Narcissist. Get counseling from a local, low fee clinic and attend CoDA meetings, which are free.

Katie m
Katie m
3 years ago

Me & my boyfriend have been together 4 years. He is 33 and I am 22. He lives with me and he has 2 kids. Last year he cheated on me, we stayed together and he was doing great as far as being loyal & regaining my trust. Now he is slowing going back to his old ways that he had before he cheated. Whenever I say something about it, he just says I’m nagging or being crazy. I’m so unhappy & have told him to leave a few times but he never does. I worry about his kids bc… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
3 years ago
Reply to  Katie m

You’re being emotionally abused. You need some outside support from a therapist and/or CoDA. Once you feel stronger in yourself, you won’t allow him to manipulate you and undermine your decision. When you tell him it’s over and to leave and mean it, he will.

Joan
Joan
3 years ago

What if just do not like the person anymore? We have nothing in common and I do not enjoy his company. We have never been friends. Shotgun wedding. Child is grown and gone. He is not a supportive person. I have no job and where we live it is too expensive to live alone. If I leave him he will loose the house and struggle too. I don’t want to destroy his life. Help.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
3 years ago
Reply to  Joan

You’re focused on reasons to stay, including putting your husband’s life before your own. If you really want to leave, attend CoDA and get counseling, including job counseling.

anonymous
anonymous
3 years ago

I have been with my girlfriend for 7 years now. We have a 5 and 2-year-old. I am finding it hard to get the courage to leave. Lately, she has been arguing with me about being lonely. After her dad passed away a year ago, she has been a depressed monster. She won’t work because she says she has a fear of talking to people now. We are falling behind on bills. I work a full-time job and a part time job as well. I am also a college student full time and can’t study because I am distracted by… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
3 years ago
Reply to  anonymous

She needs medical attention, and should be in a grief group and see a doctor or psychiatrist and get antidepressants so that she can function and not harm your children. You also need to learn to set boundaries. These are steps to take before leaving, which is a huge boundary, and why you’re unable to. See my ebook, How to Speak Your Mind and webinar, How to Be Assertive. Also, go to CoDA meetings.

Tina
Tina
3 years ago

Hi, I need someone to talk to. My husband was diagnosed with Asperger’s a year ago. I hoped once we had a reason for his behaviors that he would least try to control them. Instead it’s his go-to “excuse” and that’s it. I’m tired of walking on eggshells to keep him happy. Trying to talk about it just makes it much worse. I’ve learned to just keep my mouth shut & scream into a pillow later. He’s never hit me. Instead, he yells, throws things, slams doors. He used to punch holes in the walls but stopped once I bought… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
3 years ago
Reply to  Tina

You need to speak up and set boundaries, not keep your mouth shut. You can insist that he get treatment as a condition for staying. If he refuses, it’s his choice. Get counseling yourself, learn to set boundaries. Read my ebooks, How to Speak Your Mind</em>, and Dealing with a Narcissist: 8 Steps to Raise Self-Esteem and Set Limits with Difficult People. You can also watch my webinar, How to Be Assertive.

Sam
Sam
2 years ago
Reply to  Tina

I have aspergers/HFA too and do not behave like this, regardless of how angry or frustrated I get. Neither do any of the other adults I know with aspergers. Your husband is using his diagnosis as an excuse for behaviour that has nothing to do with autism. You are in an abusive relationship with a violent man who has zero desire to change. Yes, autism is a disability, but not one that justifies treating people like that. I am well aware of how my actions affect other people and would never act like that towards someone I cared about. I… Read more »

Kate
Kate
4 years ago

I’m having a hard time separating myself from my husband. He’s an alcoholic and can be very verbally abusive. Lately he’s been destroying doors in our home that have acted as a barrier between us. We have 2 children and they are starting to witness these volatile fights. The next day he always apologizes and proclaims his love to us. I don’t know why I can’t just leave. Our family lives in a different state so I can’t just go to family. I feel very alone.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 years ago
Reply to  Kate

There’s a lot you need to learn about alcoholism. You’re caught in the merry-go-round of denial. Attend Al-Anon and there are meetings for your children, as well. Read Codependency for Dummies. The first step to change is getting information and breaking your isolation.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
3 years ago

Listen to Robert!

Robert Gosselin
Robert Gosselin
3 years ago
Reply to  Kate

Go to Al Anon & speak with a councillor about how to protect your children from being exposed to this psychological trauma. Alcoholism is a family disease and the behaviour of the alcoholic affects ALL family members. Seek help for yourself & your children a.s.a.p. Also, stop covering for your husband e.g. excusing his behaviour or drinking to others; phoning work or seeking medical attention for him if he requires it. A practicing alcoholic is a self centred manipulator and is in denial of his/ her problem. Their promises are worthless. I know because I am one. Have been sober… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
3 years ago

Thank you!

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
3 years ago
Reply to  Kate

Please read “The Truth about Abusive Relationships,” go to CoDA, and get counseling right away. Violence escalates and the remorse cannot be relied upon, as I’m sure you’ve witnessed. You need help immediately. Have hotline numbers and for a shelter handy. Breaking doors is extremely violent.

emma
emma
4 years ago

Help! I feel so trapped. I am with a man who I never should have had kids with. we were fighting a lot..and the as if kids would make things better. they didn’t the only thing is that maybe I dont react to his incessant yelling and nagging by screaming back anymore. I just cant do that to my children. but even so they still hear how he raises his voice at me and they start screaming my one and two year olds..and everytime..i die a little more inside. part of me wants to fight. but after so many years… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 years ago
Reply to  emma

Get some therapy for yourself, and learn to set boundaries to STOP the abuse. He’s not passive; he’s aggressive! Go to CoDA meetings and read and do the exercises in my books on codependency and assertiveness.

Crystal
Crystal
4 years ago
Reply to  emma

This sound like my situation,after getting together from age 18,we now have a mortgage,2 kids and it will be 10yrs at the end of the month,I’m can now admit that i have fell out of love:( but often think will I just be lonely and tired all the time,feeling totally trapped,any advice would be very helpful.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 years ago
Reply to  Crystal

I understand your dilemma, but it’s not at all hopeless. You can do what it takes to get the love back into your marriage through effective marriage counseling with your husband.

Rosalia
Rosalia
3 years ago
Reply to  emma

im with my common law father of our two kids for over 10 years. i tried to leave him 3 times with kids but forced to come back to him every time. Im afraid to try again, i have no family or friends to turn to. its toxic, unhealthy, he depletes me

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
3 years ago
Reply to  Rosalia

It will be near impossible for you to leave without outside support. Learn all you can about codependency through reading my books and go to CoDA meetings. If you can, get individual counseling.

Joel
Joel
4 years ago

Hi, I’m desperate and miserable. I have packed my bags and feel I need to leaved but I’m also devastated. She is the sweetest and most caring person I have met, but.. I feel drained and exhausted. I can’t do anything or go anywhere by myself and if I demand to, I get heavily interrogated afterwards. Everytime I get a phone call or message she needs to know about it. She makes me promise to tell her if I talk to another girl at work. She has completely isolated me from my friends and if they try to make contact… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 years ago
Reply to  Joel

She has some major abandonment issues that predate your relationship. You can go to counseling together or insist she does. You appear to still love her, but may have to decide whether to leave to end the pain, or stay and have never ending pain.

Scott
Scott
4 years ago

I am so empty inside right now and completely shut down. Every time I do something that is outside of what she considers right in her eyes I am greeted with an extreme outburst of anger. I can’t even explain myself before it starts only after I come out of my depressive periods. I have started shutting down and feeling empty and each time it lasts longer. I love her, but right now I do not feel anything, love, hate, anger, happiness, sadness, just emptiness. I have a 13yr old step daughter and she is being used to make me… Read more »

So lost and despeate
So lost and despeate
4 years ago

We have a 3 y/o child between and live together. I’m the primary breadwinner and she does some part time work. We live comfortably, but she has an extremely troubling anger management issues. The smallest incident will become an explosive situation. It reminds a lot of my father. I’m mostly concerned for my little daughter as she is exposed to this toxic environment. I don’t know what to do. I can’t leave her as she has vowed to take my child and she has very little means to care fo herself or our daughter. I’m also in a 2-year lease.… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 years ago

You have a lot of options. First, you can talk to her when she’s calm about your concerns. You can work on your ability to be assertive and set boundaries by reading my ebook: How to Speak Your Mind: Become Assertive and Set Limits and my webinar, How to Be Assertive. If she is still very defensive, I suggest employing the special techniques recommended in Dealing with a Narcissist – 8 Steps to Raise Self-Esteem and Set Limits with Difficult People. At some point, you may ask her or insist that you go to conjoint counseling; failing that, go for… Read more »

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