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

 

Share with friends
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

294 Comments
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Anna
Anna
8 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 you wanted people to know this, you would have probably left this detail out if it was a man instead!! Wouldnt consider the article an unbiased one.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
8 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
1 year 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 around to feel sorry for someone.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
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
10 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 have to fix it or it never will be fixe
If one of my cars break down he will take my car or threaten me he will not go to work and not pay the bills . I feel trap I have no money 3 kids

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
10 months ago
Reply to  Kare

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

Unknown
Unknown
1 year 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 at me she has hurt me a few times and police have been called but I still stay with her. I even tried to see other people get away from her but still, I am stuck with her

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
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 as possible and destroy any belongings of mine that I cannot take with me. I have learnt a very painful lesson never get married.

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 SAHM with no degree three young children and a husband that is emotionally draining and mentally abuses me constantly. I have no family here and his is not reliable.

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 for a way to salvage – just get out.

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 and should be enjoying life we live near the most beautiful beach, but he won’t go as sand. I can’t stand it but can’t see a way out.

maria
maria
1 year 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 I’m alone in this city and feel there’s something wrong me with to feel this way, so I struggle and wait and hope I will wake up feeling different.

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
2 years 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 on me, it was always my fault, even though, I had nothing to do with it.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
2 years ago

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
2 years 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 gotten so bad I just want out of our marriage. Hard for me, because I have a disability

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 like a pig. I left my job and I’m a full time father now & she works and goes out all night. I am worried she’ll take son away

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 no matter how uncomfortable it is cos that was the only way I think we could work but he told me that he isnt changing.feeling trapped and very sacred

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 give up but I’ve let so much go and forgave so much I feel he will always act this way because I will eventually let it go. But I just want to leave and feel trapped here with no support

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.

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 and gave the relationship a try. I relocated my whole family to Europe which I love. But I can’t stand him.

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 and gave the relationship a try. I relocated my whole family to Europe which I love. But I can’t stand him.

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 no one else to help. I contacted our local shelter and was told they couldn’t help me. What now?

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 he has nowhere else to go. I don’t know how to get him out & I don’t want to get the law involved. Everytime I try to breakup he always tries me to make me out 2 be the bad guy..

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
4 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
4 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
4 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 her yelling. I can’t go golfing with my only friend I’ve had since kindergarten. She says she wants to be happy and for me to leave.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 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
4 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 a house. I can’t stand my life anymore but what kind of person am I to want to leave a disabled person?!?!

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 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 would advise you to get out ASAP if you haven’t already, as he has other issues aside from aspergers.

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
4 years ago

Listen to Robert!

Robert Gosselin
Robert Gosselin
4 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 for 38 years. Take care of yourself & you children.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 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 . my self esteem is completely ablated. i no longer think i could find a better person whod want me?especially with 2 kids.im so depressed.

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
4 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
4 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 she goes mental and says no one cares about her. She blamed all this and much more on not feeling loved by me but I’ve done all I can.

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 feel even guiltier for shutting down. I was told to leave and now she is telling me to stay and get help for them.

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. I’m so lost and desperate that I feel like I’m drowning. Please help me

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 yourself to get support in changing how you handle her anger.

shruthi adithya
shruthi adithya
4 years ago

hi, i don’t know how to start it, am crying for help!!! I’m married since five months, i hate my husband totally. i am very loyal, honest and straight forward person. he broke his promises which he made before our marriage. i didn’t ask for much, i wish to pursue my higher education- he said okay. he is telling me that its not that important than family to educated urself, and he is letting me to be myself, he says that he hate my individual indifferences , he is not allowing me dress the way i want, and he always coming up with entirely a different idea for whatever i talk to him. am not happy. the worst part is am pregnant now. 🙁

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 years ago

He is very abusive and controlling, but you do not have to be controlled by him! Dress how you want and continue your education. Do the exercises in Codependency for Dummiesand in my ebooks How to Speak Your Mind – Become Assertive and Set Limits and the companion webinar, How to Be Assertive. Get the support from friends and family to possibly leave him because of the abuse. Read my blogs on abuse, and attend CoDA meetings. There are also phone and Internet meetings.

adithi
adithi
4 years ago

i am very happy, at least you could get my situation , but i need a better advice now….bcause am often controlled by suicidal thoughts nowadays, i just got married to make my parents happy, but the problem is i couldn’t be here anymore, i could clearly get one thing that is, “this is not my place and this is not the life i deserve” .am running mad, please help me.

Kim
Kim
3 years ago

Get out now because if you let him take care of you after you have the baby. Your going to feel like you have to have to be with him you can’t live without him. For the first year. And if he doesn’t care about you now having a baby will make him happy because it’s his kid. But in the end he’ll lose interest in you. And blame you for everything. And least that’s what I’m feeling after having a baby. Baby’s are really sweet but super needy trust me the baby will be the best thing in your life. But the hardest thing as well.

Nadia
Nadia
4 years ago

I have been married for 18 years and have five children. Our relationship is very unhealthy, he is narcissistic and very abusive, he has an extreme anger problem. I’m a homemaker and I know he is very revengeful and won’t take my leaving nicely. He will make sure I suffer in every way. He is dangerously jealous also. I feel so lost, have no support, no where to go. I’m 43 now and don’t want to wait till I’m too old and sick to leave. This is affecting my health and kids tremendously. I feel very depressed and desperate…

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 years ago
Reply to  Nadia

You need a good support system and knowledgeable lawyer to file, if necessary restraining orders and also get you alimnony and child support. Before you attempt to leave, go to CoDA meetings and learn to set boundaries with your husband. Start going to counseling and if necessary, get medication for depression; but when you start making changes and setting boundaries, you should feel less depressed. I urge you to do the exercises in my books on codependency and How to Speak Your Mind – Become Assertive and Set Limits and the companion webinar, How to Be Assertive. There are specific techniques when it comes to narcissists, as explained in Dealing with a Narcissist:8 Steps to Raise Self Esteem and Set Boundaries with Difficult People. It should help.

k553
k553
4 years ago

I have been in a 10 year relationship and want a break. My partner has broken my heart several times and I stopped fighting for him about a year ago. Everytime he tried to leave I never let him, telling him we would work things out. I now have had enough and want to leave him, I want to re-evaluate what I want from life and be independant, we are very dependent on one another. He now wont let me. He wants to work at the relationship but I dont have the strength or belief. He has realised that I am now worth figting for – why it took him 10 years I dont know. We have started Couselling but i just cant see the point.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 years ago
Reply to  k553

Trust is fragile, easily broken and hard to repair. See my blog “Rebuilding Trust. “You write he won’t let you leave, but no one can stop you. If you don’t think you can leave, this is your codependency you need to change, and perhaps why you stayed so long not getting what you deserve – believing you’re worth it. Start working on yourself!

Robert
Robert
4 years ago

I have been married for 25 years…….the last 14 or so of which have been technically sexless (10 times or less per year), and the last 8 of which have been totally without intimacy. I have tried several times to tell her how this is tearing me down, but she won’t hear any of it – not her problem – “I’m not responsible for your happiness.” Marital vows, perhaps? I’ve been suicidal (not now because I have found a burning reason to live – to GET OUT!)

Andy
Andy
4 years ago

Hello, About a year ago I found out my husband had been lying to me about the people he was spending time with and what they were doing. He broke my heart. To this day have never lied to him and I still have issues trusting him as he promises over and over again he will change, yet after a few weeks is right back to where we were a year ago. He has some health issues as well so I am the only income. I am unable to pay the bills on my own anymore. He knows this and yet still does not try to get a job. I no longer see a future with him but don’t know where to go from here.

Hopeless
Hopeless
4 years ago

I have been with my fiancé for 4 years now. We have a three year old daughter together as well. For the past year I have been feeling like maybe getting married is a bad idea. I’m not sure if he is what I want for my future. He is negative and manipulative as well as selfish and confrontational. I feel like I need to leave him but the idea of all of the work and leaving my comfort zone scares the crap out of me. We have a home (we rent and he is the only one on the lease), a joint bank account and a child. I wouldn’t even know where to start. And I’m to the point where I feel guilty for even thinking about leaving because of my daughter.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 years ago
Reply to  Hopeless

You’ll need support to make such a decision. Get counseling and attend http://www.coda.org meetings. Learn to be assertive and set boundaries to prepare and protect you and your daughter, and build a life beyond this relationship, should you decide to leave or marry. Get Codependency for Dummies and my ebook and webinar on assertiveness.

B
B
4 years ago
Reply to  Hopeless

HI, I been with my boyfriend for 11 years and I am in the same situation, he is sick and a alcoholic but he can work but he wont. I am so tired and so sad that I put my children through this. I am ready to leave but don’t know how either?

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 years ago
Reply to  B

Read my blog on “Living with an Addict.” If you’re unable to leave, you need support from a counselor and more importantly Al-Anon meetings. Do the exercises in Codependency for Dummies and work to build your self-esteem and ability to set boundaries and be assertive. By working for him, you’re enabling his disease.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 years ago
Reply to  B

Read my blog, “Living with an Addict.” If you’re unable to leave, you need support from a counselor and more importantly Al-Anon meetings. Do the exercises in Codependency for Dummies and work to build your self-esteem and ability to set boundaries and be assertive. By working for him, you’re enabling his disease.

Darren
Darren
5 years ago

Married for 13 years and have 2 great boys. 2 years ago I split from my wife. On the outside everything looked great. A nice home, nice cars and holidays. We split because we had grown apart. During the split I fell in love with another. However I kept going back to my wife to talk things through as she took it hard and I felt responsible. I told her about this new woman, but my wife wanted us to work things out. My boys were not talking to me as they were hurt. Eventually I broke down and decided to give things another go. We had counselling 2 years on im still not happy although family think I am but i am to scared to hurt them again.

Amy
Amy
4 years ago
Reply to  Darren

Well done for having another go, just reading these and came through this. The hardest thing for a woman and the most terrifying is the person you have grown with to fall in love with another,whether it’s when your together or have just split. Only you know what you have to do you must love her unconditionaly to have given it another go.

Andy
Andy
4 years ago
Reply to  Darren

Im in a very similar situation brother .. so difficult…any updates on yours you can share w me.. I’d like to chat if possible..

Lela
Lela
5 years ago

After 3 years living with him I can say that things were normal but from time to time I get these doubts of whether he is the right for me or not. I have had in the past anxiety and problem with panic attacks. These days after returning from vacation I am really freaked out and stressed because I am thinking that it’s time to get serious and get married. I feel so trapped that i left home for a while to find some relief. Before i moved with him i lived with my family. I am so confused because we are getting along well when Im not worrying, no Big problems between us, but sometimes i feel suffocating and the only solution i see is to her out..

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
5 years ago
Reply to  Lela

You need to be in treatment for your anxiety disorder and understand what is causing your worry and doubt, particularly since you say that your worry leads to more problems. If it’s because you’re not getting the marital commitment you seek, then you need to make the difficult choice of leaving if he is unable to do that. Meanwhile, learn some stress-reduction techniques, such as meditation, and seek counseling.

Greta
Greta
5 years ago

HI, I have a partner been staying together for 6 years and have a four year old. I pay for most of the bills in the house and assist him with finances every now and then. he has a disability. I am scared to leave him because I am scared he might not have enough to survive on and he has threatened suicide before. I know I don’t love him as much as he loves me. I always have the guilt when I want to leave him.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
5 years ago
Reply to  Greta

Threatening suicide is very manipulative. You can insist he get mental health treatment. Read my books on How to Speak Your Mind and Freedom from Guilt and seminar “How to Be Assertive.” Also Read my blogs on “How to Spot Manipulation,” and “Trapped in an Unhappy Relationship.”

Badger
Badger
5 years ago

I’m sure Lancer’s books are helpful for many but some people just need an expert like her to encourage them to escape. How they do this is their problem. I am English, 70, “suffering” from hypomania (enjoy it) married to a highly-educated Chilean woman (68) who is incurably domineering, argumentative, becoming paranoid. No children. I have one cat (19). Should I wait for cat to die before I go back to UK? Wife and I can’t stand each other. We like being alone. Many thanks.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
5 years ago
Reply to  Badger

Something must be worse than your hatred, and love and hate coexist in the married state. Since you enjoy your hypomania, I imagine you’re not getting treated for it, but that would be the first thing to address to enable you to leave. Also learn to detach and set boundaries and start enjoying your life! You’d be helped by learning assertiveness from my ebook, How to Speak Your Mind, and webinar, How to Be Assertive, and to deal with your wife by reading Dealing with a Narcissist. Fighting or withdrawing is non- productive.

giya
giya
5 years ago

hello mam. me and my boyfriend are in a relationship from last 6 years. we love each other a lot. but our families are problematic. now situation is very confusing. should we go with each other???? but when ever we came across each other. our desires reaches to peak. We still not stop caring for each other.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
5 years ago
Reply to  giya

Until you’re independent of your family, you’re not mature enough to get married.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
5 years ago
Reply to  giya

Until you’re independent of your family, you’re not mature enough to get married. Work on becoming more independent. Read my books, get a career, and support yourself.

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 this is now too far gone.
I don’t know what to do.
Our marriage is not normal. We are best friends living with each other.
What can I do?

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 this is now too far gone.
I don’t know what to do.
Our marriage is not normal. We are best friends living with each other.
What can I do?

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
5 years ago
Reply to  Chris

Many couples over time put up walls to intimacy and their marriage becomes dead and routine. (See Ch. 6 of Conquering Shame and Codependency. You and your wife should have marital therapy and begin talking openly with each other.

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 what i do now that girl is not educated also please advise.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
5 years ago
Reply to  Kartik

You need to get outside support. Read Codependency for Dummies and my books on self-esteem and assertiveness. Get some counseling and join http://www.coda.org groups to build your autonomy and independence from your family.

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 what i do now that girl is not educated also please advise.

karan
karan
5 years ago

i am 34 married for 9 yrs, was an arranged marriage have 7yr old daughter; but now i have fallen in love with another unmarried women she is 31 we both are in a deep passionate love we r sure its not a simple infatuation; i want to divorce my wife but she does nt agree n threatens suicide n emotionally blackmails me talking about our daughters future; am stuck i feel so much guilt to leave she is a homemaker with no income am ready to support her financially but she doest agree n says her life is finished without me pls help am so depressed n dont know what to do i love only this another women n want to live my life with her pls help

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
5 years ago
Reply to  karan

Divorce and marriage have long term consequences, which you should consider. When you do something in conflict with your values or that harms others, you naturally will feel guilt. No one can make the decision for you, but you and your girlfriend will have to be ready to live with the consequences, some perhaps unforeseen, to your self-esteem and to others,. I suggest you do the exercises in my book, Freedom from Guilt.

giya
giya
5 years ago

i am in a relationship for last 6 years. now at the time of marriage his family has many conditions.like they want a car, they will never met my parents, i have to leave my carrier. he i not supporting me at all. we really love each other. he said if i really love then these conditions are nothing. i m moving towards self harm plz guide me…..

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
5 years ago
Reply to  giya

It sounds as if you are experiencing pressure based on your cultural norms. I cannot comment on that, but in any relationship asserting your own needs doesn’t contradict love. In fact, honoring your needs and self-esteem are prerequisite for love, so don’t allow yourself to be manipulated by those statements. We can love ourselves AND love someone else. The former supports the latter. Self-love isn’t selfishness. It allows us to love more. See my blog, on self-love.

Vasileia
Vasileia
5 years ago

My fiancé behaves like possesed. We r 2 years together, 1.5 years he used to sexchat n flirt online with bitches, everytime i was find out of course. He stopped doin it but his rude behavior towards me continued by now. Hes not emotional, if i am or i cry because of him doin something stupid he wont care n says u can cry the whole year if u want. Once i slapped him for lyin the whole day about online cheatin n i had evidences but he slaped me back. Hes too independent, he doesnt care to have conversation, always on internet, ignorin me, he dont like many emotional things, tha last 2 days we fight cuz he ignore me n tomorrow am leavin, am hurt

Mary G. M.
Mary G. M.
5 years ago

Thank you so much for the information, it helped me know I’m not crazy, just a little bit. I want to be on my own so bad, I know in my gut that I need to be done with this relationship. However, my spouse does not want me leave her because of the ‘karmic’ debt I supposedly have with her. How can I get myself seperated and divorced so that we can both move on in our lives?

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
5 years ago
Reply to  Mary G. M.

What your spouse wants isn’t the issue. What you want is. You won’t be on your “own” until you can trust and act on your gut. You’ve given away all your power and seem to be acting on guilt, or at least being manipulated by it, due to your own guilt and shame. You have a lot of a work to do before you can leave this relationship or make it into one you want to keep. You can’t physically be separate until your mind is. You’ll need outside support to clear up your thinking.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
5 years ago
Reply to  Mary G. M.

What your spouse wants isn’t the issue. What you want is. You won’t be on your “own” until you can trust and act on your own gut. You’ve given away all your power and seem to be acting on guilt, or at least being manipulated by it, due to your own guilt and shame. You have a lot of a work to do before you can leave this relationship or make it into one you want to keep. You can’t physically be separate until your mind is. You’ll need outside support to clear up your thinking.

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
5 years ago

If your husband is drinking it’s very important to learn about alcohol abuse and alcoholism. Al-Anon meetings can really help your marriage and self-esteem.

Robbin
Robbin
5 years ago

Feelings are met to be express anywhere because of human differences. My life is a good example of it. I have been in love with Justin for the past 2 years but i was a shame and afraid to express my feelings to him cos he was my boss at work. It comes to a time when he notice my behavior and he approach me telling me that he has longed had same feelings for me and we where together happily. The bad side of it is that his parents does not want us to come together as we are of different classes. He was forced to marry another girl of same classes and i was sacked my his mum.

Recent Posts

JOIN MY MAILING LIST RECEIVE “14 TIPS FOR LETTING GO”

To get your Free “14 Tips,” please provide your name and email to join my mailing list and monthly blog.

Check your spam folder, and email me if you don’t get an email confirmation. (See our Website and Privacy Policies)

Menu