Dear Chump Lady,
I am a 38 year old mother of two small children (4 and 1) with my husband who I’ve been with for ten years, married for seven. We are from two different very distant countries, having met in a third country and ever since moved internationally every 2-3 years or so for work. We’ve been INCREDIBLY happy and close.
My husband wanted to leave for several months when I was pregnant and shortly after we had our first child, but managed to snap back to himself and we’ve been very happy since. However, since I got pregnant with our second child, he had gradually built up resentment, distanced himself, and finally snapped when my daughter was five months old. This time around we’re in a much less exciting city, have a mortgage and I’m financially dependent on his job, although I work freelance, I anticipated returning to full-time work this year.
Last September, he dropped the bomb saying he didn’t love me anymore, he wanted to leave me and go to find his spirituality in India, selling the house with everything in it.
I was still breastfeeding exclusively, almost every three hours around the clock, exhausted, and also managing my 3 year old. He helped very little. It is the classic behaviour since then, sleeping on the sofa, hiding his cell phone, stopped communicating, out all hours, disinterest in marriage counselling despite attending, blameshifting, gaslighting, etc etc. He says he was looking at other women, he says he feels trapped. I was such a mess that he threatened to take the children off me, I ended up going to my home country with the children, to recover at my parents home for three months, also to give him the “time and space” that he requested. During my time away, he went on holiday for six weeks, his therapist seems to be justifying his behaviour to him, that he has stopped “living a lie.”
I’ve now returned and he has moved out to his own apartment. Now he wants access to the children, he wants me to live where it is easier for him to fly in and fly out. He sees the children one to two evenings a week, when it is convenient for him, and makes them dinner, puts them to bed, in our home, I go out during these visits. I don’t want him taking them to another home, I feel it is more comfortable for them in their own home as they are so little.
He remains adamant that he doesn’t have anyone else, but wants to find himself and cannot do that whilst we are a couple and he is sorry about that.
Of course, I’m devastated. It is such a critical turning point in my life and the children’s lives, I don’t want to mis-step. We have all the issues. We don’t come from the same country, I don’t speak the native language where we live, we own a property here that I can’t afford to maintain on my own, if I return home I’ll have the warmth of friends and family around, but economically it will be challenging until the kids are in school, I would be cutting out the relationship the children have with their truly beautiful extended paternal family that is in a neighbouring country, and their father. He says he will stay another two years in this country, then leave, but I really don’t want to be trapped here by custody rulings. Thankfully I implemented a separation agreement early on which stipulates that I can travel/relocate with the children within the first year and also that he’d support me financially for that time. I sought legal advice given that if he had gone to India indefinitely I would have been able to fly home to make a life with the kids.
But, I genuinely miss my loving, caring, and truly kind husband. This guy I really don’t recognize. So cold. So cruel. My therapist says that he is acting out like an adolescent and has to grow up all over again, he’s having a psychological meltdown as he really wasn’t prepared for all the responsibility. She thinks that he will come out of it in time, but when is anyone’s guess. It could be months, or years. I feel like if I return to my home country, I’m leaving a “man down.” I think if I go that there will be no chance of reconciliation. I promised to love this guy forever. I want to give my kids the best life I possibly can. It seems that whatever path I choose right now, it just won’t feel right, so here I am in indecision and limbo.
The only thing that helps me cope is to research future work/life prospects in different places. Thanks to my freelance work keeping my CV fresh, I’ve got quite a lot of work prospects, but am also concerned about taking a parent away from the kids, then also working long hours myself so I see them very little each day.
I’ve come to truly appreciate your take on life and would really love your advice on the matter. “Know your worth” really has become my inner mantra since reading your blog.
The smartest, best, most un-chumpy thing you did was have the presence of mind to get legal help when he announced his intention to leave for India. The fact that you have a separation agreement in place to escape with your children for your home country is PRICELESS. But it has a one year deadline! You MUST get out of this limbo NOW and save yourself!
I wish I could fly to wherever you are and sit with you while you buy that plane ticket home. I wish I could help you with those two preschoolers, strap them into their car seats, entertain them on the plane, and carry your diaper bag. I would pack snacks, and coloring books, and hold crying babies. I would joke with you, and hold your hand during turbulence. I would do freaking ANYTHING to get you from point A to point B away from your asshole husband.
I wish I could be of more practical help. But know that I am there in spirit. Please know that all of Chump Nation is there for you in spirt while you make that journey. We are urging you forward into that new life. Please buy that ticket home today.
But now you’re stuck in a hopium daze, waiting for your “loving” husband to come back to his senses. JJ — you don’t have a loving husband. You’re married to a fraud. You wrote:
But, I genuinely miss my loving, caring, and truly kind husband. This guy I really don’t recognize. So cold. So cruel.
The cruel guy is WHO HE IS. He wanted to “leave for several months” during your first pregnancy! Then he completely bails on you when your second child is born. What kind of MONSTER wants to sell the house out from under his children — one a NEWBORN — and abandon his wife and children to go “find his spirituality”?
What church is that? The Temple of Fucking Around? Where God is made Man-Child?
You don’t come out and say that he’s been cheating in your letter, but that is certainly what it looks like. The secret cell phone. The staying out all night. The anger and disdain. And now the separate apartment, where he can come and go as he likes playing “daddy” when it suits him.
This situation is NOT SUSTAINABLE. You cannot just leave the house at a moment’s notice when he gets a wild hair to see his children. You cannot keep your life on hold while he fucks around on you. It’s time to put down the spackle. This man does not love you or your children. You report being “INCREDIBLY happy and close.”
Bullshit. Incredibly close people do not abandon you. You are projecting a connection on to him that does not exist. His behavior tells you everything you need to know about his character — he’s a selfish, immature piece of shit. He CHOOSES his own gratifications over your well-being every time. While you were in your home country, devastated — he took a month and half long VACATION. Oh, poor sausage needs a holiday from the incredible burden of being an absentee parent and full-time cad.
You need to wake up and realize he is NOT a “man down.” He’s not lost — he CHOOSES this. And you and your children are the victims of his selfishness. JJ, how about you start choosing YOU? It’s time to put your welfare and your children’s welfare first. They need a secure home with your family. They need to not be uprooted constantly for his whims. (Maybe he’ll sell the house, maybe he won’t. Maybe he’ll move in two years. Maybe he’ll go back to India. HIM. HIM. HIM.) Are you going to ping pong around the Continent waiting for him to know his mind? Hiding in coffeehouses when he comes home to play parent?
If you go back home, your children can still have a relationship with their father, or as a wise chump here refers to such fathers — Uncle Daddy. But it won’t be the relationship of an intact family that you imagined they’d have. You’re mourning that dream of what you thought it was. We’ve all been there JJ. But it’s time to wake up to what this IS — abuse. He’s a coward and a bully. He’s behaving in this abhorrent way to make you dump him, so he can claim he’s just a lost soul and not the bad guy that he is. Again, we’ve all been there. You are NOT leaving him — he LEFT YOU. Your husband is checked out, on his secret phone, living in an apartment, out all hours fucking around. Quit trying to revive what is dead and GO HOME.
You want to give your children the best life you can? Give them the gift of One Sane Parent. If you stay with this man they will have NO sane parents. They’ll have one asshole, unstable cheater, and one devastated pick me dancing mother. The best bet for the best life is to take them home and rebuild a solid life for them, allowing for visitation from Uncle Daddy and his clan. (And if they’re so loving and wonderful, why the hell aren’t they slapping some sense into him or disowning him for his dishonorable behavior? Let me guess — he’s the Golden Child.)
You have many blessings JJ. You have work prospects. You have a legal agreement. You have support. You are so much further along than many chumps who’ve had to start over with far less. Please for the love of God, escape this terrible situation and leave this idiot. We’ve got your back. You can DO THIS.