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“Should I stay or should I go”

Our agony aunt Mary Fenwick offers a new perspective on whatever is troubling you

Q My husband and I have been together for over 10 years; we have two fantastic kids who are 11 and 14, but the spark has gone in our marriage. Not just gone – extinguished completely. Not only do I not love him, I despise him. Everything he does irritates me. He doesn’t help at all around the house, and doesn’t make an effort to communicate. I used to make an effort, but now I think, why should I bother? We can spend days just not talking at all.

He has health issues but he makes no effort to find a positive solution. I have tried to be supportive but he’s just constantly negative and, after a couple of years of trying everything I can to turn my marriage around, I’m now exhausted. I’m ready to give up. Any last words of advice before I do? Name supplied

A I won’t try to talk you out of leaving, but instead will offer my own experience and observations about what to expect. You might also look at the work of Mavis Hetherington, an outstanding researcher on long-term outcomes for divorce (see ‘More Information’, opposite). This is what I learned from my interviews with other people about their divorces. The experience of divorce is worse than most people expect in the short term. The shame and sense of personal failure is persistent, no matter that the public stigma has diminished. It’s still a hugely challenging experience to admit your dream of a happy marriage has failed. Awful things will be said and done, you will experience times of choking panic and probably financial anxiety. At the time, I identified with the Virginia Woolf character in The Hours who says: ‘I am living a life I have no wish to live’.

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Psychologies January 2016 - Too Much To Do?