Two years ago, when I was pregnant (unplanned) with my third child, I found a note in the pocket of my husband's suit, which transpired to be from his secretary, who had, I then realised, been his lover for the last five years. My whole world disintegrated.
When I told him that I knew about his affair, he was not in the slightest apologetic, and seemed relieved that it was now out in the open. He said he loved her and that he had stayed with me for the sake of the children. It was obvious that he intended to keep seeing her.
I felt trapped, as I did not want him anywhere near me, but I was pregnant with his child, and had nowhere else to go. I sank into a deep depression and found it almost impossible to continue with a normal life. He forbade me from speaking about his affair with anyone, and so my friends, and especially my children, had no idea why I had become so withdrawn and desperately unhappy. My doctor prescribed strong anti-depressants, but these made me feel totally detached and still troubled.
My husband began to stay away for longer periods, and started to treat me with contempt. And I just became a shell of my former self. I gave birth to my son, but found it very difficult to bond with him, as he was so demanding. Since then, I have been trying to cope but as I am so down all the time most of my friends have gradually drifted away and I am left with no support and feeling suicidal.
It has taken me a few attempts to write this email as I don't really know how to put this into words or what I expect you to be able to do to help me. But I remember one of my friends some months ago telling me about you and that you had really helped her with her problem, so I thought I would try.
I do appreciate you taking the time to read this.
Patricia Marie says...
Women with children stay in trapped marriages because leaving is so complicated - but nothing can be worse than living as you are. You have allowed yourself to be treated appallingly, with neither love nor respect. I urge you to set yourself free from this intolerable situation. Your husband wants to be with this other woman, yet is too cowardly to make a complete break. My advice to you is to take control, pack his bags and tell him it's over. There is no other choice. By standing up to him you should hopefully regain your self respect and no longer feel open to his abuse. Ask a family member or someone you can trust to be in the house to support you when you confront him.
Having to deal with so much emotional trauma has resulted in you suffering from depression. You could be associating your son with the exposure of your husband's infidelity, causing you to struggle with bonding. With the right help, you can get through these difficulties. Make a call to your GP right now and explain how you are feeling. Clearly the antidepressants he prescribed are not working, but you can work together to find the correct medication, which will make all the difference to how you feel.
Women's Aid are there for victims of domestic abuse, so phone them without delay. They can offer you legal advice, as well as individual and group therapy to improve your self worth and help you move on from this destructive relationship. They can also refer you to Home Start, a charity run organisation, which could assign you a dedicated helper to assist you at home with all your family concerns. In addition, if at any time you are experiencing feelings of suicide, please, pick up the phone and call the Samaritans. They offer excellent support at times of distress and loneliness.
In time you should begin to feel stronger and believe that life is very much worth living again. Focus your mind on a new door opening on to the rest of your life, free from the past heartache and misery - then bravely walk through to the new chapter that awaits you.
Women's Aid: 0808 2000 247 www.womensaid.org.uk
Samaritans: 08457 90 90 90 www.samaritans.org