Love Letters: Considering a Second Divorce

I've been in this second marriage for five years. When I first met my husband I was married, but because I was so physically attracted to this other man (and there were other problems in my first marriage), I divorced and ended up marrying him. He (Jeff) is uneducated and is a self-employed contractor. Although he had his flaws, I overlooked them. I was attracted to his brute look; he is a total opposite of my first husband. After we got married, we had two children together.

I bring in a good income. His income wasn't as good as mine, but it didn't matter to me at first. Over the course of five years, my business bloomed and his went the opposite direction. He wasn't willing to stay home to care for the children and always relies on me to discipline and play with them. He was a gambler when I knew him, but stopped gambling for a long time because he said I changed him. I hired a nanny full time when I got very busy earlier this year and he spent three days away alone in a casino, never answered my calls and never called home to check on the children. I was enraged. His excuse when he came back was, "You hired a nanny -- I had nothing to do."

I pay for everything, from the mortgage to children's clothes and family vacations. He says he owes a lot of credit card debt and can't afford to give me money. Of course this annoys me.

Not only do we have children together, I have two other children from my first marriage and he has another child from his previous marriage, so this means we have five children in the family, four of whom are mine and all are under 12 years old.
Jeff has a temper and it flares when he comes home tired from work. My children know not to bother him, but our children need lots of attention. He attempts to put our young ones to bed, but he falls asleep first most of the time. Last year, he pushed me to the ground because he thought I was seeing someone else, so as you can read, he has trust issues with me.

So why don't I get a divorce? I went through it once. My older kids cried when they had to leave me to see their father on weekends because that was the court order. I cried with them. I told my ex that I wanted to be selfish -- that I wasn't attracted to him and that I was physically attracted to someone else. I don't want my younger children to go through the same thing.

I'm an optimist. Sometimes I cry but I get over my negative emotions in a few days. My friends hear me whine; I hear myself whine. Am I still in love with him? Should I be selfish again this time? I no longer want another companion although I'm 36. My children and work keep me busy. I don't think I'll ever find a person who can meet my expectations of a good husband and father.

– Perplexed

Wanting to be in a happy and healthy relationship doesn't make you selfish. Your children would benefit from having comfortable parents. It's tough for kids to go through a divorce, but living with miserable adults can be just as bad -- or worse.

Not surprisingly, I want you in couples therapy. Tell your husband that you need him to do this with you. Remind him that you're an optimist and that you want to make this work. When you bring this up (in a calm and cool voice), ask him how he's doing on a daily basis. Is he satisfied with his work? Does he have his own issues with his day-to-day lifestyle? I'd be curious to hear what he expected from the partnership.

I don't like to tell people to get a divorce based on a 500-word letter, but if your husband isn't willing to get help, you have to consider leaving him. You mention addiction issues and the fact that he pushed you to the ground. You can't live in fear that things will get worse. Again, it's not selfish, it's healthy.

Readers? Can counseling fix this? Would it be selfish to divorce him? Is there someone out there who is a better fit? Is the husband simply depressed?

– Meredith