I am in a living hell that cannot be sustained. I still have mini meltdowns in my car and bathroom when I’m sabotaged or set up. I deal with it and try to be aware next time to catch the signs and ward them off. He invades my space, talking crazy, I absorb the verbal blows silently, but he stops when I record him with my phone. When I’m bullied, I look him in his eyes and calmly respond:  please stop, please let’s not do that, please don’t start, please not today, please stop. I mind my business, take care of myself, keep the house running, take care of the kids, and speak when I’m spoken to besides hi & bye. My spouse recognizes that I have nothing else to give, not even a fight.

Out of the blue, my spouse announces we need counseling and strongly suggests we go. When I suggested it years ago, he got mad and said: you and a counselor will never gang up on me. The more I inch toward independence, the more threatened my spouse is. I entertain his request, and we may need counseling, but I don’t want to go; the marriage is over. And we’re biding our time to see which of us moves out and when. I might be open to Christian counseling if we went to the same church and had that foundation, but we do everything separately, even attending church. There’s nothing to save, we don’t love each other, and my spouse has a weed habit that triggers old behaviors. He’s not trying to cut back, let alone quit. His behavior is selfish, self-centered, deceptive, cruel, and controlling.

I’m not respected nor valued by my spouse. I had his back when he didn’t have mine. There is no trust between us. Counseling is for couples in love and willing to mend the relationship and find solutions to problems. This smells like another setup. I know my spouse is not serious about counseling; he’s pretending and putting on an act. My spouse has successfully rejected me and everything about marriage values by choosing to live a separate life. He’s a user, not interested in counseling or repairing our relationship. He wants to keep whatever benefits he gets from being married to me.

Then I think–what about the children; they might benefit. I wonder if I should have handed them over to counselors earlier. But as far as I can tell, they’re handling the dysfunction Ok. The reports are generally positive from the school and pediatrician. They’re active in school and have good friends. That’s not to say they won’t have issues in the future, in adulthood, and in the real world. I asked my kids if they wanted counseling, and the response was a quick No. The children are getting older and more mature, know dad has demons, and accept him. The oldest is a senior in high school and will be out the door after prom and graduation, then off to community college, an apartment, roommates, and a new part-time job–all finalized. I envy the oldest. I hope the day will come when I can leave and take my youngest with me.

Counseling is my spouse’s idea, but I have to do all the work. He directs me to research a marriage counselor, see if our insurance pays for it, set an appointment, and report back to him with the results. I am not obeying his directive because I am not going to counseling, but I tell him I’ll take care of everything.  Two months passed, and my spouse has not uttered a single word to me about a counselor, counseling, or the need for counseling.