I am quite desperate and would welcome any help you can provide.
First, my story:
My wife and I have been married for 10 years. We have two children, ages 7 and 6. They mean the world to me. About 5 years ago, my wife developed a chronic disease. No traditional doctor has been able to diagnose the problem. They claim nothing is wrong with her… My wife is very tired, moody, depressed. She cannot eat normal foods, and hence has a very restrictive diet. She has other symptoms, as well, caused by her weakened immune system. She cannot work, even though she has two college degrees. Some days it’s fine, other days she sleeps until the afternoon. At one time she was looking for a job. Now she doesn’t bother. On some days she seems great. She’s happy, it’s my old wife again. But this rarely lasts more than a day. Then it’s back to her depression.
Her relationship with the kids is terrible. She has a short fuse and is constantly irritable. She usually wakes up to scream at the kids to be quiet, then goes back to sleep. She often yells at me in front of the kids. She is severely depressed. She won’t seek any professional (psychiatric) help, since she’s afraid people will think her illness is in her head.
She has begun to talk to other women with similar, chronic fatigue symptoms. I had hoped this would make her feel better, knowing she was not alone. But the opposite has happened - these women are equally depressed, and it has brought her down even more. Now she believes she will always be this way.
I have tried to support her. But her approach is that she is suffering, so everyone around her must suffer, as well. We fight constantly. Today was a typical day: I work from my home office in an executive position, taking calls and answering emails constantly, occasionally traveling. The kids are off from school this week. So I fixed their breakfast, fixed their lunch, walked the dog, while juggling my many calls and other work related tasks. My wife woke up in the late afternoon, later complaining how she has to do everything around the house, all the cooking, cleaning, etc!!! Some of my colleagues call me Mr. Mom, since I’m often on a call from hockey practice, waiting in line to pick the kids up from school, etc. They don’t know why I’m always doing this, probably assuming my wife works long hours. But she’s usually on the couch feeling sorry for herself instead of helping the kids.
Everyday is a fight, and she is constantly yelling in front of the children. We sleep in separate rooms. The kids are stressed about the situation, and I can tell they get very upset when she screams (obviously), often at me, sometimes at them, over the silliest things (leaving a plate on the table, making too much noise when going up the stairs, etc.). The kids have stopped listening, too, in protest.
I have only stayed this long with my wife because of the kids. But I just can’t take much more of this. My fear, however, is that she will get custody of the kids, even though I know they would never choose to live with their Mother over me. I fear what will happen to them if I’m relegated to weekends only with them. My wife loves them, but she is not the Motherly type. And with her illness, who knows what she will be able to do with them.
I’ve tried my best to be supportive of my wife. Maybe I could have done more. I’m not perfect. But her behavior, especially over the past year, has deteriorated to the point that it’s impossible to be with her. My work has suffered. I have no energy. The kids are caught in the middle. Etc.
I need to talk to someone. Perhaps separation and divorce is the only option. This will mean selling our wonderful house and renting two small apartments, I suppose… It will also be hell for the kids, especially if my wife eventually gains custody. I know they will rebel against her. They often come into my bed at night. They never go to hers.
There are so many other issues I need to speak with someone about. But the bottom line is the kids. That’s my main concern.
How should I get started? Should I speak to a lawyer? What should I expect? I never thought I would get a divorce, but I just can’t go on living like this.