Reader Wrong Decision writes,
I am currently living with my mother and my two year old because I chose to leave my marriage and start seeing my high school boyfriend again after 8 years. My husband and i had been together for 7 years when we got married, and had been married a little under a year when I left. The old boyfriend showed me attention and love which was something I felt that my husband did not show me. He also told me my husband was on heavy drugs and cheating on me constantly. Combined with the dissatisfaction I already felt in my marriage, I decided I was finally fed up and left.
Needless to say, the old flame burned out quickly and I left the old boyfriend and here I am. I've been contemplating working things out with my husband, but here's the problem, we have tons of trust issues on both sides of the spectrum and no way of affording professional help. Counseling where we live is super expensive and very hard to come by. Another major problem is that, my husband had left me in 2012 and did end up sleeping with various other women. He was also quite narcissistic and lied about so many different things that it was hard to believe anything he said. He is making me out to be the only one at fault for the way I left him, and he's not totally wrong, however I think I did have some pretty good reasons for leaving.
Our arguments would escalate to the point of violence and there were several occasions where one or both of us would scream in front of our son. I guess my question is, can this relationship ever get better? Can we ever be in a healthy marriage? And would I be stupid to go back?
The short answer is that it's unlikely that this will ever work out well, given the constraints you've described. There are ways to break the cycle of emotional and verbal abuse, as I discuss here, but at least in my opinion, this is most successfully done with a professional helping you explore the origin of your patterns and how you currently maintain them. If you take the narcissism and infidelity into account, there are wounds that are unlikely to be healed on both sides, at least without intervention.
Many people find it hard to find a therapist, but there are many options. Many universities have training clinics where you pay a nominal fee, even as low as $10, and you can see a PhD or PsyD student in training, supervised by a licensed psychologist. That's where all therapists, like me, start seeing clients. There are also teletherapy options, as well as pro-bono therapists, you can search for "pro bono therapy in my area."
As you note, your dysfunctional relationship doesn't just impact the two of you. There is a child also being affected by your fights. As I discuss here, your child is learning that adult relationships are unsafe, scary, and fraught with conflict. I would imagine that this is something you might have learned as a kid as well, which is why you subconsciously got yourself into a disappointing relationship and chose an affair as the way out of it. It would be useful to spend time thinking about how you grew up, and how the relationships that you saw may have primed you to get into a relationship with a man who was emotionally unavailable. Read what I say to other women who marry narcissists here and here.
Again, I cannot reiterate how helpful I think it will be to you as a person and as a parent to explore your issues with the help of a therapist. There have to be some ways around the expense if you think creatively, including training clinics, everyone on your insurance plan, and people who practice teletherapy (e.g. the website Talkspace, BetterHelp, and Breakthrough). Best of luck and till we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist Who Says, Do This For Your Son.
Learn about Dr. Rodman's private practice, including therapy, coaching, and consultation, here. This blog is not intended as diagnosis, assessment, or treatment, and should not replace consultation with your medical provider.