During the last two years of my marriage, my husband and I became strangers to one another. We were two people living in the same house, even sharing the same bed. Apart from that, we lived separate lives.
When we did talk it was only to argue. Mostly we bickered about how my husband slept till noon, rarely got out of bed, and refused to look for a job.
We were miserable together. But still, I stayed in my marriage. Why?
I couldn’t afford to leave.
We lived in L.A., an expensive city. Our kids attended a good school in a nice neighborhood. I knew that if my husband and I split up, I couldn’t afford the rent alone.
I’d have to move to a crummy part of town and put our kids in substandard schools. I didn't want to do this.
To make matters worse, I was also bankrupt. Years earlier, I allowed my husband to take out a loan in my name. He invested the cash into a Ponzi scheme. The scheme was revealed as fraudulent and suddenly I owed thousands of dollars.
I claimed bankruptcy but that meant my credit score tanked. If I left my husband, I doubted I could get a landlord to rent an apartment to me, even in a less desirable part of town.
I was working but only part-time. This was because I was trying to be the perfect mom.
I volunteered in our kids’ school and made sure dinner was on the table every night. I helped our sons with their homework. But in doing so, I hadn’t focused on my career.
I didn't have any savings. My husband had his own financial issues (e.g. investing in the Ponzi scheme). He wouldn’t be able to help much if I left. No alimony, little child support.
His parents were paying our rent. It was better to stay together.
But I was miserable.
My distressing financial situation kept me in an unhappy marriage.
Our unhappy marriage had a devastating effect on our children.
Unfortunately, I wasn't the only person who was suffering in this unhappy marriage. This was a terrible situation for our kids to be growing up in.
Not only was it misery-provoking for our children to live in such an acrimonious household, but I was depressed. I wasn't able to be the kind of mother that my kids needed.
I was often angry and irritable. I wasn't a very nice person to be around.
I finally left my husband.
I finally worked up the courage to leave my husband. Yes, this was a terrifying decision. I moved my sons with me into a new apartment. I had to ask my father to cosign on my lease. I went on food stamps and got a full-time job.
Still, I scraped by, hardly able to pay my rent and bills. However, almost immediately after leaving my husband, my sons became happier.
Want to know why? Because I became happier.
My sons told me how much happier they were. Both my boys mentioned that they were more content living in a place without so much arguing.
Of course, my kids were happier now. I was easier to be around.
You can imagine what staying married to my husband had been doing to my children. Preoccupied with my own sadness and anger, I was also unable to tend to my kids' needs.
My only solution was to divorce their father. But that was terrifying because of my distressing financial situation.
It's taken years for me to rebuild my credit score, pay off my debts, and save money so I'm not living month to month anymore. Here's my advice to people in similar situations:
No matter how much it will hurt you financially to leave a marriage—no matter how much you might struggle after a divorce—staying in an unhappy marriage is bad for you.
If you have kids, it’s catastrophically bad for them.
I left my marriage, and yes, I struggled because of my distressing financial situation. But I’m stronger for it now.