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Problems after 42 years of marriage?

By September 10, 2015 - 9:25pm
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My husband claims he has military PTSD from Vietnam. He was honorably discharged in '73, then joined AF reserves and retired in 2003. Anyway 2 years ago I "saved" him from alcohol poisoning, then last New Year's Eve he attempted suicide VIA pills. His body rejected them and ended up throwing them up. He swears it won't happen again because he didn't think of how our grandkids would take it. After that attempt, when we talked, he partly blamed me saying I am never happy, that I should not "talk back" to him, that he felt I never gave him enough hugs or initiated sex enough. After that, you can't imagine how stressed I felt trying to be the super nice "Stepford Wife".

Here's the thing from my side. When we married, (me at age 17), he "laid the law down" with rules that he was THE BOSS. Needless to say, I never touched his money at all without asking permission first. I never got an allowance. I had to ask and if he was willing to go shopping with me, then I might get whatever. I wanted more than 2 children but he said no. He retired early resulting in us having to go bankruptcy. When he said "go to work" once our two children were old enough to pretty much take care of themselves, I, of course went to work. The majority of our house appliances are used ones and recently when we had a problem with one of them, I made the mistake of saying something about that. He did not respond much, but let it fester and then, just yesterday, spilled to our kids about his suicide attempt and why. Putting most of the blame on me. He got our two girls so worried that one of them called last night, putting us on a 3 way call, this including the other daughter. Before it was over, if I really was not happy before, I was after. I felt like everyone thought I was the sc'um of the earth with a major negative attitude. Heck, why should my husband bother trying himself off now? I felt like it was my turn. Our girls kept suggesting that we needed to split. Even if we did, I have nothing to live on and no real skills to make a decent wage. You see, I quit work because in 2000 I had to have a major hysterectomy resulting in horrible menopause with insomnia, depression, fatigue, pain. Then after that I had a leiomyosarcoma tumor removed, then a couple of years later melanoma. Not to mention degenerative arthritis resulting in right foot surgery then spine surgery. As of this moment, I really don't know what type of job I can accomplish successfully. I put all I had into this relationship I feel at the cost of alienating my family and friends. In other words, no-one to turn to and nowhere to go. Although our girls act as though they want to see us apart, neither one wants one of us to stay with them. (Which I wouldn't want to do anyway since they each have their own husband and kids to take care of). Needless to say, right now I am angry at our girls because of the stance and interfering they did, and also tired of being blamed for my husband's problems. Yeah, I know we are different in that he wants to hold how he feels in and never wants to forgive or forget. Myself, I want to get things and feelings out in the open, which he can't stand. Heck, why did he marry me anyway so long ago? I really was too young. I did not want to at the time but he "kind-of" coerced me by saying if I didn't, he was getting discharged in 3 months, he was going home, and I would never see him again. I really felt something special with him, but would have been so happy to have waited at least 2 more years dating. As it was we only knew each other 5 months before we married.
I'm so tired but don't know where to turn now.
hopelessly late

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HERWriter Guide

Hi Rettalee

Thank you for your post and I'm sorry life is so hard for you.

17 is indeed incredibly young to get married, that's like a Junior in high school getting married which is madness when you think about it.

But that was decades ago and may have been more of the norm then although I think even then, it would have been considered very young. A 17 year old in love could easily be lead into a marriage if the man they love is threatening to leave unless they get married and knowing someone for only five months is nothing when it comes to really knowing someone.

To be honest, I wish your husband would have left your adult children out of this. As hard as this may sound, your marriage is really none of their business and they have no right to make comments on whether you divorce or not . They have their own marriages and children to focus on. While adult children can (and should!) still be very much involved in their (original) family life with their parents, they should not be involved to this extent. Your husband should not have burdened them with all the information about his suicide attempts and his opinions about you. Now they are worried and taking it out on you.

Financial reasons are a big issue with women, especially, when it comes to staying in a marriage. You had a kind of old-fashioned marriage where I guess he controlled much of the spending. That's never a good thing. It's not your money and his money, it's family money.

Your health issues are also a huge factor. Do you have insurance?

You are still young, are you in your late 50s? There are many jobs out there for women like you who know how to work hard but need work that does not involve anything physical and who are not expect to work long hours.

Some jobs to consider are front office/admin work part time in an office. What used you do for work? Schools often need people part time. Focus on your strengths in the workplace. Are you good on computers? Use those skills. If not, libraries often offer classes for free or a sliding scale. See if community centers need help. Many families need after school help for older kids and an older woman is often a great choice from having so much experience.

If your husband won't go into counselling, consider both personal counselling and career counselling for yourself. You are far too young to settle for this life is the life you have now just isn't working out. People change and evolve, you don't have to resign yourself to an unhappy life.

Let me know what you think and please don't feel like you have nowhere to turn, there are resources out there.


September 11, 2015 - 5:47am
(reply to Susan Cody)

Susan, thank you so much for your support. I was beginning to think that maybe I was being irrational. Especially since this morning I tried to talk to him. He would not listen to me. He kept talking over my talking, then clammed up.
I will turn 60 Oct. 4th. (Yeah, happy birthday to me!) :( About insurance, since I had a hard time functioning after so many medical problems, I got on social security, of which over half is deducted for medicare. I haven't checked into what would happen if I went to work. (Of course, I couldn't imagine anyone being able to live off of $190.00 a month) which is what I get, and just does cover my medicine co-pays.
I did learn computers on my own. Not enough to work on them, but operate them fairly well. I am not scamming SS at all since my foot surgery was last Sept, back surgery was this past March, and have continual chronic insomnia and memory problems.
My heart felt a little lighter when I read your response as if I "unloaded" onto someone verbally. Something really has got to change. (I know I could lose some weight), but after being upset for 3 straight days, I have hardly eaten anything at all, and my energy is showing it! Food is the last thing I want when all I want to do is cry!
Thank you again for your response.

September 11, 2015 - 10:37am
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