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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5810
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I am 54 years of age. I was married to a Maltese woman, 7

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I am 54 years of age. I was married to a Maltese woman, 7 years older than I am, for 23 years. Many of which were unhappy ones. Despite the breakdown in marriage, my thoughts on bearing a responsibility of bringing up two children made me stay. It was a foolish decision and one that eventually led to an Acute Clinical (Medical) Anxiety, condition.
The latter years were corrosive (partly her reluctance to have sex and my subsequent adultery [mainly online]). I fully understand and admit responsibility for the initial loss of faith when she found out I had had an affair. I also suggested that we split up there and then, in 1989, but she wanted the children to be brought up with both parents.
I have always considered myself to be a good parent. Other people, including my wife, has verified this. I was not a good husband, but years of psychological and verbal abuse from her saw me go from quite an assertive person to an acquiescent one, in personal relationships. Acquiescent only inasmuch as not arguing.
I split up with her in February 2006. I am still going through a very acrimonious legal separation case. I met a woman online who is completely different to my wife. She is kind and gentle, but has an enormous self respect issue. She is also separated with 3 children of her own. 2 of them have issues, one of whom has a serious drug abuse history.
I have been helping her and her family financially and morally through a lot of things over the past two years but now I am finding the responsibility of carrying her load, almost too much to bear with the load I am carrying with the fall out of my first marriage.
I have been advised that I must break this relationship off before my health becomes seriously affected. The problem is I do not know how to hurt people in such a way. I know it needs to be done but cannot bear the anguish I will cause yet again, by my inability to hold down a relationship, while still trying to get OUT of my first one.
Can you help?

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

It is very good that you recognize that you are in an unhealthy relationship with the woman you met on line. That is an important part of weaning you away from this relationship.

Although it does sound like the woman is very nice, there are several red flags you mentioned. One, you did not mention if this relationship is still restricted to on line or if you have met this woman in person. Relationships on line are quite risky and often involve one party seeking financial help in some manner. Even if you have met your friend in person, it sounds like she is taking advantage of you. This is not a trait of someone you want to spend your life with.

Two, do you know if your friend is being honest with you about where the money is going? If she has a son with a drug abuse history, part of your money could be going to him.

Three, has your friend reciprocated in any way? It sounds like your relationship is a one way street. Has she made any effort to support herself? Find a cheaper place to live? Do her children work at all? If the answers are no, then she is most likely using you.

Four, you took on the new relationship before you had time to recover from the break up of your marriage. Most likely, you are feeling alone and vulnerable. That is very normal. For that reason, it is often a good idea to take a break between relationships so you have time to reflect and heal from a break up.

When you start removing yourself from the relationship with your friend, start slowly. Begin giving her less money. Start telling her that you feel you need time to recover from your divorce. Let her know you are taking some "me" time. All through this, reinforce that it is not her you are leaving, but you that needs time. Tell her you feel you are not ready for a serious relationship right now and that it is not fair to her that you continue. Then keep withdrawing financial support. This gives her ample warning to find another means of support so she can stand on her own. By refraining from making this her issue and by blaming yourself, you can let her go gently. And whenever she looks back at the relationship, she will see it as your issues and not her that was the cause. That is the gentlest way to end it.

I hope this has helped you,


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I met this woman soon after my actual separation. We have been seeing other regularly since then. We do not live together, but at weekends she has started staying more and more at my apartment. I feel like she is becoming over dependent on me. I do not believe that she is actively 'using me" as such but I can see her dependency growing more and more.
I really DO enjoy her company and after many years of arguing with my wife the arguments with this lady friend of mine and I are very few and far between. I do however feel as though I am being 'fenced in' when she comes to stay with me. I think that she wants more of a marital type relationship that I can give.
Point No.2: Honesty about money movements: I have actually been dealing with the 'loan sharks her son has been borrowing money from, so I can vouch for that part of it. I have also given him a top up card for his phone and taken him to petrol stations to put fuel in his car. His mother has actually bought groceries for her son. The young man is out of control. Why I feel so responsible for him is getting to me, when his father does not seem to be enabling him as much. These loan sharks have beaten him up on a few occasions for non payment of money borrowed. I have cleared his debts to date. Unless the 22 year old young man is STILL lying. His mother has had NO dealings with this money. I have told him there is NO more money coming from me.
Her elder daughter opened an innovative 'health spa' early last year. The rent is quite high and I really do not see them utilising the machinery as much as the vendor had told them on purchase. They have been relying on me to pay their rent. I have told them that I will need to stop doing this as it is becoming too much of a draw on my salary. I am working for their landlord. They are both hard workers but it would appear that they are not making any headway. They need to take stock and decide if their business venture is viable. To date it is not.
Item 3 is linked in with the latter part of item 2. My friend did not want to leave her job (not a high paying job but she was happy in it). But at her daughter's insistence did so and she works for her daughter as a receptionist and assistant. The money she earns comes from the profit they make at the spa. As does her daughter's salary.
The son does not work. He is due to enter 'rehab' in less than 2 weeks.
Her third daughter is at University.
Her property is paid for but there are bills to pay. Her reciprocal efforts are small by comparison but this is not the issue. She buys me presents for my birthday, etc and the odd weekend away at intervals. It is not the small expenditure I am bothered about it is her family's reliance and dependency up on me.
My own two sons from my first marriage do not ask me for anything. There is no divorce in Malta. the country where I live. There is legal separation and i am not anywhere near to concluding this after 5 plus years of court. It is a very acrimonious separation case. In fact I have a sitting tomorrow morning.
Item 4: As for the letting her go: THIS is the main problem. HOW? I find it difficult to hurt people, and yet I know that this is what needs to be done. I am not ready for this all time happily ever after when I am not even OUT of my first relationship. Tears and threats of suicide will probably ensue.
She is vulnerable herself. She probably does not even know that I am contemplating leaving her. She is reeling with her family problems at the moment and probably can't see mine. She helped me a lot in the earlier days of my separation (actual not legal which is mentioned above). Her first husband left her and she is so very insecure. I realise that I need to tread carefully. I just do not know how.
Sorry it is so long winded. Thanks and Regards

Thank you for the additional information. It helps.

The "how" of leaving this situation is leaving very slowly. Start by cutting off the money. Start saying things to your friend and her family about not supporting them. Spend less time with your friend. Instead of every weekend make it every other weekend. Then every month etc.

The emotional side of your leaving is going to be difficult no matter how you look at it. This woman and her family have woven you into their financial and emotional difficulties very well. They have made their lives and dependency issues yours and now you carry that burden for them. This is not a functional family. Instead of allowing you to help them become financially and emotionally independent, they have used you to get deeper into dependency.

To break it, you are going to need to isolate your feelings about it from your friend's and her family's. Start by practicing telling yourself that they are adults and need to be more responsible for themselves. Remember, by doing this, you are actually helping them. They need someone to push them to be more independent and they will never get that unless you disengage from supporting them. Keep reinforcing for yourself that it is time to move on and no matter how they react, this is the right choice for you and for them. If you stay, you will be responsible for them forever and they will drain you dry financially.


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