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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5807
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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My husband live in the basement and has had this behavior

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My husband live in the basement and has had this behavior pattern for the entirety of our 22 year marriage. Currently, he has been down there for 6 weeks (through the holidays). I believe I tolerated this because for many years, I took responsibility for his behavior. We have 2 daughters (12 and 16). This time, I want to get out of the marriage. I have made attempts to communicate with him, with no result. I am no longer taking responsibility for his behavior and have suggested respectfully XXXXX XXXXX am concerned about him and that he should consider seeing his physician and getting treatment for his apparent depression. At this point, is it okay for me to simply divorce him? Meaning, what hope is there that he will change if he continually resists treatment and self-help? My daughters and I are becoming increasingly depressed ourselves over this situation.
Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

It sounds like you have tried everything you can think of to deal with your husband's problem. But no matter what you try, he has to want to accept help and do something himself. It does not sound like he is willing to do that, which leaves you to decide the best way to help yourself and your children.

It is understandable that you feel bad about leaving. But you are right, you have to consider your children and your own needs. If you all are becoming depressed over the situation, then you are being affected to the point that you are having trouble coping. This should, ideally, trigger your husband to get help. But either he is too depressed or too focused on his own needs to do something about the situation. Unfortunately, that means you will have to.

It is ok to leave your husband. You are not leaving after a short time of this behavior but instead you waited 22 years. You have tried everything to change the situation. There is no other solution in order to protect your family. Consider talking to a counselor about your feelings. You have seen a lot of therapists, but just having the support for you and your children can help you cope with the loss of your marriage and the stress you have gone through being the only partner to work on the issues in your relationship. You may be carrying around more stress than you realize.

Also, consider building your support now. If you have family and friends that are supportive, talk to them about how you feel and let them help you. Spend some time away with your children if possible just talking about what you feel and focusing on your relationships. If you attend church, reach out to the pastor for support. They are usually very good at dealing with marital issues and divorce so they can offer guidance.

It may take a while to work through this but you will. Even if your marriage was not the best, XXXXX XXXXX still a loss to you of hopes and dreams. Give yourself and your kids time to heal.

I hope this has helped you,
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thanks Kate. I am concerned about the kids. What is worse - being continually exposed to the "roller coaster" or living with effects of divorce (which I will focus on addressing and try to minimize for them, but still, I would do anything for them. I want them to be healthy) Also, is it ever acceptable for a spouse to take the self away from interacting with his family? When he gets into this state of mind, his interaction with all of us is limited to driving one daughter to school and maybe 5 minutes of conversation. The rest of the time he is watching TV or at work. (We are both self-employed in health care professions)
I understand your concern for the kids. Divorce is typically difficult for children. However, in cases where a parent is causing the child to be depressed or affecting them with their behavior, it may be better for the child to be away from that parent. That is not to say your husband is abusive, but if the kids are being affected, then they may thrive more being away from their father's behavior than staying with him.

It is not considered normal for a someone to limited their interaction with their family and to focus on their own activities. A spouse and father is supposed to put his wife and children first, just as you do with your family. But it sounds like he is putting himself first. While that may be due to depression, which is understandable, he still has an obligation to do something about the situation, whether that means seeing his doctor for medications to feel better so he can cope or seeing therapist. And it is not like he is alone in this either. You are making a lot of effort to help him. He just refuses to accept it. That means he wants to put himself first, which is not a good sign.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Okay, I have messed everything up! I should have done things differently from the beginning. Do you think I should continue to try? If so, what? What can I do, what should I have done, or is my only realistic path to stability / peace and maybe happiness to just end it now? I feel guilty. Or, I am cracking up!!! Thanks for your input
It is not you that has done anything here. This is your husband's choice. You can do nothing to help him unless he is willing to be helped. It's like to old phrase you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink. It is the same with your husband. If he won't get help, there is nothing you can do. You cannot force him. The only choice you do have is to decide how you want to react. He is not going to change so if you are ok with that, then stay. But if you feel the situation is intolerable and that you and your children would be happier on your own, then leave. That is why support is so important. It can help you make that decision without feeling alone.


May I please request that if you find the service I provided helpful at all that you rate me with three or above? Your rating is the only way I am reimbursed for my answer. Thank you so much!
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Yes, I have an appointment with a counsellor. You have been helpful - thanks. And I have a support system. I just feel really badly for us, him, etc. When I move forward with divorce, he is going to tell me he is going to get help and that he understands how this affects us. But I have heard this from him many times before and he has seen two therapists himself. He hasn't tried medication. I will want to believe that this time (if he tells me that again) he really will change. But, regardless, I have to convince myself that the deadline has passed and I cannot trust what he says anymore for my own peace of mind, correct? It's is my last reply!
If he has promised to change before and has not followed through, then he may just be using his promises to keep you in the dysfunctional loop he has been in your entire marriage. Some people want to stay in the same circumstances because that is what they know and they don't want to change. By keeping you there, he can shirk his responsibilities to the family and let you handle them. As hard as it is, it may be in your best interest to follow through this time. Otherwise, you will find yourself back in the situation again.

TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.


You're very welcome! It is not an easy situation to deal with I know. Hang in there and get as much support as possible. You will get through this.

My best to you and your family,
And thank you for the positive rating, I really appreciate it!


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