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My Husband Wants a Divorce

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Dear Doctor Life Advice,

My husband and I have been married for two months, and he already wants a divorce. We have been together for five years and we have lived together for the past two years. This is my first marriage. My husband has been married twice before, and I am his third wife.

I became ill a month ago and could not work. He has been treating me differently since then. He argues about everything and wants me to leave him. I am not making any money and have no other financial resources. My husband still expects me to pay for my portion of the bills. I can’t afford to pay the bills and pay for the medication that I need to keep me alive.

What should I do? Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Signed: Abandoned Wife

Dear Abandoned Wife,

I am so sorry you are going through this. There are two issues we need to address here: your illness, and your husband.

You Need Help with your Illness

You have not told me much about your illness, so I don’t know the the nature or the severity of it. Before I talk about the issue of your husband, I have some advice for you about your financial situation:

  • First of all, you need to get yourself on state disability if possible. If you are unable to work, states have disability programs that help you financially until you can get back on your feet.
  • Do some internet research about the illness you have. Specifically look for foundations that are dedicated to helping people with your illness. There may be numerous resources available to you that you are not aware of.
  • A lot of pharmaceutical companies have “patient-assistance” programs for patients that cannot afford their medications. Find out who the manufacturers of your medications are, and see if they have such programs.
  • Reach out to family and friends. Is there someone that can offer you a place to stay for a while without paying rent? You need help from people who care about you and love you. This is really time for you to ask for help.

What May your Husband be Going Through

About your husband, given the little that you have said about him, I don’t have a very high opinion of him. You two were together for five years and have lived together for the past  two years. You should know him well enough by now. I have some questions for you that you need to answer for yourself in order to decide how to proceed with him.

Has he always been this way, or is this a side of him you have never seen before? My initial response to reading your question was to tell you to get as far away from him as possible. However, with further reflection, I realized I do not  know him. I cannot tell if he is just having a very anxious reaction to you being ill,  or fear surrounding a sudden drop in income. If he has always been nice and this is an unusual reaction, then he is probably faced with a situation that he does not know how to deal with, and he is having an impulse to just run away. This can be worked on with open communication and some treatment for your husband’s anxieties and fears.

How did your husband’s first two marriages end? The fact that he has been married twice before tells me that he can  leave marriages easily. I bet you have his side of the stories of how his marriages ended. If at all possible, try to find his ex-wives and get their side of the story. They may bring to light some things about his personality that he has been able to hide from you until now.

How is he with finances? What is his general attitude about money? I find it remarkable that the minute you stop making money, he wants out of the relationship. I also find it unacceptable that he is not acting more supportive of you and trying to help you out in the time of your illness instead of asking for a divorce. With some people, money is a big part of their relationship, and they don’t want to be financially responsible for their partner no matter what the circumstances are. If that is the case, then get away from him. What is the point of being with a partner that will abandon you just when you need them most? This is also a good question to answer through talking with his ex-wives and getting a sense of the financial details of their divorces.

In the seven years that you have been with him, has he been nice and supportive to you? Is he a really nice guy? I cannot tell you what kind of a person you are married to, but you can. Look back at your relationship carefully and see if there are red flags that you missed. I wonder if there are things that happened that surprised or even shocked you, but then you made excuses for him and continued to stay with him. If there were, this is the time for you to acknowledge them and start seeing him for whom he really is.

Is he the type of person who wants to be the focus of attention? Are things always about him? The reason I’m asking these questions is because it seems to me that things were going relatively smoothly between the two of you until you became ill. I can imagine that things were going well because you never had any needs, and both of you were just focused on meeting his needs. I suspect this is the case because it would explain why he has changed now that you are ill. An ill person who can’t work has both physical and financial needs that someone else should be taking care of. If he is used to being the one who is always taken care of, then the relationship is not an equal one, and now that the tables have turned, he does not want to take care of you.

Is he picking fights with you to get you to leavehim? I wonder why he is picking fights. One reason may be that he is anxious and fearful now that you are sick, and he responds by picking fights. Another reason may be that he really does want a divorce, but does not want to be portrayed as the bad guy who left his wife the moment she got sick. Maybe he is picking fights with you in order to get you to leave the marriage. That way, he won’t be the one abandoning you.

In conclusion, I am very suspicious of your husband’s behavior. He may be just reacting out of feat and anxiety, or it may be that he does not really care for you. You need to really look at your relationship and decipher which is the case.

As for you, this is the time for you to find additional resources. I wonder if you have become more and more isolated since you started your relationship with him. If so, it is time for you to start reaching out to loved ones. You may end up not finding anyone to help you, and you don’t qualify for disability, and there are no foundations. I doubt that. There is more help out there than you know. If you do find out that there is no help out there, then start looking for women’s shelters. At least in a shelter you can spend what little money you have left on paying for your medications, rather than paying for the things to appease your husband. Never forget that your health and well being is more important than any relationship.

I wish the best for you in this truly challenging endeavor,

Doctor Life Advice

Sayeh Beheshti, M.D.