Differing expectations and desires

Sometimes I remind myself that people are allowed to have different expectations and desires, from things like the temperature of the soup to things like marriage.  I think that perhaps my husband's expectation of and desire for marriage is that it will be an undertaking to which he need not make any contributions.  My expectation and desire, in contrast, is that it be a joint undertaking.  Is it acceptable for me to end the marriage for this reason?


A minister friend said to me, "God does not want anyone to be miserable their entire life."  The question is a choice, neither of them good, but in our cases, there seems to be a choice of which is worse.  Choose to live as we are, miserable and going nuts, or choose a toss of the dice to possible peace and contentment or possible financial hardship. What we might find is unknown.  How much is our sanity and quality of life worth?  I know the best answer here is to choose the financial hardship and the unknowns rather than assured misery and some insanity.  Why don't we put the effort into making the necessary changes?  Also, I know God doesn't want me to spend my energies and thoughts in resentment and regret and frustration every day.  Sounds like we are pushing ourselves to the edge and are afraid of what might be on the other side.  What do we see over the edge?


Hi, jennalemon.  Thanks for the response.  Here are the most significant factors in my situation.  (1) Deciding which is worse:  abandoning a possibly mentally ill husband or continuing to enable a possibly fully-in-control but  nevertheless dysfunctional husband.  (2) Deciding how to deal, emotionally, physically, and financially, with the fact that if we were to get a divorce, I would have to make a choice between keeping our house and keeping my retirement accounts.  I value both quite highly.

Rock and a hard place

The answer to the question in the original post is Yes, you can end a relationship because you have different values when it comes to a relationship.  But as this last post points out, it is far more complicated than that.  If your husband is ADHD then he isn't fully in control.  But you have led him to the water of treating mental disorder, but you can't make him drink.  It seems to me that you have fulfilled your responsibility as a spouse.  It is not wrong to take care of yourself. 

Do you value your house/retirement accounts more than you value yourself?  The third option is to sell the house, keep half the equity, and half the retirement accounts.  Hopefully you wouldn't have to pay alimony.  I'm sure the idea of giving up some financial security is terrifying after living with the disorder of ADHD land.  I know it is to me.  Security is one of my top 3 values, so I would really struggle to answer this question too.  I hope that in the end I would choose to value myself, but I haven't done so hot at that so far in life. 

There are no easy answers.  I wish you the very best in deciding what is right for you.


Oh, yeah, I forgot about the issue of alimony (called maintenance in my state).  I fear that I would be ordered to pay my husband maintenance if we were to divorce. Gack.  


Rose, I am so sorry you are experiencing this. I know it seems awful, but can you get some advice from an attorney on the down low? Like, specific advice about what a separation or divorce agreement would look like in your situation? I sneaked out to see one when I was still with my spouse, and it helped me to make my decision to ultimately be able to leave. It is just good to know what may happen.


My spouse also is probably mentally ill, and definitely dysfunctional, perhaps with some bipolar disorder, and possibly depression, along with having ADHD. More clear cut for me--he was angry and abusive and we have small children. I felt ok to leave, but it took two years of thought and a therapist, my mother, some friends including one who had dealt with the same issue, and an attorney for me to get there. I felt ok about it because I asked him, point blank, for five years to seek counseling with me and for two years to get psychiatric help. He took ADHD meds from our family doctor but they did some bad things while they helped him work, and he out and out refused to see a counselor or psychiatrist. He would not treat it and is still in a great deal of denial. So I felt ok. I didn't leave because he is ill or has ADHD, I left because he would not do anything about it after years of me asking. I tried everything. As a friend said, a decision on his part not to do anything or not to deal with something, is still a decision.  

So a few thoughts: yeah, leaving isn't fun financially. I left him in the house (long story), which stung, especially with the kids, but now--upside is I have an apartment. The heat broke recently, and I just called the landlord. Boom. Done. No yard to cut. No garage to keep clean. No plumbing to pay out the nose to fix if something happens. Options open. I asked myself, if someone came up to me years ago and asked me, would I trade being able to own and live in a house for a miserable life? The answer would be no way. I found I was able to let it go and it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. I may rent a house at some point. Or move.

Could you survive ok on the retirement you would get? Would you have peace of mind in exchange for less funds? 


And yes, technically, the spousal maintenance thing may be there, but I wouldn't be surprised if him not seeking work wouldn't make the situation pretty sympathetic in your favor. 

Good thoughts to you. Take care.