Lou insisted that we go to counseling and scheduled an “emergency” session with a therapist. That didn’t go well. In the session, she asked about why we were in this position. I told her how I felt and about the stress and the affairs and his temper. He said it was all just stress from the move and building a house, and that we could work through it together. She pretty much said that sometimes people need to have at least a break from each other, and sometimes splitting up is the right thing to do. With that said, Lou began yelling that I was going to destroy our daughter. That this would absolutely permanently ruin her for life. And he said that when Anjelica asked why Mommy and Daddy were getting a divorce, he was going to tell her it was because Mommy’s career was more important to her than her family. Lou blasted me with a round of rapid-fire accusations from his mental clip; I bowed my head, covered my ears and screamed back, “You know that’s not true!” My body trembled, my legs went weak, and my heart raced, as I was literally backed into the corner and slid down the wall to keep from falling. I was uncontrollably shaking and sobbing that it was unfair and wrong, as he insisted I was an unfit mother and called me a destroyer. The therapist tried to get us to calm down, and said he should back away from me, but he just told her she was unqualified, asked how much we owed for her great advice and said she was a complete waste of time. He pulled me up from the floor by the arm and led me out. I resisted but had been beaten down into the corner and did not have enough strength to break away. I silently begged for her to do something to help but she stood by and let it happen. Just stood by and let him take me against my will.

He dictated that if after we go through counseling with someone else, we decide to divorce, it must be jointly through one lawyer. I said he can have the house if he wants it, which he does. I said I only need enough money to be able to get started with a place on my own, and that he can pay out my half of what we own over time. We’d share joint custody of Anjelica and I would live nearby in the same school district. There is nothing to disagree about, but he refuses to sit down to write up terms. I don’t know what could be easier. He just keeps telling me that I better not go to a lawyer again. I refused to disclose the name of the one I did see. He warned that if I see a lawyer again or file for divorce on my own there’s going to be trouble. I asked, “What trouble?” He just looked straight at me with those familiar cold, dark eyes and flatly answered, “You don’t want to know,” paused, and repeated the one word: “trouble.” I explained I don’t want to fight, I’m easy on the terms, so there is no need to threaten me.

I can’t hide the stress, and finally told my boss and a couple people at work that we’re divorcing. My boss and Cassie, who reports to me, are both supportive. Cassie wanted to know why I’m still living with him. After I explained what was going on, she put two rubber bands around my wrist, and briskly snapped them on me. She instructed me to keep them there, and that every time I start to give in to something or feeling sorry for Lou, I’m to snap the bands. Whenever I say something sympathetic regarding Lou, she quips, “snap snap.” Lou hasn’t noticed the bands, but I’ve snap snaped myself many times. It is an excellent reminder.

Lou keeps calling me at work. If I don’t answer the phone at my desk, he leaves a voicemail. Then he calls back and pushes the button to direct his call to the admin assistant to ask her to look around for me. If she can’t find me, then he has me paged. If he can’t reach me at the office, he calls my cell phone non-stop. Where am I? What am I doing? When am I coming home?

I slept in the basement for a few nights, but Lou insisted that I come back to our bedroom, so Anjelica doesn’t notice anything. She’s only seen us ever fight about the house building and moving issues, but obviously, she knows we are not getting along. I have told Lou many times I will not change my mind on this decision, and that I agreed to counseling to help us through the split, not because I want to reconcile. We sleep and watch television together in the king bed, but I’m not having sex with him anymore. He talks and talks and talks, until I eventually tell him that I’ll go back to the couch if he doesn’t let me sleep.

He keeps concocting reasons I am unfit to make a major decision. He remarked, “You are only this upset because you’re menstruating.” He finally picked up the book I bought him about living with a depressed partner. He underlined and dog-eared the text and cited evidence that my judgment is greatly impaired by depression, anxiety, and medications. I retorted, “I’m thinking clearly for the first time in ages.”

We have had some good discussions. I disclosed details of all the women I knew about over the years and acknowledged I was screwed up to have tolerated it so long. He finally admitted that all the times I asked, and he denied what was happening, I was correct. He said sometimes, it was not his fault, because women kept coming on to him when he was traveling. I confessed that I was well aware that he had a date at the same time as my father’s funeral and would never forget that he chose the woman over honoring my father until I badgered him to attend the wake. I told him that I knew he lost that client because of an office relationship and sexual harassment claim. He said that woman was a lying bitch who was doing her boss too, and he got jealous when he found out, which is why Lou was fired, not sexual harassment. So that wasn’t his fault either.

He shared that he’s always been afraid he is cursed to be just like his father. He said he realizes that he has a sexual addiction and is willing to get counseling if I will stay together. I agreed he should go to therapy, but I’m done with this marriage regardless. I didn’t offer my opinion that he has a lot more to work on than being a sex addict. But he’s unwilling to go to therapy at all without a promise from me not to divorce.

I am exhausted, and only get relief from the constant pressure when he’s out of town. Lou insists he will change. He’ll have more local client engagements to travel less, and when he does go to PA, he will no longer stay at his favorite hotel with the honeymoon suite, because it is too easy to fall into old habits and everyone knows him at the bar as a player.

Hopefully, he can change to be a better father and male role model for Anjelica, and perhaps be somebody’s decent husband one day.