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Counseling/Loveless marriage with kids


This will be long, sorry!  To start from the beginning I grew up in a loving but dysfunctional family due to my dad's need to control us and our mother.  We were never abused but we learned to do what we were told without question.  Both parents were very worried about what people would think and used religion as a scapegoat.  Anyways around 14 years old I started dating a man 3 years older than myself, he treated me really nice so I catered to him which in turn made him fall head over hills in love with me.  I honestly didn't feel the same,  for me it felt more like good friends or almost a brother/sister relationship.  He also started to be controlling of my time, getting upset when i wanted to soend time with friends.  So eventually I broke up with him and he started doing dangerous things like drinking heavily and driving recklessly.  We lived in an extremely small town of about 350 people and a lot of them were blaming me for his behavior so I let them pressure me into getting back with him.  As soon as I turned 18 and graduated my parent's being worried about what people thought of us going places overnight together, started pressuring us to get married.  I had dreams of moving to Oregon and going to school but my parents didn't have money for that and I knew nothing about financial aid so I thought it was just not in the cards for me.  When he asked me to marry him I said yes because I didn't know how to say no and then still be in that small town feeling like I let everyone down.  I was depressed and one day my mom asked about it and I told her I didn't love him in that way and I thought I was making s huge mistake.  She told me live isn't all sparks and romance and that I just needed to get married, so I did.  Three months later I was pregnant.  After a few years I went back to Oregon to visit family and I realized all the opportunities available to me and how much I was missing out on.  My husband and I fought all the time mainly because I never wanted to have sex because I didn't feel for him in that way.  I came back from Oregon and told him I wanted a divorce.  Shortly after he came home drunk one night and pressured mr for sex which I gave in to because I just didn't want to deal with fighting over it.  Then I found out I was expecting twins and he got laid off do I resigned myself that this would be my life being married to someone I didn't love.  Anyways my husband has a good job now,  I am still a stay at home mom, we have four kids.  My husband is a hard worker, a good dad, but we have nothing in common, disagree on a log of things and he is an alcoholic although it hasn't affected his work.  That combined with our relationship issue is having a negative effect on our kids.  We are pretty much like roommates most of the time sleeping in seperate beds.  He still says he loves me and I hate it because I feel like I have to say it back which makes me feel like a liar.  I recently went back to Oregon for three months and I have never felt more slice or happy.  I just want to get divorced and be free to go to school,  find out who I am etc.  but I don't want to hurt my kids or my husband.  Plus I am a stay at home mom with no school or work experience and I don't think I am allowed to move out of state.  I feel trapped and depressed and unsure what to do.  I need guidance.

Hello Chelsea - Thanks for a very articulate sketch. From what you wrote, I suspect you have inherited some psychological wounds from your ancestors, which are contributing to your feeling trapped:

If thus is true, you have some important options:

1] get and keep clear on your rights as a dignified, worthy woman:

2] for your and your kids' sakes, investigate these options for reducing your wounds and guarding your kids from inheriting them:

3] Consult with your wise "Future Self" to clarify your options and form a life-plan:

4) Investigate online education to acquire skills which could eventually help you earn a living.

5] If you haven't yet, be fully honest with your husband about your feelings and needs. Would he be willing to move you all to Oregon?  

6] Consider and discuss these alternatives to divorce:

7] Research the Web for a compatible mother's support group, or start your own. You are not alone!

If you have questions about any of these, please ask - Pete


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Peter Gerlach, MSW


I can answer questions about mood disorders, depression, suicide, relationships, communication skills, problem solving, clear thinking, bonding disorders, trauma recovery, addiction management, grieving, shame, guilt, fear, reality distortion, and trust disorders; courtship, family functioning, "problem kids," mediation, (re)marriage, divorce, stepfamilies, stepparenting, boundaries, self-neglect, abuse, parental neglect, personality subselves, ("parts work"). I cannot answer legal or medical questions.


I maintained a private therapy practice near Chicago for 27 years, and have worked with over 1,000 men, women, couples, and families on a wide range of personal and family problems. I have been in personal recovery from growing up in an alcoholic family since 1986, and have worked with five therapists to heal my own psychological wounds. I maintained a "warm (phone) line" for callers on the topics above for 20 years, and have taught over 200 seminars and classes in midwestern universities, churches, support groups, and schools since 1981. I have practiced internal-family therapy ("parts work") with trauma-recoverers since 1991.

National Stepfamily Resource Center (NSRC) Experts Council; Compassion and Choices, and Final Exit Network

# Several hundred articles in my non-profit "Break the Cycle!" Web site at These articles are augmented by over 150 educational YouTube videos .

# six books on childhood-trauma recovery, effective communication, and stepfamily courtship, coparenting, and management.

A bachelors degree in mechanical engineering (BSME, 1959) from Stanford University, a Masters degree in clinical Social Work, (MSW, 1981), and over 500 hours of post-grad training in the topics above - including clinical hypnosis, spirituality, codependence, addicrtion-management, and guided imagery. My post-grad traning includes two 9-month internships on doing internal-family therapy at the University of Illinois.

Awards and Honors
Hundreds of grateful emails and comments from students and clients all over the world.

Past/Present Clients
Over 1,000 average Midwestern-US women, men, couples, and families. A physical disability limits me to doing telephone and Skype counseling now.

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