Four months ago we had another fight in which he threw things and kicked the stuffing out of our garbage can. Over the last four months I have been basically planning our divorce, and talking to him about my feelings. He does not ever want to hear how it affects me - it's a "not this again" sort of response.
So what's stopping me? I believe it's fear, and feeling like a huge hypocrite. I am no better than he is, and not sure yet if I am really self-aware enough not to make several more serious mistakes in my life. I want peace and security, and that has brought me back from the brink of divorce so many times. Not sure what I'm asking here.
Answer: Leaving wouldn't make you "better than he is," any more than staying would declare you his equal or inferior or whatever else. Even as a couple, you have your life, he has his, and it's not an inner-beauty contest.
Your only responsibility here is to make a (deceptively) simple decision about the right path for you, using the best information you have. And that information is, if I'm understanding you:
You're unhappy in your marriage. You've established boundaries, and your husband has crossed them. You have expressed to him your feelings and needs; he has chosen not to honor them. Indeed, he's been openly dismissive. You are in a position to stand on your own, financially and emotionally.
Does that help clarify your thinking?
There's no such thing as mistake-free living, so you can expect to make several more mistakes in your life with your husband or without - which means your doubts about your own progress have no bearing on whether you stay or go.
Comment: I was also in an abusive marriage, to a man who smoked marijuana daily, drank heavily, regularly and explosively lost his temper, and who had little patience for my requests for more respectful treatment.
Divorce is not a picnic, but being on your own terms and away from that sort of environment makes for a far happier, not to mention infinitely more peaceful and secure, life. My life became immensely better after I left my ex, and I wish the same for you.
A: A caveat: Leaving violent people is necessary, but risky. 1-800-799-7233.
E-mail Carolyn Hax at firstname.lastname@example.org.