Dear Annie

I have been married for 17 years now and I feel like I’m trapped in a marriage which I will never have the courage to leave.

I have lived through physical abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse and an affair. He did it to me in public.

My husband had an affair with my best friend, whom I considered a sister, six years ago

He asked me to give him a month to decide whether he wants me or her, but I fought for him as I have two daughters and I had nowhere else to go. He decided to stay with the girls and he ended the affair. However, I wanted the marriage to work for all the wrong reasons then.

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As time went by, I realised that I resented him and what he did to me as a woman.

He tormented me when he had the affair, and made me feel so worthless as a woman

I met someone two years ago whom I have fallen in love with, and who treats me with the respect that my husband never showed me.

On 1 January this year my husband physically abused me for a misunderstanding with my daughter and he chased me out of the house. I left for a week and then returned. But when I moved back in I told him I wanted a separation.

He refuses to let go of the marriage

He has given up alcohol in these three months and he has changed in terms of his behaviour and attitude. He has calmed down and he is controlling his temper. But I still want out of this marriage. However I feel pressured by my family and girls to give him a last chance.

I still want out of this marriage. However I feel pressured by my family and girls to give him a last chance

What I truly want is out of this marriage

However I feel sorry for him now and the girls. If I stay it will be out of pity, and not because that’s what I truly want. I’m really confused as I don’t know whether I should stay as a duty to my children and duty as a wife as I promised to God.

Please help.

Dear Shannon

Thank you for your letter. In the back of your wardrobe you may have a once-pink, now nondescript, pair of slippers.

Maybe you bought them because they looked so soft and comfortable. No doubt you took them home and happily kicked off your shoes to slip your tired feet in to rest.

Now, after years of wear, the soles have worn through, the fluff has fallen out and there is a hole in the toe. Theyâ??re really not comfortable anymore but youâ??re used to them and itâ??s just your feet, so who cares?

It sounds to me like your long marriage is a bit like that

You do not say if you work outside the home and are financially independent or not. Many times we keep those ugly old slippers because we donâ??t know how we will ever be able to afford to buy a new pair. It does not seem that this is the main factor holding you back and you did leave, albeit for just a week.

It seems that you have spotted a new pair of slippers through the shop window. When you tried them on you suddenly began to think that maybe your feet deserved to be comfortably warm and sitting pretty. Before you make the new purchase though, you need to work out what to do with your old slippers.

Should you stay in your abusive marriage for the sake of your daughters?

A better question to ask is: â??What kind of marriage am I modelling to my daughters?â?

A better question to ask is: â??What kind of marriage am I modelling to my daughters?â?

Tell me this â?? would you encourage your daughter to stay in a marriage like you are in?

Your daughters are going to eventually leave home. You may still be there. What then?

You say that your husband is making an effort.

After 17 years of abuse. Hmmm. Well I suppose rather later than never. Perhaps he really does regret the way he has treated you. Perhaps since January he has changedâ?¦.will you excuse me a minute? I just need to fetch the fly swatter. A flying pig keeps getting in the way of my screen.

There, thatâ??s betterâ?¦sorry, where were we? Oh yes, your husband is a changed man.

In all fairness, we all make mistakes and are capable of making better choices and changing for the better. With 17 years of violent, abusive behaviour it is going to take a lot of work, determination and support (the professional kind) for a man to take off your old slippers and patiently rub away the pain from your exposed soles.

Your husband has treated you in ways that you did not deserve. No woman deserves to be abused. Ever. We all deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

Can you decide that you will no longer accept for yourself what you would not accept for your daughters?

As you remember that you are worthy of respect and refuse to accept abuse, you will be in a better position to make decisions about your future.

Donâ??t allow yourself to be trapped in a situation where you have surrendered your power to choose. Even the continued position of victim is a choice we can make.

Even the continued position of victim is a choice we can make

If you stay in your marriage, do so by choice, not by being a victim. Staying with a man out of pity or guilt is unfair to all involved.

You cannot stay for your girls or for your family

You say that you made a promise to God. What did that promise entail and has your husband not broken that covenant? As you take control of your life, I trust that you will make decisions that will find your feet in comfortable warm slippers every night.

You are beautiful!
Love and blessings
Annie