Stacy in Danville writes:
My husband and I had not been getting along for years, but when the words “I do not think I have ever loved you” came out of his mouth, something snapped inside me. We talked and decided to separate. I could not afford to move out at the time, but he said that was OK. Then he tried to take back what he said, but I have continued with my plan to get out. Last night we got into a fight and actually exchanged blows for the first time, ever. We have an autistic daughter. He is threatening me with a custody battle, because he says he has transcripts of my conversations with another man. The conversations with this man came after he told me that he had another woman in his life and he wanted us to go our separate ways, but maintain a household for our daughter. I am confused, hurt, scared and angry. Please advise!
Your husband is not the type of man who embraces change, unless it is a change he desires or has created. When he uttered that fateful phrase “I do not think I have ever loved you,” you snapped, because on some level it rang true. It was a verbal confirmation of one of your deeper fears. It’s not that he never loved you, once upon a time he did, but he hasn’t been “in love” with you for a long time.
You scared him by taking steps to take control over your life – your future! It all became more real to him, particularly the fact that he was losing control. How to regain order? Threaten you with your child. You have to see that it worked… and he knew it would.
As far as his precious transcripts go, I’m not seeing them as detrimental to you or beneficial to him. I don’t think they would actually be read by a judge; therefore, they really hold no power. Well, legal power, that is. However, they have instilled a nice level of doubt and fear in you, which is a whole different kind of power.
I do see that violence isn’t the nature of your household, but you missed prime leverage time. Spousal abuse is a crime. Even though I’m not going to sit here and tell you how you were battered and victimized – you have your own level of responsibility and wrong-doing in this episode – you could have manipulated the situation to your advantage. Yes, he has proof of your conversation with another man, but wife-beaters generally aren’t looked at as having this wonderful stability and strength of character.
It is time for you to talk to an attorney. Your husband doesn’t have boundaries when it comes to getting what he wants. You need to get legal council to put your mind at ease and to help you navigate getting out of that house and marriage. It is not a healthy environment, for you or your daughter. Furthermore, I don’t see you being able to find happiness and contentment in this marriage any longer. Sure, you can still choose to stay. Ask yourself if you want a life, or just a familiar existence. You have a choice.
Your husband will not gain custody of your daughter. I see a shared arrangement. While it is going to be a tough transition for her, don’t underestimate her. She will adapt, and on her level, understand.