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I want to take a break from my marriage

Community Member
My husband and I have been married for 6 years, together for 10. These last 5 years, I have struggled with multiple addictions that have placed huge financial and emotional stress on our marriage. My gambling addiction caused my husband to find it necessary to take control of my finances, with my salary being paid directly to our joint account and my every spend monitored. For a short time, this method helped stop the gambling. However, over time I grew resentful at being surveiled and like a child, I would at times rebel.
On top of that, I also use recreational drugs. This is a huge issue because he and I have differing views on the subject, and while I can see and understand his point of view, he never even tries to understand where I am coming from. So again, I get surveiled and monitored and told what to do.
Because I am studying at the moment, he is heavily supporting me, and whenever I step out of line I get restricted access to the car or the finances. I even get told who I can and can not have in the house...My house. (E.g certain family members).
So a week ago, I asked to take a break from our marriage. I explained how there is a huge power imbalance in our relationship, and I needed to be apart so I could prove to myself, and him, that I am capable of making it on my own. I told him I felt as though he relished in how broken I am because it makes him feel superior by being the one who "fixes" me.
I absolutely do not want a divorce, he is actually a wonderful man, and I love him completely. But I can't go another 10 years feeling like a worthless piece of crap who is indebted to her super hero husband.
I actually explained it a lot better to him last week. I poured my heart out actually. And all he could say was "You just need to finish uni, then things will be better". Ugh
Is it viable to have a trial separation? Is that a thing?
5 Replies 5

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi no1nosme,

Your addictions have obviously had an extremely negative impact on your marriage, and it has understandably damaged the trust/faith that your partner has that you will do the right thing by him or the marriage. I would be furious if my partner was to gamble my life away, you are a team. As such, he seems to have adopted a ‘carer’ type role, where everything you do is intensely monitored. While I understand his rationale (ie if you don’t have money, you can’t gambling/use drugs), in actual fact it is not dealing with the underlying issues that are causing you to do these things. It also doesn’t provide you with an opportunity to “prove” yourself outside the confines that have been imposed on you. I also want to ask you a bit about your gambling - how did it start? You also mentioned that he never tries to understand your views on drug use - what are they if you don’t mind me asking?

Thank you for your reply. You're right, of course, we are supposed to be a team and I understand the damage I have caused to his trust, at least in regard to sensible financial decisions.

I also believe that his solution of controlling my finances comes from the right place, I see the rationale. But yes, it ignores the underlying issues contributing to my addictions in the first place.

I guess ultimately it was my drug use that led to my gambling. While high, I would take bigger risks, and most of the time I would lose everything. That would then cause me to try and recoup my losses, which only led me further down the rabbit hole. Eventually I would have to come clean, and we have had to use money set aside for our future to pay off my gambling debts.

As for our differing views on drug use...I come from a family of drug users (My siblings and parents/aunts/uncles/ cousins/nephews). My siblings and I all have histories of trauma and poverty. Yes, we have substance abuse issues. But we are not inherently bad people. We have good hearts and we love eachother dearly.

My husband looks down on my family, and they feel it. I feel it. He goes on and on about addicts and how they're grubs and scum, and I just think, how can you say this about people and yet say you love me? He doesn't even try to see the person behind the addiction.

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi, welcome

juliet had a cracker post as usual.

A short story. My last gf didn’t like the amount of money I spent in model airplanes. One day she told me she wanted to put me on an “allowance” which I foolishly accepted. When times came around when a major purchase was wanted the allowance wasn’t enough but my request for more was refused (ring a bell?). We argued, then she asked me how much I’ve spent on that hobby in 7 years. $11,000 I replied to which she asked “are you proud of that”? I replied much more proud than if I had spent $35,000 for cigarettes!

She smoked a cartons week. I had radio gear and airplanes still from my money spent. I earned 3 times more than her.

So that was one major reason we split up. My wife now of 8 years never has a trust issue with me.

It was pleasing that you spoke proud of your family and unfortunate that he feels like a class above. That attitude and his controlling without teamwork is degrading and has and will continue to erode your pride. For this reason I’m sorry to say, I think your chances of making a future is low without major intervention by way of relationship counseling or trial separation for at least 6 months, long enough to get the feel of independence and financial capability.

Ofcourse there is the other side of the story. He is scarred from that leaking money bucket, feels like you come from a less than desirable family and won’t discuss things at length like when he said “just finish uni”. Words you’d say to a 19yo.

This lack of trust is mostly understandable but he is going about it in a not so clever manner. If he negotiated, talked at length etc he wouldn’t lose his wife.

The drug addictions is a serious concern and regardless of you improving and regardless of his comments you’d do yourself a favour by ongoing counseling.

Due to my experience you have options and sadly, your love for him is not enough to get you through this power struggle you’re in.

His control with money has robbed you of your dignity not intentionally initially but now you’re wanting to claw back that dignity but he sees it as risking the future for both of you.


Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi No1nosme (with a wave to white knight 👋),

Thank you for sharing your insights, of which you have shown a tremendous amount. It can be incredibly hurtful when we feel as though our partner doesn’t understand ‘us’, even the not so great parts, or judge your family who have done nothing wrong to him to warrant that. Families can be a bit ‘hopeless’ in their own ways, but they are our family and only we can ever say that! It sounds as though he is ‘blaming’ them for your addiction and holding them personally responsible, and as a consequence had a lot of resentment towards them. Have you tried explaining to him, just as you have done to me, how it makes you feel? If so, how did he respond?

I think that White Knight hit the nail on the head when he said that you could definitely use some counseling. There are quite a few issues swirling around and you need support to work through them, and you aren’t really getting that support from your partner. At the very least, I think you would benefit from some counseling to help support you with your underlying issues with drug abuse. That being said, all this has been kind of imposed on you and I wanted to get your thoughts on how you are feeling in terms of your gambling and drug addiction issues - is it something that you earnestly want to stop? Sometimes people can impose such restrictions on you that it has the opposite effect, that you want to rebel against it. But I don’t want you to lose sight of the fact that it’s unlikely to lead to a happy and fulfilling life for you.

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi No1nosme,

Tony and Juliet have said it all really so there is little to add but I did have questions for you to consider if that's ok.

No pressure to answer of course!

You mentioned you don't want to end your marriage which made me wonder what do you hope time separate will achieve?

From an outsiders view it's clear you and your husband feel very differently and equally as strongly about major issues in your lives. Both views are valid.

From your descriptions it sounds to me like your husband expects you to change your views and you want him to change his. Is a separation likely to make either happen? When we're alone it's easy to get used to doing things your own way. Returning might be even harder.

I agree with the posts above about counselling. Perhaps working together with an independent mediator to find a compromise that both of you can accept would help? What do you think?