My wife and I have been married for almost six years, together for more than eight. I know it is the cliché, but the quarantine has me contemplating divorce, not from spending time together but my wife’s reaction to it. Her drinking, which was a problem before the quarantine, has gotten out of control. Most days, I don’t know what I am going to come home to (within the past month, I started a new job and had to go into the office after three months of working from home), if she’s going to be drunk or not, and if the former, is she going to be passed out or angry or giddy or hungry. Many times in these states, she’s become verbally abusive, screaming “fuck you” at me or calling me names—this she usually doesn’t remember the next day, or says she doesn’t. She also isn’t taking the quarantine isolation well in terms of mental health, stating it is making her feel crazy. But her expression of this is trying to push my buttons and push me toward darkness because it makes her angry that I seem to be OK and she wants me to be crazy so she doesn’t feel lonely in her craziness. But I can’t let that happen because she has stopped helping with anything around the house, from taking care of our animals (two cats and two dogs), cooking (when I was working from home, I had to make sure she ate, and now that I’m not home, she has stopped eating during the day), cleaning, doing any of the shopping—one of us has to stay OK. I have tried to be supportive, encouraging her to go see a therapist or to AA (she refuses to do these things) and being there for her; I worry about her and want her to be happy, or at least OK. But I am exhausted. You mention in relationship letters how a person will describe a problem and couch it in “But they are a really great person” or “Otherwise the relationship is great.” When I try to think about the good, it is always in the past. She was smart and fun and silly; we did have great communication.
I have been increasingly thinking about leaving (and these are usually fantasies about coming home from work and being able to flop on the couch and read a book over a cup of tea or play a video game) but am held back by several factors. One, I don’t want to abandon someone when they are obviously in a dark place, and I fear what she would do if I were to leave. She has stated many times she doesn’t know what she would do without me and how she feels desperate to keep me. Two, I come from a very dysfunctional family (don’t we all) that I am not close with at all (I was always the black sheep, but being gay sent me out to pasture with them), while my wife’s family is very close (talking multiple times a day, group chats, frequently getting together—before the pandemic), so I feel like I would be losing a family and would be alone. (I don’t have any close friends.) Three, my wife’s drinking has been an issue really since we first started dating but got bad about two years ago, and the reason is that I had an emotional affair—I fell in love with someone else, though nothing physical happened—so I feel responsible for both her excessive drinking and her negative self-thoughts. All I want is peace, to feel able to relax, but I feel like I am a babysitter/caretaker. But if I were to leave, I would feel like I was a monster. I am currently in therapy and my wife refuses to go to couples therapy and I would greatly appreciate your advice. Should I stay or should I go now?
—Stay or Go?