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Wife's guilt keeps the ex under her roof

January 07, 2010

Dear Amy: When my husband and I divorced more than two years ago, I gave him nine months to move out of my house. He's still here.

He claims that he has no money, and he doesn't. He gambled it all away in the stock market after our divorce.

My ex-husband is rude. He belittles me and trashes me. He is manic-depressive.

He wakes me at 3 a.m. to berate me about my shortcomings. He pays very little in living expenses; he just buys some groceries and pays the cable bill. I tell him daily to move out.

This morning he informed me that he would be applying for a prescription to smoke medical marijuana, which I told him I was 100% against.

I told him that he had to move out again, and he said that he wasn't going to.

Oddly, I feel guilty about getting a legal order to remove him.

I worry that he will be homeless.

I have been to three therapists about this issue, and my ex is still in the house.

The amount of guilt that I feel is amazing. Any suggestions on how I can shake this guilt and just get him out?

My friends and family think I am crazy and will not mention his name to me. I feel isolated. There is no one left to discuss this issue with.

Feeling Helpless

Dear Helpless: You don't need another therapist. You need the sheriff.

But you've learned a valuable lesson. Therapy doesn't work unless you want it to.

You've probably heard it all before -- that your husband is an abuser, and he won't stop as long as he has access to you. Part of this abuse cycle is the crushing guilt you feel.

Obviously, you could marshal your legal resources to get this person out of your home, but you won't do so. It might help to break the cycle if you leave -- temporarily.

Sever all contact long enough to get yourself together and confront the challenge of what you need to do. Find your strongest advocate -- either a professional, friend or family member -- and let this person assist you and keep you strong.

It would help if you could picture yourself in five years, supporting this carbuncle while he berates you and blows marijuana smoke in your face from the couch.

Is this what you want?

A counselor at the National Domestic Violence Hotline could connect you with local victim services. The website is ndvh.org or call (800) 799-SAFE (7233).

Send questions to Amy Dickinson by e-mail to askamy@tribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

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