Keep bags packed so you can leave when your husband is away.

How to Get Out From a Messy Marriage

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

Some marital problems are so serious that you should get out, according to therapist Abigail Hirsch in “Top 6 Reasons For Divorce-When to Stay and When to Leave” for the Power of Two website. Those messy marital problems include addiction, serial infidelity, untreated mental disorders and abuse, including emotional, physical, financial and child abuse. When exiting a messy marriage, focus on keeping you and your children safe.

1. Signs of an Abusive Marriage

An abusive marriage includes unhealthy behaviors such as name calling, violence, isolation, restricting financial resources, exposure to addictive behavior, or living with a spouse who will not seek help for mental issues. Your spouse might abuse your child or violate your trust through repeated infidelities and lies. You could be ashamed to tell family and friends about the conditions in your home and might not feel comfortable going to a shelter or battered women’s resource, suggests psychotherapist Susan Weitzman in “A Care Kit for Victims of Upscale Violence.” Break your silence and tell someone who will listen and support you.

2. Get Away

If you fear for the safety of you or your children, pack a bag with several changes of clothing, identification documents, bank account records, cash, necessary medication and other supplies, writes Weitzman. Store the bag in a secret place or with a trusted friend in case you must flee. Choose a safe place to go and keep the number of a local battered women’s shelter or friend handy, so you have assistance getting to safety, suggests Dr. Phil in “An Exit Action Plan: Guidelines for Leaving an Abusive Relationship.” Document the abuse with physical evidence such as pictures and records from hospitals or doctor visits. Hide an extra set of car keys and keep the car fueled for a quick exit. Leave when your spouse is not home.

3. Steps to End the Relationship

Hire an attorney to start divorce proceedings and safeguard your assets. Have your attorney file a protective order, if necessary. Give a copy of the protective order to the school, your boss, neighbors and friends, as well as informing your local law enforcement. Change your phone number to an unlisted one, alter your routes to and from work and your child’s school and replace the locks on your door once your spouse is out of the house. Ask the receptionist at your office to screen your calls.

4. Talk to Your Child

Tell your child that you and your spouse can’t get along and you want your child to be safe. Answer her questions as honestly as possible and stress that the separation isn’t her fault, suggests the therapists at HelpGuide.org in “Children and Divorce.” Avoid blaming your spouse in the conversation and set a good example of healthy behavior. Don’t apologize for the need to stay safe and don’t give in to your child’s pleas to let Daddy come home. You and your child deserve to be safe and happy and in a healthy relationship.

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