Annie Lane: Abusive 20-year relationship must come to an end

Published 5:45 pm Friday, January 20, 2023

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Dear Annie: I see that you often answer questions pertaining to families trapped in addiction. I grew up in that special hell with all of the complex trauma issues that go along with that lifestyle.

I am a card-carrying member of Al-Anon, Alcoholics Anonymous and Adult Children of Alcoholics. I have found ACA the most helpful. You never mention it, so I thought I might bring it to your attention. The Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families goes beyond Al-Anon. Sometimes, these addictions were in the previous generation, and while our parents didn’t drink, all of the emotional nonsobriety was there. ACA teaches us to go back, reparent our inner child, learn what we didn’t receive as children, then reparent and provide that love and support to ourselves. Just a suggestion. May you research it and find it useful.

— Alternative Around Alcoholism

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Dear Alternative: A wonderful suggestion indeed — many thanks. You’re right that ACA reaches past Al-Anon to help those plagued with experiences of alcoholism but also general dysfunction in their childhood and home lives. Some chapters are still being developed, so if you’re interested, consult the web to see what options are available in your region.

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Dear Annie: I have been with my fiance for 21 years, and we’ve been engaged for nine. We have three beautiful girls together, and he has two older kids from his previous marriage. He has always made me feel like second best. He always puts his ex’s feelings before mine and never takes what I say into consideration. I bring this up to him, and he says that I need to grow up. He tells me that my daughters and I should know our place as women.

He caters to his other two kids all the time and listens to them, but when it comes to our girls, he tells them to stop being sissies and to shut up. He tells his older kids to be there for their mom and help her out, and to my girls, he says I’m lazy and don’t care. I work 50-plus hours at the hospital and take our kids to sports while he expects to have a full-course meal on the table and for me to cater to all of his needs. He says he works hard and “doesn’t have time for this crap.” I no longer know what to do. He makes me feel unworthy, unappreciated and devalued as a human. I no longer want to be intimate with him because he makes me feel so bad about myself. I am in a verbally abusive relationship. What should I do? My girls are also being verbally disrespected.

— Woman in Need of Relationship Advice

Dear Woman in Need: You aren’t a woman in need of relationship advice; you’re a woman in need of a new relationship. This man is a walking red flag, from his disrespect toward you and your daughters to his lack of contribution in your home life to his verbal abuse and, I can’t help but notice, his failure to solidify your relationship in marriage after two decades together and a ring already on your finger.

Sharing children with this man means you will always be tied to each other, but that doesn’t mean you have to be his wife-in-waiting or his keeper anymore. Put a stop to this mistreatment. Put yourself and your happiness first. Show your girls what a healthy, loving relationship looks like and what not to settle for. There’s someone else out there who is just waiting for the chance to love you.

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