A post about a mom choosing to “put up with” her husband to avoid having less access to her children if she were to get a divorce has been urged to leave the marriage by users on Mumsnet, the U.K.-based online forum.

In a post shared on Mumsnet’s Am I Being Unreasonable (AIBU) subforum, user Nevisonspad said she’s been with her husband for over 20 years and been married to him for 10 years. They share two children, aged 5 and 8.

“Since children came along, he’s been increasingly emotionally abusive. Big cycles where he doesn’t speak to me for many weeks other than to shout that I’m a vile and nasty person. I used to argue but now I barely engage. No trigger, no rationale, he just goes into a mood and it lasts like this for weeks,” the poster said.

Her husband “doesn’t have an alcohol problem and apart from all the s*** he gives me, is otherwise a good dad,” the user said. “I would have left him years ago, but I don’t want to see the kids only half the time, which is what would happen I think if I divorce him.”

Couple sitting, looking away from each other.
A stock image of a man with his arm crossed, looking away from a woman looking sad seated next to him. A post about a mom who is choosing to “put up with” her “emotionally abusive” husband for the sake of her kids has been urged to leave the marriage by users on Mumsnet, the U.K.-based online forum.
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The wife asked: “Can I put up with him for the next 13 years (say) to see the kids 100 percent of [the] time? I’ve gotten very close to leaving at points, even engaged a solicitor, but I can’t bring myself to do anything which means I can’t live with the kids 100 percent of the time.”

“My plan is to leave when my younger one leaves home, and until then put up with it in order to see the kids 100 percent of the time rather than 50/50,” she said.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, both marriage and divorce rates in the country have declined from 2009 to 2019, but the rates vary from state to state.

In a 2013 study published in the peer-reviewed journal Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, the most commonly reported “major contributors to divorce” were found to be a lack of commitment, infidelity as well as conflict/arguing.

The most common “final straw” reasons were infidelity, domestic violence and substance use, according to the study.

The user in the latest Mumsnet post said: “I try to minimize the impact on the kids by staying cheerful and eventually he comes out of it and we’re ‘normal’ for a while, then he starts calling me a nasty piece of work again…he only shouts this stuff at me, not at the kids.”

She said: “I know it’s c*** for the kids to see him shouting at me but most of the time it’s the silent treatment and I try to minimize it to the kids by just saying dad is grumpy again. (I know the silent treatment they see him giving me is also damaging, but it seems better than constant blazing rows). I’m financially ok, work full-time.”

Holly Humphreys, a licensed professional counselor (LPC) from Thriveworks, a counseling/therapy service in Roanoke, Virginia, told Newsweek: “I hear of people staying in marriages for ‘the sake of the kids’ repeatedly from my clients. However, kids absorb everything around them. They absorb love but also negative behaviors such as emotional abuse that they see between their parents.”

The LPC said continuing to stay in this relationship “will only further reinforce that it’s okay to treat people this way and it’s okay to accept this type of treatment.”

Humphreys said there are ways to get help so that the poster can leave and get full custody of her children, especially if there’s proof of the emotional abuse.

She said: “I see that she is trying to do what is best for her kids, but subjecting them to emotionally abusive and neglectful behavior is not healthy for them to witness and could cause a lot of trauma.”

The LPC advised the poster may want to get therapy to see what resources are available for the next steps. “She cannot control his [her husband’s] behavior but she can control who has to put up with it.”

Divorce attorney Nicole Sodoma, the founder of the Sodoma Law firm based in North and South Carolina and author of Please Don’t Say You’re Sorry, told Newsweek: “Don’t fall for the misperception that your children can’t hear, can’t see, or can’t feel how the negative statements about their mother impacts her and ultimately impacts them.

“Not only may those behaviors change their view of their mother (and other parental and authoritative figures in their lives), but it also can be received by each child differently,” she said.

“Knowing that you can’t change another person,” Sodoma advised the user in the latest Mumsnet post should “prioritize how to cope with these high-conflict interactions.” Then she can teach her children age-appropriate coping skills to also help them manage the conflict in a healthy way.

Girl with ears closed, as couple fight.
A stock image of a young girl with her fingers plugged into her ears and her eyes closed, while a couple argue on a couch in the background. Several users on Mumsnet warned the original poster about the damaging impact of staying in her marriage would have on her kids.
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By doing this, “if you think separation and divorce are the answer, your children will already have those coping skills so that you can do your homework on what may be necessary for you to get to the other side of your relationship. You may not be great spouses, but you can still be amazing parents.”

The attorney also advised the poster to be sure to find the right legal counsel “who will be your voice and advocate for the things that are most important to you while still being candid in telling you what is and isn’t possible or reasonable.”

She said: “Your attorney needs to spend the time today educating you on your options, whether it is your parenting schedule, how decisions are made for your children (like education, medical care, etc.), and what financial support may be required so that you can make the best decisions for you and your family tomorrow.”

Several users on Mumsnet urged the original poster to leave her husband.

User Aprilx said: “No, don’t put up with this for another 13 years, you only have one life. I bet he wouldn’t go for 50:50 anyway,” while NoSleepTil simply said: “Please leave him.”

Aquamarine1029 warned: “You are grossly minimizing the impact this horrendously toxic home life will have on your children’s future…sorry to be blunt, but you are complicit in the abuse they are suffering at this point. You have the ability to leave. Do so immediately.”

User C***yMcBollocks said: “YABU [you are being unreasonable] purely for the fact that this will be more damaging to your kids in the long run…”

PolkadotsAndCandyfloss said: “You can’t be unhappy for so many years! You only get one life, what a waste that would be…leave before things get worse – you don’t deserve to be treated like this.”

If you think you may be a victim of abuse, contact 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 TTY. Or chat with someone online at TheHotline.org, the National Domestic Violence Hotline advises.

Do you have a similar marriage dilemma? Let us know via life@newsweek.com. We can ask experts for advice, and your story could be featured on Newsweek.

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