I used to read an article called ‘Can this marriage be saved?’ in one of the women’s magazines I received every week years ago. The wife cries and whines first, then the husband complains and groans, and finally the marriage counselor waves his magic wand and solves all the problems.
You are all either romance readers and/or writers. You create conflict in your stories, escalate it until it reaches a black moment and resolve all the troubles to bring a HEA ending.

May I ask you to play psychologist in a real situation?

Here are the premises:

The wife is a career woman in her late forties. Let’s make her a successful busy doctor and call her Jane.
The husband, John, early fifties, is also a doctor, less successful than his wife and earning much less money. They have two children now, a boy, 5, and a girl, 12.

They met at the hospital where they both worked, fell in love and have been married for twenty years.

Trouble started three years after their marriage when Jane miscarried her first baby and was told she needed to stay on bed-rest the whole nine months if she wanted to carry a baby to term. John was spending a lot and insisted she continued to work so they could afford his expensive car and boat.

Three years later Jane finally took a break and had their first child. They were both delighted with their baby daughter and the relationship improved for a short time. Then Jane went back to work leaving the baby all day with a nanny. Jane wanted to decrease her hours to spend time with her daughter but John lost his job.

They argued and fought. He verbally abused her and belittled her, while insisting she should work longer hours. She left home with her baby for a few days. He went after her, saying he loved her and brought them back. Eventually, he worked again, but his verbal abuse increased every day. Jane thought about divorcing and often left home to escape his abuse but he always brought her back with sweet words of love. The ups and downs continued. Jane became pregnant again and had a boy.

Jane’s complaints: John always bullies her, never helps with the children, expects her to work non-stop, but doesn’t let her handle the finances. He saves his own income in his own saving while she has to spend on the house, the children and herself. They rarely go in vacation and it has to be where John wants to go. Jane doesn’t love him anymore but when she talks about divorcing, he threatens to take their children because she doesn’t spend enough time with them and will ask for alimony because she makes more money.

On the other hand, John never abused her physically, never looked at another woman, but insists he loves and can't live without her.

Jane is a shy person with no friends. She rarely confides and feels very lonely. Recently she cut her hours to dedicate more time to her children. Her husband got very upset and increased his hours of work. After twenty years of the same life, she wants to leave him but is afraid of being on her own, afraid he would take the children and sue her for half her belonging.

Should she stay with him? How can she become more assertive? How can you help her?
Give her some advice.

Seth, the evil god of storm, killed his brother Osiris, chopped him into fourteen pieces and flung them all over Egypt. Isis, goddess of family, has always loved Osiris and reassembles thirteen of his body parts. Since she couldn’t find his supernatural male member where his godly power is stored, she reattaches a human one to make him whole.

Osiris, the charming god of labor Egyptians revere is now a mortal without power, anxious to recover both his own magical organ and his godly status. Guided by oracles Isis utters during their lovemaking, they search for his missing organ and fight Seth until they find Osiris’s magical manhood and he recovers his godly attributes. Osiris has fallen in love with Isis but will the sins of his past catch up with him in the present and interfere with their future?


  1. Suzan // June 27, 2011 at 1:28 PM  

    Hi Mona, what a great story about Jane and John. I've been a marriage counselor for decades, and
    the question about why someone as cool as Jane would stay with a loser like John, well, that's always a puzzle. My opinion is she would be better off spending money on a good divorce lawyer than in marriage counseling. A guy like John is unlikely to change his character/personality.
    Take Care,
    Suzan from FTHCrit. group

  2. Jannine Gallant // June 27, 2011 at 1:28 PM  

    Sounds like Jane should have dumped this idiot years ago! I would suggest a therapist for her self-confidence issues and a good lawyer. Let's face it - she's tried for 20 years, and he hasn't changed. Doesn't seem to me like he wants to change or work on a compromise. Sounds like the kids are going to be the rope in this tug-o-war.

  3. wlynnchantale // June 27, 2011 at 1:30 PM  

    I feel for Jane and trying very hard to keep my anger in check after reading the scenario. One piece of advice I would offer her would be counseling. She really needs to talk this through with someone and then take control of her finances. From what is described the husband is abusive, verbally. But John needs help too. I'm the last person to advocate divorce, (my parents are divorced/remarried and I almost went that route myself) but if there is no hope of rekindling love then by all means she needs to leave. Life is too short not to be happy. She has the ability to care for herself and her children. She doesn't need to give him her money. Regardless of what pretty words he utters or gifts he gives. He's a man and he needs to be a man. Also a good attorney should be able to help protect her financially as much as possible.

  4. Beth Trissel // June 27, 2011 at 1:34 PM  

    I agree with everyone who has already spoken. :) good post.

  5. Amy // June 27, 2011 at 1:43 PM  

    I'm going to take the opposite view here.

    Jane should stay until the children leave home. Both of the adults need to stop thinking about themselves first, and start thinking of the family first. They need to all grow up.

    Once the children leave home, both parents can re-evaluate where they stand. My parents went through a similar situation. They stayed together for the "sake of the children". Long, long after we children left home and my dad passed away, my mom sat down and told me that she never realized what dad really did for her. Never realized it would leave such a void.

    Because people always think of themselves first, they forget to think about what the other person is doing for them and for their family. If people would simply STOP, not immediately jump at getting a divorce, not immediately think counseling is going to solve their issues (since most counseling seems to end with--get a divorce) and simply focus on a goal. A goal like being there for your children until they are grown.

    It bothers me that this was written to make Jane seem more sympathetic than John and to paint John as the loser. I believe there is something in him to salvage. The marriage can be salvaged if everyone just stops being selfish.

  6. Karen Cote // June 27, 2011 at 1:43 PM  

    Stunning post and great advice from everyone. I am divorced and feel Jane's struggle. Ex-hubby wasn't faithful, abusive both mental and physical but I was tied to my vows. Went to a county counselor 'cause couldn't afford anything more and she cut my ex free and wanted to visit with just me. Huh?

    Hindsight has taught I made vows to a marriage. Marriage is a partnership. I didn't have that. Being married to the right person now has given me wisdom to see it.

    Great post

  7. Mona Risk // June 27, 2011 at 2:09 PM  

    I have been in a happy marriage with a generous man protectiv of his family for many years, so I am the last person who can understand John or advise Jane. Thank you and keep the advice coming.

  8. Judy // June 27, 2011 at 2:11 PM  

    Good post, Mona! I got tense just reading about the situation! LOL She needs to seek counseling, get her ducks lined up both emotionally and legally and leave the chump. Emotional abuse is every bit as "bloody" as physical abuse. And, frankly, children are much happier in a situation that isn't so tense and unhappy.In a way, it's freedom for them too

  9. Patrice // June 27, 2011 at 2:29 PM  

    I agree with the majority that Jane should leave the abuser and see a lawyer regarding child custody and their joint assets. I doubt that he'd be awarded the kids, I suspect joint custody at best.

  10. Mary Ricksen // June 27, 2011 at 2:51 PM  

    The first thing she has to do is look into her heart and decide what she wants.
    Then do it! A bit of psychological support is a great idea...

  11. Celia Yeary // June 27, 2011 at 4:26 PM  

    Great story, Mona.
    So.Don't marry a man, thinking you can change him. They don't change easily or not at all.

    But Jane and John's problems began early on when he made less than she. In my opinion, that is the basis of the entire problem. He is trying to overcome the feelings of inadequacy he felt from the beginning. When he is in the driver's seat, then he overplays his role by being verbally abusive.
    Jane is a facilitator for John's abusive behavior by staying quiet out of fear. She's at fault, too, big time.
    Bottom line. A couple--or the one most interested in the separation--should look at the alternative.
    Will Jane be better off going it alone with the children still small? No.
    He has her over a barrel.
    Marriage counseling is not going to work.
    My advice: Jane should examine her own behavior and work on her own problems. She might find ways she could change and make it better without giving in all the time.
    She should find a way to stop his verbal abuse, and she could do that with a little psychological training.

    When a student started yelling at me about something I did, I merely turned away.
    When I got in a no-win argument with anyone, I merely looked the other way.
    Walk out of the room. Anything.
    As long as Jane gives him her attention when he's angry, he'll keep it up.
    Gee, I hope this works. Celia

  12. Lilly Gayle // June 27, 2011 at 4:44 PM  

    You know, I really thought the conflict was going to be the issue of her making more money. Not that his sorry ass wanted to ride on her coatails. Besides the abuse, I bet the SOB has a woman on the side. I don't think this is a question of can this marriage be saved but why? What's worth saving about it. Life's too short to be miserable and happiness is more important than money. I know. Easy for me to say. I've been happily married for 30 years. And I hate seeing other people miserable. For what it's worth, Jane should cut her hours to the point that he works all the time if he wants to keep his crap. Then she should divorce him and sue for custody. Maybe if she doesn't sue for alimoney, he'll shut up and fade away.

  13. Maggie Toussaint // June 27, 2011 at 4:47 PM  


    I have no credentials to be able to authoritatively advise anyone in this situation.

    However, I can safely say that I believe Jane's problems stem from her lack of self-confidence. If she were to go to therapy for a bit, she could fix herself and then decide if it was worth fixing her and John. Just splitting from John wouldn't make her life better. She seems to isolated and alone and will repeat her past behaviors.

    That's my two cents, for whatever it's worth.

    Maggie who is not a doctor but usually has an opinion on everything.

  14. Ann Yost // June 27, 2011 at 4:48 PM  

    Leave him leave him leave him!!!
    Wow - I hate the guy just reading about him. My wisdom (from many, many years of living) is that if the guy cannot be nice to you all of the time (and I mean 99 percent of it) you are better off without. Jane will meet new, supportive friends when she is on her own and in the meantime she will be so much happier with the children...just make sure she gets them. I kind of hope this isn't real - I feel so badly for Jane!

  15. Mona Risk // June 27, 2011 at 5:52 PM  

    Councelor Suzan believes John will never cange and advises Jane to get a good divorce lawyer.

    Councelor Jannine is worried about the kids and suggests a therapist for her self-confidence issues and a good lawyer.

    Councelor wlynnchantal thinks they shoyld seek counceling first and then if it doesn't work to leave him.

    Councelor Beth agrees with the previous statements.

    Councelor Amy suggests they both stop thinking of themselves and stay married until the children are out of the house. BTW I didn't try to write this to make Jane sympathtic and John a loser. Far from being a loser, he's a selfish and manipulative man.

    Councelor Karen, I am so glad you found the right man after your bitter experience. That will give new hope to Jane.

    Councelor Judy, you are right about the situation being very tense. The children rarely open their mouths.

    Councelor Patrice, joint custody of the children and joint assets is scaring the hell out of her.

    Councelor Mary suggests psychological support for Jane so that she can decide what she really wants.

    Councelor Celia also suggests that Jane should see a psychologist and learn to be assertive in her dealing with John rather than always giving in.

    Councelor Lilly suggest Jane cut her hours and then leave him.

    Councelor Maggie, you expressed my personal opinion that Jane should learn to be assertive and do what she wants without worrying about what John's opinion. I think he'd respect her much more if she didn't show her worry and fear.

    Councelor Ann, the guy has never given a gift in twenty years. Even her engagement ring was bought by her parents because he claimed he couldn't afford a ring and had only his love to offer. So you said leave him right away.

  16. morgan wyatt // June 27, 2011 at 6:03 PM  

    Jane,the man is bad news and will not get better. Make secret plans to leave now. Inform some close-mouthed friends and relatives what is going on for when he attempts to take you to court. He dosn't want the kids and only uses them as a threat. As for alimony, you don't need it and he won't get it.

    Things will improve.

  17. Mona Risk // June 27, 2011 at 6:11 PM  

    Morgan, she never planned to ask for alimony. HE is the one who wants the alimony and half of her assets. I wish she had the gut to leave.

  18. Vonnie // June 27, 2011 at 6:42 PM  

    Interesting. Very interesting. What ball-busters we all are. Hmm. Well, I think Jane has brought most of this upon herself. She began the give-in thing and now can't break free. Certainly, she needs counselling but not just for toughening up. What about the kids? Grow up and listen to the kids.

    Yeah, he sure needs counselling, with a totally different counsellor so he can talk things through and really hear himself. He'd probably be surprised to hear what he says. He's so wrapped up in his role he can't see reality.

    What does he mean she'll have to pay him alimony because she earns more? Not necessarily at all.

    ASK THE KIDS who they want to go with (and if I were them I'd toss myself in Grandma's direction or ask for an aunt or uncle or whatever since their parents are both washouts as parents, let alone people).

    Bottom line: forget both parents. Let them kill each other. Look after the kids because the parents have had their chances and managed to stuff up every single one.

    I wouldn't want to know these people. They'd exasperate me.

  19. Bianca Swan // June 27, 2011 at 7:18 PM  

    I doubt very seriously that he would be able to take the children. Most judges will leave the children in the mother's custody unless there is something wrong, which there isn't here. She might have to pay alimony, but I doubt it. I think she should show him the door and give him the boot on the way out.

  20. Maeve // June 27, 2011 at 7:37 PM  

    Jane reminds me a great deal of my mother. She too suffered years of verbal and emotional abuse (as we all did). She stuck it out for the sake of the children and I still believe to this very day, that's why her heart failed and she died at a very young age. Memorable words she uttered to me while on her deathbed were: Don't repeat my mistakes. Never settle for anything less than you deserve because you'll reap nothing but sorrow, pity and misery. Jane needs to stop settling.

  21. Mona Risk // June 27, 2011 at 7:51 PM  

    Vonnie, the daughter adores her mother and is the one who stands up to her father. It's amazing how he gives in to that young girl. Still she'd be devastated if her parents split and she does everything possible to gain their approval. But the little boy is too young and loves both of them equally. The children are so sweet and well behaved.

  22. Mona Risk // June 27, 2011 at 7:53 PM  

    Bianca, I think if she really wanted she could pay him off, but I feel she's not sure of what she wants or she's afraid of loneliness. She lost both her parents within a few months and was devastated.

  23. Joanne Stewart // June 27, 2011 at 7:53 PM  

    I'm with Maeve on this one. Jane needs to leave. I grew up in a house with a stepfather who was 90% verbally abusive. It's not healthy for the children. The children see what's going on. They see how it affects their mother. At the very worst, he's teaching his children how to treat women. And it's only a matter of time before he starts heaping that abuse upon his kids. And what's to stop him from becoming physically abusive as well? She needs to get out, for the sake of her children. That effects them, their psyche's and affects the people they will become. He's leaving scars not only on her, but on them as well.

  24. Mona Risk // June 27, 2011 at 7:56 PM  

    Maeve, you gave me goosebumps. Untill now, I was convinced Jane could change things by being strong, assertive, even aggressive. After reading your mother's experience and advice, I believe you're right. Thank you for sharing this.

  25. Mona Risk // June 27, 2011 at 10:37 PM  

    This is what we are going to suggest to Jane:
    1- She needs to see a psychologist to learn to become more assertive at home and stop being afraid of implementing her own decisions.
    2-Make sure she has a good lawyer to protect her interests.
    3-If things don't improve and the improvement doesn't last, then she should exmaine her feelings and the children's interests and seek separation or divorce.

    Unfortunately a person doesn't change overnight, so I wonder if she'll ever be happy with or without him, because of her inner conflict.

  26. Margaret Tanner // June 28, 2011 at 6:51 AM  

    Wow this is great Mona, awful situation for Jane to be in. My advice to her, take the kids and run.

  27. Keena Kincaid // June 28, 2011 at 9:32 AM  

    Wow...what an interesting post. I love the comments and the thoughtful insights.

  28. Mona Risk // June 28, 2011 at 10:06 AM  

    Margaret and Keena, thank you for coming to give your advice.

    I will copy and print all the comments and give them to a person close to Jane. I want her to see what objective sensible women would do if they were in her shoes.

  29. Toni V.S. // June 28, 2011 at 2:10 PM  

    No one's taking into the consideration of what this is going to do to the kids. They aren't deaf, dumb, and blind, and as they get older (which has probably already happening if their parents have been together for 20 years)they'll see the truth for themselves. And what they don't see, they sense. Staying together for "the children's sake" is the biggest mistake one can make. I went that route and my son was severely marked by it. Jane should hitch up her courage and walk out and stay gone. Any judge with half a grain of decency isn't just going to "give away" her children because her husband says he wants them. He doesn't really want them anyway, because they'd cost him money he "doesn't have."

  30. Josie // June 28, 2011 at 3:05 PM  

    But the kids might be more affected because of the tension and resentment in the marriage. I say Jane should get out of the marriage--pronto!

  31. Mary Marvella // June 28, 2011 at 5:12 PM  

    Excellent advice! Mona, I know people like this and they often stay with the devil they know rather than face the one they don't know.