Dear Dr. Romance:

I am mid-thirties mom with 3 children looking to divorce. I read your article "Family Violence Q & A" and I decided to write to you for help to stand on my feet again.  I was a homemaker since I had my first child, but had lived very unfulfilled as my husband (who was my first and only boyfriend) emotionally and verbally abused me over half a decade. Because I did not know better, I was fearful of doing anything much, and most importantly, stayed on for the sake of our beautiful children.

Last year, I met another man who loved me. He showed me that love could be beautiful and a spouse could be a wonderful support. Being with him for about a year opened my eyes to realize what a husband should really be and all that I wanted in a spouse. We were forced to stop when my own husband hired a private investigator to find evidence against us and he and some church leaders confronted my lover and threatened that he would lose his job his house and his son, be charged with molestation (because my daughters and I spend time with him), and lose all he had, if he continued to even contact me.

But even without that man, I want to leave my husband. No woman would turn against her own family which she literally gave her life to build, unless there were years of gross unfulfillment and unhappiness.

I am seeing a lawyer for legal advice. However weighing heavy on my heart are my lovely children. As much as i am telling and preparing them for the day i will stay in a different house, and that it will never change my love and commitment towards them, i am still afraid when it really happens, they will think that mom has abandoned them. I am seeing a local counselor this coming week and intend to bring my children for weekly counseling sessions thereafter.

I also need help to move on and find myself again. If I'm not strong, I cannot be an example for my children. I'm reading your book It Ends with You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction

Do you have any advice for me, for my children? They are all in grammar school. It is difficult but we can be happy again, individually and collectively.

Dear Reader:

I'm very glad you're getting counseling and legal advice. You are completely cowed by your abusive husband, and you think you have to leave your children to leave him. This is very likely not true. I don't know the law in your country, but if there a laws against spousal abuse, you can take your husband to court, and get custody of your children. Do you have friends or family members who know about the emotional abuse? If you can get them to be witnesses, and you  document the abuse (if you can record phone messages of him being abusive, they would be useful in court, too.)

You're absolutely right that you need to find your strength for the sake of your children and your future happiness. Inner strength comes from having a good supportive relationship with yourself. "The Colors of You"  "Coping With Critics"  "Your Primary Relationship" and "Drama, Trauma, and Time Travel"
will all help you develop inner strength. I wish you the best of luck. Do find the courage to charge your husband with abuse, if your country has the appropriate laws.  When you're ready, Dr. Romance's Guide to Finding Love Today will help you find a healthy relationship. It has a whole chapter on dating as a single parent.


For low-cost phone counseling, email me at

Author's Bio: 

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California since 1978 with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction; The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again; Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, The Commuter Marriage, and her newest, Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She writes the “Dr. Romance” blog, and the “Happiness Tips from Tina” email newsletter.