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"Dear Troubleshooter" is a relationship advice column that appears in The Japan News, a publication that is part of the Asia News Network.
I’m a woman in my 30s. Although I’ve been living apart from my husband since about three months ago, I just cannot decide whether or not to get a divorce.
While we were dating before our marriage, my now-husband sometimes beat me and threw things at me. He also caused me constant money problems. The reason I decided to live separately from him was because he threw an object at me while I was holding our newborn baby in my arms. I had asked him never to do so, and he had promised he would not, but he did.
My husband says he wants to live with me and our child, but whenever I talk with him, I only get noncommittal, disappointing responses. I think I have now gone beyond the limits of what I can endure. Fortunately, I work as a regular employee, and I have saved enough money to raise my child on my own. I can also raise my child at my parents’ home, where I’m taking refuge now.
Still, I feel guilty about my current situation, saying to myself, “I wanted to live as a family,” and, “I wanted my child to go through life with a father.” I’m wavering in my judgement, and feeling at a loss as to what to do.
How can I brace myself for a divorce without feeling any lingering regrets?
K, Saitama Prefecture
Dear Ms. K:
You seem to have made up your mind regarding what to do with your husband, who has habitually used violence against you and caused you financial distress. He also seemingly has no intention of making a fresh start in your marriage. Nevertheless, you remain hesitant about getting a divorce.
Perhaps you feel that every child needs his or her father, and that being happily married is the whole point of being a family. I can well understand your feelings. But these feelings seem to be motivated by merely commonplace views, such as “This is the best that anyone can hope for.”
Certainly, a father’s presence is important for children. However, the kind of father who would behave violently and cause distress to his wife is far from the kind every child needs.
Fortunately, you have a job that can earn you the money to support yourself. It also seems that you are receiving assistance from your parents. I’m sure your child will be able to grow up and attain spiritual fulfillment surrounded by your love and the love of your parents.
People say that it is even more difficult to decide to divorce than to marry. I guess you need some time to worry and waver thoroughly before making a decision, so you won’t regret it later. I suggest you believe in your own feelings while, at the same time, squarely looking at the realities of your life.
I trust you will put in a lot of time and effort to raise your child and live family life in your own way, not bound by the generally believed notions of “how it is supposed to be.”
Masami Ohinata, professor