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I am a young 37-year-old woman with an immense passion and zest for life. I have two wonderful small children. I always thought if you worked hard enough on something, you could save it. Make a relationship work, make a job enjoyable, whatever. Sound familiar?

I am unhappy with my spouse. There was a voice warning me to run from the beginning, but I was insecure, lost and afraid to do anything. I’ve blamed myself for 12 years about the state of my relationship. I really screwed up.

Over time, I concluded if I worked hard enough on myself, things could actually work. Two years ago I discovered an amazing strength facility and became its star pupil. I completely transformed my body and became an inspiration to many people, including the coach, my kiddies and my colleagues.

I flip 400 pound tires and can do full chins. I can’t explain to you how much passion I have for the gym. Perhaps it was an outlet and an escape from my marriage. But escapes can’t last forever.

Note, I did not neglect my family. I cooked and cleaned, sometimes until midnight, and made advances to my husband to keep him happy. I continued to plan play dates, join my children on the monkey bars, and put sweet notes in their lunch.

The more I transformed, the more my spouse made derogatory comments. He told me I was no longer sexually attractive, but I began to adore my body, a body I hated as a teen and that my dad called weak and skinny.

I received advice that it was my job to keep my spouse engaged and not to leave him behind as I progressed. So I tried to get him to join me and complimented him on a daily basis. However, I continued to feel essentially punished and worthless.

I thought I could sacrifice my emotional well-being for my children. But I can’t. I have failed. I have started engaging in extremely self-destructive behaviors to escape the pain: boiling water, self harm, you name it. I try to speak to my spouse, but it is never the right time, topic, or place for him.

Now that I have decided to leave, he insists I should work on our problems, that I am teaching our children to give up, and I am the one with the problem. I suggested marital counseling and was accused of wanting to destroy my family.

I am getting counseling and it is helpful. But I want my spouse’s acknowledgement that it is indeed best to let go. I want his blessing.

You could tell me that I didn’t try hard enough and that I indeed am the problem, and I would believe you.


Brit, a double bind is a mental dilemma in which the solution to one problem fails to solve a second problem, and the solution to the second problem can never solve the first.

The only way out is to realize both problems can’t be solved, only one of them. The one we have control of. Often all we can do with someone else is “agree to disagree.” You would like your husband’s blessing to part, but the word blessing means “to celebrate with praises.”

That won’t happen. Your husband is stagnant, unwilling to talk, entrenched in his behavior. Though your marriage was probably a mistake, you did everything you could to be a great wife and mother. It didn’t work.

You tried fitness as a way of escape, and as it often does, it made you not only physically fit, it filled you with self-confidence. But escapes aren’t solutions. Caught in this double bind you turned to self harm.

The message from your distress is that you can’t maintain this double bind. The only healthy thing you can do is solve the problem under your control and let the other problem go.

Wayne & Tamara

Wayne and Tamara

About The Author
Authors and columnists Wayne and Tamara Mitchell can be reached at www.WayneAndTamara.com

Send letters to: Direct Answers, PO Box 964, Springfield, MO 65801 or email: DirectAnswers@WayneAndTamara.com