Dear DSO: “I Can’t Leave The Kids”


I’ve read a lot of your stuff, joined the Fraternity and checked out the Facebook group discussions. It seems to me that your advice and the advice of just about everyone I talk to seems to be to leave my wife and break up my family. I can’t do that. I’ve thought about it, talked to an attorney and came really really close to telling her that I’m filing… but I can’t do it. I couldn’t live with myself and the idea that I broke up our family. I couldn’t live without seeing my kids every day.

Some background: My wife was caught in an affair four years ago. It was physical. It went on for over a year. He dumped her and she went into a very bad depression. She ended up having to go to an inpatient facility for help. She was suicidal. I had no idea what was going on and thought she just had a random severe depressed moment (she has had issues with depression and anxiety before, but not like this). It later came out from friends of hers what the full story was. I couldn’t leave her at that point because I wanted to stick by her during her worst. I was worried what others would think of me if I left. No, I didn’t tell anyone else about the affair, but since her friend knew… I’m assuming a lot more people know that what I care to admit. I never talked to my wife about these issues.

Earlier this year, before covid, I saw some messages on my wife’s phone that were inappropriate. Obviously sexual in nature from a guy. I got all of those old feelings back again and confronted her. She lost her mind. She called me every name in the book. She said I was going to take the kids away from her. She said I was going to put her back in the hospital. She just went crazy. I talked her down and convinced her to go to therapy with me. We went to one session. She said probably three words total and said she was never going back.

Leaving her would be easy. I have every right to. The problem is that I can’t leave my kids. I don’t feel like they would be safe with her. She would probably bring her boyfriend over right away. I don’t want my kids seeing that. They would be scarred for life and just end up doing the same kind of thing when they get married themselves.

I’ve resigned myself to staying in the marriage for as long as I can. We don’t have any love between us. We don’t kiss, hold hands or say I love you. Sex has been off the table for about a year and a half now. Basically we just raise the kids. She has her life and I have mine. Is she still in an affair? Probably. Am I? No. I can’t do that because I still love my wife and I stick to my vows. That’s just how I was raised.

For guys like me, there really is ZERO way out. I’m stuck. I’m not doing too well. I would say I’m depressed and sometimes have suicidal thoughts. I am speaking to a therapist (over zoom) once a week, and he helps a great deal. He has also told me that I need to leave for my own mental health.

I don’t know exactly what I’m asking for, DSO. I really don’t think there’s anything you or anybody can do for me.


You’re hiding. You’re hiding behind a facade of “honor”. You’re hiding behind your fear of the unknown. Your fear has a price. Not only are you robbing yourself of the life you deserve as a man, but you’re exposing your children to a world with a woman who has no business being a spouse or, for that matter, mom to your beautiful kids. She’s an unfit woman in many ways.

She’s not well. She’s needs help.

You can’t fix her. Not that I see any effort towards “fixing” her in your email to me. Instead I see resignation. Extreme passivity. That’s just as bad, if not worse.

In case you didn’t know, that doesn’t get you far in life.

This is an extremely huge opportunity for you. A major fork in the road of life. Do you take the road of what you view as “not rocking the boat” and “not breaking up my family” (which, ironically, leads to unheard of levels of stress and kids who take this awful baggage with them to their future relationships), or do you go through the absolute hell of divorce and the extremely tough battle for majority custody of your kids, breaking the addiction to your wife, starting over financially, dating, etc?

Both roads lead to chaos and hell… only one has an exit door to much greener pastures.

Your choice, amigo. I know which road I would take… but I’m not you and it’s not my life. But… it’s not just your life, either. You have kids. Show them what you’re made of. Show them what THEY are made of. They come from you, after all. Right now they see, “We are the product of one crazy woman and one beaten down man”.  Change the narrative. “We are the children to one unfortunately broken woman, and one amazing guy who takes life head-on and doesn’t back down. He’s one fucking terrific human being. I want to be like him when I grow up.”