Divorce needn't leave exes feeling like victims

Dear Amy: I have been married for almost 30 years to a perfectionist who is also a controlling and underemployed musician.

As a college professor, I pay almost all the bills, and I have been the one primarily responsible for raising our teenage daughter.

I have been miserable in my marriage for most of the time, but I simply chalked my misery up to not being perfect enough.

Our daughter has been after me to leave him for several years, as have my friends and family. He has tried very hard to isolate me from them.

Five years ago, I tried to leave him, but I chickened out when he suddenly became very nice (and played the victim).

Now I really do feel ready, and I'm working hard to get out.

We have a first-rate counselor who seems to understand what's happening and is trying to help us figure out how we could be excellent co-parents for our daughter.

I'm wondering -- how responsible am I for my husband's emotions?

Is he the victim here, when he's the one who has -- through his constant control and pressure -- pushed me out?

SOON-TO-BE EX

Amy says: Possibly the only good thing to come from leaving a marriage is the clarity and knowledge that when it is really over no one needs to be -- or play -- the victim.

If your husband is controlling and emotionally abusive, then you are doing a good thing to get out.

If he acts like a victim and you let his behavior control you, then you are still too emotionally involved.

If you two are able to detach yourselves from your failed relationship, you will be able to move forward with a shared commitment to be partners as parents. This should be your goal.

Your counselor should work with both of you to take personal responsibility for your own failings and actions without assuming responsibility for the other person's responses and reactions.

Groom's mom is wedding planner

Dear Amy: After several years of being engaged and living together, my son and his fiancée announced to us in late spring that they are finally going to be married.

The ceremony and reception are to be at our home.

That plan is fine, except I became the wedding planner!

I have coordinated and planned nearly everything about the wedding, including mailing the invitations (the response cards are going to my son and his fiancée), choosing the caterer and menu (with my son), buying supplies and flowers, and putting together favors for the reception. I have also arranged for the music.

They "have not had time" to choose rings, her bouquet or his suit, and the wedding gown she bought is still here in our closet, unaltered.

The wedding is only five weeks away! I am certain they have not planned anything about their ceremony.

Have I done too much?

I don't know what to do or where I should draw the line.

Obviously, I have done all that I can or should do to make sure there is at least a nice meal and a pretty setting for this wedding.

WORRIED MOG

Amy says: It sounds as if you will be throwing a lovely party. Now sit back, relax and let the couple do the rest.

Marrying is their responsibility.

If the bride and groom arrive at your home without clothing, clergy, rings or a ceremony, it will still be a lovely party.

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Av., Chicago, IL 60611.

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