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‘I want to divorce my husband, but I have no money’

“I have not built up anything in the past fifteen years. Nothing. Except a very strong relationship with my two sons aged nine and seven. But yes, you don’t pay a house with that, do you?

Michael earns well. He has his own construction company and since day one has been getting more orders than he has time. So when I got pregnant for the first time ten years ago, it was no problem whatsoever that I stopped working. I loved taking care of the boys full time. And Michael too, because he likes playing around and playing football with the children, but he likes to leave the care tasks to me.

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Of course, when our sons went to primary school, I could have gotten a part-time job. But we have a big house, and it doesn’t stay clean by itself. I thought it was busy, motherhood and housekeeping, and we didn’t have to leave anything for it. So we lived on only Michael’s income, and I made sure that everything ran smoothly at home.

First a six pack, then a kiss

But: Michael drinks quite a lot. I suspect he’s already grabbing a beer while at work, but as soon as he gets home around 4:30, he’ll open a six-pack anyway before giving the kids and me a kiss. By the time he throws the last can in the trash, there are at least eight in there. Then there is no normal conversation with him anymore, he just lies on the couch in silence.

He doesn’t have a problem, he thinks, I just shouldn’t complain. He desperately needs relaxation after a day of hard physical work. I can relate to that, but I don’t understand why it has to be so much. He gets more vicious with every beer.

Michael does not want to seek help, in a relationship or with a drink. “That’s for bruising,” he says when I bring that up again. Nothing is left of our marriage. At four in the afternoon I get restless, knowing that he will be back in half an hour. Then I just hope he will play football or meet up with friends. Although in practice he usually stays at home, and I fold away laundry or call a friend until we go to sleep.

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‘I don’t want to skimp’

I dream of my own home, with the children. Of breathing space and the absence of Michael. Only: I don’t have a cent to make. We do not have any savings, and the waiting list for social housing is at least two years. I should be able to make ends meet officially with a part-time job and alimony, but at a minimum level. I hardly have any work experience; I have to start at the bottom of the ladder. And such a house also has to be furnished.

I really dread cutting back; also still pay my student debt and a loan from the bank. My fear is that at the end of the month I have to turn over the children’s money boxes to buy another loaf. Now the kids have everything. They play football and karate, go on vacation just like their classmates, have their own cozy rooms and new shoes three times a year. I can’t continue that life on my own for them and neither can Michael, even if I take a job.

So I will stay, as long as my children still need a lot of care. If I start working now, I might earn enough in five years to take the step. Then the boys are in secondary education and they need me less in terms of care. I will bridge the coming years; Am I just looking for a job in the evenings? “

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