When you tell me that he belittles you and the children - it's time.
When you tell me that the children are harming themselves due to the stress in your home - it's time.
When you tell me that you don't talk to family and friends about all of this anymore because they've all lost respect for you because you won't go - it's time.
When you tell me that he ended an argument by spitting in your face - it's time.
When you tell me how he stormed out of yet another counseling session, or your latest therapist has even suggested that this situation isn't getting better - it's time.
When we get together and you tell me yet again how you're getting your ducks in a row - it's time.
When you've been getting those ducks in a row for the decade that I've known you - it's time.
When you say he's apologized and he's doing everything right so far again, but you know it probably won't last and you're waiting for the next big blowup, the next infidelity to come to light, the next pile of disrespect he'll heap on your head or scream in your face in front of your children - it's time.
Change is hard. I know. Oh, honey, I know.
Love is hard to give up on, even when you can't honestly say you feel it for anything more than the memory of how he used to be sometimes.
Family is even harder to give up on, and that fairy tale perfection of an intact and happy family is a powerful, powerful dream - all the more so because so many people do seem to have it.
You're not one of them, and neither are your kids.
Neither was I, once upon a time.
So here's some counsel, free of charge and free from judgement from your writer friend regarding fairy tales:
They don't always come true.
But honey, I'm here to tell you that doesn't mean you can't write a better story. A stronger story. A story of love and family that may have changed a major character into an incidental one - and all for the better of the story.
I love you, S.