There’s nothing worse than a man who can’t choose. Well-meaning friends who tell you to divorce him but you want to save your marriage.
A Reader Writes…
I feel like the last five months have been a roller coaster! My husband of 13 years walked out on myself and our two small children (2 and 4) unexpectedly. He visited us on and off for a few weeks saying he was coming back/undecided etc. There was another woman involved – he worked with her and it transpires the affair had been going on for approx 9 months. He ended it when I found out and he got a flat to rent (in the earlier weeks he had been living at her house). He said he couldn’t be with me while having these feelings for her. So we began to work on our marriage, improving communication as suggested in your books. However I have since discovered he took back up with her a few weeks later, she rang me! And I told him enough was enough, so he said he would give us a few more weeks… I gave him another chance, but he took back up with her a few weeks later… yes she rang me again and that’s how I found out!
But he makes plans with us – like talking about going on holiday in the summer, about building back up to coming to stay at our house, talking about Christmas etc.
So I have a yo-yo partner as you describe in your books! We have spoken at length about things and what I find frustrating is that each time I have found out he has been seeing her again it has been because she has called me ‘behind his back’ to tell me. In fact last week I was on the phone to him discussing childcare when she started screaming and shouting abuse in the background! Later that night I had three missed calls from her and then a call from my husband (with her shouting in the background) and he said ‘I have something to tell you, I don’t love you, I love someone else’. His tone of voice sounded really down and the following day when he came to see the children I said I felt that phone call was uncalled for as I already knew that and he didn’t have to be so brutal again. He said she wanted him to ring me to make the situation clear (hence the calls earlier in the evening from her).
I’ve told him I am removing myself from the tripod and standing back, concentrating on being a mummy, my job and looking after me until uncertainty is over. We did mention divorce and he said we could do that to stop the madness but despite me seeing a solicitor I just don’t feel it’s right… not yet anyway. He says she makes him happy but can’t explain how.
He has agreed NOT to let her meet our children for a minimum of six months now it’s all in the open, and he has told her she must keep away from me and the children as not to jeopardise his relationship with the children.
If this is the end of our marriage, fair enough, I have been put through hell the last five months. But he has yo-yo’ed between us both for the last five months, she is the one who seems to be controlling the situation – calling me up and saying he is with her when he is saying he is working on our marriage. My husband is someone who I always got my own way with and he does anything for an easy life (his parents also divorced when he was 5 because his dad had an affair).
Weirdly we get on so much better now, and a lot of dead bodies in our marriage have come to the surface. When he is here with us, he’s his lovely normal self. However when he leaves us and goes back to his house and I have to ring him about childcare etc. his tone is different and generally not nice to me.
It was our son and mine’s birthday yesterday and we had a party. He came and found it hard, he cried a lot and snuck upstairs to cry. (He really wanted to come as originally I had said no). I also found out he cries when he drops our little girl off at school once a week when he takes her – he cries the way to work in the car after leaving her.
I know I am not to blame as I can be controlling and argumentative and a pain and I couldn’t be bothered with sex since having the littlest child (husband informed me we had not had sex since April 2011). However even he says I have really changed since all this and he likes how I’ve changed into such a good person and he is now such a bad person. Those are his exact words.
I can’t help but feel he does want to try but that he’s got too involved with her and this is the easiest option. He says he is taking a risk on her and that he might end up regretting it. I know letting him go is the best I can do for now. He says the kids are his no.1 priority and that he’s told her she will always be second. He says she’s fine with this… but I wouldn’t put up with that forever – I can see she would agree with it to placate him for the time being but the reality would be much harder to deal with I guess.
So I am unsure if I am wasting my time. I do still love him and I do think if he can break contact we could stand a good chance but he works with her too and she seems very determined.
There have been so many lies – not at all like him this is so out of character. The last time we were trying again he said I could believe everything he said and that this time he meant it and he wanted the children to know he wasn’t a liar!
I know affairs take place in a bubble world but how long does it take for them to explode when exposed to reality? I can’t let the children and myself live in limbo for much longer although this is the first time it has come out for everyone to know about. Will he (hopefully) realise the feelings aren’t real for her when he isn’t around me so much to feel anything for me? While she is there will the feelings ever change? I know he doesn’t see her every night and he does not live with her and we spoke honestly the other night and he has no plans at all to live with her…but she may have other ideas I don’t know.
Well meaning people tell me to divorce him, sell the house, take him for all I can get etc but I don’t want to. He has said he will give me the house as he wants me and the children to be safe, happy and comfortable. He says he left me and so deserves nothing from the house money etc.
I’ve read ILYB, heal and move on and HCIETYA. Although I am not sure which affair he has had… an exit affair? Although he says he never had the affair to exit the marriage it was because he was unhappy and he never wanted it to end like this. He says while it was happening and I never knew about it he really was trying to put things right between us.
So sorry for my ramblings, I miss him very much, love him very much, and it’s so scary standing back letting him go and know she’s there but if this is my only chance of us resolving this then I have to do it. Thank you and any advice is very welcome!
I felt quite proud of you as I read your letter—I didn’t feel it rambled at all. I thought it showed that you’d spent a lot of time thinking about yourself and the situation. It’s positive that those dead bodies have come to the surface and that you have looked at yourself and realised that you can be can be controlling—and you’re prepared to admit that no sex since 2011 might have been a mistake. All of this is really positive.
We’ve seen that he might want to do anything for an easy life, but my goodness he hasn’t got an easy life now! So what should you do? I think you should step back, continue to be polite, listen to him and then review the situation after six months. If at any point he does talk about coming back, I think you have to be very clear there needs to be a space between him finishing with her, and starting again with you. Six months is a realistic amount of time before reviewing the situation. It will provide space for him to find out what he really wants—my guess is that it won’t be her—and for you to be certain that his relationship has truly run its course.
In the meantime, continue to work on yourself and look at how you can be less controlling. I’m interested in you being assertive rather than domineering. I cover this area in three of my books, the most important being Resolve Your Differences, where there is a chapter on assertiveness. The other is Help Your Partner Say Yes where I explain about something called Transactional Analysis (or TA for short).
Lastly, My Wife Doesn’t Love Me Anymore, although aimed at men the book explains a lot about how to have better communication, and how people alternate between being domineering and being passive. I think all of these would be helpful.
Photography by Chris James Dade.