A Reader Writes…
I have purchased two of your books “I Love You But I’m Not In Love With You ” and “How Can I Ever Trust You Again”. They are both great and helping me. I found out that my husband whom I have been with for almost 7 years was having an affair with my cousin’s girlfriend for about 4 months. I was devastated when he left to be with her. About 3 weeks later when it came time to sign the divorce papers and he said he couldn’t lose me and the kids and came home. Well about three weeks later I found out he never stopped seeing her. So again the divorce papers came out and again he couldn’t sign and said he would cut her out of his life.
I felt ok with this because he did so over the phone while I listened. Well about 4 days went by and she contacted him begging him to be with her so again he said he wanted a divorce, and again I got the papers out while he packed. This time when he was getting ready to leave I told him we had to sit our kids down to tell them that he was leaving. He again broke down and couldn’t leave. He said he would never answer her calls or emails again. So far when ever she has tried to contact him he calls me right away and tells me. This makes me feel that he is trying but it scares me that he will give in to her again.
The issue is he has such strong feelings for her and says he loves her that he doesn’t know how to get over her. I tell him I will do what ever it takes that it’s only been about a week since the last divorce scare and him cutting her completely off. The first few days were great. I felt like he loved me again but the last couple days he has become distant again. He said he is not trying to be but that he just worries about her and is having a hard time getting over her. I don’t know what to do. I hate knowing my husband has feeling for someone else. I also hate feeling like I can just wake up one day and he will say he wants to leave again to be with her. I know we can work it out if he just gets over her. He tells me over and over that he doesn’t want to loose me he’s just stuck in the middle. I don’t know how long I can take this fear of him loving and leaving me for someone else. What should I do to help him get over her? How do I show him that my love is enough?
The emotional turmoil seeps through every line of your letter. You must be exhausted from living on adrenaline and your nerves. You love your husband with every fibre of your body and you are terrified of losing him. However, you need to take a deep breath, get a hug from someone who cares deeply for you (like you dad) and trust me: you will survive and – with a bit of luck, wisdom and some compassion for your husband – get though this horrible mess and smile again.)
So here goes. First of all, you’re making more dramatic than it needs to be. I can almost hear the gut wrenching music as you give him the pen to sign the divorce papers and tell him to explain why he’s leaving to the children (and sending them into the cold snow and a life in the workhouse). I am exaggerating but if you read the letters from other people in your situation, you will see that they have not used so emotional language or gestures designed to pull at their partner’s heart strings. I know you are going to say that desperate situations require desperate measures, but you’re just adding to the drama. Under such pressure, people do stupid things and this is why your husband told you he’d ended the affair but couldn’t follow through.
Next, I’d like you to re-read ‘How can I ever trust you again?’ but this time SLOWLY. Some people rush through the book as it provides a comfort blanket and reassurance that everything will be fine. If you go back and take in the messages and exercises, you’ll find that none of your husband’s feelings for this woman are real. He’s been in bubble world. There is no need to panic. Sure, he’ll need some time to recover and be grounded again. (If he’s not the sort of man to read my book at least give him the exercise ‘Mourning the loss’ in Chapter Six)
Please have a look at my answer to another Ask Andrew letter (I’m frightened I’ll do something I’ll regret) because it will provide some advice on how to cope with limbo land while he’s coming down from the false high of an affair and realising what a fool he’s made of himself.
Finally, I want to give you a big hug myself after reading the final line of your letter. Of course, your love is enough! You don’t need to convince him of that. He needs to convince you that he has the strength of character to deserve your love. So stop looking for the perfect line or the magical gesture that will resolve all this mess and instead ask for the strength to sort this out, day-by-day, week-by-week because if you learn the lessons from his affair, you will emerge out the other side with a stronger and better marriage.