A Reader Writes…
My husband and I have been married four and a half years. We were together six years before that – having started an affair from our then current partners. We had been together for 3 or 4 years in our late teens/early twenties and are now in our mid forties.
My husband had an affair with a work colleague, while he was married to his first wife, split with his wife and moved in with the work colleague. When this relationship was not working, he got in touch with me through Friends Reunited and we started a very exciting and passionate affair.
Because of our earlier involvement, it was very easy and like ‘coming home”. I was in a marriage I wasn’t particularly happy with although I had never thought of leaving. I had one small child.
When having the affair, I got pregnant again and moved in with my (now) husband just before the baby was born. We had two more children together (so I have four in total, all living with us) and then got married in August 2008. After the marriage I had to go back to work, didn’t have enough child care and was exhausted and became clinically depressed.
Since 2005 my husband had worked abroad all week, only coming home at weekends. We had his two older children every other weekend and a dog – I was completely overwhelmed. To my husband I was negative and depressed and critical (true).
He met a woman at work in early 2009 in one of the countries he worked and had an affair/relationship with her that lasted 3 years – it has only just ended. I found out about this affair in October 2010 and didn’t tell my husband.
In October 2011 the whole family moved to the country where this other woman lived (as this was the first time in 6 years that my husband was being offered the chance to work in one place every week and so a chance to see his children daily).
The affair was still going on and eventually came out in the open. My husband left me twice to be with her, coming back the first time because he missed the family. After the second time I moved all the children back to our place of origin as I was so unhappy being in a foreign country with a husband who so obviously hated me and showed it quite plaintively with his words and language.
The affair woman moved in with him into our family home once I left and their relationship lasted about 6 weeks like this until my husband asked her to move out as he wanted to think about things with me as he missed the children terribly and found the affair woman a bit annoying.
Meanwhile, I unpacked from moving four children from one country to another, got them back into school and just survived. I had been very suicidal before moving back and felt relief from that although life was not roses. I started to go to Al Anon groups as my husband had drunk every day of our life together – often to blank out his double life, he says. These meeting were emotional, but healing, I suppose.
I started online dating and met a guy in November last year who I have a magical connection with. He gives me all I had not had from my husband for so long – love, joy, peace, bliss. And I can be loving and playful with him – something I have not been able to show my husband for so long either. He wants me in his life, yet is not divorced from his wife either.
He hasn’t spoken to his wife since he left her last May. And no surprise, my husband decides he wants to come back – admits his mistakes, feels total remorse and intends to be the perfect husband. I had bought a marriage fitness package when I was so desperate for him to come back to the marriage and now he wants to follow that to the letter and get out love back.
Can I give up the new man for marriage and family (four children really do need two parents together, especially when they are young?) While I discuss with counsellors and choose to do this – the practicality is proving more difficult. My husband irritates me and when I talk to the new man about splitting up for the sake of making an effort for the sake of my children, he gets upset and we can’t break off – he sometimes appears a bit needy of me.
Relationships are really difficult because no matter how much we love someone, we fall out with them from time to time. Sometimes they do things that irritate and annoy us and in an ideal world we’d be able to talk to them and resolve issues.
When problems accumulate it seems like there’s nothing you can do; you get more and more depressed and that’s when a magic solution (like running off into the arms of someone else) seems the best thing to do. Unfortunately this only makes things more complicated.
First, I want to give you a big hug because it must be miserable knowing about your husband’s affair and doing nothing about it. Leaving you twice is horrible enough and moving that woman into your house after you’ve gone is truly nasty, however I want to question your interpretation that he hated you. Maybe he was just desperate to feel good.
That’s a problem when you get depressed and you feel like you can’t solve your solutions—only the magic of another person’s love (or in your husband’s case a drink) will make you feel better. Unfortunately as he’s found out, it makes things worse.
My concern is that this man is in exactly the same pattern. He has run away from his wife and hasn’t contacted her, she must be desperate wondering what he’s up to, even if she doesn’t want him, she probably has legal things she wants to talk to him about. He is using you as his magic solution.
No wonder he’s terribly needy. In the magic early days of love and limerence (which I discuss in I Love You but I’m Not in Love With You ) love is the answer because we get a high from the early days of ‘walking on air’ love. Unfortunately it doesn’t last forever as I explain in my book.
So, what should you do? I think you need to stop running too because as you said at the very beginning of your letter, you left an unhappy relationship and thought your marriage—or your husband—would be the solution. I think trying to work things out with him is a very good place to start; of course he irritates you because you’re incredibly angry with him, but instead of burying your feelings you need to talk to him about them.
Instead of acting out your feelings by shouting at him, you need to report them e.g. “I feel terribly angry when you…” I explain a lot about how to communicate properly in Resolve Your Differences and Help Your Partner Say Yes. I also explain how affairs are not the answer in How Can I Ever Trust You Again?
So this is really difficult and it would be easy to continue the madness of looking for more magic solutions, but hopefully your husband is now prepared to work at things and I think you should try if you could try to resolve the problems in the relationship. Even if you don’t, you will learn a lot about how to communicate and that would be something you could take into a new relationship.
The road ahead is difficult but at least if you learn and understand, you will feel more empowered. Running away into the arms of someone else will make you feel better for a while, but is not going to solve anything. Good luck.