A Reader Writes…
My husband of 8 years who I have been with for 13 years in total walked out on myself and our two children (aged 18 months and 3 years) a year ago on Father’s Day. It was totally unexpected. Even now, I never saw it coming. There were some clues in the few weeks before he walked out on us but he was just quiet and not himself and I couldn’t put my finger on it. I had asked him what was wrong and he said he was unhappy but didn’t know why or that he was stressed about work.
For almost two months he came and visited us but never stayed. He would say strange things like we were just friends who ended up having children together, that we were better off apart, that we should go right back to the start of our relationship again. All very strange. In this time he also requested he have his own bank account ( we had a joint one) and he said he wanted to live on his own because he had never done this since we were at university. He also told my mum he had seen a better life than the one we had and that if he didn’t leave now he never would. During this time I had no contact from anyone in his family – again very odd as his mum used to ring us daily!
When he did visit us during these two months he was on edge and anxious. I asked him to see a doctor but he wouldn’t. He would shake and get all anxious and then have to leave us. Again very odd behaviour. He even said he wished he never felt like this and thought about killing himself.
After almost two months he came away on a planned holiday with us. We had a lovely time although we never shared a bed. He never held my hand or touched me from the moment he walked out on us back on Father’s Day. Again very odd as he has always been a touchy – feely person.
On our return from holiday I found a woman waiting for us at home. He had been having an affair for the last 9 months. He cried and begged to stay, said he only loved me and thought about me every day he was gone (he had been living with her) and that something kept pulling him back to me etc etc.
So he stayed, but never shared a bed with me and never was touchy-feely and to be honest I guess, never made an effort to make up for what he had done. A few weeks later he walked out on us again. He set up home on his own and said he wanted to decide if he wanted to come back to me and the children. A few days later, by text, he says he wants a divorce. Then a few days later says he is happy to try again…then he says he doesn’t and then he does… so this emotional roller coaster goes on for a few months.
Five months after he left us originally I discover he never stopped seeing the other woman.
I decided, as your book suggests, giving him 6 months from the point of him saying that was it and that takes us to roughly now. Nothing has changed. He is so cold towards myself and the children. He seems to have distanced himself from us totally and turned off every emotion he ever had towards us. He sees the children regularly but how he is with them has changed and I can’t quite put my finger on it.
We do not hear from him during the week and contact is on his terms. He rings us occasionally but only speaks to the children. He always withholds his phone number so we have his work email address for him as the only means of contacting him. I don’t even know where he lives except for the town. It’s like he is trying to pretend we don’t exist. If he rings and we are out the I get an email questioning where I am, but I never know if he is ringing so I can’t stay in just in case.
He has pushed and pushed for a divorce and I have agreed. Our home is up for sale as I can’t afford to take the mortgage on myself although he keeps saying I don’t have to move if I don’t want to. I don’t know where we will go yet.
Shortly after he left I had a miscarriage. We didn’t realise I was pregnant. He has never discussed this with me and I went through it alone. He just doesn’t seem to care.
I have changed and he acknowledges this. I like to be in control and he likes to please people. He never speaks up about things and I just plough on in with stuff! But now I am the opposite and feel so much better for it. He says he gave up trying to hope I would change and got talking this woman at work. But then he needed to change too – he had to stand up to me, his mum, everyone but he never did. Until this. He stands up to his mum now – I have heard him on the phone to her.
We were actually quite happy, no money worries, two children, good jobs…he just says he was unhappy. But he doesn’t look happy now. He has the most awful bags under his eyes, is thin, short of money and in debt. When I try to talk to him about it, he says he is just tired. He has had two car crashes since leaving me and I have been blamed for both- he said he was tired which was my fault! He used to be such a careful driver.
He thinks having an affair makes him feel better, that didn’t work so now he needs to divorce me. In his own words he wants to tie up the loose ends so he can move on…
I think he is still with this woman, but he refuses to tell me her name, even now. He has told me not to contact his mum as she won’t answer the phone to me ( I have no idea why) and he doesn’t want me to have anything else to do with anyone in his family. But then he tells me he has never said anything bad about me to them?!
His behaviour is so strange. He said under the resentment he knows there is love for me, but now he ignores this fact when I mention it. He says nothing will ever change because he doesn’t want it to.
He never discusses anything in person with me. He sends me emails late at night that are so awful I go to sleep crying. I have asked him to speak to me not email me and he says its easier to email because that way we don’t row…but the weird thing is we have hardly rowed in the last 6 months!
Our daughter has her birthday soon and he won’t come to her party. He says it will be too awkward. She is heartbroken. He seems to be distancing himself further and further from us. He has removed everything of his from our home and is so matter of fact about sorting things. His emails are like business emails.
I have found things quite hard and I’m on anti depressants. I struggled at work and got to a low point but am coming back now. I work full time and it is exhausting with the two small children. He never offers to help me – before this he worshipped me and them and looked after us. I couldn’t have asked for a kinder husband.
He now says we have nothing in common. When I try to talk to him about it he says he has changed but when I then say I think he has changed due to things he does to us he then claims he hasn’t changed and is still the same as he was!
I feel very much in limbo. On one hand I still love him very much but on the other the horrible things he has done to us and what he continues to do to us make me want to run as far away from him as possible. But something isn’t right about any of this, and that something is making me hold on. But am I holding on to something that is never coming back? He has done exactly what his dad did to his mum (and then wife number two!) and that his aunt did to her husband. He comes from a family where you run away from things and don’t deal with them. When we first met he was always so worried I would leave him and yet he is the one that did it to me.
On a positive note, I can cope as a single mum to two children, budget well, hold down (just) a full time teaching job and have two happy well loved children. But there is a massive hole on our life.
Sorry for rambling. I know I am not perfect but I have changed. I have read so many letters on your website with elements of my story in and it is so heartbreaking for these families. I am looking forward to your new book in September although I fear it is too late for me maybe.
I’m afraid your story is a very common one. It’s tough having two children under five because as all the bonding hormone oxytocin goes into the mother-and-child relationship. It takes about eighteen months to recover and bang you’ve got another child. During this period, the woman is unlikely be spontaneously horny (but it doesn’t mean that she can’t be sexually response and coaxed into love making) sadly lots of men think their wife doesn’t fancy or love them any more. (I cover all this is my book Make Love Like a Prairie Vole). Throw in the problems that it is easy to become mother and father than husband and wife—hence my new book—and thing are tough.
Unfortunately, you’ve got a third ingredient. You can be controlling and he’s a people-pleaser. And when you’ve a full-time job and two children, there’s a lot that needs to be organised! Instead of saying he’s got a problem, he keeps the peace and say ‘yes dear’ and ‘how high do you want me to jump’ and then resents it. (I explain the alternative—about being assertive—in my current book My Wife Doesn’t Love Me Anymore. Please read it as it will help your dealings with your husband whatever happens.)
Finally, we have the really dangerous element. He was taught as a small child that if there’s conflict that the only solution is to run away. Throw in popular culture and the idea that ‘love will save the day’ it’s no wonder that he imagines that his affair will make him feel better. The same myth about love makes you keep running because when one relationship does not deliver the promised land, you tell yourself ‘it can’t have been REAL love’ and you’re off to chase the next rainbow (and marriage number three, four, five….)
I’m pleased that my books have kept you sane. I’m sure the next one will help – My Husband Doesn’t Love Me and He’s Texting Someone Else. So what should you do? I would suggest more of the same, keeping the show on the road at home, trying not to judge him (or draw conclusions about his motives might be – because I think he’s truly all over the place and changing not just by the day but by the minute) and when he blames you for his problems to try and rise above it (because rowing about it will achieve nothing).
Finally, I would aim to be more assertive, use the ideas of TA (Help your partner say yes) and aim to have an adult-to-adult relationship. I know all this is really tough and that’s why I would recommend looking into MINDFULNESS which is about living in the moment and quietening our over-active mind. If this sounds interesting, I would start with Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat Zinn. There’s some other suggestions in the back of My Husband Doesn’t Love Me Any More.
Finally, you’ve been tested and come through in reasonably good shape. You have a lot to be proud about and I have confidence that you will manage the next part of your journey in the same manner.