A Reader Writes…
I know you will have many letters like this and not enough hours in the day to respond to them all but I hope you can find time to reply to me I am at my wits end and feel I’m going nowhere.
I have read at least three of your books so far I Love You but I’m Not in Love With You, My Wife Doesn’t Love Me Anymore and How Can I Ever Trust You Again? and whilst they have been helpful to me I am still in a horrible position. The main problem I have is that nowhere can I find a scenario that relates to my situation. All the books I’ve read (I have also read other peoples) refer to resolving problems and arguments but my wife and I don’t have any such problems.
I will try to summarise a very complicated and long story into a short one. About 4 years ago a friend of mine approached my wife to instigate an affair. My wife is a very flirty outward, almost attention seeking, woman who does come over to men as being “up for it” for want of a better expression. Whenever we are out she is surrounded by men like bees to a honeypot (she is also very attractive which helps of course). He obviously thought that he had a shot at a “bit on the side” as he too is married with a family. She told him she loved me and that she didn’t want to meet and then in a state of shock contacted me to tell me what had happened. She asked me not to contact him and said she would deal with the problem to which I reluctantly and stupidly agreed.
For a while there was a series of text and phone conversations that she told me about whereby she told him that nothing was going to happen until one day I discovered she had contacted him and not only didn’t tell me but actually avoided telling me. At this stage the picture obviously had changed and I could no longer wait for her to deal with the situation and confronted them both. He apologised and said it would never happen again and stressed that nothing had happened other than conversations. My wife at this point came out with the “ILYB” statement for the first time, however it was agreed we would try to sort things out.
Unfortunately over the following three years they did begin a full blown affair where they met up regularly and whilst never had full intercourse she did regularly perform sexual acts for him. During this time our relationship appeared to go through highs and lows which I can now relate to the fact that the affair was broken off by him on several occasions because he wanted to do “the right thing”. I assume the lower points in our relationship would equate to the times when the affair was rekindled.
During this time I assumed the problems were just due to “ILYB” until eventually her behaviour became so obvious that I started to look more closely and the confronted her. At this time I did not believe he was involved as we had spoken, I believed him when he said it wouldn’t happen again, I had forgiven him and we had continued to be friends, although never in quite the same way. However it did turn out to be him and once again I had to confront him, this time with no possibility of forgiveness.
This was over a year ago and my wife is still here in body if not in spirit. Since the affair was ended she has refused point blank to accept what she did was wrong and will apparently never apologise for it, although she has apologised for the pain that it has caused. For months and months she pined after this man, lying in bed crying if we happened to drive past him in the opposite direction and had caught a glimpse of him and I know she has told a friend on several occasions she has had to fight the urge to email him.
As for us, We just celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary, we get on really well, we are such good friends and do lots of things together. We have always had a very active and excellent sex life, although this has changed somewhat lately. Prior to the affair we were one of those inseparable couples who would never dream of not doing things together. This was a two way thing and not at all one sided, she would always want to come with me to things that weren’t of real interest to her just to be together. If she went anywhere she would always ask me to come. Life was on the whole very good. Even now externally things seem fine, she is happy and chirpy we cuddle a lot and still do everything together, we don’t argue and the only times things become awkward are when this subject comes up.
She doesn’t really ever want to talk or discuss the situation but still feels there is something missing and that it’s not fair that she stays. I believe she has decided to go but is waiting until after we go on holiday in July. We tried to have counselling but after a couple of individual sessions the Councillor thought we shouldn’t have couples sessions as we were not yet both looking for the same outcome. I wanted to fix things but my wife just wanted to discoverer if she wanted to stay or not. My wife says that she wished she could sort things out but she still can’t bring herself to say she wants to try and fix things so we are stuck in horrible limbo where I want to correct whatever went wrong and I can’t seem to get her to want to try…, although she insists she is trying very hard !!!
I am so confused and lost, I’m trying so hard to keep this from our children who are not young but still live at home and would be devastated if she leaves as of course would I.
I am afraid I have failed to convey my story in a short message and still have only scraped the surface of it but to summarise, We had a happy life, my wife had an affair, the affair was ended although I believe she didn’t want it to, she is not remorseful for having the affair, she feels that she doesn’t love me properly (probably because it doesn’t feel like the affair) we don’t ague or fight, we enjoy many of the same things, we are a good team. She never wants to discuss anything (although is constantly updating her girl friend with information) she says she would like things to get better and that she has been trying very hard but can’t go to our councillor and tell her she wants to try so we are unable to even discuss things in a safe neutral environment.
I understand you may not have time to answer me but I am so desperate I would be happy to make some kind of payment for your time. Our councillor gave me the impression she did not want to see me alone anymore but offered to refer me to someone else because she felt I needed support, I don’t really understand why. I declined as there is only one person I want to discuss this with now and that is my wife. She did tell my wife she would be happy to see her again but so far she has not taken up the offer.
I will do anything (reasonable and legal) to win her back but she is unable or just refuses to tell me what is wrong I have no idea how to start.
Please help me!
ps… I think over the last year I have made every possible mistake you mention in your books! And probably some more too !
I think your wife is mourning for her “lost love”. She is full of guilt and shame and that’s why she doesn’t want to talk to you. The guilt and shame will also probably make her build the affair up into something it wasn’t “I was swept away by a wave of feelings” or “we were right for each other” because that makes her feel less guilty. In some way she wasn’t responsible for her feelings. She was taken over by them. The alternative is just too bleak to think about i.e. I had a cheap little affair.
None of this helps you move forward because trying to convince her that this was not the love of her life will just make you into the enemy. Underneath all of this I wonder if she’s lost her purpose in life. If you’ve been together for 20 years, my guess is that the children are growing up and they don’t need her so much. If she’s a very outgoing, flirty sort of person I bet that appearances are very important to her. How does she feel about being in her 40’s? She really needs to take time to find a new reason for getting up in the morning. However, this is really some thing that she’s got to do for herself, you can’t force her into it. You can be supportive, available to talk to but if you keep pestering her all the time she will keep you at arms’ length.
So I’m afraid we’re still in the age of uncertainty. I think you need to keep doing positive things and communicate properly rather than avoid arguments. Please look at the section on assertiveness in My Wife Doesn’t Love Me Any More. In effect, I think you should work on yourself, get support from a counsellor to keep you strong and positive, so that you give your wife enough time to recover from this affair and see things more clearly. Finally, I’d like you to start looking after yourself too, you’ve been through a terrible time and need to be kind to yourself.