Here is an email exchange between myself and a reader who is trying to heal the relationship by himself. We thought it might provide you with some beneficial information. Please feel free to add your own thoughts or advice in the comment section below the post.
A reader writes:
Wondered if you can help me? My situation is not quite like yours but has similarities. I have been married for 28 years and have 3 children – 22,19 and 13. My wife has been unhappy in our marriage for some time and finally told me in February that she didn’t want to be with me any more (there were warning signs in the previous 2 years which with the benefit of hindsight I didn’t respond to seriously enough).
Around this time she also told me that she had made contact with a male friend from her childhood/early teen days. They have been exchanging numerous texts on a daily basis ever since. (We have our mobile phones on a single account so I guess she felt she needed to tell me before I became suspicious – the monthly bill grew from 8 pages to 18!).
The texts were originally about old times and catching up but have moved on to become what I believe would be classified as an emotional affair – adolescent dreaming of weekends away, sappy names and all that kind of stuff. They have also met up a couple of times, although probably not in a physical way other than hugging and kissing.
As you can imagine it has been the most difficult 5 months of our marriage.
I really want to save our marriage and have apologized in writing for the pain that I have caused during our marriage which has lead my wife to become resentful and unhappy with our relationship.
I have also given her space and allowed the emotional relationship to develop unhindered. However, this approach does not seem to be working.
If it wasn’t for the fact that we have a 13 year old daughter at home and the guy also being married with a daughter and living over 200 miles away I am sure they would be together. Of course life is complicated and not that simple. Given that we spend a lot of time in separate rooms I am sure all the kids must think something is up but so far nothing has been said.
My problem now is that I simply don’t know what to do being the only one wanting to heal the relationship . Do I continue to allow things to drift on as they are now? Do I confront the other party? Do I arrange a weekend away for my wife and I to get everything out in the open? (How could this possibly compare to the blissful weekend that they have already imagined?! Not very well I guess.)
Sorry for reaching out to you. I know you don’t have a magic wand but your thoughts may help. I also think it would be great to get a female perspective on this because as you know we men and women think very differently. To achieve what you and your husband have done would be wonderful.
First of all I don’t want you to beat yourself up for missing the “warning signs” that your wife was unhappy. Honestly if she didn’t pack her suitcase or contact a lawyer then she didn’t adequately articulate to you how unhappy she was.
I know that there were many things that I was unhappy about in our marriage and I voiced to Doug my displeasure in my own language. Unfortunately he really didn’t understand how unhappy I was. He thought I was just complaining. So please don’t take the guilt and blame for your wife’s affair. Many cheaters just use this tactic as a justification for their actions. When she is able to look at the situation clearly she will realize that it takes two to make an unhappy marriage, and often times it has much to do with outside influences such as raising a family, job stress, etc.
I also want you to think about the kind of husband you have been throughout the marriage. Were you the easy going one? Did you always go along with what she wanted? I ask this because now it seems that you are allowing her to have a relationship with another man while she is still living with you.
I know that you feel guilty and want her to figure things out on her own, however there comes a time when you need to think about yourself and your family. If you really think about what she is doing she is having her cake and eating it too.
I know it is difficult to take the emotion out of your thinking but you need to look at the situation for what it really is. She is going to another man for all of her emotional needs and you are giving her basically everything else. Honestly, if the two of them really wanted to be together nothing would stand in their way. It is just a fantasy that she is not ready to let go of, and really doesn’t have to as long as everything remains status quo.
My suggestion is that you begin to spell out to her what you really want and stop being a doormat. I know it is difficult because you fear that your behavior will push her closer to the other man, however she is already there. You need to prove to her that you deserve better than what she is giving you and what she stands to lose if she leaves this marriage.
I would not plan a weekend away. I would just let her know that you love her and want the marriage to work, however you need to look out for yourself and do what is best for you.
Obviously what you have been doing has not changed the situation, so I would think about doing something to get her attention. I know that in our situation, in the beginning I continued to be the supportive , compliant wife and it allowed Doug to still feel secure. He knew I would still be there when things blew up, I made continuing the affair very comfortable for him. It wasn’t until I did a 180 that I got his attention and he began to wake up. It takes something more than guilt, persuasion or promises to get the cheater to realize how stupid they really are.