Read this woman’s email, which tells the story of her cheating husband, their trips to discernment counseling (which is a process where a couple decides if they should try to work things out or get divorced), and some of his remarks.
Four months ago, after my husband hadn’t seemed as interested in me for a few weeks, I asked what was up. He said out of the blue: “I can’t see myself living with you for the rest of my life. I need space. Its not you its me. “
That week I discovered an affair living on the other side of the country. He always travels for work and it had increased. He basically packed his bags and ran when I discovered the affair. He snuck some money out of our account ‘so I can’t scrutinize’ his spending. He lives alone for now. He says he is experiencing ‘right’ and ‘authentic’ love. She is ‘the best thing that has ever happened’ to him. I think she is in the process of separation from her husband also.
He disappears regularly for days (to be with her). He has been very unreliable to the kids. We had discernment counseling where we shared our grievances with the marriage. We agree that we had been reasonably happily married 27 years. I declared a desire to create a nurturing, trusting, giving, passionate relationship. He finally blurted out in the last 5 minutes of our last session: ‘To be honest we could make the marriage work but I just don’t think I’m that motivated’. Everyone now says give up. I’m sure they are right. I need to move forward but I’m stuck and holding out hope. How do I un-attach?
We all know how it is when you first start dating someone with whom you click: it’s heaven! The person cannot do anything wrong, you cannot get enough of him/her, and you are absolutely 100% sure he/she is perfect. You feel like you cannot believe you actually got this lucky and all you can think about is the next time you are going to see each other.
So, how can a wife of 27 years compete with that?? She just can’t. Twenty-seven years is boring, it’s old, it’s stale, too much ugliness has been shown on both ends, there is resentment that has built up, nothing is sexy anymore. Wouldn’t anyone choose the new relationship?
But, here is reality. The new relationship will ultimately get old. That might take weeks or months or several years, but I feel with certainty, it will not last, especially since it began with cheating on both ends. I believe that stuff catches up with people and months or years later, they say, “What the heck did I do??” Especially in this case, since the husband admitted to have been “reasonably happy” during the 27 years. In other words, it’s not like anything really awful happened. They just failed to nurture the relationship, and both didn’t make it a priority. So, it died. Big lesson to both of these people, especially the husband, who handled his unhappiness and boredom by bringing another woman into the relationship instead of communicating to his wife that the relationship was no longer fulfilling.
So, should this woman give up on her cheating husband? Yep. For now, anyway. This man is so infatuated that he cannot see beyond the great sex and what feels like “true love, finally!” He is completely blind and nothing is going to change his mind. Now, in 6 months or a year or 2 years, is it possible that he could change his mind and have a different attitude about his 27 year marriage? Definitely. But, his wife should not wait for that. She has a right to move on and build a new life for herself. She has the right to find happiness, even if it includes love.
I don’t know how to tell someone to “un-attach,” but I can say this. If someone said to me after 27 years of marriage, “We could make the marriage work but I just don’t think I’m that motivated,” that would be the deal breaker that would make me un-attach faster than Velcro. That to me seems really heartless and a cruel way to treat someone after 27 years.
I want to end my advice on a positive note so I will end with this. I cannot even count the number of women (and men) who have been in this situation. It is a very very long journey that is exhausting, but that includes these exhilarating moments that are unforgettable. And at some point in the journey, countless people tell me they found happiness beyond what they ever expected. They are taking trips and living their lives and not saying no to things and yes, they are falling in love. Many come to realize that their former spouse did them a favor by leaving because they didn’t realize how unhappy they really were. It is a beautiful moment when you can look in the mirror and say, “Wow, I’m really proud of myself and how I live my life. And, I never dreamed I could love like this and be this happy.” I wish that so much for this woman!!
Like this post? Check out my blog, “Finding Happiness After Divorce Isn’t a Possibility, It’s A PROBability!”