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How can I save my marriage or is it too late?

By March 19, 2010 - 9:31pm
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I am 32 with 2 small boys, 5 and 14 mos. I have been with my married for 8 yrs and we have been together for over 16 yrs. We have been having some problems for the past year or so because of some text messages I found in his phone. That happened when I was 7 mos pregnant. I thought we were working through stuff. He begged me not to leave him and to fight for our marriage so I didn't leave and I fought. About 6 months ago he started having issues at work. I noticed that is was starting to affect home as well. The last 2 times we tried to have sex which was about 6 months ago he could not keep an erection. So of course I began to think that something might be going on and began checking his phone and asking questions everytime he left the house. Well he has told me know that because of all that he felt like I wasn't trying to fix things and that he just basically shut down and was done. We have been basically living like roommates the last 6 months no intimacy very little alone time or affection. He is still sleeping in my bed though. Anyway, today he told me that he just really felt like he wasn't here emotionally or physically and just didn't think that there was anything left as far a feelings for me. But that he would always care for me and love me. I asked if he wanted a divorce and he was like well i guess we need to think about it but then would say I haven't really made up my mind yet. I don't know what to do. I am in counseling. Trying to change and make things better. I know I haven't been perfect, but I never thought that we would be going through this.

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Wow, honestly I have tried so hard not to think about it. Yes, I think I am afraid that he will actually do it. And then when he does I am afraid that instead of him realizing he made a mistake he will realize that it was the best thing he ever did, and I don't know if I can face that. I am afraid that I will be consumed with constantly wondering where he is and what he is doing and who he is doing it with, even though I am doing that even now. I am afriad of being alone and not having anyone to share things with like the burden of our kids dialy lives. I am afraid of the thought of having to start over with someone new. The thought of someone else touching me or being around my kids. I am afriad I can't maintain my house alone, not necessarily the finance part but the maintenance part. But mostly I am afraid of losing my best friend. I mean even throughout all of this, we continue to text duriong the day and discuss daily things at work and what not. And I don't want to lose that.

If it did happen, yeah I guess it would be somewhat of a more peaceful house. And I guess it would finally allow me to know where I am in my life, married or not married.

I have been trying to function as if I don't owe him anything the last few weeks. Coming and going and leaving the kids with him alone for the entire day and things like that. So that he realizes that this is how it would be and that I do in fact do a lot in addition to working a 40 work week. And that maybe that is the reason I became thier mom and not so fun anymore.

I have been with this person for the last 16 years. The most we have ever been apart was 3 weeks right after we got married when I had to travel for work. And then maybe a week or a few days at a time here and there over the years. I am SO SCARED of not seeing him every day in our house. I am SO SCARED of starting over. I am SO SCARED of telling my family and friends that my husband walked out on me and facing that humiliation.

April 13, 2010 - 10:51am

I know what you are saying totally. I keep telling myself the same thing. It is just so hard to look at the man I married and not see him and begin to see the person that he is now. I finally told my mother today that we were having problems. I did not share the extent of the problems because I don't want to hear the "I told you so's". My dad cheated on her. But she was like, I guess it has ran its course and now you need to get your life together and move on. I can't believe how easy it is for people to say that.

I can't tell you how much your responses mean to me and that you are taking the time to answer and be concerned.

April 12, 2010 - 2:21pm
(reply to alone2010)


You are so welcome. It's a pleasure to write to you, even though I know the topic isn't a very happy one.

I'm so glad you told your mom. I can tell that it was huge for you. And I think that in her way, telling you to get your life together and move on may actually be more supportive than it sounds. She cherishes YOU, and wants to see YOU happier.

Your husband is lucky that you see him with forgiving eyes. But that's also part of the problem. Have you ever heard the term "enabler"? It's a word used when someone actually enables someone else to act badly. They may not want to, but they do it for all the reasons you cling to your vision of who your husband used to be. An enabler keeps loaning money to someone who never pays it back. An enabler keeps letting an abusive or violent partner back into their life. An enabler keeps hoping that things will be different, but then actually inadvertently helps keep things exactly the same.

It's a combination of denial and hope. And with two young children, I can certainly understand both.

Alone, let's say you actually were to ask your husband to move out, and he does. What are you most afraid of then? What is it that keeps you stuck more than anything else?

Are you afraid of his anger?
Are you afraid of the fact that he might actually do it?
Are you most concerned with the finances of a separation?

And let's say that it did happen. What would be the best things about it?

That you and your children could live in a peaceful home?
That you could put down this burden of almost parenting your husband?
That you could quit going back and forth and simply try to move forward?

I'm interested in how you see life after a separation. That may be a key to why it's so hard to think about.

April 13, 2010 - 9:48am


Good to hear from you again, though I'm sorry things aren't going better.

It sounds like yes, the run-in with the woman on the phone was stressful and awkward. However, from what you write, I think it was helpful as well. You found out these things:

1. How he represents his life outside of your home: In an extremely negative, pitiful way.
2. That he is exaggerating his marriage and family difficulties to be sympathetic to other women.
3. That she, too, got tired of his issues.
4. That she apologized.

And I have to say, not to be hurtful to you, but it is the married person who breaks the vows. I know that we would hope that no one would ever have an affair with a married person. But it is not the single person who took vows, it is the married person. If your husband had been true to you and your family, 20 women could have thrown themselves at him and it wouldn't have meant a thing to him. This is his fault, OK?

Clearly, he's not going to decide here. You're going to have to decide what you want for you and your children, and then what to do about it. Because otherwise, I think that a year from now, 3 years from now, 5 years from now you will be feeling exactly the same as you are now: Sitting on a very uncomfortable fence between what you want and what happens by default.

I do hope he is still going to therapy? It sounds like that is the only thing that will help him sort things out.

April 12, 2010 - 11:34am

Well so it is has been a few weeks. Things haven't changed much. He is still saying that he is leaving although he hasn't done anything to really show that he is planning on leaving. I have told him that once he is gone he cannot come back so he better be sure that whatever it is that he feels is out there for him is worth leaving his family for. I also asked him if he just wanted to leave for a month and see what it was like. I don't want to give him a "free pass" if you know what I mean, but right now I don't even know if that hasn't already happended. I am just thinking that he keeps saying he can't think with me being in teh house and all that so maybe being away will help. I don't know anymore.

I have been doing my own thing and just giving him his space. I leae the house with my kids and go do things. This past weekend I left early on Sat to go out of town shopping by myself and came home that evening. He didn't even bother me all day. Don't know if that is a sign that he doesn't really care anymore or if he was just giving me my space as well.

To make matters even better I ran into the woman he had pictures of on the phone out shopping on Friday. I confronted her and it was very awkward. At first she acted like she didn't know who I was which was bull because she new me from Middle School and she had also seen me at the gym. Anyway I asked her what she was thinking and how she could do that knowing that he was married and she kept saying he is unhappy and all this mess. I was like do you live in my house, do you know what my life is like. You hear one side of the story, and apparently he is making a good one to these women and maybe to his friends and family as well. They all really feel sorry for him. Which were her words. I guess I felt sorry for him. Then she kept saying that he would say things and she would question him and then notice that he wasn't leaving and that he wasn't showing any initiative to make a change and that is when she started thinking that he just had issues and that he needed to deal with them. She told me that she never meant to hurt me and I was like done enough damage and it wasnt her that hurt me it was him. She apologized over and over again and said that she had blocked his numbers and that she was out of the picture and I didn't have to worry about her. She said she didn't need to be in all this drama. I just said whatever and walked off. So that was a wonderful day.

I am so at a loss these days. Somedays I look at him and think just go away I can't deal with this anymore. And then other days I look at him and cry because I can't imagine him not being my husband and it makes me so sad.

April 12, 2010 - 6:53am

Thanks. I don't always feel like I am doing great. I just feel like sometimes that someone has told me that my husband has a fatal disease and that he will be dead soon and I want to make the last days or weeks that he is in my house the best they can be so that our last memories of being together aren't of us fighting or being so ugly to each other. Because that is not hwo our marriage was. So that is not how I want to remember it or want him to remember it.

He has opened up a little more to me and now more than ever I am beginning to understand more and a lot of things are what I had already thought. He seriously needs to continue counseling regardless of whether we stay together or not. He feels like there are so many things that he has not done or has been to scared to do and has a lot of regrets. It is funny but at 33 I think he is going through his mid-life crisis. He feels like if he stays with me and tries to work on these issues about himself that he won't fix them because he will keep running back to what is comfortable. I told him that there was nothing wrong with feeling comfort in your spouse when you were scared of something or had regrets or whatever. That is what I am here for and that is what he has been there for me for. He said he has been afraid of failure. I just laughed said what do you think leaving our marriage is going to be.

April 1, 2010 - 9:59am
(reply to alone2010)

You know, I think 33 is a great time to have a mid-life crisis!! Because if you figure out what regrets you have and what you still really want to do in your life, you have the time to work on them.

I hope he considers counseling in the long-term. And I hope that over time, he will come to see that being a good husband and father are noteworthy accomplishments all on their own. They can seem easy from the outside, but be oh-so-hard on the inside.

Hang in there, Alone. Your husband is dealing with some huge issues inside, as you recognize. His road won't be easy as he works to figure those out. The fact that he has your support to do it is remarkable.

April 2, 2010 - 9:49am

I know that there is no way of guaranteeing that counseling will FIX our problems. I guess what I want is for both of us to be sure before we make this decision to end our marriage. I want us to get to know the people we have become today not the people we were and not the memories of the things that were said and done to each other to get us to this point. And who knows at that point we both may decide that its not going to work.

As far as the phone and the other woman. He says that he has put the phone away and that she has stopped talking to him because of the drama and supposedly he stopped the talking before the blow up because he felt like we were about to make a decision on divorce and all that. That is all really confusing to me but whatever. I did see a goodbye text in the phone. I think she stopped talking to him because she was worried about me telling people at her work and all that and what was going to come out of that not necessarily the drama.

At this point I can only listen to what he is saying. I have no way of really knowing. His mother, the counselor and I have asked him to stop contact until we figure all this out and he said he would.

I totally agree with you that I want to learn from the past and move forward. I hope that is with him but if it is not I know that it will be something that I have to deal with and figure out how to move on.

March 31, 2010 - 11:03am
(reply to alone2010)


I think you are doing great. You have your eyes wide open. They are hopeful, but realistic. I think that's the best you can possibly hope for right now.

Like your counselor said: He is home. And there has been some counseling, and there may be more. All these are good, smart signs.

I admire you for your resilience and for your ability to work this through. Please know that. I know that your daily joy comes from taking care of those little boys and thinking positive thoughts for their futures. And that's sometimes the hardest job of all, isn't it?

April 1, 2010 - 9:31am


I can only imagine how awful it must have been to hear your husband says that he only wants peace and to be out of the marriage. That's pretty definitive to me.

I think at some point you have to ask yourself (maybe you are already doing it) if it is going to be worth the fight. You say you can't let go without one, and I understand that. You are fighting for your marriage and you are fighting for your children's family. If your husband agrees to continue with counseling, you can't assume that that counseling will bring him back to the marriage. Counseling is meant to help each person find what is inside them and how to make their life better, and his counseling may just reinforce the fact for him that he wants to move on.

It sounds to me like you and your husband could not be farther apart right now.

He wants you to be different, and he's ready to move on.
You want him to be different, and to stay.
And in the middle of this is still the "secret phone" and the woman on the other end.

I think it's great if the two of you can continue counseling and start to work on your issues. But please do protect yourself and don't live with your hopes too high. I can tell from your last paragraph that you are very much grieving for what used to be. Don't forget that he is the one who introduced the deception into this marriage, so for him, it changed whenever that happened. None of us can ever "go back" to the way we used to be. We can just go forward and hope to learn from our pasts, you know?

March 31, 2010 - 9:53am
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