Tender Bartender

29 Oct

Dear LetterBalm: My husband and I have been married for almost 20 years. I’ve never had reason to doubt him, but in the past few months, he has started coming home from his favorite bar well past closing time. He used to stop in occasionally for one or two drinks and hang out with a couple of buddies for an hour or so. I checked his cell and found several calls from the new bartender who’s young and pretty. Then, I found texts about how she missed him and looked forward to seeing him again and sent love. I showed up unexpectedly at the bar two days ago and found her sitting close to my husband, the two of them draped over each other and him kissing her cheek. Everybody – my husband, the woman and his friends – looked uncomfortable. I haven’t said anything to him, mainly because I’m too distraught to think straight. There are kids involved – do I take them and leave? What do I say to make him see what he’s doing to his family?

–Scared

Your husband may not be involved in an affair, but he’s on the verge. And, Ms. L.B. bets he’d insist that he and Bartender Girl are just good friends. He doesn’t want things to change because he can shamelessly flirt (or more) and get away with it. There’s no negotiation here. You must summon all your strength and think carefully what you will say. You need to reach him in no uncertain terms. Plan and rehearse ahead of time, if it helps you. Pick your moment when he’s relaxed and the kids are out of the house. Remain calm, no anger, but don’t spare his feelings:

Tyler, listen carefully. Whatever you have going with Deanna, I don’t want to hear how it’s nothing and I’m blowing things out of proportion. Maybe this is an infatuation, but I don’t want an explanation, unless you tell me that you love Deanna and want to be with her instead of me. I won’t waste time or energy arguing with you – this is too important. You’re in danger of losing your whole family, including your children. The pain and anger and guilt would be too much to bear and unfair to everyone. It would destroy our family. You have always been a good father and an attentive husband, so I am giving you the benefit of the doubt. But I want you to stop texting, calling and seeing Deanna. And, I want you to go to couples counseling with me right away, no excuses. Both of us can improve our marriage, but only if we really want to, if both of us have the love and the will to do it. I do love you very much. Now, what do you want to do?

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