Running in Place

7 Oct

Dear LetterBalm: I thought my marriage was happy, but I was so wrong. A few months ago, my husband confessed that he had had a long affair with a co-worker. He said they broke it off because it was “too intense” and “too emotionally consuming,” whatever that means. They still work in the same office. He now claims he doesn’t love her but they have a connection he and I have never had. We went to marital counseling, but not much was resolved. My husband says he wants us to stay together, but he’s distant and sullen and clearly unhappy. I feel humiliated. I love him, but I’m barely holding it together, waiting for him to come around. What can I say to get him to make a decision one way or another?

–Immobile and Numb

This situation is monumentally unfair, and you are, indeed, immobile. Your husband has put your marriage on hold. He’s playing for time, perhaps to shore up strength over his grief from the end of his affair. You have no reasonable explanation for his actions or his feelings, and couples counseling hasn’t provided any therapy or resolution. So far, your husband hasn’t had to take responsibility for his actions. Ms. L.B. understands that the two of you haven’t even had a good discussion about the faults and failings of your marriage so you both can move forward. Do you love him enough to stay together or not? Seek a different counselor for yourself and begin exploring all these issues. Review your finances and consult an attorney for advice on your marital situation. Keep everything to yourself – don’t involve family and friends. When you’re ready, talk to your husband straight from the shoulder:

Cliff, please listen carefully because I’ll say this just once. You’ve put our marriage in limbo while you decide whether you love me enough to stay. You’ve given no clear explanation for your feelings for Rosanna. You’ll only say that your connection with her is too intense, too emotionally consuming and much more of a connection than you and I have, even though you say you don’t love her. This is crazy and ultimately unfair to me. Even when we went to counseling, you didn’t have to take responsibility for your actions, and we learned nothing – certainly nothing about the state of our marriage, our true feelings for each other and a way to move forward, either separately or together. Well, I’m not waiting around. I love you, but I can’t live this way. I need some honest answers from you right now, even if they are painful for me.


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