Shattering Secret

5 Jun

Letterbalm You Are My SecretDear LetterBalm: I thought my husband and I had a good marriage. We’ve known each other since we were in college, and we’ve raised two kids together. But the past year has been difficult because my husband developed a secret infatuation for a younger woman he works with. He began talking about her a lot, and, when I got a little apprehensive, he said I shouldn’t be worried because he regarded her as a niece and he was like an uncle to her. He told me he was mentoring her. Well, I overheard a phone conversation between them that indicated they were more than colleagues and that they had been spending time with each other outside the office. When I confronted him, he said nothing improper happened and that I was overreacting. We’ve discussed it several times since because I brought it up. My husband doesn’t want to talk about it anymore. He says he loves me and I should stop worrying, but I haven’t been able to let this go. I’m sad and anxious and feel betrayed. I hate how I’m feeling. Is there anything I can tell him to make him understand that what he’s doing hurts me and us?

–Troubled Wife

What your husband is doing is marital passive-aggressive behavior. He’s flirted, you found out, you got upset and he said you were overdramatizing. That’s like provoking someone to anger, then getting on a high horse and accusing her of being hostile. It’s enough to make one crazy. Your husband has certainly done serious damage to your marriage because he won’t discuss his actions and deflects blame onto you and treats your pain lightly. Ms. L.B. strongly advises you to seek expert counseling, with or without him. You’re entitled to seek validation of your feelings. You must recognize the uncomfortable truth, however, that his actions are a symptom of weaknesses in your marriage. Under the circumstances, can you live with your husband now? You need to sort out your feelings and decide what you want to do, including a trial separation. Talk with your husband thusly:

Marshall, I’ve begun many conversations with you to try to get to the bottom of your relationship with Claudia. You continue to maintain that nothing happened, that I’m overreacting. For now, I’m backing off from this. But I want you and me to go to counseling. The issue isn’t your workplace crush, it’s your refusal to understand how much pain you’ve caused and you belittling my anguish. You say you love me, and I do love you. Well, for better or worse, Marshall, we’re married, and your actions let both of us know we have problems. It’s a wake-up call. We have years together and two great kids. Are you willing to do some work to repair our marriage and make it stronger?

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