Dear Michelle - I have been visiting this site since September and have received a lot of good advice and have also read DB and do practice the techniques suggested with my WAH. But lately, I've started questioning my own motives of wanting the marriage to survive. How do you know for certain whether or not you just want your partner back because you are lonely, or scared of life alone, or just hate being abandoned as opposed to really wanting HIM back? Particularly because, as many of the abandoned wives here report, the WAH behavior and company wasn't too great prior to the break up and a lot of love/respect was lost during those years of being enemies instead of loving mates and friends. I wasn't sure where to post a question to you and I hope this is the appropriate place. Barbara
Loc: Boulder, Colorado USA
Barbara, If your efforts to save your marriage haven't been paying off, it's logical that you eventually start to question your motives for wanting your marriage to survive. I might do the same thing if I were in your shoes. It helps you to feel some sense of control and makes the hurt lessen somewhat.
However, from my perspective, unless there is physical violence or chronic substance abuse which is intolerable, I would prefer you look at it differently. There are lots of great reasons to try to restore love in a relationship, especially when there are children involved. Even if your marriage was lacking before the threat of divorce, there are good reasons to try to bring love into the marriage. You have been doing the right and honorable thing. You husband hasn't. You have been wise, your husband hasn't been. Rather than give up your morals and values and question why a person would want to save a marriage, I suggest you tell yourself that you've been nobly fighting for something that is worth fighting for. However, for some people, when the fight is unbearable, they decide that it's time to quit. That is an individual decision. If you're at that place, you are entitled to feel that way. You need to follow your heart- not because working on your marriage isn't worth it, but because your husband is currently too self-centered to recognize the benefits of making marriage work. That happens. There wouldn't be a 50% divorce rate if it didn't happen.
So quit if you must, but know that you were doing the right thing. You just weren't married to someone who uderstood this. Keep us posted.
Hi Barbara - hope you don't mind a response from someone other than Michele.
Many of us here have asked that very same question: when to give up. My answer: You'll know. Your gut.....your internal instict will tell you when you've had enough and done all that you could. (I realize that sounds like a lame response....but I believe it's true.) It's an answer that comes from within you.
As for the reason WHY you want/need your H back is only a question you can answer. Obviously you wouldn't want him back the way he is now, but once upon a time he was someone you desired...you married him!
I guess what I'm babbling about here is that you need to weigh out the pro's and con's of what your H can possibly do for you....and look inside yourself and decide what it is YOU want and desire in life for yourself. Can my H give this to me? Probably not today or tomorrow, but down the road? Am I willing to 'wait' it out (if and when the fog lifts)?
Not sure if I've helped but that's IMHO. Good luck to you Barbara.
[This message has been edited by Chelsea (edited 11-28-2000).]
Dear Michelle (and Chelsea) Thank you both for your thoughtful replies to a difficult question. I am searching deeply for the answers to the questions you raise. I just notice that so many of us write about the pain our spouses have caused us and continue to cause us (going out with other men/women, treating us like S***, saying cruel things, neglecting family, etc.) and it truly makes me wonder why we would still want to be with these people who hurt us so badly when we were together and continue to hurt us apart. Is it masochistic? Are we hoping that if we change somehow they will, too? In my case my husband was always faithful, but I never felt that he cherished me or took my thoughts and feelings seriously. The ease with which he decided to go his own way after 10 years expressed to me how little he valued our marriage. All of these things make me question my desire to "win" him back. I marvel at the "success" stories of couples who have been separated and on the way to divorce for over a year and then decide to try again. I feel, after 3 months of separation, that we are so far apart and going our own ways that the deep connection which DB talks about has practically disappeared. I do appreciate having this place to talk and to listen and learn. Barbara
As you still consider whether you should make changes and possibly win your H back, may I remind you of this; it may not be until you are fully detached from him that you see changes in him....like his desire to work on things or return. Like the expression goes: "we always want what we don't have" (or something like that!).
Here's my perspective -- you give and give, and hope for a good outcome -- all the while keeping in mind the "excuses" -- the reasons these things happened, and the rationale for them.
At some point, though, you can't live for the excuses anymore. Either you and your spouse work at changing yourselves and your relationship to the marriage -- or not.
In my case, there were many positive signs for a long while. Except, my W refused to stop seeing other men. I lived with that for as long as I thought I could. Then, I accepted no more excuses. (My w is also a recovering alcoholic, which compounds the situation).
I drew the line as to the treatment I would take (overt or not), and focused on what I wanted. Only you can make the decision as to the emotional cost of all you are enduring, against the progress (or lack of) with your spouse.
Whatever the outcome, you will be preparing for, and taking the first steps on the next journey of your life.
Somewhere a while back, I read a quote that has always stuck with me - "you don't marry the man, you marry the life." I don't know if other women feel that way, that they have been incorporated into or have adopted the lifestyle of their husbands, maybe I mean have molded yourself to fit that life. Certainly for me I feel that I made many more adaptations and changes in my life than my H did when we married - moved into his home, lived by his rules, vacationed where he was willing to go, etc. I wonder if part of my mixed feelings about wanting the marriage to survive has to do with getting some perspective on what that life was about. Even though he chose the separation, I had to move out of the house (his)and I am experiencing a lot more freedom of choice, freedom of time, etc. than I did when we were together. Very confusing. I still love the man I married 10 years ago. I don't know if I can live again in the same way with him now. DB talks about creating a new marriage, not the same old one with the habits and behaviors that got you into this mess in the first place. But I honestly can't imagine moving back into the same house (I never felt that it was mine)and living on the terms we lived with there. I know there aren't any easy answers to these questions. Thank you all for your good wishes and responses. The dialogue is helpful to me.
Good insights! At this point -- I am certainly ready to get my wife out of my life, but I'm not happy about changing the rest of my life!
Early on, when my w and I were still talking about reconciling -- we both agreed, that the way we were living (including our house) -- would have to change for us to be happy.
Now I'm looking for a new place to live for me and my kids, getting the house ready to sell, etc. -- the reality of all the life changes (loss of friends in the neighborhood, church, etc. etc.) -- although I want the marriage to end, I want to live without my w, there are many other things I don't want to give up.
Yet -- the price of giving those things up is necessary, for me to start my life over, to have a new start. Not easy, but ok.
I'm actually kinda depressed by it all -- feeling overwhelmed (its me doing it all), and depressed (have not found the "right" house) -- what keeps me going is the light at the end of the tunnel. Just not sure quite how long that tunnel is!
Be well -- yep, gotta uncouple the spouse from the life we live...
Haven't posted for a few days, mostly because I've been feeling "in limbo" - not heaven, not hell, sort of "hanging" in between. Pete - I sympathize with the definite sadness of moving. I hope you don't have to go too far. Even though we can feel very alone and isolated when all of this hits, having a sense of belonging to your community is a very powerful support. I have had the thought that I couldn't stay in our small community if we actually divorced and had to "run into" my H with dates, or just know that other people and friends have seen him out with someone else - it's bound to happen, you know. Men, even loners like my H, don't stay alone for long. But this is my community, too, and I have decided that, no matter what happens, I won't give up my "home". It's bad enough having to start life all over again, it would be 10 times worse having to do it in an unfamiliar place. I hope you find the right home and manage to stay connected to the friends who are important to you. Barbara