Dear Dr. Buckingham,
Hello my name is Dominique and I have been married for 14 years. We have two children ages 16 and 10. I’ve had an emotional relationship with another man for 5 years. My husband is a gamer and our values are different. He spends a lot of his time gaming and he doesn’t value a tidy home like I do amongst many other differences. Because of those issues we have been fighting for years. The other man was there to listen to me and spend time with me. The majority of time spent with him was over the phone and there where years when we didn’t speak but the bottom line is he was around. My husband found out about it and he hasn’t been able to forgive me.
Over the years he has introduced other woman into out relationship the last thing he did was he got himself fired for in appropriately texting a co-worker (sexually) and she went to HR and got him fired. I guess he was talking to her for a while when we were having problems and when he told her that he was going to stay in the marriage she got pissed off. I have preached throughout out the relationship about not having anyone else and all the while I was talking to the other guy.
I’m at the point where I can forgive him but he can’t. So we remain married and I told him that I’m going to fight for him. It’s hard dealing with the day-to-day rejection. He won’t kiss me or even make love to me anymore but I’m fighting. I’ve been attending church bible study trying to fill that void and build and strengthen my relationship with God but there is no guarantee that he will come around. I’ve realized that I am willing to deal with the issues with him that once bothered me so much. I’m scared that my efforts will not get him back.
My family has a lot of mental health issues and I feel that if he leaves I will break down. He says he loves me but he explained that he is not in a position to be with me or any woman at this time. He explained that he is angry and that he doesn’t trust me. A lot of my friends think I’m crazy for putting up with this especially since he had been far from perfect throughout our marriage. But I don’t care I know how I feel. I even began legal separation, hired a lawyer and when we had to discuss custody the thought of not having my kids with me 100% of the time almost killed me. So I fired the lawyer and now we live together as roommates.
I started having Panic Attacks and my depression was and still is bad. I see a counselor trying to deal with my situation. This has been going on for about two months and periodical I’ll ask him if any of my efforts have softened his heart and his response is always no. I want my husband back despite his faults and I’ve admitted my wrong doings and I’ve expressed my regret and in all the rejection I’m still willing to try. There’s a lot more than what I’ve explained to you but with what I’ve shared I would really be interested in hearing your thoughts.
Marriage Blues: Do You Have Any Advice for a Desperate Wife?
Thanking you in advance for your time,
My first piece of advice is to continue with your counseling sessions. While marriage is a lifetime commitment, it is should not lead to being committed. I commend you for seeking help and trying to work through your anxiety. Seeking help for anxiety is extremely important because anxiety can be an emotional distraction that causes an inability to maintain relationships with family and friends. Dealing with anxious people can be very challenging and taxing.
Your efforts to save your marriage are noteworthy, however your actions cannot impact your husband unless he chooses to allows them to. Desperation will not save your marriage. With this in mind, please remain in counseling. This is imperative for you because your mental health must be stable before your marriage can be stable.
It appears that you and your husband lack insight about you’ll actions and the power of Free Will. Given this, my second piece of advice for both you and your husband is to explore the internal source (s) of your marital problems and adulterous behavior. I mentioned the word “internal” because most people give external reasons for infidelity such as “He neglected me; she cheated so I cheated, etc. These reasons are invalid. When we choose to do something, we do it because we want to. Cause and effect does not apply to human behavior because we have Free Will. No one can make you feel anything or do anything. They can simply contribute to your actions by their behavior. The only direct cause for human behavior is internal. Let me clarify.
Cause is why an event happens and the effect is what happens. Your husband’s gaming and value difference did not cause you to cheat. Your inability to cope or deal effectively (internal cause) with his gaming and value difference led to you cheating (effect). This holds true for your husband as well. His inability to cope or deal effectively (internal cause) with your infidelity led him to cheat and treat you indifferently (effect).
Multiple effects can come from a single internal cause. For example, Insecurity (internal cause) can contribute to infidelity (effect), fighting (effect) and distrust (effect).
If your marriage is to survive both of you and your husband need to stop blaming and being victims. Be mindful that your husband will have a difficult time forgiving you if he has not forgiven himself. Pray for your husband’s healing. His battle is between him and God. You can continue to fight for your marriage, but know that your husband must appreciate and accept your effort in order for things to change. We all get to choose. This is power of Free Will.
Please learn about and understand the power of Free Will and you will be free from your guilt and emotional bondage. Also, understand that you cannot cause anything that occurs within your husband. Therefore, you cannot change anything within him either.
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Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.