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Time to face up to failures in marriage to spare the kids

Time to face up to failures in marriage to spare the kids

Q: My husband is having an affair. I have many forms of proof (did not need to search that hard). She works in the same company. I'm not surprised; he was texting her while we were on vacation with my family. I have not confronted him yet.

Instead of his actually owning up to it, I'm expecting him to say, "Well, can you blame me?" He has asked/pushed hard to go to counseling. I have agreed and told him to set up the appointment, but he has not.

Sadly, I'm not really bothered by it. But if it begins to affect our children, there will be hell to pay.

I have several copies of e-mails over the past six months, including one where he calls my family pathetic (not sure what he based that on, except they are mostly intellects and he feels inferior). That bothers me more than the affair itself.

I'm sure he thinks I am unaware. The immature part of me just wants to say "gotcha." Should I wait for counseling to bring this up so there is a witness there?

Aware but don't care

A: Surely you don't mean to imply that your raging contempt for your husband hasn't begun to affect your children?

There are two possibilities here, each with a different answer.

The first is that you mean exactly what you've written. In that case, you need to lock the immature part of you in the bathroom till the coast is clear, and then tell your husband what you've discovered. Then you need to say you can't blame him (no, you can't), because he hasn't gotten anything from you that even remotely resembles affection for years. Then you need to say it's (long past) time for you both to be honest, like the adults you (allegedly) are, and decide what's best for your kids at this point.

The second possibility is that you're deeply hurt, and you're lashing out in a misguided attempt to shield your sadness, disappointment and humiliation over the failures of your marriage that have culminated in your husband's affair.

This possibility may be a long shot, granted. But you're saying, "I don't care" and then squaring yourself for a fight — when a true "I don't care" is all about not fighting anymore. Even if what you're feeling is a passionate dislike, that's still passion, and that's still having feelings for him.

In that case, you need to recognize that you're not so much the victim of his actions as the willing, somewhat twisted beneficiary of them.

You're hiding behind him: By agreeing to counseling but letting him fail to make the appointments, and by remaining passive as you watched him crave attention to the point of seeking it elsewhere, you're letting him be the bad guy.

Could it be that this long, passive goodbye feels easier to you than taking the emotional risk of admitting your feelings, admitting your failings and trying to save your marriage?

If so, I hope you'll start admitting all this before it's too late.

Either way, the only move you have left that's solidly in the best interests of your kids and your marriage — and your integrity — is for you to find your courage and tell your truth, wherever that happens to lead.

Time to face up to failures in marriage to spare the kids 10/07/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 1:20pm]

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