Hubby Wants Out
Q: I'm 43 and have been married for 15 years. I love my husband very much. We are both independent, but he takes "his space" to the limit. He never, I mean never, has made plans for us to do anything, though he plans fishing trips and other outings for himself and his friends. I make plans for us like Las Vegas, concerts, but it seems like when we do go, he flirts a lot in front of me. When I confront him about my suspicions, he says I'm insecure and that it's me that has a problem. Now I don't trust him. He hates that, yet he doesn't do anything to make me feel secure. In fact, he says I bug him and ask too many questions and that "it's not question and answer period." Now he has filed for divorce. He says he can't deal with my emotions any longer. We still make love, and it's great but I know I shouldn't. On top of that, he bought Viagra in Mexico and has condoms but swears he hasn't been with anyone else, even though I've noticed he has a couple of bumps on his penis! So do you think he has cheated or is screwing around now? I don't know why I can't see the truth. -- Tracy
Dr. Susan: Tracy, your last sentence is the most telling one: why can't you see the truth? Your husband has filed for divorce and won't answer your questions. It takes two to rescue a marriage. But let's begin by separating the important issues from the others. The fact that he has never made plans for the two of you isn't a big deal. You've been the social events coordinator for the two of you, and he's filled in with buddy activities on his own. That's the way it works with many couples. Though you didn't like the system, you kept it going and he was apparently fine with it.
His blatant flirting might have meant either of two things: he was passive-aggressively acting out in front of you because he really didn't agree to these plans of yours, or he was compelled to seek out other women because he's a selfish no-good jerk who didn't have the courtesy to wait until you were divorced before moving on.
I would bet anything that he got tired of merely flirting and has gone on to having affairs. Several signs point to that. But what's so much more relevant for you right now is that he's filed for divorce! Don't you hear what he's saying? It's all your problem, according to him, although it's rarely just one of you who's entirely at fault in a downward marital slide. Plus he still gets to sleep with you even though he's clearly lying to you about his extracurricular shenanigans.
Have a little respect for yourself and insist on counseling or, at least, some lengthy and very honest and open conversations about what the two of you want. That's a minimum. And don't sleep with him while you suspect he's sleeping around and might even have caught something, no matter what he tells you. Why risk your life for a little nooky with someone who won't even talk to you?! I know you think sleeping with him might make him stay with you, but the terms you're establishing -- that he gets to have sex with you and with whomever else he wants, no questions answered -- are going to be hard ones to live with.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.