Reader Don’t Care writes,
I am a 40-year-old wife and mother. I have been with my husband 15 years, married 10 of those. I recently found out that my husband was having an affair with a co-worker. Unfortunately, this was not the first one. Because of his line of work, he lost his job, as did she. The windfall happened when I subsequently found that he has been cheating on me the entire 15 years. I found secret bank accounts and email addresses, “dating” sites, etc.
In the past, I was hurt and would beg him to tell me what I needed to change to make him love me and not do this again. This time, I feel different. I can’t seem to forgive him. He swears he’s changed, blah blah blah. I was devastated when I found everything that I found — including that he had another women in our home while I was out of the state helping plant our homestead for him to later move into. He even maintained contact with them (more than one) just in case I ever kicked him out.
It only took a few weeks for me to get over the pain and now, I’m pretty much numb to the whole thing. In the past, I wanted to work things out, make it better, etc. I have given him more than one second chance. Each time with him saying he stopped when indeed he hadn’t. This time, I just can’t seem to get my heart to care. If we are able to repair it, good if not, who cares. The thing I do worry about is if I do indeed go for a divorce, he will have nowhere to go.
We moved closer to my family so HE could go to school. My family has helped us do sooooo much, including getting him through his last certification. I pushed and supported him through college into his Master’s program. I gave up my dreams of finishing school (three classes away from a Bachelor’s degree) so we could afford to send him. I’ve always pushed him and taken the back seat.
I love him but quite honestly can’t stand him. There are days when I drive as slowly as I can because I dread getting home to him. I’m not sure if I want a divorce or not. We have children from 19 to age 4 and I don’t want to hurt my children by making them “kids of divorce.” He does have bipolar issues and I’m scared he’ll try to do something stupid to himself if I do make him leave.
At one point, I did try cheating. I went online and created a profile and even talked to one guy. Trouble (maybe not a bad thing) is that I have too much respect for myself and the fact that I am indeed still married to do anything beyond a few non-sexual messages. I deleted the profile after only two days.
How can I make myself care again?
Why are you trying to make yourself care? This guy has cheated on you continuously and you have given him all that you can. You do way more for him than he ever did for you. Kids of divorce do okay if parents are motivated to divorce in an amicable and child-focused way, and it sounds like you have the motivation to do this.
You need to seriously examine why you would continue to enable your husband’s narcissistic behavior by taking him back over and over although he acts egregiously. It is likely you saw a pattern in your childhood where one caregiver enabled the other.
You cannot stay with a man who continues to hurt you, even though he does sound like a troubled guy and possibly a love or sex addict, without any change from him. That is a waste of the one life you get, and it teaches your kids that one partner can just crap all over the other, and the other’s job is to take it. Which of these roles do you want your kids to take in their adult relationships? Hopefully, neither one, but what other template will they have for navigating relationships besides the ones they see growing up?
If you want to try to rebuild, you can try couples counseling, which can sometimes (not always) be helpful with a narcissist/enabler dynamic. But you also need your own counseling, to determine why you have made fixing this man into your life’s work. You may love him, but what is love really if it only means giving and giving to someone who takes endlessly?
Please think about these issues. If you had a friend in your situation, would you tell her to stay? A daughter? Your own mom? Good luck making your decision, I know it will not be easy whatever you choose. Till we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist Who Says, Let Him Go Live With One Of His Girlfriends.
This post was originally published here on Dr. Psych Mom. Follow Dr. Rodman on Dr. Psych Mom, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Order her book, How to Talk to Your Kids about Your Divorce: Healthy, Effective Communication Techniques for Your Changing Family. This blog is not intended as diagnosis, assessment, or treatment, and should not replace consultation with your medical provider.
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