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She’s made all the mistakes, so you don’t have to… Ask Erin is a weekly advice column, in which Erin answers your burning questions about anything at all.
I’ve been married 16 years and have two girls ages 15 & 13.
My husband left yesterday after months of fighting because in October I found out he had an affair.
I kicked him out for two weeks; he came back after we started therapy.
Therapy got us nowhere. I wanted to try and make it work, but he couldn’t let go of the fact that we are mainly roommates coexisting in a house. We both pretty much gave up on sex years ago because he had resentment towards me for lack of wanting it. He has insecurities big time, so that doesn’t help.
I work full time and also did everything for our girls and then had some health issues (not life-threatening) but monthly doctors’ appointments, etc. and doing them alone made me have resentment towards him. We get along, love sports, just the spark has been gone because neither of us tried.
After going to therapy, I realized he blamed me solely for all of it and thought I should understand why he had an affair. He’s the type of guy who doesn’t go out or talk to strangers, so him meeting this married woman in Starbucks then having an affair blew my mind. It hurt. I knew we had issues, but he’s my companion and I wanted it to work.
He stopped therapy and stopped talking to me except for normal conversation. When I would bring up “us” he’d yell at me and shut down. So he decided after me pushing and threatening to kick him out if he didn’t try, that he would leave.
He says he knows he is being selfish but he’s sick of fighting and needs to figure things out.
Now he sends me texts that are nice and trying to be funny, and I don’t get what he’s doing. I moved all of his things from the bedroom after he said he was moving out and that pissed him off but what did he expect? He also told me he feels no intimacy towards me anymore.
Anyway, I have the children and the dog, so when he wants to see them, he texts me. But his messages are like nice and funny, and I’m barely holding it together. He told me this was hard for him too, but I don’t see it.
How do I act towards him, and do I try to salvage us — or is he gone?
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One thing is clear. The problems in your marriage started long before the affair.
However, you are absolutely not responsible for your husband’s choices.
The aftermath of the affair and the therapy is all pretty recent (you said you found out in October). Therapy is not a quick fix. So, it doesn’t surprise me that therapy has yet to solve the problem.
You mentioned that he has stopped going to therapy. Are you still going? You have no control over what he says or does. But, you are in control of making decisions for yourself, based on your wants and needs.
Right now, as of this moment, the focus needs to shift from “us” to “you.”
Keep going to therapy; use the help of that therapist to get clarity on what YOU want. This doesn’t mean you can never reconcile. But, right now, he seems unwilling to work on your relationship, and that’s what you have to operate from.
What he’s told you is that he is sick of fighting and needs to figure things out. You need to do the same — figure things out for what’s best for you and your girls.
As painful as the possibility of divorce seems, it’s even more toxic to model an unhealthy relationship for your daughters.
In the best case scenario, with some time and space, you can work separately and together to reconcile into a new partnership. Forget about the old one; that one is broken. If things do end in divorce, doing the work now in therapy will give you the tools to handle it.
As for his nice and funny text messages, he’s probably doing his best to keep things light in your interactions (which is always easier via text than face to face).
There is a lot to unpack here, and this is not going to be fixed overnight. First, you need to process your feelings about the affair. Trust needs to be rebuilt if you’re going to give this a shot in the future. And, you will both have to face the issues that were in the marriage leading up to the affair.
The lack of sex is a big issue in a marriage. That is NOT an excuse for his affair, but it is something that needs to be addressed.
Although sex is only one component in a relationship, I’ve always viewed it as a good indicator of how healthy the relationship is.
Yes, sex ebbs and flows, as do sex drives, but if partners are never on the same page when it comes to sex, there’s always going to be at least one of you who’s unhappy. And that unhappiness will sully all the other parts of your relationship.
So, for now, you can stay cordial with him for the sake of the kids. Work with your therapist to get real clear on what you envision for a partnership. And, in the meantime, please take time for yourself. Self-care is essential at all times, but especially when we’re going through a crisis.
The information within Ask Erin should in no way be interpreted as medical advice because I'm not a medical professional. But I am here to help — to share with you the wisdom I've gained after years of making mistakes. If you have a question for me about relationships, addiction, recovery, friendship, sex, consent, what I’m watching, Rose Quartz, or anything at all, use the contact form below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, your anonymity is golden. xoxo