Sunday, November 05, 2006
Dismaying Story #78: She Found Someone Else
This heartfelt story is a touch on the long side, but it is a poignant description of a painful situation that all too many people end up facing. I offer a few thoughts of my own at the end.
I am a man who has been married for seven years. I have been a father since I was seventeen and my wife was sixteen. We did not get married out of some obligation to try to make it work for the child. We got married three years later when we realized our love was deeper than ever.
I decided that I needed to get into a better job and took a chance on a commission based job. It was hard and retail was hard on the family time. After finding no better pay and the store closing I got a new job at a better place and things started to look up until the winter when sales drop dramatically but the bills don't. Our credit card debt grew along with my depression. I got to a point where I was desperate to get out the hole we had dug but the debt grew. We tried to work on our spending but my wife wanted to have fun and that included going to bars. I didn't mind going out except I could never get the debt out of my head.
Along the way I became more and more depressed and I just suppressed it. I became moody a lot and the job's hours forced me to miss a lot of things with the family. It was hard but I felt that my love for my family would keep me going on.
Things got worse and our debt got to an overwhelming number and my wife decided we had to do something drastic. She found a job where all the money did not have to go to daycare. We were so happy and she was excited. This was our way out of debt and onto a better life. This is when my story of dismay starts.
During the training for the job she became good friends with a man, I guess due to his attentiveness. The job training required a lot of time together. After the training was over we had a vacation for the week of the Fourth of July. I felt there was something amiss but couldn't put my finger on it and tried to have a good time. We made love a few time but it was a family vacation so no real romance. The intimacy was strained and I didn't really think it anything but the fact my family was there. There was no fighting and it was a pleasant time mostly. My wife did go for walks alone a few times and I found out later it was to call her new friend. She called him every day we were there.
When we got back my wife wanted to go see her friends and go out. I was fine with it not worried about anything and just thinking she wanted to catch up. Our seventh year anniversary was that Monday and so was her first day of work. I spent the day with my boys and we had a good time but I didn't do much but laundry. I also had a plan to make the day seem like just another day and then knock her socks off that weekend. I never got the chance.
She went to her friend's apartment who lived down the hall she said to tell her about her day at work. She came back and said we needed to talk. She seemed distant and I stopped what I was doing and asked what was up. She wanted to talk when the boys were asleep but I pressed her asking if she was pregnant. She said no she was unhappily married and had met a friend at work. I was blown away. I had never thought her so unhappy as to look elsewhere for love. She assured me they were just friends but he was understanding and they talked about their similar situations. She said he was married but separated and didn't want a divorce from his wife because it meant a large alimony payment he would have to make. I was hurt and shocked. I was scared but anger never crept into my head that night. I tried to find the words to show her that I did love her and that it was something we could get through but her mind had been made up. That night she stayed over at her friend's house down the hall. I cried myself to sleep wanting to call her but not knowing what to say.
Two days later I moved out to my mother's house. My wife and I talked about what had happened and why she was doing this. She said she had been unhappy for four years but held it in because she had felt trapped with no job and a baby. She said she tried to talk to me about it but couldn't so she thought it would go away. Then she gave me the "I love you but I'm not in love with you" line which I have now found out is the killer of a lot of marriages. I went to a counselor and tried to talk to my wife but she wanted time away and refused to see me. I begged and pleaded and generally went crazy. After many useless conversations and arguments we agreed to see a marriage counselor. It was a disaster because the counselor basically sided with my wife in the belief that there was no hope and it was time to move on. Let me tell you of the rage I felt that day. This was a person who I thought should have got into the issues a little deeper before passing judgment. I know now that we didn't even get near anything that was truly wrong in the marriage and just got to the symptoms.
I read a book called "The Divorce Remedy" and read it and put into act the techniques proscribed within. It is a very good book for anyone in this situation and a true starting point for the road to moving forward. I got a life and worked hard on changing the things I thought were wrong in me and not so much the thing my wife saw as wrong.
It did a lot for my self esteem and confidence. It also showed me that there is a true need for people to stand up for marriage in the U.S. The state of marriage in the States is such a sad affair with a fifty-fifty chance of staying married to one person forever. There is a thought that the individual's happiness is most important no matter what the consequences of the actions. The cycle of divorce is vicious and cruel for most of the people going through it. It is said that one third of the divorces in America are warranted for real reasons of severe abuse and life threatening relationships. The rest could work if there wasn't such an easy road out. Divorce is easier than working on a marriage. In what I have seen it isn't the better road either. The saddest part of it all is the biggest casualties end up being the children and the life they have shattered and torn apart.
My efforts to work on saving my marriage haven't got me back with my wife and she is still moving toward divorce. I have decided to fight for my wife. I have told her this and we have really duked it out over our conflicting views. My wife tells me that she has lost the physical attraction to me and that once gone it will never come back. I have a different view and that is that she had decided to not be attracted to me because of the want for something more, some greener pastures on that other side of the fence. I know that deep in my heart of hearts we had a real love. We didn't know how to make a marriage work and that was because they never had that class in high school or college or anywhere. There are books to guide you on the way and get you where you need to be. A positive attitude is contagious and gets you places you would never think possible.
Every time I think this marriage is over something happens to give me hope and move things in the right direction. I have decided to become passionate about marriage and start with mine. I have written this story to tell everyone who will listen that marriage needs champions to fight for it. I'm not saying everyone should go out and get married. I know there are people who feel just as strongly about not being married as I do about being married. Go ahead and live that life and be as happy as you can. I am saying that those who find marriage sacred shouldn't hesitate to voice that view. When a friend tells you they aren't happy in their marriage and are thinking about divorce, stand up for marriage. Let them know the facts of life and divorce. If you don't know them, find out. Tell them all relationships require work and a marriage requires ten times the effort of any other. Tell them the hardships and troubles, when overcome, will give them more than they ever thought they could have. Believe in true love and soul mates and they will happen.
Signed, A Married Man
Dear Married Man,
Thank you for sharing your story. I am sorry to hear of your troubles.
I'm sure your wife could tell me of several legitimate concerns from her point of view. She is obviously unhappy, and both of you must have contributed to the problems.
I have never been a believer, though, in ending a marriage by finding someone else. This is a betrayal of the commitment we make when we say those vows. Someone who is committed to a marriage will fight hard to save it, even in the face of adversity, especially when there is adversity.
It sounds like the first conversation you and your wife had about your marriage troubles was the one where she told you she had met someone else and wanted out. If she was truly committed to your marriage, the first conversation should have been about acknowledging the problems and expressing a desire to fix them. I can understand if meeting someone else was the trigger for recognizing the depth of her dissatisfaction, but a committed person would react to this revelation differently. In my opinion, she should have resolved the situation with you fully before moving on to someone else.
That doesn't mean all marriages can necessarily be saved, but someone who is committed should at least make the effort.
I wish you good luck in resolving your situation.
All the best,