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.

Dear Andrew,

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,
Andrew

20 comments:

  1. I see now why you are the right person for the advice job.
    My suggestion would have been to quit focusing on the wife and focus on the kids.
    The marriage is over. The kids need a Dad focusing on them and their needs. Not one focused on trying to revive a dying relationship..

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  2. Anonymous12:45 PM

    Hi Andrew! I'm much impressed by your good sense. Keep dispensing the wise advice and we'll keep on listening! c",)

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  3. Unfortunately, it appears the Married Man's wife falls into the trap of believing that because it is a matter of what's in her heart, that there is no right or wrong.

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  4. This story really pulled at me. I, too, was in a committed relationship as an older teenager. I married him, and have stayed married so far; but when you enter a relationship that young, you have to expect that both of you will continue to mature and grow--but not necessarily in the same direction.

    It takes much effort to keep a marriage together, even when a man and woman have become mature, independent adults before marrying. When kids marry, (and yes, we were still kids) it quadruples the amount of effort required to keep it together through the inevitable changes that will occur.

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  5. Oh, this is a bad and painful situation to be in. My first marriage fell into these same kinds of lines. My ex admitted he had become a workaholic to avoid me. I was so lonely without anyone. We sat back though and let our marriage fall apart until there was nothing left except some kind of friendship..a strange one. Now it's better.

    Andrew you are 100% right-- you should NEVER end one with the other. It's hard. It's stressful. It leaves residue. Regardless of what one "feels" about things.. there is a right and wrong way to do something. I was just lucky. I know that. And I in no way would condone doing anything improper. It's funny, because the residue is mostly of your own making. I am fairly sure I am my own worst judge in all of this even after the years go by.

    No matter how desperate or appropriate things feel at the time, we, as adults, should know what is right and what is wrong.

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  6. Anonymous2:29 AM

    Yeah, she met the new guy and that was that.
    The other guy was new and they spent time together one on one (probably at a motel) and one thing led to another and here is this letter now.
    Her previous existence was boring and mundane but this newfound freedom also produced new desires with the opportunity to live a little but the prospect of going back to what she had probably turned her off on her marriage, so she ran.

    Her and her husband were also together at an early stage in life and probably never had the chance to live a little and experience life in their youth with having the responsibilities of a family so this also probably stoked the fire of disaster.

    Some things you fight for and some you walk away from, he should strap on the Nikes and go for a jog and find someone that deserves to be with him.

    Have a nice day Andrew

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  7. Anonymous4:13 AM

    my personal opinion is that you can't make something work unless it works itself out. if you have to work to keep a relationship going, if it doesn't come naturally, it never will. you will never trully be happy in it because you will always have to work for it constantly. and the truth is that your relationship should be the support in your life not a source of problems.

    he's never going to convince her. the fact that she fell for someone else is wrong but it shows that she wasn't feeling enough for him. you never look in other places if you have what you need at home.

    i'm sorry for the kids, but this marriage is over. usually happens when you marry so young.

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  8. I really wish the man lots of luck in whatever he decides to do.

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  9. Anonymous10:56 AM

    I'm concerned when someone states (or quotes?)about an acceptable reason for divorce is "severe abuse". Any type of abuse is NOT acceptable. I mean really, do you wait until the abuse is severe enough, such as crippling, scarring, or death, until it's a good enough reason to leave the person?

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  10. Great advice, Andrew. I hope this guy and his soon-to-be-ex will remember to keep the interests of their children first and foremost. No bad-mouthing the other parent, no playing custody games, no shouting matches in front of them. Remember that the goal is to allow the children to grow up with two loving parents in their lives and you'll not go wrong.

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  11. Anonymous1:19 PM

    I have been in the same sort of situation. I started dating my now ex-husband, when I was only 17...and married when I was 20. Hind sight is 20-20, and I can now see that we were too young. We were married for 5 years and had 2 beautiful children. A few weeks after our 5th wedding anniversary, I discovered that he had been cheating on me for the past year...with a woman from work. I was totally devasted. He wasn't even willing to try to work on our marriage, because he said he was so in love with this other woman. The only thing he cared about was being with her. He told me some very hurtful things...saying he had never loved me, and that his heart ached when he wasn't with her. It was the most painful experience I've ever gone through, but it has turned out for the best. We weren't meant to be with each other.

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  12. Anonymous2:05 PM

    Andrew, I find like some of the others this is close to home. I have been married for over 17 years, and have a beautiful daughter from this marriage. But for the past year or so it has been fight, bitch and argue; and yes both of us are at fault.

    When I said we had to go to counselling to try and save what was left of our marriage, I was wrong, because I didn't say it the way she wanted to hear it - hey she is probably right. However from that point forward all my fight has gone, and I just don't care about the marriage anymore.

    We are together at the moment to try and keep things together untill we can sort out our business....but then who knows

    This guy needs to bail, but please, please make sure the kids are not used as a bargaining or thretening tool.

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  13. I don’t believe that Married Man’s wife will ever find happiness until she deals with her unresolved issues with Married Man. Sadly for Married Man, it takes two committed partners to make a marriage work.

    You give excellent advice, Andrew. Keep up the good work.

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  14. In my experience, you can work as hard as you want to in improving a suffering relationship, but any effort you put in is useless unless the other person works at it also.

    Unfortunately, your Wife has not shown any glimmer of hope that the two of you will reconcile, so although devastating, it is time to move on.

    I was in a similiar situation with my ex...although it was an online relationship, not physical. I found an email from him to her wherein he told her he loved her. I had to separate from him as my response, but there were several months following separation when he was over on the weekends to visit the kids and we spent some time together, our communication was restored and I had opened my heart into forgiving him and pursued reconciliation with him. It ended abruptly after I had learned that he was pursuing another online interest and once again had lied to me about it.

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  15. I really feel for this person, but the wife already seems to have checked out.

    The sad thing is that her new relationship will get settled and mundane like all relationships tend to over time. Maybe she'll be happier, but most likely it won't be much different. And by the time she realizes it, it'll be too late.

    Married Man sounds like a good person. I hope he can move on because I'm afraid he will have no other choice. Maybe he needs to channel his energy into taking care of the kids right now, they are the first priority.

    And maybe later on, when he's ready, he'll find a woman who can appreciate the level of committment he's willing to bring to a relationsip.

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  16. Oh my gosh! I SO agree with this man! Marriage is NOT easy... it DOES require a boat load of work! And it requires being able to put yourself in your partners place and view life from their side on occassion ... and it requires being able to suck it up and admit your own faults. But the main thing it requires is communication! (this is the hardest part in my own marriage - as well as, I believe, in most) My own marriage was heading for divorce about 11 years ago, and my husband and I tried marriage counseling and neither one of us was really satisfied with it. And it's waaaaaaaay to expensive to pay someone who really is NOT helping! We decided to stop it, and just struggled through on our own. I think God probably helped a LOT because we made it! I think we've both "thought about divorce" again a few times since then -- but SOMEhow we always manage to stick it out! I think too many people expect "marriage" to be "bliss" ... and it's FAR FROM THAT! I mean SOMEtimes it's blissful... but SOMEtimes it's WAR! And yea... I HAVE heard stories of people getting divorced and then finding "a perfect partner" and living life happily ever after. But I haven't heard that story TOO often! Most times after divorce I hear of "desperate dating" and loneliness! YUK! I'd rather stick it out with my less than perfect husband and enjoy the GREAT times that do come along, suffer through the agony of the bad times, and live the mundane existence that IS everyday life! EVERY day is not SUPPOSED to be fabulous! MOST days are supposed to be "middle of the road"... that's what makes the great ones GREAT and the crappy ones really SUCK! That's what LIFE really is... and I give this gentleman KUDOS for fighting for his marriage and I hope (and will pray) that the Lord intervenes and puts that physical attraction back IN his wife! She thinks it can't happen -- but I know it CAN!

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  17. Anonymous12:27 AM

    Thank you for the comments. I want to say that i am still fighting for my marriage and am not yet divorced. My wife and I have had some struggles and she has come to terms with the fact she needs to see a councelor. As for the other man she has put him in the good friend spot and I intend to get that spot back and move one step closer. And for everyone who said run I understand but I will continue to fight and forgive because try as I may I can't turn off the love I have for my wife. And believe me I have tried. I know this path is rocky and I don't know its end but I am commited to walking it to the end. Wish me luck!!!!
    Still A Married Man

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  18. Married Man

    I'm glad to hear your wife has agreed to counseling, that's a good sign. As is the fact that she is pushing the other man into the friend category. (though I think further distance will be needed)

    I wish you luck and I hope everything works out.

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  19. Anonymous11:08 PM

    Thank you and I had nothing to do with the counseling. I agree about her friend seeing as she says he is the only person who understands her. I think it is just something he is saying to her for his own gains but that is just speculation. I can say that I still feel this can work out and I am a happier man now too. But it is a roolercoaster ride for sure.
    Married Man

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  20. Anonymous12:37 AM

    Shame....sad story man. Hang in there. My ex pulled the same crap on me but we weren't married. After the guy took her for a ride and ran off she wanted us back together.

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