A reader writes:
“Me and my husband were married young. He recently had a short affair, which was ended but he still has some feelings for the girl which he didn’t have for me. Now he says it’s hard for him to love me again and he wants a divorce but still wants me in his life as a friend. What does he mean? What can I do to stop him from divorcing? It’s been 3 months since he ended his affair.”
I’m so sorry that you’re going through this. Going through a divorce you don’t want is one of the most painful things imaginable.
First, please don’t take any of this as me blaming you, because I’m not. Not at all. I’m here talking to you, because your husband doesn’t want to talk— like you said, he told you he’s done. That’s why for at least a little while, it’s time to accept, without resentment that you’re the only one working on this. You’re the only one who wants your marriage, so it’s your work to do. It’s not fair, but it’s the truth.
You can want him back, you can want to stop divorce, you can feel like he’s deserting the kids (if you have them), you can believe in your heart of hearts that he’s wrong and he’ll change his mind. But what you want is not important to him. So the act of you trying to get your way right now is only going to push him further away from you.
Your husband is unhappy and he’s doing whatever he can to fill that void. He might be dangling the friendship carrot so that you’re not angry with him and he doesn’t feel guilty, him saying that really doesn’t have any bearing on what’s happening right now. He’s got to go have his crisis, sow his oats, do whatever, and as much as I’d love to tell you otherwise, you don’t have any control over that.
What you do have control over (and this is bigger than it probably feels) is how you act around him. You have a choice with every interaction to act a certain way. You can choose to act totally heartbroken and repellant, or you can choose to act happy. You can corner him about his feelings and dig for him to change his mind or you can make light jokes. Choose levity and light talk, always. Stop all relationship-related conversations. Seriously. ALL of them. Do not corner him, lie in wait, try to discuss the future or express jealousy about anything. Act perfectly happy with things just the way they are.
If you’ve been chasing him in any way— whether it’s to talk, complain, convince, or get him to respond to you a certain way at all— stop immediately.
If he’s to stop the divorce, it won’t be because you pressured him into it. Right now, treat him like he’s allergic to any and all forms of pressure.
And— this may sound completely counterintuitive— it’s time to stop worrying about what he’s doing and place your focus squarely back on yourself.
If you’ve been trying to be super wife in an effort to show him what he’s missing out on, quit. If you’ve been worried about the other woman or trying to track where he’s going or what he’s doing, stop completely.
It’s time to focus on fortifying yourself for what’s to come and make YOURSELF happy. People rarely leave radiantly happy spouses. They leave spouses (both male and female) who have allowed the light to go out in their eyes.
I’m willing to bet that somewhere along the way, during the crush and pressure of everyday life, as well as his affair, you’ve reached a point where your happiness hasn’t been your priority. It’s time to reverse that trend. Reignite your interests in your passions, reconnect with friends, make yourself as happy as humanly possible. After all, you’re who you’ve got right now.
Rooting for you,