I often hear from wives who are well aware that their marriage is only hanging by a thread. Many feel as if they are barely hanging on. Sometimes, it’s pretty clear that the husband’s heart isn’t fully in it, although perhaps he has made a commitment to you and your marriage. Sometimes, this eventually evolves a little further to where he develops or admits feelings for someone else.
I recently heard from a wife who was struggling with this issue in her own marriage. She said: “my marriage has been in trouble for about 7 months now. But my husband knows that I’m not going anywhere. I would never break up my family and I’m in it forever because of my children. My husband agrees with this in theory but it’s clear that although he’s here physically, his head and his heart are a million miles away. This is a very depressing way to live and there are times when I’ll try to reach out to him or attempt to connect with him only to be overtly rejected. The other day I got frustrated with this and asked him why we were living this way and he finally admitted that he had developed feelings for a woman at work. He assures me that he remains committed to our kids so he would never act on these feelings. But what am I supposed to do with this information? And how awful to know that he’s only here by default. At this point, I feel like I’m holding onto him against his will. I feel as if he’s no longer mine. So part of me thinks I just let him and the marriage go, but the other part of me can not stand this idea because I think what if we eventually could have made things work? And I worry about making one hasty decision that means our marriage is over. For how long do you hold on to your marriage when you suspect that it’s over for your husband, especially if he has feelings for someone else?”
This is not a question that I can answer for anyone. It really is an individual question (and a serious and long term one) that you will need to answer for yourself. However, I can and will give you some things to think about that might help you to decide on your own.
How Real Are His Feelings For The Other Person?: This should be your first question because very often, the “feelings” that he thinks he has are in direct response to the issues and frustrations with your marriage. It’s very common for people to look for the validation, connection, and support that they feel that they aren’t getting, even if they are not aware that they are doing this.
This is key because if you can set it up where your marriage improves and your husband is once again getting this support for you and your marriage, it’s not uncommon for these phantom feelings to be shown for they are and they just fizzle out or your husband realizes that he was mistaken about them.
Of course, this is more difficult if he has already acted on his feelings or is actively involved in a relationship. It’s also more difficult if you are wavering on your own feelings about the marriage or him. But if he’s only just begun to have feelings outside of your marriage, this often isn’t yet the point of no return, and many times, if you revive your marriage the feelings will naturally fade or go away.
How Determined Are You To Hang On To Your Marriage At All Costs?: I know first hand that it can be very difficult to continue to hang on when you’re not getting any positive feedback or reinforcement from your husband. It’s very hard when people are telling you that you’re naive or not living in reality. Or when people tell you that you need to look around and realize that there’s just no hope.
I was in this situation and there were times when I felt like I was being impossibly stupid. There were days when I thought that holding on must be more painful than giving up. But every time I was very close to just giving up, I’d think about how final a divorce often is and how I wasn’t yet ready to walk away. I guess I felt like as long as I had some hope, I could keep going. And I never came to a point where I was willing to give up hope.
This ended up working to my advantage because if I had given up, I would undoubtedly be divorced today, which wasn’t what I wanted. I know the “holding on” method doesn’t work for every one. To me it comes down to 3 things: how deep the feelings for the other woman truly are; whether your marital problems are ones that can eventually be worked through so that your marriage is again satisfying for both of you; and your own fierce determination that you’re willing to hang on for as long as it takes even when the going gets very rough.
My own husband had begin talking about going out with other people, but I don’t think there are any deep feelings yet, which probably worked to my advantage. I’m glad today that I hung in there, but I concede that it was extremely difficult at the time. If it helps, you can read the whole story of how how this played out on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com
Leslie Cane is the webmaster of “I Saved My Marriage” at http://isavedmymarriage.com
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