Dear Liz, I’m married and my husband and I currently reside with each other in the same apartment, for now. He has told me, though, that he wants to move on with his life, but doesn’t want to get a divorce. He thinks it is okay for him to have female friends but, on the other hand, still be with me. I know as his wife, it is my obligation to fulfill his needs, but what about mine in the process? I made a mistake in our marriage, but is it okay for him to torment me like this? What do I do? Columbia, South Carolina
Hi in South Carolina, thank you for writing. I’m unclear on a few things here, but I’m going to give this a shot. Your husband has told you he wants to move on with his life, get an apartment and maintain female friends, but doesn’t want to get a divorce? You made a “mistake” in the marriage. I’m taking that to mean you were unfaithful to him. Your question is, is it ok for him to torment you like this?
What you haven’t made clear is what you want to do, regardless of what’s happened in the past. What is it that you want for your future with your husband? Is calculated torment okay in any marriage? No.
Do I hear all the time about the after effects of people who make “mistakes” and how their spouses behave in ways they never imagined possible? Yes.
You’re in a tough spot here if you love your husband and have decided you know you want to make your marriage work.
He is obviously hurt, angry, confused and possibly feeling the need to hurt you back. There is a very thin line between hurt and anger. Obviously your husband cannot call all the shots for the both of you. I would suggest finding out what his future plans are for the two of you. You describe him as saying he doesn’t want to get divorced. But, someone who says they are moving on, getting their own place and keeping the company of other women when they are married is doing everything separation and divorce involve, except filing legally for it. My suggestion is to find the line for what you can and cannot tolerate. Your duty is first to yourself. If this is indeed torturous and unacceptable you must let your husband know. Let him know that what he has mapped out is and is describing here is a “separation”. I don’t care what he calls it, that is what it is. Ask him if this is indeed what he wants.
You’re going to have to find a way to talk with him and get him to listen. You can either get counseling together and figure out your way through this, or you can call what is happening what it really is. A separation.
This is the best advice I can give you. No, you are not supposed to become the recipient of what you feel as torture, but you can stand up and figure out a way through this. Own up to your part, go at him with your truth, seek therapy and stay honest with yourself as to what you really want.
Marriage is one of the most challenging experiences in our lives. Adding the element of deception can make it feel near impossible but, remember, many many couples make it through these kind of times. Decide who you want to be in this situation, and commit to making that work.
Sorry this experience is so difficult.
Great great things for you! LIZ