Question: Hey there Chuck and Garland...Awesome blog and the posts are very insightful and full of good candid information. This is a long post, but please bear with me. I'm trying to give two sides not just mine.
My question is about my husband. I asked for a separation about three months ago after three years of dealing with his verbal abuse. We have 15yrs together and 3 children.
Every three months on the dot I dealt with criticism and his work stress that he took out on me. If he had a problem with his health or work, I was the "punching bag" he'd focus on something that irked him (the house not be clean, me not handling the children more firmly, not keeping my car clean (because he's paying the note mind you), and so on) He left out of the country for a year and I spent that whole year happily doing my thing. The kids and I did a great job functioning, although we missed him. He got back home and I kid you not, two months later, I endured a round of criticisms and attacks on my "flaws". I bawled like a baby. My self-esteem was shot.
Finally, he left on business for two months and on the phone he started telling me that I don't pay enough attention to him, don't do the things "his boys" do, and so on. So finally I asked him, "well with all of these problems I seem to be having, do I even make you happy?" His response? "Sometimes". I asked, well can I get a percentage (because I could not believe it and I deal with hurtful things by laughing it off). He gave me percentages (I asked for it right?) I hung up totally feeling like crap on the bottom of his shoe. Worthless and not much of anything.
When he got back home, I confronted him. I told him that what he had been doing to me was abusive and I should have recognized it sooner, but I guess I was denying that this was happening to me. He thought I was being sensitive. That pointing out things that I need to work on is not criticizing. It's reminding me to "straighten up my act" so to speak. Well, I asked for a separation, because I did not feel good about myself or our marriage. I asked for counseling for himself as individuals and us together. I wanted promises that this would not happen again. He said he could not promise me that and he was not cool on doing therapy on his own. So I told him I would leave the house and go home to my family for a while.
I could not be intimate with him, because he associates intimacy with everything being okay with us. But also, because I was still to hurt by his words to connect to him on that level. We continued to live in the same house and talk, but he kept pushing me to make a decision about us. Although I was trying to get through this hurt that he'd caused me, he was doing nothing but wanting to know if we were going to make up soon or was I going to ask for a divorce. I told him I just wanted a separation, I didn't want to make a decision like that.
Well, over the holiday, actually before then, I found out he had been seeing another woman. He began staying out late on the weekend, coming home the next morning, and having intimate conversations. I found his cell phone bill and called the woman. She said he told her that we were getting a divorce. When I confronted him, he denied they were seeing each other and that they were just friends. Well, he didn't' know I talked to her already and I knew he'd been sleeping with her for over a month. It hurt me very deeply that he had done this to me. I told him that it was over and I was leaving for good.
Well, not less than 24hrs later, while I'm packing up the house, he's now asking me to not leave or divorce him. That he doesn't want to lose me, that he can't see his life without me. He was sorry for the hurt he caused. I can see he is sorry and regretful, but is he serious Chuck and Garland? That he was trying to fill a void because I wasn't touching him or being intimate with him. This is over the space of a month and a half before he actually slept with another woman. Another month and a half that he'd continued sleeping with her until I found out.
I had to ask him, if he was me what would he do? He said, he would try to work things out because we have time and had been through allot together. I'm scared! I am seriously hurt and frightened being in this relationship. How am I supposed to be in this relationship feeling like this? What is wrong with him?
Bewildered on the West Coast
GARLAND: Thanks for your question!
Please keep in mind that Chuck and I are not trained professionals when it comes to this kind of stuff. So, please think about what we say, but don't base a life changing decision TOO HEAVILY on our advice.
You said you were going to try and give both sides of your situation, yours and your husbands, but that is rather impossible since you really don't know the REAL cause of his actions. I doubt if what he tells you his causes are anything close to whats truly going on inside his head and heart.
Personally, I'm a firm believer in the fact that just because two people get married that doesn't mean they were meant to get married nor that they have to stay married! If your husband is killing your self esteem and treating you like a child [because he sounds like an angry father scolding his child about cleaning the car, and the house, and the kids] then maybe you and he aren't meant to be together. Frankly, you are putting up with a hell of a lot of nonsense, and this cheating mess really raises my eyebrows. With HIV and AIDS quietly running rampant across the country, cheating is more than an emotional or fidelity issue, it is major health and life risk! Whatever you do, you should make any long term decision on your marriage contingent upon him taking an HIV test and allowing you to read his unopened results FIRST! He may be killing you in more than just an emotional way.
Can he change? Can he really want to turn things around? Yeah, sure. Maybe. Technically anything can be possible. He could turn around and become a stellar husband, then again he could flip the script and show you a darker side of him that you never even dreamed of.
Through all of this, no matter what your choice is, you have to make sure you don't become "A Mission Woman." A Mission Woman is the woman that latches herself to an unworthy man and finds it her Mission in life to take his abuse and take his cheating and take his beatings and take his shortcomings and take his insecurities all in an effort to make him a better man; all in an effort to let her suffering be the price to pay for chance that some loser could become a winner. If your man is ain't worthy, then your choices are fairly clear.
CHUCK: Wow. Just wow. I got a mental picture just now. It's like this man's mission in life was to destroy your self-esteeem, and I just pictured him on the deck of some aircraft carrier, with a big banner flying behind him saying: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. Some questions are hard to answer. For this question, the hardest thing for me will be containing my outrage about this man.
Garland is on point with his answer, except in one respect. If you were a "Mission Woman," hopefully by now you would have seen that there is no redemption for this creep, he has taken no opportunity to improve himself, and would have aborted that mission by now.
Where do I begin? Let me try here: The phone conversation you had with him, when he decided to open up about his unhappiness with YOU, should have been your cue to vent your unhappiness with him. Rather than hanging up feeling beat-down and drained, you should have told him how you felt then. You couldn't have asked for a better time.But I guess it doesn't matter when you wake up. The important thing is that you did. Ultimately, The best statement of his feelings for your marriage was not his obligatory pleas that you give him another chance. It was that he sought out another woman for sex after A MONTH AND A HALF of separation. That's what's called adding insult to injury.
Is he serious about wanting to get back together with you? Sure. But don't think it's for selfless reasons. Your husband has not demonstrated himself to be very altruistic person. He seems concerned with his own needs above all else. So he may have realized that it won't be as easy to find someone as willing to take his crap as you have been over the years. He may know that having been caught cheating is not the best way to go into a divorce. Either way, Bewildered, life is too damn short to spend any more time with this bad person than the 15 or so years that you already have. Cut him loose. Don't give it a second thought.