My husband and I have been married for 20 years. Halfway through, he had an affair with a co-worker. I noticed changes in him, but he insisted nothing was going on. He confessed the night before my birthday (four days before our 10th anniversary). After that, I tried hard to please him and thought we were working it out. But he treated me like the bad guy and said he had no passion for me. Recently, he decided we should talk about the affair, but then pulled away. Marriage counseling did not help. I was listening to your Monday radio show on V101.1 FM when you told a woman in similar circumstances to stop asking her husband for reassurance that he was committed to the relationship. Is there anything else I can do besides this? I love my husband and know he is my soul mate.
What if he is not your soul mate? Would you feel differently about his attitude and behavior? Your desire to believe in the concept of a soul mate might be so strong that it inspires you to tolerate behavior that is not loving or respectful. I like the idea of soul mates, but I don’t cling to the concept; I hold it lightly. After all, we can relate to anyone at the soul level, right? It’s our egos, our shadows, our personalities that create problems in relationships. In our culture, when someone says he or she has found their soul mate, there is a collective sigh of admiration, even jealousy. But when soul-mate relationships end, soul-mate aficionados always seem to find another soul mate. Comprende? It’s unlikely that you have only one love match in this big ol’ world. That’s not a directive to end your relationship; it’s an invitation to investigate what keeps you in it.
Once you achieve clarity about why you stay married, build on the positive parts of the marriage and give less mental or verbal energy to the negative. I am not advocating denial, just noting that when we obsess about what is not working, we create frustration for ourselves and others. Or we sink into a funk, stagnate and beg our partners for reassurance of their love or commitment (while they sprint away from our neediness). I’ll let you in on a secret about long-term relationships: Physical passion comes and goes for most couples. Emotional passion is what keeps couples together. When both fail, the relationship relies on each person’s integrity to the concept of commitment. So if a person is not inherently truthful, she or he will betray the other’s trust when the relationship hits a pothole. Heal your marriage by being more honest with yourself about who you are (not who you want to be or who you hope others think you are) and be transparent with your man. After a while, he will either become more honest himself or you will both realize the marriage is over. Without truth, it won’t thrive.
My soon-to-be-ex-husband got back together with the wife before me. I am in shock! We were together for 10 years, and they were together for 18. During our marriage, he rarely said anything nice about her. They have two grown kids who are not thrilled with the reconciliation. How could this happen?
It could be an attack of nostalgia after he thought about every little annoyance in your marriage. Or perhaps he prefers the comfort of someone he knows to the process of finding and getting to know someone new. Then again, that chapter of his life may just be incomplete. The only thing you have to decide is whether you want to take his call if that relationship ends and he cycles back to you.