Q: My husband is a chronic cheater and he doesn’t even hide it anymore. I’m numb and don’t say anything, but I’ve had enough. I feel there is nothing left in the marriage and now I wish I had left years ago. Can you help me?
A: I am so sorry that you are feeling this way and I can tell you are drained of all emotion by your description of feeling numb. It tells me you have reached the end of the road in your relationship, therefore my hope is that my words bring you both comfort and strength.
Firstly, however, I would like to start by saying that because I am not aware of your full relationship history, I am only able to provide assistance on what you have shared. My reply is therefore for you, and the reasons why your husband continues to cheat, but still remain in the marriage is a whole different topic. He of course could contact me should he feel the need for professional advice.
I am sure there are many women reading this column who can relate to your situation, but there will be those who may question why you stayed after the first, if not the second betrayal. So I will try and explain how this comes about for those who have been fortunate enough not to have experienced this type of pain.
The breakdown of a marriage can happen suddenly or slowly over some years. For some couples it can start as an almost silent disconnect coming from a place of comfort, and not paying attention to the importance of conscious effort, which is needed to maintain a healthy relationship. For others, it can happen with a sudden shock revealing a change of behavior, such as in the case of betrayal. Whichever way it started for you, and how you responded to such a life altering event is unique to you, as no one else has walked in your shoes. Even if others fail to understand it is so important that women support women with compassion and love.
Initially, you may have followed your natural instinct to share your pain with those closest, and perhaps you came to realize their reaction was layered with judgment. This is often because their opinions are formed from their own personal experience, and may have even shaped your view of marriage as you were growing up. I say this because I understand the feeling of working through internal emotions and still having to deal with external pressures. These are very complicated relationship issues and not as clean cut as some would assume.
‘To stay or to go?’ is often a common lament for those who have been on the receiving end of harmful behavior, however there are two common areas that make some women pause, and those are children and finances. You do not mention either of these in your question, but for many women this causes a huge dilemma. They imagine the disruption in their children’s lives and hardships that may be inflicted can prompt many mothers to put aside their own needs, and so a pattern of behavior begins.
I can feel your sense of regret with the passing years and decisions that were made in the moment. However, I am here to remind you that the old you only knew what she knew then, and today you know quite differently. Learning how to forgive yourself for past choices and trusting that you will now honor yourself by moving forward, is not an easy task. It will bring up all past emotions which will definitely be part of your journey into your new life, so treat yourself gently. I say this as encouragement as I know anything is possible with determination and courage.
Delicate journeys require extra preparation, therefore you will need to start surrounding yourself with good people who will walk with you in loving kindness. I would suggest connecting with deeply compassionate women who have gone through similar traumas, and who have come through the other side stronger and wiser. They will be your beacons of hope and inspiration for a better life for yourself. Together, with your female friends, I would recommend professional guidance during this time of transition, so please know that I am here for you, if you would like my help.
Published Tribune242 18th April 2023