Ellen in Bahrain writes:
I have been married for 35 years. We were living in Saudi Arabia, and in 2005 I had to move to Canada to take care of my mother. My husband stayed behind to work. In 2007 he was relocated to Bahrain with the same company — then in 2008 he lived with a Thai woman who is 26 years younger than he is! I found out in January of 2009, when he said it was over. I came to live with him in Bahrain. But he has brought her back to Bahrain, and goes to see her three times a week for three hours at a time. He says he loves me, and doesn’t want me to leave — for now, because of the 8-year-old grandson we are raising, I have decided to stay. I believe he is in a midlife crisis, as he has the depression — along with all the other signs. Am I being foolish to want my marriage to be healed? And do you think it will be? I am so lost right now, and being in a country where I don’t know anyone is very hard. Please help me… I truly love my husband, and don’t want to give up on him — or our marriage.
Many marriages dissolve under the betrayal of infidelity, but many more survive this huge challenge. As long as you can hold firm to your resolve not to give up on your husband and your marriage, there is a chance for healing to begin. It isn’t foolish to want your marriage to work, but I have to warn you that it is going to be a very long, painful journey.
Your husband is going through a crisis of sorts. Between the stress of his job, the familiarity of your marriage, and the responsibility of having another child to raise, he is under pressure, and he escapes his “real” life when he is with this other woman. While that certainly is a problem, and illustrates his mental state a bit, it is further complicated by the fact that he feels rather entitled to continue his relationship with his mistress. Since he works hard and takes care of you and your grandson, he isn’t looking at this arrangement like he is doing something wrong — even though he can’t always deny the pain he causing you and your family. As you know, he can be quite a stubborn man.
The next nine months look like they are going to be extremely difficult. Even though he will continue to tell you that he loves you and doesn’t want you to leave, his actions are going to make you question his sincerity. Your husband will continue to visit his mistress, and he expects you to be tolerant. This is going to be a very tough period of time for you to endure — because he won’t be considering your feelings, much less doing things differently in an effort to help himself or your marriage. It seems that he would prefer not to discuss the problems at hand, and you need to be cautious about how you navigate him and his moods.
Sadly, his mistress is going to be around for a while. Since you do want to save your marriage, I would advise you to stay away from giving him an ultimatum — even if you are fully prepared to follow through. That course of action could seriously harm the chances of healing. If you push him too hard, you risk pushing him closer to her. On the other hand, if you appear to be accepting of the current circumstances, he will take your acceptance as permission. So it is a very fine line that you must walk in order to keep peace within your family — yet still enforce the fact that his choice to maintain a relationship with his mistress is unacceptable behavior. Because your husband is not seeing things clearly, or open to the benefits of counseling, saving your marriage is really up to you.
Fortunately — and unfortunately –you will become adept at this mental warfare: Through your displays of calculated and methodical manipulations, and your disdain, your husband will finally start to understand what he is doing, and that he truly risks losing you. The process isn’t going to be pleasant or easy, and you will wonder more than once if you have the strength to stick things out. If you can endure this long enough, he will eventually let her go… and find his way back to you.
Red, ext. 9226