Rita in Glendale, California, writes:
A few months ago, I wrote to you that my husband of 32 years has committed adultery at age 62 and has left his family. His move-out date was exactly the day he retired from a well known company where he held an excellent job. We have a 30 year old daughter who is married and this incident has caused much emotional stress and heartache. The magnitude of pain he has caused has left me [in such a state] that I cannot function anymore. The woman who he is with has nothing in common with him and is an older woman with no education, 62 years old and cannot speak fluent English. He got to know this woman when he went to get a massage in a massage parlor and he got everything but massage! Memories of [our] 32 years is killing me and now he asking me for a divorce [through] absolutely no fault of mine. I am the only reason he has been successful financially and he apparently does not care [about] all I have done for him. What do I do next? It may sound strange, but I still love him and cannot stop crying 24 hours a day.
It doesn’t sound strange that you still love your husband. Real love doesn’t just fade into nothingness over night, it endures. That doesn’t make things easy, especially for you. The first thing you need to do, Rita, is to decide to take your life back. I’m not talking about your history, your marriage, or finding deeper meaning in why things got so messed up. I’m talking about finding your own place within the turmoil in which you currently live, so that you can be functional. Finding a decent counselor or therapist should be at the top of your list of things to do, so you can fight your way out of the fog and deal with everything else that will be coming your way. You have to learn how to stop looking back and start moving forward.
Try and concern yourself less with what your husband is doing, and focus more on what you are going to do next. This may sound cold, but it doesn’t matter how much you did for him, everything that the two of you faced together, or why he “traded down.” You can keep looking for a suitable or tangible answer to how all of this came about, but you’re not going to uncover anything that makes the situation better or easier to deal with. The bottom line is, your husband made decisions that punched a hole in your life, and that of your family, and now each of you has to deal with the consequences of his decisions. He isn’t exempt from that. He’s got some hard lessons that will be coming his way, but it’s going to take time before you start seeing any changes for the better within him.
You need to be looking at protecting yourself and securing your future. Your husband is going to continue to push for divorce, so get yourself a good attorney. When you talk to your husband, don’t let him see your anguish, even if it means projecting a strength that you don’t feel. It’s rather manipulative, but will catch his attention, and also be beneficial to you. Even though he has essentially moved on for the time being, he really doesn’t want you to move forward, in case he decides he wants to come back home.
Your love alone is not enough to fix these problems. Your husband has to get to that place where he’s ready to deal with his issues. He’s not there, but that day will come. When it does, it’s not going to be easy, and he will turn to you. But, you can’t go through life waiting for that day – it’s not healthy or fair to you.
The more you pull it together, the more interesting he will find you. While I can’t promise that you can go back to things as they were, and I do see your divorce moving forward, your husband is still going to be around you. It’s time to start thinking in terms of “me”, rather than “we”. Sometimes things have to get worse before they can begin to get better. The only control you have is in how you deal with things. I’m sorry.