I will try to be as to the point and brief as possible. Three years ago my husband had an affair and a baby was conceived. The other woman is madly in love with him -- still to this day. He pays child support and has also been to visit his other child. I went to counseling two and a half years ago but he will not. My husband feels he does not want to talk to strangers about this. He also drinks too often and drives. I have asked him endless times to please stop before he hurts someone.
I am just starting to look hard at what I have in my marriage and feel like I don't have much at all. He is not much for doing family outings and does everything he can to avoid family gatherings. I do most of the chores around the house, including changing the oil in the car. I was raised on a farm so I am very capable of doing these things myself but when I ask for help he is upset that he must leave the couch and his sports. He also makes no effort to stop the pictures and letters that come to our home from his other child's mother. I expect him to take responsibility for paying child support but so much contact is not necessary, right?
We had no problems before this, besides his drinking and for as long as I've known him, he has. We were very happy. As time goes on and I try so hard to keep us together, I become more saddened and lonely cause I do not feel connected to him. I think I may have done more damage than good, I'm not sure, for not trying even harder to solve my problem earlier. I am thinking of asking him to leave for a while in hopes that maybe it may jolt him to start thinking of what he has and what he may lose. But it could also back fire on me and he may stay away or he may take too long to realize his mistakes and I may not want him to come back.
I am at home a lot lately. I work from my home and having two children makes my life rather busy. So I thought I would try someone on the Internet and ask for advice. I could go to counseling again but I really feel I need my husband to attend and not just myself this time. I would much rather be spending my time at home with my husband and kids than going to a counselor all by myself.
I await your reply anxiously.
From your letter I understand that you and your husband were happy and had no problems until three years ago, even though your husband has always had a drinking problem. Then three years ago, your husband had an affair and a child was born of this affair and he pays child support and visits the child.
You approve of his taking responsibility by paying child support but are not too happy about his having an ongoing relationship with the child. You feel that you "try so hard to keep us together" but the result is that you become "sadder and lonely" because you do not feel connected to him. It does not sound that your husband reciprocates your efforts.
You went to counseling two and a half years ago and are willing to go again with your husband but he is not willing to go. You are also thinking of the option of asking him to leave for a while but are afraid that a trial separation may turn into a permanent breakup of the relationship.
I think that you went through quite a traumatic and devastating experience when your husband had an affair, then a child was born and now you are living in a complicated situation. I am touched and impressed by how humane and supportive you have been towards your husband. Yet I am concerned about you. Where do you put the boundary between being understanding towards your husband and allowing yourself to be victimized by his behavior? Sometimes, consciously or unconsciously, we are willing to pay a high price just to avoid being alone.
I strongly advise that you and your husband go to a couple therapist together to work out your complex situation. Part of your reality is the fact that you need to cope as best you can, but the rest needs to be examined so that you can find ways together to get more satisfaction from the relationship.
If your husband cannot be persuaded to go with you, then you need to go by yourself to get the help you need. I suggest you do not act or make any major decisions before you consult a therapist.
Silvet Sufar Shalit, PsyD