Q. I’ve felt lonely in my marriage for a while. I’ve told my husband that I need to feel connected, that we need to do things together. Share an interest, go for a walk, talk, etc. I’ve told him for years that I need more than a buddy or a roommate, that I want a partner. But I don’t think he’s ever truly understood because nothing changes. I didn’t realize how unhappy I had become until I went on vacation with friends (my husband did not come because it wasn’t his “thing”). While on vacation, I felt like myself again…for the first time in I don’t know how long. I made some new friends, partied and ended up cheating on my husband. While I don’t think what I did was right or good, I don’t regret it or feel bad about it. And that bothers me…I think my marriage is over, I think it has been for a while. But now my husband is acting shocked, as though this came out of nowhere. He doesn’t believe in divorce and thinks that we can fix it. At this point, I’ve been telling him that I felt like his roommate for going on 3 years, and I can’t remember the last time that I had sex with him sober. Is this even worth trying to salvage? Is it even worth trying? Or are we both better off just walking away…
A. Based on your writing, I’m assuming your husband knows about the affair. Unfortunately, it took your affair to wake your husband and your marriage up. It also woke something up in you.
I often reference Esther Perel who so poignantly notes that when someone has an affair, they may not necessarily be turning away from their partners, but turning away from the partner they them selves have become. It sounds like on your escapade, you tapped back into a part of yourself that felt lost to you in your marriage.
Affairs can actually be a desperate attempt to save a marriage. It lights a much-needed fire, arouses energy that is often dormant in long-term commitments. If your marriage was boring before, it certainly is not boring now. The crisis of an affair mobilizes partners into action.
However, it sounds like over the last 3 years, you and your spouse may already be in the process of a divorce – a spiritual divorce before the physical divorce. Read this article to learn more about this.
You ask me if this marriage can be saved. Let me ask you:
- Will you look back at this time and regret not trying?
- What is at stake if you divorce?
- What is at stake if you stay?
- Did you plan to grow old together?
- Will you always wonder if you could have both made it?
- How hard are you both willing to work to save the marriage?
If you choose repair, know that it’s a journey that requires commitment, perseverance and love. Disconnect does not occur over night and neither does reconstruction.