By Bunmi Sofola
In all my decades of relationship counselling, I’ve learned the most common reason a husband tells his wife he doesn’t love her any more is because of the dreaded ‘other woman’.Discovering that your husband has fallen out of love with you or is ‘involved’ with someone else is simply horrible. Your heart races, it feels like a huge bowl of eba is lodged in your stomach and your mind starts working overtime. Why is he doing this? You’ve been a loyal and supportive wife, after al. He’s got a lovely home and children who adore him. What more does he want?
Of course, you’re not perfect – who is? But you’re not the one sending inappropriate texts to another woman. You’re just trying to hold the family together. If only he’d grow up and start acting his age. Any woman who finds herself in this situation has my sympathy.
Though there is always hope, the weeks and months ahead are going to be really tough. But while it might surprise you, the person whose behaviour needs to change is you! If your husband’s been behaving badly, understandably it’s tempting to label him as the problem, but this side-steps your part in unravelling of your marriage and what made him unhappy enough to look elsewhere.
Ultimately, Andrew Marshal, author of: My Husband Doesn’t Love Me … And He’s Texting Someone Else’, and a respected marital counsellor believes the only person we can change is ourselves and that should be the firs step in rescuing any marriage in crisis. Here, he shows how, with a bit of honesty and several helpings of humble pie, women can begin the process of reviving the most unsalvageable marriage and win back the love of a cheating man.
He’s cheating, but you must apologise: The first step towards recovery need you to commit to change. And while you’ve probably said you are sorry a million times before to keep the peace, have you made a full apology? This is one that acknowledges your unhelpful behaviour (e.g. taking him for granted), express sorrow and a determination to change, as is sincere. In particular, do you need to apologise for nagging, a habit that could be destroying your relationship?
Acknowledge that it must make him feel constantly criticized. Promise not to nag again and that he should say something if he catches you doing it. Though it is tempting to add an explanation for your nagging. It can sound as if you’re excusing yourself and therefore lessens the power of your apology. Ultimately, if your husband thinks you spend the majority of your time complaining, nagging or getting angry, he will feel that all the joy has been sucked out of your relationship.
What you should do next: Don’t ban contact with the other woman. If your husband is still in touch with another woman, it’s tempting to lay down the law and say ‘no contact’. Understandably, you want her out of your life, but over and over again, I’ve seen this back fire. First, he’s been self-medicating his own unhappiness with attention from another woman, so, if you cut off his ‘supply’, of course he’ll crave another hit. Worse still, it’ll mean you start checking on his actions so he feels distrusted – not a good environment for working on your relationship. Plus, it’s controlling behaviour, and who wants to be with a controlling partner?
Don’t complain if he moves in with her: While I’m not a fan of temporary separations – it makes it harder for you to communicate and there are fewer opportunities to work on your relationship – there’s an upside to him moving in with the other woman. His ‘true love’ will be tested for the first time. Slowly, real life and day-to-day domesticity will intrude into their fantasy. He will have to deal with her surly teenage son. She will discover all his nasty habits. It is not exactly Romeo and Juliet. As long as you don’t drive them together – by abusive phone calls, being unreasonable about access to the children and so on = it is highly likely that their relationship will implode.
Meet her yourself: A very personal decision that could make the situation worse, but can also leave you with a better sense of proportion about their relationship and provide her with a more balanced picture of yours. So she might find out, for example, you’re still having sex or have been reading her texts to your husband. As one client told me after she confronted the female colleague her husband had been having an affair with: ‘This woman was a demon-like figure in my mind, making me question why I wasn’t good enough any more for my husband. But she wasn’t any more attractive than me, and frankly seemed very insecure and self-orientated. I was reassured she had no deep feelings for my husband. The demons were exorcised the day I met her. I left feeling in control and relieved there was one less obstacle to rebuilding our marriage”.
A few words of warning: If you know where she lives, don’t go to her home on the spur of the moment – you will most likely be angry or frightened and this will not promise clear thinking. Also, if you arrange a meeting by text, remember you’re not two friends getting together for a chat, so put a time limit on it. Remember that everything you say and do will most likely be relayed back to your husband, and don’t do anything – such as becoming aggressive – that could invite retaliation.
The six types of women who could kill your marriage
The Spark: She might be at work, at the gym or maybe she’s even one of your friends. She might be happily married and has just taken pity on a work colleague who’s down. Perhaps they just share the same interest? In fact she might not have given him any encouragement, but she’s lit a spark and got him thinking and it’s not good news for your marriage.
The special friend: You probably already know her name because when someone is consumed by someone else, they can’t stop talking about them. It’s hard to know the exact point when friendship becomes betrayal. It’s find to text a friend and discuss problems when you’re fed up. But hundreds of texts in a month is not just friendship. When your partner stops mentioning her, you will assume it’s cooled, but that’s when it’s hotted up, and the ‘friend’ starts covering her tracks.
The online connection: Your husband might think flirting online is just a bit of fun. Unfortunately, he’s being incredibly naïve. At some point on-line flirting has to progress, otherwise it wither and dies. And when you don’t heed to deal with everyday reality, it is easy to think you’ve found your soul-mate.
The emotional affair: At this point, your husband and the other woman will have declared their feelings for each other. They will be putting more and more energy into each other – and leaving both their marriages with just the scraps. The lovers may swear that they have ‘only kissed’. Even so, this is not a chaste kiss that you’d give your grandmother.
The full-blown affair: The full package – emotional and physical infidelity. Some husbands will insist it’s only about sex, and these are normally quick to sever all contact with their mistress. When the full-blown affair has been emotional too, your husband might claim he wants to save your marriage, but often, he will remain secretly in touch and keep his options open.
The love of his life: Your worst nightmare. He’ll tell you they are ‘soul mates’. He might feel ‘bad for hurting you’, but he’s openly seeing her. But please don’t panic. The truth is he doesn’t really know her and their relationship hasn’t had to deal with cold, hard reality yet. He only thinks she is the love of his life because that’s the only way to justify hurting his wife and family so much.
Next week: Why he’s fallen out of love with you.