Wow! Thank you so much for the support you provide to people during such a difficult time.
I am 42 & my husband of 55 is going through MLC.
Changes started to happen about a couple of years ago, but “Bomb was dropped” in October 2013. He said he was not happy..”not sure if he wanted to be married”.. typical
We have been married for 21 years.
Currently separated – He moved into our family RV about 45 minutes away Feb 2014.
I am a Christian… He is not a believer
My husband is definitely in the “replay” stage. For what I have read, I believe the ball was dropped at the beginning of this stage
I found out that he was having an affair with a co-worker, but a few months later she decided to disolve the relationship. This was very hard on him. I told him I knew about the affair, but he didn’t show any remorse. I just recently found out he is now seeing another woman, but he doesn’t know that I know about his affair. Why I haven’t confronted him about it? perhaps fear? or trying not to act too quickly? The fact is that due to this, he has now become a “Cake-eater.”
He still wears his wedding ring, pays our bills, took me out for dinner in my bday. He comes to the house and washes his clothes, he talks to me about “our” house, “our” cars, “our” insurances, he eats our food etc… which leaves me confused and with a sense that he is not ready to let go and still wants me in his life….He says he loves me, but cannot live with me… but he goes and visit with the OW.
What concerns me now is that the relationship with this new woman has taking a new destructive path…She is involved in very risky, open sexual behaviors/immoralities, which he is now taking part of it, and I cannot accept that.
Thanks to my strong relationship with The Lord, I believe I have been able to successfully detach emotionally from him and let things run its course. Also, I fully understand that I cannot control what he does & that ONLY him can process his crisis…however, my questions are:
1) Does it do me any good to comfront him about the affair and how should I do it?
2) Should I stop all contact with him & keep it just “business like” due to our son? How do I stop the cake-eating since I have enabled him in some way?
How do I set effective boundaries that would help him move toward his recovery?
Hearts Blessings’ Reply:
Hi Elizabeth, 🙂
These are my thoughts for what they’re worth:
**The first thing you would need to do is to consult with the Lord, to see what He has in mind. Sometimes He instructs a person to let things continue as they are, because this will help to later “bridge” a certain emotional gap, leading the mid-life spouse back to the left-behind spouse at a later time.
However, I cannot speak for Him–you speak of a good relationship with Him, so what is HE advising you to do? He has only instructed me to lay out the choices you have, and advise you to choose what is best for your own situation.
Each situation is so different, and in some situations I’ve been directed to counsel setting down ultimatums, but in others, I’ve been directed to counsel patience, etc.
Yours is looking toward more of the removing yourself from the equation at this point, to show this man what he is missing, because I don’t think you’ve ever done that before.
Your husband’s skewed perception, and immature state of mind has made it “OK” to live this double-life, and of course the other woman he’s seeing isn’t going to do anything at this point, because in his mind, she is what he wants/needs. However, you are also what he wants/needs–the two of you serve different purposes to him–and this is all about him.
I found out that he was having an affair with a co-worker, but a few months later she decided to disolve the relationship. This was very hard on him. I told him I knew about the affair, but he didn’t show any remorse.
**That non-showing of remorse doesn’t surprise me, because he has distanced himself from the damage he did to his marriage. Plus, in the state of mind that he’s in, it doesn’t matter what you think–this is all about him. No matter what you say/do until he clearly sees what he has done, there will be no remorse shown.
He feels entitled to take what he wants, when he wants it, regardless of the emotional cost.
Once he began showing signs of coming out of his affair processing that first time, you probably should have laid things on the line, and given him a choice to get help for the issue within himself that drove him into the affair if he still wanted to be with you. It’s possible, though, that he may have walked out on that note, because his state of mind wasn’t in a place of wanting you.
However, you didn’t know, and because he didn’t resolve whatever issue had driven him into that first affair, he quickly went into another one. I think he’s knows on an intuitive level that you know what he’s doing.
To him, you’re there, he knows you’re there, and you serve a purpose for him–that’s pretty much all he sees. He continues returning to you, because somewhere within him, he is still drawn back to you–but he is on a quest, searching for a emotional connection he will not be able to find in a broken affair partner–but he is the only person that could figure that out.
It was apparent that he wasn’t ready to stop searching for that perfect emotional connection, and because of his emotional weakness, plus Satan tempted him a second time, leading him down a much worse emotional road than before, he got into another affair, and this one is more of an escalation of wrong behaviors than that last one was. I would speculate that last other woman had an attack of conscience, OR he did something that displeased her, and she dumped him like a rock.
This time, he’s compartmentalized his affair in one part of his mind, his life with you in another part of his mind.
He’s using the other woman to meet some of his needs, while using you to meet other needs–however, he’s not showing the confusion shown by a man who cannot choose between two women-he’s showing signs of true mental compartmentalization, carrying on like normal in one life, while having this other woman on the side in this other life.
–I think that if you say something to him, it may bring this confusion forth in him, because you would be introducing deep chaos within his carefully balanced double-life—and until these two worlds collide and crash, he could carry on like this for awhile.
Conversely, it may not make any difference to him–because again, in the state of mind he’s in, it’s all his wants, his needs. Until he wakes up to himself, and what he’s doing, it makes no difference.
You have two choices here–you can choose to wait this out, and see where it goes, or you can choose to confront him, based on what you know–and make sure you have hard irrefutable evidence–otherwise, he could lie, deny, minimize and justify himself by blaming you—and mid-life spouses, when angry, are masters of the twisted word and action.
1) Does it do me any good to confront him about the affair and how should I do it?
**Depending on how deep he is involved with this woman, probably not. As a matter of fact, to confront him while he’s deep within the infatuation of an affair could only serve to push him into a time of defending her…and make matters worse, by causing him to choose her over you-whether for a short time, or forever would be up to him.
This is not your normal situation, this is MLC…all you can really do is leave the situation alone, back away from him, and detach yourself from it, letting the affair run its course regardless of whether you confront him or not.
In the majority of situations like these, some cake-eating usually happens, because there is never total “cut-off” between the left-behind spouse and the affair partner within the mid-life spouse’s mind. However, if one sees a clear situation of wanting to have a relationship with both people without choosing one or the other, AND there is a clear confusion going on within the mid-life spouse’s mind–setting down a choice can be called for–however, depending on what the mid-life spouse wants at that point, it could result in things going either way…because ultimately, the choice belongs to the mid-life spouse, and not to the left-behind spouse.
Until HE’s ready to break the affair down himself, it will continue as it is–however, you can set down a boundary on his contact with you, but understand that could drive him completely toward her, and away from you.
You can’t set a boundary on the affair itself–that’s something you can’t control, because the other woman is HIS problem, not yours. His affair has everything to do with him, and nothing to do with you. It has an indirect effect on you, because you’re still married to him, but his affair affects HIM directly, because he’s really hurting himself, damaging HIS marriage, making a mess out of HIS life, and he’s destroyed HIS vows–IF he loses you in this process, that’s on HIM, and him alone.
2) Should I stop all contact with him & keep it just “business like” due to our son?
**You can remove yourself totally from the equation after stating a firm boundary that he cannot have contact with you as long as he’s seeing another woman, but understand, there are no guarantees. If you remove yourself, it’s possible he might decide not to return to you at all. That’s the chance taken when a person decides to set down an ultimatum of this kind.
Also, if you stop all contact, that would mean change, and mid-life spouses hate change of any kind. He might rebel, spew angrily, and project heavily, but whether you stop contact except for the purpose of business, or choose to wait and watch to see where things go is up to you.
Also don’t stop all contact in an effort to “wake” him up-if you stop all contact that would be for you, not for him.
Have you ever stopped contact with him at any time, just to see what it would do? This would give you a good idea of how attached he still is or isn’t to you at this point in time…however, there are no guarantees it would put a stop to his affair–that’s still his choice.
How do I stop the cake-eating since I have enabled him in some way?
**Considering the fact that he is a grown man, and you can’t stop (control) what he does, regardless of what you do–I can’t see that you really “enabled” him. You could have rolled out all of the thunder and lightning you wanted to after that first affair happened, but if he weren’t ready to turn back toward you–it really wouldn’t matter what you do or say.
All I can do is lay out what choices you have, and what you choose would be up to you. What would be best isn’t up to me–that would lie on you, because you KNOW him better than anyone in spite of what is going on.
You can set a boundary letting him know that as long as he’s in a relationship with another woman, he cannot have one with you. This gives him two choices–to continue with the affair, take the risk of losing you, or stop the affair and return to work on his marriage.
However look for him to push the limits of this boundary. It seems that every person who rides the fence like this wants the best of both worlds…however this cannot happen, because marriage was made for two people, not three.
When you make a choice to set down a hard limit, you are choosing to let go of the consequences of your own choices, and accept whatever happens. For every action there is a reaction, and for every action there is a consequence…Good or bad.
How do I set effective boundaries that would help him move toward his recovery?
**Quite honestly, there is no “helping him move toward his recovery,” you don’t have any control over what he does, when he does it, or how he does it. This is HIS journey, and there’s nothing you can do except to walk your own journey, while giving him space to continue walking his.
You would need to learn where you end, he begins, and learn to deal accordingly from there, for yourself. When you begin targeting the areas within yourself that lead toward change, growth and becoming, your husband is faced with changing himself, or choosing not to change himself.
He will either figure this out, or he won’t–but your journey should continue forward, regardless of what he does/doesn’t do.
Setting behavioral boundaries for what you will and won’t tolerate out of someone’s behavior toward you, are for YOU–not him. When you set a boundary, you’re giving him a choice, while continuing to allow him to be who he is. You’re the one who is setting the “rules” for what you will and won’t tolerate in the way of behavior within a given situation.
You can’t control what he does, you can only set boundaries to protect yourself, and he can choose to honor, or rebel against, these.
I hope this helps.