Dear Neil: I am at the end of my rope. I have been with my wife for almost 15 years (married for three years). Several years ago she cheated on me. She denied it but I found out that she was lying. I went overseas to work, she started the affair again and added another guy to the mix as well. My family has always taught me to try to work it out, so when I came home, I did, and she stopped her affair. But after a year she started back up with the first one. She begin to constantly lie about what she was doing or who she was with, and then she disappeared for a week, saying she was unconscious in a hospital. But that also was a lie, and as it happened, she put $400 of groceries on her credit card during that time (I saw the statement). She is now frequently going out and staying out all night. She is ignoring our children, such as forgetting to pick them up from school. She took off her wedding ring, saying that she’d cut herself, but she’s never put it back on. Is it time to move on? Should I try to get custody of the kids?
Confused and Hurt
Dear Confused and Hurt: Your wife has emotionally left you and moved on to other pastures. So whether you divorce her or not, understand that she is no longer yours.
In order for this to change, your wife would need to be highly motivated to keep you (and the family) in tact. She would have to come clean with her misrepresentations, lies, omissions and infidelities. There would have to be a willingness for her to be held accountable to her behavior in the future, as well as a willingness to be open and transparent about her activities, her associations with others and her whereabouts. But nothing you have said convinces me that she has interest in doing any of this. So you’re holding on to an image you have of your wife, not the person she has become.
If this were my marriage, I would expect and demand more. Sometimes being with no one is better than someone who repeatedly hurts, rejects, betrays and dishonors you.
Regarding custody of your kids, this is more a legal question, and you’re going to need an attorney. Can you she be proven unfit, neglectful or abusive to the kids? After a certain age, the court is likely to ask the kids which parent they would like to live with. My advice is to do what’s in the kid’s best interests, and don’t fight for custody as a way of attempting to hurt or punish her, or for revenge. Most of the time, having equal access to both parents is considered in the kid’s best interest.
Dear Neil: I have been with a man I care very much about for seven years. He just ended it. At first, he would not give me any reason, but he now says he wants to date others—and especially one in particular. This has crushed me. I never saw this coming. I told him if he had a change of heart to call me and that I would miss him. I want nothing more than for him to come back. Is being honest with my heart all I can do?
Heartbroken in Massachusetts
Dear Heartbroken: You could patiently wait for him to have his flings with other women and then see if he wants to return to you, but I don’t think this would be wise or healthy for you. After seven years, if the man has developed a wondering eye and wants others, I’m afraid he’s saying “no” to you. You’re not what he’s looking for.
Ask yourself this one question: If he were to come back, would you trust him?