Dear Feeling Hopeless

Dear Real Intimacy Authors,

I heard you this morning on x96 and thought you had some good responses for those who called in. I personally am struggling and wanted to ask a question. My husband and I have been married for several years and have a young daughter together.  He also has three children from a prior marriage. This past year he has been involved with inappropriate relationships with other women and has not been honest with our finances.  Our relationship has experienced a lot of ups and downs and is currently in a very difficult place and we are currently functioning as two roommates who share space and take care of our child together.

Although I don’t want to get a divorce, I am considering it, but my moral values keep me from wanting to go down this path. I just don’t know how to find trust with my husband again after so many years of him destroying it and even more being able to feel safe and have a desire for intimacy with him again. How do you stay married to someone you don’t trust? We have sought professional help in the past, but yet this issue still lingers. Any insight you could offer would be appreciated.


Feeling Hopeless

Dear Feeling Hopeless,

Thank you for your question.  Without knowing you or your husband it is difficult to adequately address all the issues involved with your question, but perhaps we can offer you a few ideas, thoughts and perspectives.

You already know that trust is the foundation of any healthy relationship.  It is what allows the two people involved to feel stable and secure.  When trust is broken it takes a long time and a lot of effort to repair — with both people being equally committed to the process.  You mentioned having sought professional help in the past.  Are either of you willing to get help now?  Individual counseling as well as couples counseling would probably be the most beneficial.

Your marriage — and you as an individual — has suffered a large amount of damage — tornado level.  Think back to images you have seen of the aftermath of tornadoes.  The people observing the devastation have difficulty knowing where to start, how to clean up, and where to go from there.  They are not afraid, ashamed or feel weak just because they need to enlist as much aid as possible.  They almost always are willing to put all options on the table as well.  Do they stay and rebuild or do they move on?  And then they carefully consider the ramifications of each.

If you have both tried counseling in the past, and potentially your spouse isn’t willing to, (and if he is – even better), counseling on your own can be beneficial. There is the counseling cliché’ when you change “me” you change “we.”  There are many steps to be taken prior to divorce. Getting yourself to a personally healthy place where you can move forward, despite the pain, will allow you to know you made the best decision for you and your daughter.  If you leave the marriage before you answer your “what-if” questions, you will be divorced and will then have “what if” questions on the other side.  Marriage is designed to bring out areas each individual needs to confront within themselves.  There is a difference between a marriage with problems, which every marriage has, and a marriage that is dysfunctional and toxic.  It may be a good time to confront yourself and start working through what is keeping you in your marriage and what is appealing about leaving.

If, on the other hand, you decide the devastation is too great and neither of you are willing to put in the work involved, it’s important to get the support you need to thoroughly work through what that decision will mean for you and your child.

Wishing you the best – RI

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