It took me a while but I am finally delivering the second half of my bifurcated advice to our friend “Sleepless in Seattle,” who wrote to me filled with dread over some vicious texts messages she sent anonymously to her friend/co-worker who was having an affair with her husband.
Please click here to refresh your recollection: I Made a Big Mistake!
While Sleepless was mainly concerned with the legal ramifications of her behavior, she could use a little more advice on what is happening in her marriage. Through a series of emails over the past week, she told me the following:
1. The other woman (let’s call her Vicki) is also married and when her husband found out he told all their mutual friends and announced the affair on Facebook. Yep, you read that right.
2. Making matters even worse, Vicki’s husband made his wife tell her employer about the affair because as it turns out, Sleepless’ husband (let’s call him Bob) has accounts at this this company.
Confused yet? Yeah, so am I.
3. Bob is an alcoholic who has cut back on drinking but not quit entirely. He blames the affair on alcohol and not feeling appreciated by his wife.
4. They have had two counseling sessions.
5. Vicki and her blabbermouth husband are also staying together and trying to work things out.
6. Sleepless finally admitted that she was the one who sent the texts. In other breaking news, water is wet.
Unfortunately, Sleepless suddenly disappeared and stopped replying to my emails. She did this when I asked her the following questions:
“Would you say you had a decent sex life before all this happened? What would your husband say if I asked him that? Did he complain about your lack of sex drive, for example? Are you continuing regular counseling? How’s it going?”
I waited, asked again, but as of today: nothing. Hmmmmmm.
Perhaps I was very wrong about the legal ramifications of her anonymous texting and she is sitting in a King County jail cell without a means to communicate. Maybe she is busy getting it on with Vicki’s husband in a revenge affair (soon to be posted on Facebook, no doubt).
She could be trapped under something heavy.
Regardless, I committed to finish this column and finish this column I must, even without the answers to those very important questions above. In order to do that, I am going to assume based upon recent radio silence that a) their sex life sucked and he wasn’t getting enough, and b) they are not continuing counseling on a regular basis.
I have to draw the sex conclusion because Sleepless told me the biggest problem in their marriage was her husband did not feel “appreciated,” which is code for “my wife won’t fuck me.”
I also came to that conclusion because they have been married for 15 years and they have three kids. If I had a dollar for every man who has ever complained to me about toiling in a sexless marriage I would have enough money to keep Mr. Patience and Understanding in the manner to which he would like to become accustomed.
As for the counseling, it doesn’t seem like these two are committed to it. Maybe that’s because the therapist they have seen twice was quick to ID Bob’s drinking problem and since we know he doesn’t want to quit boozing, he probably isn’t too keen to keep up the work.
Sleepless, you have some big problems in your marriage which I think you aren’t facing. The reason I think you are in a state of denial is because you spent so much time and energy focusing on the text messages and whether you were going to be arrested, but not on the fact that your relationship is falling apart.
You asked me “can cheaters be reformed?” but you also insisted this was his first affair. Maybe I am jumping to a giant conclusion but your characterization of him as a “cheater” feels to me like you suspect his affair with Vicki isn’t the first and won’t be the last.
You also said your husband is an alcoholic who was consuming 6 drinks per day and who still drinks, although not as much. I’m going to stay away from that topic because I think some heavy drinkers can be reformed without going the abstinence route, but I am not an expert on addiction.
I will say this: your husband blamed the affair on alcohol. When he got busted with his bread in the wrong basket, he pleaded for leniency and said he would do anything to stay with you and fix the marriage.
Anything? How about putting the bottle down for a while?
Do you see the connection?
He blames alcohol in large part for the affair but despite his promises to do “anything” to save your marriage, he won’t give up the thing that he claims led to its demise. Add to that the fact you two aren’t in a regular counseling relationship and I have some very very significant concerns about the future of your marriage.
Here’s some advice-by-numbers for you:
1. Get a new job and get your husband out of that company.
2. Have your husband assessed by an addiction specialist and support him in making whatever changes in his life need to be made in that respect.
3. Commit to intense marriage therapy for at least several months. You need to understand how you got here and you need to start being brutally honest with each other. After all, you lied to him about those text messages. You can’t start rebuilding a marriage on a foundation of dishonesty.
Therapy can also help you face the sexual issues in your marriage. I’m not condoning your husband’s behavior, but if you had a regular “no entry” policy regarding your vagina, you need to own your part of his wandering dong. If you won’t fuck your husband, there is always a Vicki around every corner happy to do it for you.
4. Make a plan in case things don’t work out. Could you support yourself if the marriage ended? If not, do whatever is necessary to get your life and finances to a place where you could survive without your drunken Lothario.
5. Spend some time in counseling on your own. I smelled the distinct stench of low self-esteem coming from you in your emails. You sounded almost fearful of your husband and were almost solely focused on what YOU did wrong, not him. I don’t know you but I think you could benefit from some serious time on the couch.
I’m not punting here, I just can’t deliver the help you need.
I think marriage can survive infidelity if both people work hard to make certain the damage is repaired, the trust rebuilt, and the love rekindled. I don’t see that happening with you both right now so get your ass in gear and get to work.
If all efforts fail and you end up divorced, know this: you will survive and thrive once you figure out how to forgive yourself, love yourself, respect yourself and make it on your own.