ASK COLETTE: “Desperate to Hang On to My Marriage”

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Here Baby Boomer guru Colette Baron Reid on when betrayal is a symptom, not a cause


Dear Colette,

My husband and I have been married for 17 years.  He’s a successful businessman, a workaholic and obsessed with making money.  I am afraid to see these words in print, but I have to admit, I don’t love him anymore.  We have very little in common and we haven’t had sex in two years.  Well, he and I haven’t had sex with each other but I had a brief affair that was never revealed, but it was nothing.  It didn’t matter and I was just me looking to feel wanted. 

Lately he’s been staying out later and claiming to be at the office.  I didn’t believe him so I hacked into his email account. I found sexy notes to a generic gmail account.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the initials for that gmail are the same as his pretty secretary.  What a lousy excuse for a man!  I spend hours thinking of ways to get back at him, to cause him (and her) the same emotional pain I’m feeling.  I’m really hurt by his betrayal and I’m miserable every day.  I can’t imagine leaving the lifestyle we have and I don’t want to give up the money.  How can I move past this hurt and stay in the marriage? – Desperate to Hang On


Dear Desperate to Hang On,

Hang on to what?  To the husband you deeply love and respect? To the marriage you cherish?

A little harsh, right?  I’m sorry but I couldn’t help myself.  Let’s start again…I am truly sorry that you are experiencing such pain at what appears to be the final stage of your marriage. Endings are rough, even if they have been coming for a long time. I imagine the hurt that comes from not feeling loved and appreciated began (for both of you) more than two years ago. Communication stopped, sex and intimacy stopped and love disappeared.  Is it too late to revive the marriage?  The answer can be found in your motivation (more specifically, your motives).

Is your main worry about ending the marriage based on maintaining your lifestyle and appearances? Was your affair really nothing or were you looking for attention or a way to hurt your husband?  Was breaking into his email your way to maintain control and make all of this his fault because HE was dishonest?  Ironic, isn’t it?

Rather than place the blame on him for his betrayal and waste hours plotting your revenge, why not take a look at the only thing you can control – your own behavior.  Can you surrender to the fact that you don’t love him anymore?  You haven’t for years.  Your marriage is a union of two people barely living in the same house.  If there is nothing in common, the love is gone and you both (yes, you!) betrayed the marriage with affairs, what exactly do you want to save?  Don’t deny your own accountability in your current circumstances.  You are not a victim, you are an active participant.

Why do you want to stay in a relationship that’s a lie?  Where will that take you five years from now?  You’ll continue to live a lie and it will be by your own choice.

Find a lawyer.  Make the break and create a life that’s authentic, not one based on control, anger and revenge.  If you want to feel power and control over something, focus on your own life.  Make your individual happiness your obsession. Positive thoughts and actions will lead to more of the same!

Love always and forever,
Colette Baron-Reid

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