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June 18, 2007 Ask Dr. Love Advice Column
My husband and I have been married for 22 years. Raised two children 33 & 29 from my first marriage (no children between us). My problem and question is this:
He cheated on me the first year that we where married, but I did not find this out until 14 years later. He promised me that he would never betray or hurt me like this again. Well, in 2005 he started a phone romance with a radio personallty locally to where we live. I accidentally found out this and was devastated and hurt beyond all reason.
He has started to drink very heavily (2 plus cases of beer a week) and has stated that it is my fault that he drinks because I have not forgiven him nor have I forgotten what happened last summer. God knows I have tried but feel he's drinking in this manner because he did not get to have his way with this other woman. He still flirts with every pretty woman he sees and makes me feel like yesterday's leftovers. He made this remark just recently during one of our arguments while he was drinking so heavy.
He has begun to be verbally violent and physically with me when he is in this state of mind. He says that I provoke him by fussing about the amount of alcohol consumed. Please help me with an answer as to how I can save my marriage. I still love him with all my heart.
Your husband is shifting blame onto you and not taking responsibility for his own behavior. He says he's drinking to excess because you haven't forgiven him for his phone flirtation. Hello. How did he manage to shift the focus onto you? He's the one who's drinking, not you.
He can feel angry. Nobody says he can't. But what he can't do is try to make you responsible for his uncontrolled drinking. I would tell him that he has a right to his feelings and obviously he's very angry with you and you want to understand more about this. Tell him that the problem isn't his anger it is how he deals with that anger. Instead of talking with you about it and working the feelings through, he anesthetizes his feelings with booze.
Until he gets his drinking under control by going to AA no relationship is possible. When he's sober then we can discuss the issue of his cheating, which he also doesn't want to take responsibility for. In his mind the issue is that you haven't forgiven. Hello again. The real issue is why is he cheating in the first place. I would tell him that his cheating is, once again, an example, of anger that 's not being handled properly.
Instead of telling you what isn't working for him in the marriage, he acts out his anger by cheating. Again, I see the same problem. He swallows his anger or acts it out, but he doesn't deal with it constructively. Hear me clearly. I'm not saying that you are an angel who walks on water. I'm sure that you say and do things that annoy him (we all annoy each other). The problem, once again, is that he isn't dealing with you directly. So, to save your marriage he needs to get sober and start talking to you.
My book, Till Death Do Us Part (Unless I Kill You First) will guide you on how to discuss even the hottest topics in a way that will bring you closer together not farther apart. In order to have a successful discussion, you must avoid the temptation to play the saint who has been wronged. If you play this card, he will feel guilty and more angry and discussions with deteriorate rapidly. Instead, you need to be willing to look at your part in his infidelity. Realize that you had a hand in driving him away from you.
I'm not saying his cheating and flirtations were proper. Had he been more skilled at talking about his feelings, he could have told you straight up what you were doing to push him away. This is all water under the bridge. You both need to go from this point forward. Learn how to discuss your negative feelings, listen and understand each other, and, above all work to be responsive to each other.
You have a tough road ahead of you, but if you want the marriage, follow the steps I outline in the book and a happy marriage will be yours.
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