A reader fed up with her husband's "friendly" conversations asks Dr. Sherry to weight in.
You've seen celebrity clinical psychologist Dr. Sherry Blake, author of The Single Married Woman: True Stories of Why Women Feel All Alone in Their Marriages, keep the Braxton sisters calm on the hit show Braxton Family Values. Now it's your turn to sit in her chair...
I’ve been in a relationship for almost 13 years and we have been married for five. My problem is thar my husband is continuously inappropriately emailing his ex-girlfriends and starting conversations to catch up with them. This leads up to ‘I miss you’ and ‘how things would have been,’ type conversations, and sometimes he even tells them that he loves them. The first time was from 2010-2012, when he began an online relationship with one of his exes. They talked about their good old days and he stated that when he had his stroke a few years back no one was there for him. This is untrue; I was there every day in therapy and even had him released early from the rehab facility when he asked to come home. Throughout this time I was working two jobs to take care of our family because he lost his job, and he would constantly tells us that he hates us and refused to help around the house.
The second time this happened was earlier this year, when I walked passed the computer and saw an email saying ‘I miss you’ and I made him open it. He went on again to start a casual conversation, which again led up to him speaking of feelings for her and stating how he hates to use his ex-girlfriend when he discusses their status. I feel belittled by this, I have been the sole provider for our family of 10 for over a year now, and I feel unappreciated, we just started counseling again with our pastor and were asked what can be done to save our marriage, and I can't think of one thing. I have tried to keep lines of communication open, but he never wants to talk to me. I feel alone in our marriage and I am ready to just be by myself. I am lost and do not know what to do?
I can definitely understand how you would feel belittled and unappreciated. I am sure you also feel angry, hurt, used and abused. There is nothing like working your tush off to the bone while holding on emotionally, physically and financially by a thread to care for a loved one who is not appreciative and just down right disrespectful.
While you would be justified in being outraged and throwing in the towel, your situation may be more complicated than it seems. It is unclear from your question if your husband's inappropriate behaviors started before or after his stroke. If it’s after his stroke, his behaviors may be the result of a lost of cognitive functioning. Simply stated, he may have brain damage that interferes with his judgment, problem solving ability, reasoning skills, and other areas of his cognitive functioning. He may also lack the ability to quickly understand and process social cues. This often results in blurred interpersonal boundaries with inappropriate sexual overtones. When he stated that no one was there for him when he had his stroke, he may actually believe that due to possible memory lost. Regardless of when his behaviors started, something is seriously wrong herwe. Your husband needs a neuropsychological evaluation to determine his cognitive and psychological functioning level. This will also provide information regarding his ability to change his behaviors.
While some of his behaviors may be related to his stroke, this does not give him a pass on this. His behaviors are totally inappropriate. It is recommended that you seek individual therapy from a licensed psychologist with an understanding of neuropsychology and Individual therapy to help process your feelings as you prepare to make some tough decisions regarding your marriage. Regardless of your husband's choices, you deserve to be appreciated and have a sense of happiness. – Dr. Sherry
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