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Ask TherapistMaryAnn Your Own Question
TherapistMaryAnn, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 6079
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues
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I had breast cancer in 2015 and finished chemo Christmas Eve

Customer Question

I had breast cancer in 2015 and finished chemo Christmas Eve but then had a year of jabs finishing around November 2016.As chemo began my husband told me that he'd met a woman whose daughter was having chemo with good results.I knew he’d struggle with my changed appearance he’d always been moody and controlling about my hair styles, makeup, clothes, calorific intake-yes, I know, I’m not even sure why I want to save this marriage … but I figured that we’d had removal of affection in patches and he’d sort of come round eventually and I’d give him some space and then we’d reconnect.I was never really sure what I was dealing with but I now realise narcissistic tendencies, passive aggressive behaviour, coercion and gas lighting have been my life for the last 25 years.On November the 8th 2017 I found his iWatch on the bathroom floor, I knew he had been texting or messaging someone who he had tried to hide from me Sunday, he couldn't turn his phone over quick enough but I saw a longish word beginning with C. 300 messages from him to Comberton. I sat down and read through them with increasing shock and horror. Every explicit detail was included, reminiscing about their first proper night out together which had ended in a hotel room having great sex. He even boasts that he must have f**ked her 50 times at 2 hours per session ... she'd even supplied him (me) a picture of her getting her hair done.devastated I confronted him when he walked in and he tried to deny it, holding up his phone and shouting that there was no messages on his phoneI allowed him to see the watch to show that he was telling her that my sons new girlfriend was called Clare, and he never usually even acknowledges the kids friends , I say kids, they're 31, 29, 24 and 17 and only the younger 2 are his.I gave him 6 months to be kind, considerate, generous and honest. He couldn’t bring himself to be honest about details of the affair or to clarify some of the details in the messages, he also refused to contact her to end the affair.He continued to be remote, distant, unloving, uncaring and so I presumed unfaithful but I now had no iWatch to check because he put it back in its box.1st December I message to the number I’d retrieved from the device and addressed it to Clare / Clair / Claire.She responded after a few hours and said she was sorry but that her daughter had died and she’d sort distractionHe is refusing to move out, he even said that I was throwing away 25 years for this slight indiscretion, he brought up the fact I was ‘cheating’ on my then partner when we met 26 years ago, like that made his behaviour okay. I don’t know how to deal with the whole situation except I feel like I’m losing my mind. He doesn't love me but I can’t escape. If I say I don't want to live in a loveless marriage he says "that's just your interpretation" then I want to punch his lights out.
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  TherapistMaryAnn replied 8 months ago.

Hello, I'd like to help you with your problem.

It sounds like your husband is putting himself first and doesn't care about your needs in the marriage. He has tried to control you in the past, including your appearance which is a sign of an abusive spouse. You also mention that he is aggressive, gaslights you and it doesn't sound like he has supported you through your illness and recovery. Now you find out he is cheating on you but he refuses to admit to it or do anything about it, leaving you with the pain and regret over your marriage.

At this point, you are being cheated out of a full and loving relationship. You cannot trust him, which is essential for a long lasting relationship. And he refuses to put your needs first, also necessary for a good relationship. He will not admit to his behavior and how he is hurting you, which is a sign that he does not intent to stop what he is doing. He has broken your marriage vows and has stopped considering you and your feelings at all.

Because he refuses to listen to you, you may have to decide what your next step is going to be on your own. You can either stay and accept his conditions and refusal to stop his behavior, or you can decide to end things with him. You have tried hard to get him to listen to you and he is refusing. And he won't change things on his own. So he is leaving you no choice but to put your own needs first and decide what is best for you. I know you mentioned that leaving is not an option, but you didn't say why. If at all possible, you may want to contact an attorney and consider counseling before you make a decision. You deserve the support and both professionals can help you find a way to leave this marriage, if that is what you want.

This is a painful decision either way since it forces you to give up something no matter what you decide. If you have family and friends who you can trust talk to them. Ask for their support while you decide what is best for you.

Also, there are self help resources you can use to help you decide. Here are some to get you started:

Should I Stay Or Go? : How Controlled Separation (CS) Can Save Your Marriage
by Lee Raffel

Should I Stay or Should I Go?: A Guide to Knowing if Your Relationship Can--and Should--be Saved
by Lundy Bancroft and JAC Patrissi

Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay: A Step-by-Step Guide to Help You Decide Whether to Stay In or Get Out
by Mira Kirshenbaum

I hope this has helped you,

Expert:  TherapistMaryAnn replied 8 months ago.

Hello, I have not heard back from you. Please let me know if you have any further related questions or need clarification. If you are satisfied with your answer, please rate with a positive. It is appreciated. Thank you!


Customer: replied 8 months ago.
hi MaryAnn, thanks for replying.he has many issues with me and I'd like some advice on how to deal with himI said I want to divorce and he said he'd contest it by bringing up my behaviourI gently said that would sound absurd as why would you want to stay married to someone who behaves badly?He also asked why I needed to go to the bank on Saturday, I apparently never go to the bank.
I had to remind him that every month he gives me a cheque for his share of the household bills and I always have to go into the bank branch to deposit you think he's actually losing the plot ?thanks
Expert:  TherapistMaryAnn replied 8 months ago.

You're welcome!

I'm not clear on what you mean by "losing the plot". If you mean that you feel he is not functioning well mentally, that is possible. It's hard to say without being able to talk with him in person. But the behavior you describe appears to be odd and he is either distracted or something else is going on to cause him to act out and to forget what is going on.

As for your behavior, you did not describe any behavior on your part that sounded worrisome. If your husband is referring to you finding out about his cheating and confronting him with it, there is nothing wrong with that and it would be a normal, expected response given his behavior. You are allowed to verbally confront any behavior on his part that is damaging to your marriage.

You may also want to contact your local domestic abuse shelter for advice about your options in your area. What you are describing with your husband can be considered abusive and the domestic abuse counselors can help you with how to leave the marriage and how to start life on your own. They can also offer counseling and support while you go through the process.

At this point, you may want to consult an attorney to see if your husband's threats regarding you wanting a divorce and his response to it are viable. An attorney can tell you more about what is legal and how a divorce works in your country. That will also give you ideas about how to plan a divorce and what you can say or do to help your case.

I hope that was helpful,


Customer: replied 8 months ago.
are you in the UK ? when we say "losing the plot" we mean going mad or suffering with dementia or other mental afflictionover the years I have tried many tactics, ignoring him doesn't work
arguing with him is pointless, he just shouts abuse and accusations to deflect from his behaviour
he wants to pretend like nothing happened and if I mention anything even vaguely associated I get accused of bringing it up again
then we have another few days of the cold shoulder and silent treatmentI'm struggling to see how he managed to carry on a relationship, however sporadic, with this woman, for two and a half years, unless she's as unhinged as he there any other tactic I can try?The solicitor (lawyer / attorney) said that the retaliatory counter is wearisome to courts and judges, it's just emotional point scoring, it serves no purpose, wastes time and costs money.It's so obviously stupid I'm not sure how he can't see it.any ideas welcome.I can divorce him, no problem, but as far as our two kids are concerned I'm 'responsible' for him and I was inclined to honour my vows even if he wasn't but now I want to withdraw my investment in our family home and I can't do that until they are settled in their own homes. I feel guilty inflicting a mental retard on them, it's hard enough looking after aged parents at the best of times.
he's 57 and I'm 55 so we're not ancient
he's had 6 months and he's done nothing, no grovelling apology, no gifts, no flowers, no weekends awayI just want one line which might alert him to his unreasonable behaviour.
Expert:  TherapistMaryAnn replied 8 months ago.

No sorry, I am located in the U.S. Thank you for clarifying what you meant. That is what I assumed it was :)

Unfortunately, there is no one line to make him change his behavior or see that what he is doing is harmful to you and your marriage. It sounds like he may be Narcissistic (although there is no way to tell for sure without a full evaluation face to face) and if so, a person with this disorder suffers from little to no insight. Change is almost never an option. There is simply no way to convince anyone to change or to have insight who doesn't want to see their own behavior as harmful, no matter what you tell them or what you do.

What you can do is to start emotionally disengaging from him as much as possible. Unless you are willing to continue dealing with his behavior towards you, there is little else you can do. If divorcing is not an option right now, you can take steps towards a future divorce. You can also separate now, although I am unfamiliar with what that would involve in your country in terms of legal boundaries. You may need to talk to your attorney and/or the domestic abuse counselors for guidance.

You can also start therapy, try support groups on line and in person and otherwise build your support and ready your financial situation until you can leave. Stop interacting emotionally with your husband unless it is necessary. Don't discuss emotional issues and if he tries to engage you, leave the conversation. I know that is not easy, but his behavior and unwillingness to change leaves you little choice on how to react. Only discuss practical matters and only on an as needed basis. This will also help you prepare to leave the marriage, if that is what you decide. Otherwise, it will help you protect yourself from him and his abusive behavior. If you feel that doing this puts you in any danger, consider contacting the local domestic abuse shelter and do what you need to do to protect yourself.

Also, consider reading and looking into the resources we talked about in the first response. They are invaluable in helping you understand what you are dealing with and how to react. And the one website can point you to many resources that will help you. The key is knowing that you are not alone and that there is help and support for you.


Customer: replied 8 months ago.
morning, my husband never engages emotionally
and as far as I can tell from the volume of text messages I found between him and the woman he wasn't engaging emotionally with her either.
She said "we have nothing in common other than sex" or similar
and "you don't make me feel special"I was going to have one last attempt to give him the chance to mend his behaviour and stay married but it's a long explanation and he usually shouts me down by the end of the first sentence.I want to divorce on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour, specifically refusal to discuss issues like the fact I'm unhappy that he didn't buy me a birthday card or gift last year, he says out loud that we'll book a trip somewhere, or a night out, or a weekend away but nothing ever comes of it and he is emotionally disengaged during sex.
If he doesn't 'fancy' me sexually then we need to address that.
If he can't then I intend to divorce him which will mean we will have to sell the house to divide our financial assets.
He cannot counter the divorce petition to attempt to stay married by citing my unreasonable behaviour, supposed 'affairs' or other historical issues as it only raises the question of why someone would want to remain married to someone they dislike or distrust or has hurt them in some way. It makes no sense and I'm sure a judge would be willing to rule on that situation.
it sounds absurd to me
I know why he wants to stay married, for financial security, our nice house, our nice cars but he's doing nothing to convince me to stay, I asked him to be kind, considerate, generous and honest and I gave him six months.
Six months isn't long to actually end a 3 year affair.
But her husband was unaware what was going on, it's possible now i've told him that it can genuinely end.
He may be able consider this a bit more seriously. i.e. that he can't have me as the housemaid and her for sex on the side, which is essentially what he was doing and in fact men have been doing for thousands of years, supported by the legal framework in the UK because the law says that there's nothing I can do to force him to be faithful but if I contact her to warn her off I risk being cautioned by the police for harassment !!! it's a joke, an absolute farce.
But in any case, I have discussed it with the kids that live here, as well as the one that doesn't and they're all accepting of the fact that we will most likely divorce but that I will do everything within my powers to make sure they are happy and settled for their future lives but it won't happen this week, or this month, in fact not even this year, but we are already any tips on that last conversation?
I've tried writing it down or emailing but he loudly tells me he never reads them. He is an arse of the highest calibre but it's a challenge to get him to see sense.
Expert:  TherapistMaryAnn replied 8 months ago.


If you would, please indicate if you are satisfied with your original answer. If you feel your original question and related follow ups have been answered, I'd appreciate a positive rating on the answers I have provided so far. Thank you! It is appreciated.


Customer: replied 8 months ago.
I felt it was very negative.In the UK we can divorce on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour but if I’m honest I’ve never met a ‘reasonable’ father was lovely but he was a lot older than my mother and his first wife had died and he just had a lot more patience but I know he did things to annoy my mother, I don’t really know any details but I do remember her crying and threatening to leave.I was hoping there was a slim chance of convincing him to see sense.I actually don't want to 'throw away' 25 years of marriage and I do want my kids to be happy and I do believe that I need to put their needs before my own as a responsible parent.If they had left the house and set up on their own with their own families I'm sure I'd feel differently, I could actually be more selfish.I was looking to an ‘expert’ for guidance on the approach to repairing the marriage, rather than how to ‘dump him and move on’.thanks
Expert:  TherapistMaryAnn replied 8 months ago.

Sorry you were unhappy with your answers. I will opt out to allow other experts to help you.

My best to you,


Customer: replied 8 months ago.
I will re-write the 'question' so that others are aware what I'm hoping to achieve . best wishes to you also . Carolyn