I’m 21 and married. I have known my husband for almost seven years, and we have been married for almost two. He is in the Navy, currently heading out to deployment. Our marriage was great in the beginning. Ever since we moved together, though, things have been going downhill. One time he offered to do the laundry out of the blue right after he got home from work. It was nice to see him offer to help, but I was already getting it ready. After the wash, I went down to the machines and it was already done and dried. I found another women's underwear in our clothes. My husband’s excuse was, "I had to take someone else's clothes out to put ours in,” which was kind of hard to believe since it was late at night and not a lot of people were doing laundry at the time. But … I got over the situation.
A short while back, I went out with my friends for a girls night. He ended up coming to join us at the club with his friends and got messed up pretty bad. He ended up making a move on my friend. I called him out on this as well, and his excuse was that he was under the influence and didn't know what he was doing.
I started putting walls up without even realizing it. The love I had for him isn't the same type of love anymore. Sex doesn't even feel the same. I find myself slowly drifting away. We have talked about it and all and we have been trying to rekindle our love, but on my side, the thought of him making a move on my friend never leaves my head. I just don't know what I should do anymore. The more I try to forgive and forget, the more I would just rather leave him and stay friends instead. I look at him and nothing happens – no nervousness, no spark, no nothing.
I feel like the best thing is to separate and stay as friends but he always responds with threats that he will hurt himself. He has always been so suffocating and territorial when it comes to me. I am not really the clingy type, but I let him behave that way because that makes him happy. But now I barely want to hold his hand. I feel bad. Please, if you can, provide me with some guidance.
– Lost Light
There’s a lot happening in this letter. Feelings of betrayal. The stress that comes with distance and deployment. And let’s not forget this always-present threat that you can’t leave because he’ll respond horribly if you do. It’s a lot to handle at once, and you need some help.
You can start by looking into therapy services for yourself, and then ask him to visit a counselor as a couple. This is so important. Therapy won’t necessarily give you easy answers, but at the very least, it will give you the space to process and plan. You’ll also (hopefully) get some professional thoughts about how to handle a partner who says he’ll harm himself if you leave. You need real guidance for that. (I won’t pretend we have answers for you here.)
I do know that the Navy offers counseling services, but you might want to find your own therapist outside of that community. It might help you feel like the services are just for you, no matter what you decide to do about your marriage.
People do get over cheating. They do overcome underwear in laundry and big mistakes. But you need to talk more about the life the two of you want in the years to come – and whether you can get it from each other. Sometimes couples spend so much time thinking about how to make peace with their past that they forget about the future. It helps to look ahead.
Also know that friendship isn’t guaranteed. You want him in your life, but if you leave, he might need to be on his own without the confusion of you in the picture. You’ll have to be willing to say goodbye.
Readers? Can the letter writer get over these betrayals? Do romantic feelings return over time?