Carolyn Hax advises a woman who is tired of trying to be more exciting with her husband, who cheated on her.
Adapted from a recent online discussion.
DEAR CAROLYN: Where do I begin? I found out my husband was having an affair, though he refuses to admit they slept together.
He and I had been having problems mostly due to having kids — a lack of excitement, my being “too much of a mom,” among other things. Mind you, I work full time, my husband was useless with our son for the first year so child-rearing was mostly on me, and we have been going out weekly since our son was a baby.
Even though we are intimate at least twice a week, my husband complains that we do not experiment. I have made an effort but apparently not enough for him. I guess my recent pregnancy did not help either (our children are ages 3 and 6 months). My husband claims he was not ready for marriage and kids but married me because he loved me and because he knew I was good for him. That he owed it to his “older self.” He is now 35.
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He also told me he knew we may not be sexually compatible but thought this would change with time.
Since I found out about the affair, he has been super helpful at home. However, he refuses to talk about the affair and refuses to go to couple’s counseling. He is difficult to talk to. He dominates the conversation and I just end up shutting down. I told him I need the counseling as a forum to talk about things, and he says that is my problem to deal with. He just wants to focus on making our life better and more exciting.
I cannot live my life under constant pressure to be “more exciting,” and I am just tired. I also feel cheated out of the opportunity to have married someone who thinks I am perfect for him (this is my second marriage; I think I’m done with that!). If it weren’t for my kids I doubt I would consider being with him.
DEAR CHEATED: Oh dear. Downplays mistakes + resents kids as your primary focus + useless with your son + craves novelty + pressures you for it + disavows marriage decision + refuses to talk + dominates conversation + dismisses infidelity fallout as your problem (equal sign) possibly the most childish man-child this column has ever seen.
I don’t know if there’s any growing up in his future, much less enough, but I’m confident there’s no happiness in yours if you keep treating this as a regular marriage to a regular spouse. Emotionally he sounds adolescent at best.
To get any of your expectations met, you’ll need to drop them to the floor. Consider: Since the affair, “he has been super helpful.” If I’m right about his emotional level, then he’s acting like the teenager busted for smoking pot who’s mopping floors and unloading the dishwasher religiously to make sure you’ll still give him the car keys.
I hope I’m being too tough on him. I suggest you find out in counseling, solo. Pick someone skilled and get to work creating a sustainably unchaotic life for your kids.
One last thing: “I think I’m done with that!” says you’re closing your mind to options. Don’t. Go into this ready to do whatever you need.