Husband agonizes over wife’s infidelity
QUESTION: My wife has been involved in an affair with her boss for six months. I’ve known about it from the beginning, but just haven’t been able to confront her. Melanie acts like she doesn’t love me anyway. If I give her an ultimatum, I could lose her completely. Can you assure me that won’t happen? Have you ever offered the Love Must Be Tough advice and had it backfire, ending in divorce?
DR. DOBSON: Yes, I have, and I certainly understand your caution. I wish I could guarantee how Melanie will react to a firmer approach. Unfortunately, life offers few certainties, even when all the probabilities point in one direction. Sometimes well-conditioned athletes drop dead from heart attacks. Some outstanding parents raise children who rebel and become drug addicts. Some of the most intelligent, cautious businessmen foolishly bankrupt themselves. Life is like that. Things happen every day that shouldn’t have occurred.
Nevertheless, we should go with the best information available to us. I saw a sign that said, “The fastest horses don’t always win, but you should still bet on them.” Even as a non-gambler, that makes sense to me.
Having offered that disclaimer, let me say that there is nothing risky about treating oneself with greater respect, exhibiting confidence and poise, pulling backward and releasing the door on the romantic trap. The positive benefits of that approach are often immediate and dramatic.
Loving self-respect virtually never fails to have a salutary effect on a drifting lover, unless there is not the tiniest spark left to fan. Thus, in instances when opening the cage door results in a spouse’s sudden departure, the relationship was in the coffin, already. I’m reminded of the old proverb that says, “If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, it’s yours. If it doesn’t come back, it never was yours in the first place.” There is a great truth in that adage, and it applies to your relationship with your wife.
Now, obviously, it is risky to precipitate a period of cri- sis. When explosive individuals are involved in mid-life turmoil or a passionate fling with a new lover, great tact and wisdom are required to know when and how to respond. That’s why professional counsel is vital before, during and after the confrontation. It would be unthinkable of me to recommend that victims of affairs indiscriminately pose ultimatums with 24hour deadlines, or that they push an independent partner in a corner. Great caution is needed in such delicate conflicts.
In short, I suggest that you seek the assistance of a competent counselor who can help you deal with the problem of Melanie’s affair.
QUESTION: Our children are all on their own now and my husband and I are free to do some of the traveling we have always planned to do when we got them through college. But lately I feel too tired even to keep the house clean, and too depressed to care about planning or doing anything extra. I’m only 46, yet some days I can hardly get out of bed in the morning. I just want to put my head under the pillow and cry — for no reason at all.
So why do I feel so terrible? My husband is trying to be patient, but this morning he growled, “You have everything a woman could want — what do you have to be blue about?” Do you think I could be losing my mind?
DR. DOBSON: I doubt if there is anything wrong with your mind. The symptoms you describe sound as if you may be entering menopause, and if so, your discomfort may be caused by the hormonal imbalance that accompanies glandular upheaval. I suggest that you make an appointment to see a gynecologist or other physician in the next few days. He or she can help you.
Dr. Dobson is founder and chairman of the board of the nonprofit organization Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, CO 80995(www. family.org). Questions and answers are excerpted from “Solid Answers” and “Bringing Up Boys,” both published by Tyndale House.