By Joyce Oglesby
Q: “I don’t want to lose my husband, but he wants to stay in his affair and stay married to me. He presents a great argument for the reasoning — he doesn’t want our kids to have part-time parents, we’d have to split everything, and it would be difficult for both of us to economically survive. I’m torn because I love him, but I’m not sure I can share him, either. How do I convince myself to be OK with something I’m not comfortable with?
I never cease to be amazed at the justifications behind wrongdoing. Whereas this scenario sounds uniquely yours, I can assure you there are many people who feel whatever rules they desire to inject into a marriage should be as appeasing to their spouse as it is to them. However, this is one injection that could be lethal to your self-worth, so let’s carefully consider whether you want to be stuck with this man.
- Was this part of your vows? I can’t recall attending a wedding ceremony where the bride or groom said ‘I do’ to two. It sounds as though you didn’t sign up for a the-more-the-merrier marriage, and the idea is not settling well on your heart. (For the record, it wouldn’t mine, either.) Therefore, remind your husband of your vows and don’t rearrange them for his convenience or pleasure.
- Is he worth the keep? I encourage you to sit and take into account the kind of man you feel you can exchange life with. If he would compromise in this critical area, what else is he willing to concede? I’m not suggesting that everyone who has an affair mismanages all aspects of their lives, however, his bold approach at “having his cake and eating it, too” calls into question his thread of integrity, or lack thereof. So, assess his trustworthiness in other areas as well, while this endeavor should weigh heaviest.
- Actions are being modeled to children. I am not an advocate of divorce. However, having grown up in a home riddled with adultery, alcoholism, and severe abuse, I know firsthand there are worse things than being a part-time parent.
- Is security better than peace of mind? Divorce is never economically advantageous for anyone, but financial disruption is no reason to live in a situation that is wrong. There are consequences for poor choices. Yes, it is going to adversely affect you and your children, but the emotional toll is more difficult to overcome than financial.
- Love yourself. Placing value on ourselves is essential if we are to be respected by anyone else, even and especially those we love. Evaluate you. Ask yourself why you think you deserve to be treated with such disrespect. Also, be sure to ask yourself why you would allow it. You can’t control others’ actions, but you alone control the effects those actions have upon you.
- Losing him might not be as bad as it sounds. I’m all about fighting for a marriage. I know that even infidelity can be overcome and couples can find themselves in a healthier marriage than they had before. But keeping the affair and the marriage, and then expecting a spouse to be accepting of the arrangement is beyond reasonable. For every reason he can give you why it sounds like a great plan, there are a million men who could love you for who you are and remain faithful. Losing him could land you in the arms of one of those.
- Set your own rules. Conflict in marriage sets you in a front-row seat on a roller coaster of emotions. At one of your less-distressing moments, decide what you will tolerate and what you won’t. I would never attempt to convince you to become comfortable with this scenario because, quite frankly, it would never be something I personally would slide into. Remember, however, his rules don’t rule. Set your own boundaries and make them palatable to your self-worth.
- Care, but don’t share. It’s obvious you love your husband, but you don’t have to share him. He might move on, but he might not. Without your objection to his proposal, he will continue on his path. Dig in your heels, find your backbone, and set down parameters. Should he stay, fix what is wrong with the marriage. An affair is often a substitute for something missing in a marriage.