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My Husband Has Left Me For Another Woman. How Do I Let Go?

Question:

My husband left me & our infant over 6 months ago. It seems he’s gone back to his ex wife although he denies that as being the reason he left.

I was SO committed to this man & our relationship (a 2nd marriage for both of us). believed him each time he told me he was "here forever" & how there was nothing better. Imagine my devastation over it coming to an end.

It’s 6 months and I am not well. I have done everything I could to try to get my husband to rejoin me in counseling, attend a marriage retreat (he took his ex wife on a family vacation that week instead), listen to me profess how much value I held & how there was nothing I wouldn’t do to save us. He’s filed for divorce. Said he had no other choice. Claims to have gone through his own emotional disbelief & heartache since he too never thought he’d ever be gone.

I am still hanging on, still hoping, still praying, despite how much more ill I become each day. No one has a crystal ball or can foretell the future. And I know my husband is adamant right now with what he wants (since he’s at the ex’s day & night, day after day). But what do I do to get over the incredible hurt, the pain, the disbelief? The lies I now feel I was led all those years?

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Answer:

This is a situation that comes up in relationships sometimes. A very painful situation, but not an infrequent one, unfortunately. One partner in the relationship loses the attachment to the relationship, while the other partner does not. Often, this happens silently, without any fanfare or obvious signs, and the partner who remains attached to the relationship doesn’t know what is happening. Then, one day and seemingly out of the blue, the partner who has detached from the relationship announces that he or she is leaving and that there is no possibility of further discussion; no ambivalence to play on; no possibility of salvaging things.

It’s particularly devastating when this occurs because the partner who is left has no time to prepare or anticipate and grieve the end of the relationship, and because the magnitude of the loss is tremendous, involving not only the loss of a sexual partner, but also a confidant and intimate friend, and often a house or a car or a standard of living. Adults being as partnered up as they generally are, when you are suddenly alone, it is easy to feel terribly lonely, and to feel like a complete failure.

The kind of grief associated with this loss is similar (certainly not the same) to the kind of grief that someone who was suddenly and unexpectedly widowed might experience. It is much easier to let someone go when you’ve had some anticipatory time before the loss event to know that the loss is coming and to engage in some anticipatory grief.

In terms of what you should do, the advice I have to give is simple but hard to follow. You need to let this husband of yours go, in my humble opinion. Not because you want to do this, but because he clearly no longer wants to be with you, and to not divorce yourself from him emotionally at this time is to decide instead to suffer in a more intense manner than is absolutely necessary.

People get obsessional when they are in your position. They cannot stop thinking about the partner they have lost, and cannot allow that partner to go. If you fit the common pattern, your heart will not give you permission to let him go. So, if that is the case, your head will have to do the dirty work. it may not be possible to do it all at once, so if that is the case, you can do it multiple times until it sticks. How do you do this? It’s simple enough. You start living your life as though the relationship were truly over. You take down the pictures, get rid of the clothing and the possessions that remind you of him, you stop making phone calls and putting effort into trying to bring him back into your life, you work on filling in your empty nights with friends or projects, etc. If you start behaving as though it is over, at some point it will be over.

The pain will not end overnight, but you can expect to experience some dulling of its sharpness as you commit to the end of the relationship. Then, slowly over time, as you work through your grief, you can expect that dull pain to wax and wane and ultimate more or less dissolve, though that may take years.

I think it might be useful to you to read about grief in our Grief topic center , as what you are experiencing is a form of grief. Please know that though this is very painful, people do survive it, and you can too. Good luck.

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