Q&A with Geoff: How do I move on from my third failed marriage?Sep 14, 2022
I am 73 years old, and this is my third marriage. My husband recently told me he hadn’t been happy in years and then promptly moved in with a friend of his.
Now I find out he has a girlfriend – yep at 70!
I am just having a really hard time moving on and not hounding him about what it was I did wrong to make him have to look outside for his happiness. Of course, he has no answer to that.
I asked him to go to a counselor and his reply was, “I tried that with my first wife, and it just cost me a lot of money and didn’t work.”
I just need some help moving on. I don’t know how to do that at 73.
I can only imagine how discouraged and overwhelmed you must feel after losing your third marriage. You’ve highlighted an assortment of reactions and questions. Since getting your bearings right now is your biggest priority, let’s sort through your situation and help you get some clarity about what to do.
First, please recognize you aren’t responsible for your husband’s affair. Even if you had been the most difficult wife on the planet, he still could have chosen dozens of other ways to handle his marital pain. All marriages have struggles and all marriage partners make choices about how they’ll respond.
Your response was to seek counseling. His response was to replace you with a girlfriend. You can’t be responsible for his response to his marital complaints. The only person responsible for cheating is the one cheating.
I recognize it’s easier said than done, but please don’t spend one more minute of your life blaming yourself for his infidelity. The reason your husband has no answer about what you did to make him cheat is because the question is pointed at the wrong person. You didn’t make him cheat. Period.
Instead of fixating on the dead-end question of what you might have done to make him cheat, I recommend you gradually accept what he’s been showing you. It’s agonizing to accept this, but he’s making it clear he doesn’t want to be your husband. You’ve invited him to explore his choices. You’ve invited him to work with a professional to salvage the marriage.
You’re the one who is motivated to save this relationship, not him. He’s moved on by starting a new relationship and isn’t leaving the door open to repair it.
Please remember that acceptance is a process, not an event. The journey of acceptance will free you up to see your situation more clearly, attract support from others and allow you to feel peace. It’s normal to worry about your future, especially future romantic relationships.
Because you’ve been married multiple times, you’ll likely wonder if you will feel secure with another person. We all need the reassurance that we can find security with another person. It’s hardwired into us.
You’ve been surrounded by contempt, criticism, and betrayal in your marriage. I encourage you to surround yourself with love, kindness and support.
Hopefully, you have friends, family and neighbors who can buoy you up during this difficult time.
You’re wise to focus on the future by moving on. I realize you are uncertain about how to do that at the age of 73. As the old African proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
The temptation is to go fast and quickly get out of this painful place in which you’ve found yourself. Instead, I recommend you stay close to your loving relationships and allow that support to help you go far.
It will take time to quiet down the critical voices in your mind that tell you you’re too old and unwanted. You can push back against the accusing voices in your head that want to shove you into isolation. You can step into the lives of others who need your wisdom, compassion, hands, heart and mind.
Your marriage isn’t the only thing that defines you. There are plenty of ways you can show up, grow and bless the lives of others.
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