Q&A with Geoff: Is It Possible to Find Healing and Joy After Your Spouse Walks Away?Aug 09, 2023
My husband and I have been together for almost five years and we’re in our late-20s. He recently got a new job, which is very high-stress. He’s been away for training for this job for four months. As the training progressed, stress got worse, loneliness set in for me, and I felt I was losing him. I felt he didn’t care about me and just cared about his new life with his exciting new career and friends.
Meanwhile, I’m home with no family and friends in the location we currently live. After one last minor miscommunication, it all changed. He no longer wants to be in a relationship with me. He doesn’t want to try. He doesn’t think anything will change and says his feelings for me have changed. In fact, he says that in his core over our entire relationship, he’s had doubts.
He couldn’t make the time to come see me, but he could make time for his new friends. Now his main priority is his career and excelling in that. There have been times that I thought to myself, “Do I really want to be with this guy and am I really happy with him?” But I thought of a life without him and it was inconceivable. So, to now hear I’ve essentially been living a lie, I’m destroyed.
I have to move back home, in a city it’s impossible to afford while he gets to walk away with zero responsibilities and start fresh. I’ve begged him to work on this for six months and he says he doesn’t want to.
I’ve ruled out that there’s someone else as I’ve asked numerous times and I do believe he’s telling the truth when he says, “No.” He’s even pushed away his own family. I just don’t know what to do or think. I know outside looking in it’s easy to say, “Run, he doesn’t want you,” but I can’t accept that.
We were best friends and we’ve done so much together. We’ve had such a great life. I was his biggest supporter in getting this new job and was willing to sacrifice everything for it. I just can’t believe he hasn’t wanted this life we’ve had for years. I know he loves me. I know in this moment he resents me; he cannot let stupid things of the past go. I do believe in this moment he believes he isn’t in love with me and wants me gone.
But I don’t know if I believe this is forever. He used the analogy of someone chopping away at a tree and it all came crashing down.
I can only imagine how overwhelming and confusing this is for you right now. I hear the shock of you now realizing that your security wasn’t very secure. Let’s talk about how you can respond, especially since you’re not getting any cooperation from your husband.
It’s understandable that you would spend a lot of energy trying to explain, question, discuss, and figure out what happened. You believed there was a foundation of trust that would allow you to work things out with him and find your way back to each other, as you had likely done in so many other misunderstandings. As you know, there are only so many times you can talk about some things.
Not only does he clearly have his limits of what he’s willing to do, but I also encourage you to develop some self-respect in the face of his rejection. I’m not suggesting you give up on the relationship. Instead, I’m suggesting you give up on doing all the work to carry the relationship.
Your husband isn’t interested in providing any comfort or reassurance about your relationship. He has also made it clear that he doesn’t have any answers for you. Yet, his responses are an answer if you accept what he’s saying at face value. He’s making a choice to not show up as your husband anymore. Even though the marital dream is to be collaborative about the future of your marriage, it’s always important to remember that building or dissolving a marriage is made up of individual choices.
Also, please recognize that your situation may seem like a sudden shock, but let’s consider the possibility that this might be the result of an underlying issue that has now surfaced due to additional stress. It is common for people under stress to react in unexpected ways, and it’s possible that your husband’s new job, with all its pressures, is exacerbating emotional or relational difficulties that were previously less obvious.
You’ve had a sense that things weren’t right with the relationship, even though you are good friends. Unfortunately, he’s not interested in talking about these things or committing to you (or even his own family).
However, it’s essential to remember that only he can ultimately clarify his feelings and motivations. Despite the pain, I encourage you to respect his choice and carry on building a life full of purpose and meaning. If he desires to rejoin you to share your lives together, he’ll know where to find you. And, if that ever happens, please recognize that there will need to be some high-level conversations and understanding what why he abandoned his marriage and what he plans to do to rebuild trust and safety.
I recognize it’s not easy to carry on when your life was flipped upside down. I don’t minimize how disorienting this is for you. However, your sanity depends on your ability to accept what he’s chosen and continue forward with your life. If you continue to beg and de-self to draw him back to you, it’s unlikely you’ll ever trust the relationship. Don’t hesitate to seek support from a trusted friend, family member or counselor to help you navigate this difficult transition.
It’s easy to believe that there’s no future happiness available to you. However, this is simply not true. You had a life before meeting him. You are an individual who doesn’t have to be defined by what someone else does to you. You’re going through something terribly difficult right now and you are allowed to have time and space to regain your center. Ending a relationship doesn’t have to be your end.
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