Dear Dr. Archer,
I have a very complicated and miserable marriage with my husband, and I'd like to know if I can save the marriage, and do you know what has caused my husband to behave so badly?
When we started seeing each other, he was living and working in a different country. He had just split up days earlier with the love of his life because his controlling mother threatened to disown him if he stayed with her. She wanted him to marry a girl from his home town. I'm from his home town, and my parents are friends with his parents. Here’s the story.
I knew from the beginning he was heartbroken and didn't love me, but I thought I could force him to love me eventually. I visited him, and though it was uncomfortable, we remained together. I had to nag him to pay attention to me. He took me to purchase some jeans, and while he waited for me, he was phoning and emailing her, not only telling her how much he missed her but also negative things about me, like I was fat and ugly.
He called and emailed her daily, and invited her to join him at a conference. He didn't invite me! With me he is always distant, and I always have to force any kind of attention from him.
He met her in London and he was asking her to find a place for them to move to in Spain. At the same time he planned to move in with me, but I found out I was just a backup, in case his parents wouldn't accept the other girl. Before, when they were engaged, they were expecting a baby, which was lost due to the stress because of the nasty things his parents were doing.
He moved in with me but we argued from the start. We don't like the same things, and he spends hours at work, remaining distant and sad, which makes me more angry with him. I used to tell him off about how he could help tidy the apartment because he's messy. He leaves me alone and tells me his ex is pretty, he still loves her and they only broke up because of his family. He even emails her while I'm in the room!
We got engaged, but he didn't help out with planning the wedding at all. He spent his time working, while still contacting her. On his birthday we all went out to eat, and behind my back he called her from his parents' phone to tell her he loved her. Then he left me at home and he went out with his friends, calling her and telling her how sweet and sexy she is, and that he doesn't want to be with me.
He comes home so late we don't eat together, and all we do is argue. He wanted me to call off the wedding, but still I wanted to force the relationship. He thinks I'm a user, spoiled and more interested in status, because he's a handsome scientist and I can boast to my friends.
During all of this he was still sleeping with her, while I had to beg to be kissed or to be held; when we had sex it was very awkward. We went to a conference for our honeymoon because he had no plans of going through with the wedding, but he gave in and we got married.
When we came back I took off my wedding ring as revenge. I look at our wedding photos and we're not close in any of them; there's always a gap between us and we look uncomfortable. He left for six months for work, and when he returned, I found out they met up while he was gone. I still wanted to force the relationship, and decided to try to become pregnant, even though we rarely had sex.
His family knows how he feels about his ex. He can't get a divorce because they will be furious with him. I became pregnant, and he was furious. He wrote to his ex, saying his life was over, but it's my revenge on him. He started having unprotected sex with her to try and get her pregnant so his mother would have to accept her.
I got ill and almost lost the baby and he took me to the hospital. Afterwards he took me home and went out to the bar to meet his friends. Now his work is forcing us to move to a different country. We were away from our families and he spent his Christmas working instead of with me and our baby.
He's stressed, has sex with his ex on Skype and whenever she meets him at conferences. He wants to leave me but now feels trapped and his parents won't let him.
His ex can cause plenty of trouble, because he used to stalk her. He hacked into her email account and broke the law on several occasions because he couldn't let her go. She has all the evidence of their relationship and all the negative things he has said about me, what his family has done and all the lies he has told to get himself out of trouble.
He gave me a ring he was to give her after I found him cheating with her. And yet, I still force the relationship because I worry about my friends knowing the truth. I want him to love me the way he loves his ex! I tell lies about her and send her nasty texts when it's really him who has done the damage and caused the problems. And she has all the proof.
She can destroy his career and he could go to prison for what he did to her. Can I make this marriage work? Can he repress his true feelings and force himself to love me? Why did he do all of this in the first place? He has caused so much pain to so many people. Why? Thanks for any psychological advice or help you can give me.
First, I want you to know even though I had to cut your letter down to allow for space, I did read it all. This situation is not just his fault, AJ. Several people created this mess! Why would you put yourself in this position? Why would you want to be married to a guy who clearly doesn't love you and, in fact, is in love with someone else? Why did you think this would change once a ring was on your finger?
There's plenty of blame to go around. Yep, he’s a jerk for cheating, mean, heartless, blah, blah, blah. But, you chose to marry someone who did not love, respect or honor you. You were more concerned with keeping up appearances. You pressured this guy into marriage, knowing he loved another and now complain about it.
Then, if that wasn't bad enough, you chose to bring a child into an unhappy marriage to make it better. A child being used as a bandage between two people is selfish -- period.
Then there is his mother. No mother can pick who her son or daughter should fall in love with, and it's foolish to think otherwise. She is a controlling, manipulative woman and if she had any sense, she should have known better. If her son was any kind of man he would have stood up to her. If you would have used common sense, you would have seen a disaster waiting to happen and run away, rather than becoming a part of it.
So, instead of blaming your husband and your mother-in-law, who obviously have made egregious errors, also look at yourself, because you're a huge part of the problem, too. There is only one innocent person involved in this mess, and that is the baby you chose to drag into the middle of it all. Read CB Cheated, She Broke Up, He Is Devastated and I'm Starting To Think He's Not The Man For Me to see how others have dealt with a similar problem.
My advice: Tell your husband you are setting him free to be with his ex, and then leave. Go back home and get on your feet. You cannot keep living like this because it's detrimental to all of you. I suggest you start taking care of your daughter and quit playing these childish and ridiculous games. Forget about worrying what your friends will think -- your daughter deserves so much more than this. For once, do what's right for her.
You asked for my advice, and I sure hope you listen. Your husband's bad behavior didn't just start out of the blue; it's always been there and you've just refused to see it. The next time you enter into a relationship, make sure it's with someone who loves and appreciates you. Good luck.
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