Can our marriage survive his midlife crisis?

"My husband and I have been married 20 years and have two great kids. But now he thinks he has met someone. He sees her every weekend and comes home early in the morning telling me they are just "friends." Yet, when he comes to bed every night he is madly passionate and sexual with me. One day he says he wants out of our marriage, that he may never have loved me; the next he tells me he loves me and will stay. I am scared and lonely. At times I feel like I should just throw him out, but then I think about his 18 years as a great husband and father. I am going to start counseling soon, but should I stand by him in the meantime?" --iVillager gshir


Brenda Shoshanna

Dr. Shoshanna is a psychologist, therapist and certified divorce and family mediator. She has written five books, including Zen and the... Read more

Dear gshir:

You are describing a truly painful and terrible situation, and your husband sounds like a very disturbed individual. I'm wondering why you can't see this. He obviously enjoys having a relationship with this other woman and you at the same time. Perhaps he even enjoys degrading you with his attention to another woman.

Next: Restoring Self-esteem

This situation seems to have gone from bad to worse, and you can't fix the marriage or make it healthy for you by yourself. Your husband has to want to work on your relationship, and unfortunately it sounds as if all he is interested in is acting out destructively -- and hurting you. Let him know you are going for help and suggest that he do so as well. Remember, though, you cannot force him. Each partner in a relationship must want to make things different for themselves.

But there is hope for you in finding happiness as an individual. I am very glad you are seeking counseling because it seems as if you need support in building up your own sense of self-worth and confidence and realizing that you deserve love and respect, not this humiliating kind of treatment. Right now focus on making friends with yourself. Also, find positive friendships, and begin involving yourself in activities that are meaningful and enjoyable for you. Build a life of your own. You can still love and be with your children, but ask yourself: What kind of a marriage is this, really?

For more information on keeping your relationship healthy, read Dr. Shoshanna's recent articles here:
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