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Is my husband's behaviour due to an emotional crisis?

by Mary

2 months ago my husband came home in a strange mood. After a lot of staring into space and looking pained, he told me he was in love with somebody else and wanted to end our 12 year relationship. This came as a complete shock as we always have had a very strong, loving relationship.

He had been working abroad for a number of months, and at the beginning of this year I moved over to join him. Only weeks before his revelation we had booked a trip to the US for my birthday later this year, and had been trying to get tickets to next year’s Olympics. In other words, we were making plans for the future.
The person he claims to be in love with is a co-worker, from an office in a neighbouring country. She is a 40 year old (he's 32) who has never had a long-term relationship, and is under pressure from her father to get married and have kids like her siblings.

I knew about her in so far that he had mentioned her a fair few times over the previous months, and 2 months previous to that fateful evening I had found some email correspondence between them that I was not happy with. It was very gushy, and going beyond the friendship my husband claimed he had with her. She called him ‘her special friend’ and signed off with ‘all my love’.
After confronting him about the mails he was in tears, on his knees telling me that I was the one he wanted to be with, and that he understood that he overstepped the mark in this friendship. He promised to back off from her.

I had no reason to doubt him, he had never done anything to betray my trust and we both put it down to an error of judgement. I asked him periodically about it, and he told me that he was no longer communicating with her other than on work related issues.

But less than 2 months later, he claimed that he no longer loved me, and wanted to be with her. I tried to persuade him to take some time away from it all, and he booked a week's holiday by himself to think things through. We also decided that, in order to give him the space he said he needed, I would move back to our house in our home country.

I had to give up my job, and leave our 2 cats behind but I thought it would provide him with the time and space needed to sort this out.
We agreed that we would give it until the end of the year to see how he felt and what he wanted, and for him to go and see a counselor to help him understand his feelings. He agreed to, and told his co-worker he wanted to return to a purely professional relationship with her, with no outside phone or email contact.

One week after I returned to our home country he had to go to the office where she worked for a couple of days. He had told me he would do the work via video conferencing, but instead he flew out there, and stayed on to spend the weekend with her. I was unaware of this (he told me he was going to spend the weekend on the town with his mate) and found out the following week because the airline he flew with lost his bag, and they rang our house to follow up on the complaint.

I was shocked and dumbfounded. I could not believe to level of duplicity, deceit and betrayal he was inflicting, he is normally such a straight-up, honest guy. He had told me throughout that he had no dealings with her outside of their working relationship, but it was clear he had been pulling the wool over my eyes. He never intended to stay away from her.

I rang him and told him I knew, and how hurt I felt. He said he wasn't thinking, and he had only had dinner with her and hadn't slept with her. As if that justified anything. He said he would be happy to go back and stick to the agreement we had, and back off.

A couple of weeks or so later he flew over for our annual family get-together and told me that he did not want to continue with the trial separation, he wanted to finish with me for good. We spent a long time talking, and time and time again he said he did not do it because of his feelings for her, he was doing it for himself. He said he was not going to start a (physical) relationship with her, promised me had no intention of doing so but I did not believe him.
Coincidentally, leading up to and during the weekend he spent at home and with his family, I received up to 8 hang-up calls every night from a foreign number. I told him about this but he was adamant it was not her, as he did not think she has our home number. Immediately after that weekend, the calls stopped. Personally, I find the timing highly suspicious but I have no hard evidence. The phone company told me I needed to go to the police in order to have the calls traced, but since they came from a foreign number it's out of their jurisdiction anyway so there's not much they could do.

Nevertheless, I am as sure as I can be that the calls came from her. I do find it worrying though, for what 40 year old person would engage in such immature behaviour? Is my husband involved with some unhinged nutcase? Is this why she's never had a lasting relationship?

And sure enough, a week later he flew over again to spend the weekend with her. It seems like he’s trying to justify to himself that by ending things with me, it’s now okay to get involved with her but as far as I’m concerned it is still cheating as we are married.

I am now not really in contact with my husband. After finding out that he, yet again, had lied to me and got involved with her straight away, I subsequently found out through our joint frequent flyer account he will be spending what should be our wedding anniversary with her. I am not prepared to let myself get hurt by his lies over and over again, and want no part in his life as long as he is involved with her.

It seems as though he’s living in some sort of fantasy, where his actions and consequences mean little or nothing to him. He appears to be completely void of any loyalty and empathy for me and what we built and shared over the past 12 years. And there is a startling lack of guilt over his actions and behaviour. I find what I see hard to reconcile with the person I have known and loved for so long. It is so unlike him to behave is such a reckless and callous way.
I wonder if he is going through some sort of emotional crisis, and that his affair is just an escape. He’s never been very talkative about his feelings; it’s not something they do in his family.

He did tell me he feels like he has no one to talk to, especially now that I can no longer act as his sounding board. This was one of the reasons I suggested counseling, but I do not know if he is still doing that. But without it, how will he ever untangle the mess he’s making?

Noel's response

He sounds as though he may be in some kind of midlife or emotional transition. I don't that there is anything you can do. He has to go through this and figure things out for himself.

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