Social Psychologist & Personal Advisor
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Dear Dr. Matt:
I'm 49, my name is Nancy and I'm from North Carolina. I've been married for 4 yrs, with the last two years being really rocky. I bear some of the blame because I pushed my husband away. Yet, he said he would never leave me and would always be there for me.
But he didn't keep his word. He got involved with another woman. he's done nothing but lie to me all along. Now, he 's left the USA for his home country in South America, with this woman.
He called me the day he left to tell me that he did not mean to hurt me, and to tell me he had been seeing this woman all along. My husband is 42 and the woman he left me for is 57 years old. I have been having a very hard time getting over this. My question is I don't know what to do. I'm totally stressed out and cannot reach him. I do not know where he is.
Please help me,
It's always hard to end a relationship, even when that relationship is less-than ideal.
You describe the last couple of years of your marriage to this man as "rocky." Also, you say "he was involved with another woman for a while now, he did nothing but lie to me all along." The curious thing is this: Why would you, or anyone else in this same situation, want to remain married to a person who cheats and lies?
As I mentioned in my previous email: This is called "the unwanted comfort zone." This phenomenon explains why so many battered women stay in abusive relationships (it's what they are used to); and it also explains why a woman who was harshly treated by her father as a child, will amazingly seek out a man who will give her the same abuse to which she is accustomed—the "I-married-my-father" syndrome.
I remember counseling with one particular married couple, where the wife described her husband as manipulative and controlling; she simply wanted out of the relationship. On the other hand, the husband was clinging to his wife with every ploy he could conjure up: "I'm going to get custody of the kids and you'll have to pay child support; or, "I'll get custody and move out of State and you won't be able to see the kids."
He couldn't keep his wife on the basis of kindness, generosity, and love—because that was definitely NOT who he was. Instead, he had to threaten her and manipulate her to stay. He did this for 23 years. And this wife stayed, because "water seeks it own level" . . . he was a manipulator AND she was manipulate-able—two peas in a pod.
She told me it was a bad relationship right from the start! He changed into a different man as soon as the "I do's" were done! She recounted to me how she would serve him breakfast in bed every morning for over two decades—even throughout her pregnancies and amazingly days after delivering her children. This husband didn't want to give up his "slave."
When he would come to counseling sessions, he would tell me how terrible she was. And with each criticism, I replied, "Who would want to live with a woman like that? That's a good reason to get divorced!" He had a very long list of criticisms of his wife, and as he would continue to raise his complaints, I would respond again, "Who'd want to live with a woman like that? That's a good reason to get divorced!"
She had such a hard time breaking free from his control, because she was an control-able, abuse-able woman. She finally got the bright idea to cheat on him, so he would "reject" her for cheating on him—that didn't work either. Her cheating served to balanced out all the emotional cheating he had done with thousands of "other women" from stacks of pornography.
So, Nancy, here you are wanting to "reach" this man that cheated on you; frantically wanting to "know" where he is. I know its hard. I've been there. But let me splash some cold water in your face: Reality Check! Please remember that that this is the man who lied to you and cheated on you, and has left you for another woman, and that the last two years were rocky!
This is what I recommend for you:
When you become a better woman than you are now; when you become who you can be and ought to be, then you will be the kind of woman who will deserve, and attract, a man with the same kind of character; you will attract the kind of man who will never even consider cheating; the kind of man who will be faithful; the kind of man with whom you will enjoy mostly happy times—not rocky.
Here is a description of how great relationships come together:
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I encourage you to let go of this man and this relationship. He has clearly shown his lack of character. Why would you want a man like this, unless you deserve to be with a man of his caliber? If you are willing to settle for this kind of man, of course, this reflects upon who you are and your current level of character—it makes a statement as to what you "deserve," presently.
The saying goes "water seeks its own level," and "birds of a feather, flock together." I want you to be the best you can be! I encourage you to move to a higher "level" of living. Your best life awaits, as you become a better "bird" than you are now.
Now, you could easily take offense at my words. You might think, "here I am devastated and hurting, and I being told "I'm not good enough, and I need to become better!" This email will likely be the extent of our contact, so, I've got to make a BIG impression upon you in a hurry! I don't do you a favor by sugarcoating your situation. By coming to the point and telling you what you really need to hear, I will serve you and your best future.
Truth is, we can all become better than we currently are; every individual has the possibility and opportunity of moving to the next higher level of emotional and spiritual growth. I am encouraging you to do exactly what I recommend for myself: We are all works in progress. What I recommend to you, I also recommend for myself. Here's another quote from my book that will give you a good guide for moving forward:
Mastering a challenging situation is ultimately a matter of mastering yourself! You must not expect that things will get better simply because tough times decrease via avoidance. Life is to be lived with gusto! Challenges are to be met head on, . . . for it is directly "in" our challenges that we find our ultimate destiny. In the ever-appearing adversities of life, we can increase in strength of character; a character that at mortal death is the only possession of which it can be said: "you took it with you." What you will take into the eternal world is . . . what you become!
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Nancy, mastering this tough situation really IS a matter of mastering yourself, and since your greatest prize for Life's labors is Who You Become, you will be greatly benefited by reading my book, "Changing Your Stripes." You have the possibility and opportunity to take on tough task: The challenge of becoming better—and thus, deserving better!
All the best,
Matt Moody, Ph.D.
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