Am I Enabling My Husband or Healing My Marriage?
A hurting wife asks marriage expert Joe Beam if by allowing her husband to live a double life she is enabling her husband or healing her marriage.
The following question was submitted to Dr. Joe Beam by a wife who wants to know if she is enabling her husband or healing her marriage. Joe Beam is a marriage expert, author, and founder of marriagehelper.com.
Question: I desperately want my marriage to work, but my husband is living a double life…..leaving to be with “her” during the week and coming home on weekends to see the kids and me. This last weekend was wonderful; we didn’t argue, we worked together on house projects; we even held hands at one point. He stayed longer than he normally does on weekend visits, and he told me he loved me before he left again for the week. My heart was breaking and I wanted to tell him how much I was hurting and wanted him back, but I didn’t want to ruin the good mood. â€¨He left once again to live the week on his own and most likely with her. My dilemma: Am I hurting or helping our chances of reconciliation by allowing him to come home on weekends with no expectations or demands and then return to her during the week? Am I enabling him or keeping hope for our marriage alive?
Answer: A person like your husband is living “in the valley” when he or she has okay relationships with a new lifestyle/person as well as with the spouse that is being abandoned. This double life has pros and cons. In your situation, the pro is that he’s spending time with you, and it appears to be working well. As long as you can tolerate this, it may well be to your advantage. It can with time bring him home. The con is that he is still with the other woman, and that relationship may be going well also. If so, he won’t feel any need to change anything.
I suggest allowing him to stay “in the valley” only under two circumstances: 1). You can handle the emotions.â€¨ 2). Progress is being made in your relationship (even if only slowly).
I suggest not allowing him to stay “in the valley” if 1). You can’t handle the emotionsâ€¨. 2). It appears that he is growing closer to her (which might be hard to assess)â€¨. 3). He begins to self-destruct through drinking or any other bad habit/actionâ€¨. 4). A lot of time passes with no change. You have to decide how much time is enough. â€¨If and when you choose to end the valley, you must then start setting boundaries or criteria and absolutely bring about consequences if not followed.
Thank you so much for sharing your perspective, Vanessa.
As the adult child of parents who had this arrangement let me say staying together is not the answer. Took me decades and three failed marriages to figure out what a true marriage is.
You are not doing your children any favors staying in this kind of marriage.
If you think the children don’t know what’s going on even at a young age you are wrong.