Dear Ms. Vicki,
For the first seven years of our marriage, my husband was unloving and not very attentive to me.
The more I put myself last, the more he put himself and his career first. He knew he was mistreating me, but he didn't care.
He wouldn't even do the simple nice things he could have done, like take out the trash, put gas in my car or other things to show that he was taking care of me. When I got my hair, nails and feet done, he wouldn't compliment me, even when he knew I was trying to set the mood for a romantic evening.
Finally, when we moved to Fort Lewis, I decided I needed a change. I started going to college again. I was determined to finish my degree in less than 18 months -- and I did!
Along with that, I made a lot of friends at school. I have a great job now and wonderful friends and an active social life. I'm also dating a great man who is very attentive and affectionate toward me.
I was honest with my husband and told him everything. I'm just not in love with him anymore.
You have to understand: The more friends I made and the more I accomplished, the more my husband tried to be in my life. He started complimenting me more, and he even wanted to spend time with me instead of staying and work late.
I'm like, "I thought you said you had all of these important assignments to do at work. What happened?" Now he sulks around all of the time because he wants his nose up my butt, and I just want out.
I asked him for a divorce, but he says he doesn't want one. He wanted to go to counseling, so I went with him. We spent six months in counseling for nothing. I wasted that therapist's time because I still want a divorce.
Am I wrong for wanting out at this point?
-- Looking for My Next Step
Dear Next Step,
As I was reading your letter, I knew how it would end. I see this all too often.
A woman or man gets their confidence up, they achieve some things for themselves, make a few friends and start getting compliments from other people. The compliments progress to long conversations, the conversations to hugs, the hugs to kisses and the kisses to a sexual relationship with another person.
The new person validates them and makes them feel like a vibrant woman or man. The marriage is over because the person has discovered the grass is greener on the other side.
Now in your defense, I can see how this happened. Your husband wasn't taking care of business at home. For many years, according to your letter, he was very inattentive and you were very lonely for his affection. Now you're getting it from another man.
I always recommend therapy, which you have done. You were honest enough to admit that it was a waste of time. I can appreciate you for saying it was you and not the therapist. Many people would say "therapy didn't work" when they know they were never committed to the process.
With this in mind, I would say your marriage is over. Fixing a marriage takes two people who are committed to making the marriage work. You're saying you don't want it anymore.
Your husband is likely saying he's sorry and asking for another chance. I've seen a lot of marriages in trouble and in crisis. I have seen marriages survive terrible ugliness and emerge stronger than ever. There are many warning signs that tell me when a marriage is over there, but one is paramount: It's the forgiveness factor.
When you can no longer forgive, the marriage is over. It sounds like you are saying that you are not willing to forgive your husband and you are no longer in love with him. In this case, there's nothing for me to say. I've said it all.
I would advise you and your husband to get legal help in guiding you through the next steps toward a legal separation and divorce. I hope you and your husband will be y in the end. Keep in touch.
-- Ms. Vicki