Direct Answers – Stranger in a Strange Land

Stranger in a Strange Land

Our marriage, I thought, was a great one. So did everyone else. Then after 15 years my husband suddenly announced he wanted a divorce. Now, he says, everyone “bought into the big lie.” But I know he loved me, and I believe he still does.

When we separated he was 36. Two weeks later I found out he was involved with a woman he met online. He swears it wasn’t physical until he moved out, but he’d been talking to her for a while. He claims not to know me anymore, and I am the source of his problems.

I have OCD and was a trial to live with, but he knows how hard I struggled with it. Now he says it was an act, and I wasn’t really trying. He was always the best husband any woman could have—understanding, thoughtful and supportive.

He never dated anyone before we met, thus he had never “been” with anyone else before. A few months before he left, he started saying things about getting old. He started working out. We both got contacts, and he seemed to be bothered that his hair was falling out.

The divorce went through six months ago, and he is still seeing the other woman. She is older than either of us. We weren’t able to have children, and she has two teenagers. I thought maybe that was part of it, but I don’t know. He acts so different.

During our separation he said the most hurtful things, like he was trying to push me away. He moved in with his folks and bought new clothes. I truly love him, and I know he isn’t as happy as he acts. I lived with him long enough, I can tell in his eyes when I see him.

Does this sound like a midlife crisis?

~ Gretchen

Gretchen, science fiction drops us into new worlds. In old science fiction stories, one character might explain things to the reader by saying something like, “As you know, Tom, here on planet Merganser computers select husbands for the women and only women can hold elected office.”

These days science fiction writers are more sophisticated. They drop us in the middle of the new world, then let us figure out how things work as the story unfolds.

That’s what’s happened to you. You were dropped into a new world, and you don’t yet understand the rules.

You’d like to believe your husband left because he had a midlife crisis or sought a woman with children. You’d like to believe you can read unhappiness in his eyes, though you couldn’t read it in his eyes while he made plans to leave.

You write as if you can get him back. If it’s a midlife crisis, then the two of you simply need to get past it. But your divorce was final six months ago. He came to terms with what he wanted, and that’s a new life with someone else.

We are not going to comment on your OCD except to make one observation. Though you struggled with it, so did he. He didn’t have OCD, but he suffered under the effects of a condition he didn’t have, like having a cast on a leg that wasn’t broken.

Perhaps he faked being okay with it. Perhaps he felt everyone’s got their troubles. Perhaps he feels he never truly loved you. Or perhaps he just wanted out.

Like the reader of a science fiction novel, you were dropped into an unfamiliar world. There is no author here to explain the rules to you. If you can’t figure them out on your own, enlist the aid of those who help you manage your illness.

The only choice you have is to adapt to this new reality, no matter how hard it is.

~ Wayne & Tamara

Direct Answers from Wayne and Tamara  – Column for the week of August 28, 2017

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