*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
Wanting to raise a family with your partner after you get married is part of many couples' goals, but it doesn't always happen the way you thought. And if your spouse also looks somewhere else and can't seem to be able to give their love to you only, then you'll have to make some clear decisions about your home and your marriage.
Would you blame your spouse for going out with someone else or just go after the new person in their life and ask them to leave and let you be happy again?
My friend John has been married to his wife Deborah for ten years. They dated for three years in high school and were also engaged for two years in college.
Their relationship has seen many difficult moments, but they always managed to forget their differences and remember how much they love each other. And lately, Deborah has had to think hard to realize how much her husband actually cares about her.
"We have three kids together, and I always assumed that raising them and having a happy home in Dallas, Texas, would be enough for both of us. John isn't satisfied with that, though, and he keeps complaining we can't go on trips or be spontaneous like before we became parents. He loves our sons, but he still tries to behave like he's a lot younger. I don't get that; we need to be responsible to keep this family going," Deborah said.
She wasn't ok with sudden trips or just asking friends to come over in the afternoons and watch the kids for a few hours while they went on dates. Deborah wanted to know about things like that at least two days before so she could plan and choose the right person to watch over their sons.
"I work part-time, so I'm home in the morning usually, but I didn't just want to choose randomly and maybe ask someone who had no patience with kids to come to our home. I want them to be happy, too, not just my husband. And he should put them first, as I do," Deborah said.
She and John argued about it a few times, and after three months of attempting to convince her to go out more often or go on trips as a couple, he suddenly changed the way he behaved. He didn't ask her to go anywhere anymore, and he worked later, telling her he wanted to earn more and cover the bills so they could also save money.
"I was content seeing he finally focused on our family and didn't keep trying to be away from the kids. At the same time, he stopped buying me flowers or other gifts. I put it down to saving, but I felt strange. I didn't want those little gifts to go away," the mom said.
Time went by, and her husband's work hours just got longer. However, when she checked how much he earned, there wasn't any significant difference.
That's when she began questioning whether he was actually working extra at all.
"I realized his overtime might be something else entirely. And if he wasn't giving me presents, he was buying them for someone else, based on his expenses," Deborah said.
She asked her parents to watch over her sons for a few afternoons, and she drove close to her husband's office to find out if anything was going on.
"As I waited in a friend's car close to his office, I thought about our marriage and why I had to do such a thing. Had he lost my trust completely? I soon learned he had. He came out at 4 p.m. each day and drove straight to a restaurant where he met the same woman. She laughed a lot, and he kept calling her darling. He always brought her flowers, opened the door for her, and hugged her. All the things he no longer remembered to do for me," she said.
After watching them for more than seven days, she concluded her husband was having a relationship with that woman. However, she didn't think she should argue with John at all. Instead, she focused on the woman and on making her go away so they could have their family again.
"It was about her. Of course, men would agree to be with someone anytime, but she wanted it. She was the one who had to go. Why would I cause an argument and maybe even make John ask for a divorce?" Deborah said.
She followed the woman and John back to her place, too, so she knew where she lived. After talking to her parents about it, she's considering paying the woman a visit and letting her know she's interfering with a happy marriage.
She's convinced that, if she's firm enough, the woman will be gone from John's life, and everything will go on as usual.
"Do I go to her house and tell her to get out of our family? He's got no will. I don't think he will end it on his own, but I know he's not that in love if he took the trouble to hide it all from his sons and me. Our family still means something to him, and she needs to understand that and be on her way," the mom said.
What do you think about this situation? Is it ok for Deborah to try and fix things without saying anything to her husband and just going to have a talk with the woman he's been seeing? Is it fair to blame only her for what's been going on, or should she have an open talk with her husband and figure out what's been missing from their marriage and what they can do to improve their relationship?
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