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Old 09-15-2008, 04:57 PM   #1
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I left my Husband, the guilt is killing me, help

I left my husband after 25 years. The reasons are many, we've had some trouble for the last 10. I reconnected with an old male best friend and unfortunately, had an affair. The affair is still ongoing and he wants to marry me, says I've always been the love of his life. He's never married.

I thought that this is what I wanted. Now I am so racked with guilt over completely destroying my husband. He lost his job and cannot make the house payment. I am paying all the bills for both the house and my apartment. He is so crushed he cannot get out of bed.

I've heard that I can't be responsible for someone else's happiness but I cannot help but feel like complete trash over this. If I had just stayed and sacrificed my own happiness none of this would be happening. I am teetering on going back to him. He says he will do anything to have me back. But I am completely in love with my new guy. I know it's not infatuation because we have loved each other for many, many years, we just hadn't done anything about it. When we finally did, it felt like I had finally come home.

But I cannot deal with the guilt. My husband and I are in contact daily. I left my pets there and I also miss them desperately. I am alone in this apartment because my new guy lives in another state. I wanted to be on my own for awhile and be separated from my husband without the new guy clouding my real feelings for leaving.

I am completely lost and its just growing day by day. Can anyone offer any desperately needed advice?

 
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Old 09-15-2008, 06:34 PM   #2
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Re: I left my Husband, the guilt is killing me, help

Do you know what most men tell their wives when the situation is reversed? "GET OVER IT!!!" Most women, myself included, have bee left by a man we deeply, sincerely loved but who didn't love us back, and no matter who shattered we are, they don't even look back. Men are so much better at taking care of themselves and doing what makes them happy than women are. I don't know why that is, but it seems to be the truth. when my ex boyfriend left me, I was completely destroyed. I stayed in bed and did nothing but cry for months and months. I had to run to the bathroom a few times during every workday to cry my eyes out. I gained weight. I was miserable. I was heartbroken. Did he care? no. He was happy. I would have at least appreciated an apology for the lies he told me and how he used me, but actually, looking back, I'm not sorry he didn't come back to me. I would have sold my soul to the devil for him to come back to me, but now I can see what a mistake that would have been. And that's not a healthy kind of love, anyway. Now he's with someone who makes him happier than I ever could have. And as much as I am still angry that he was never sorry for how he lied to me, for HOW he left me and for how badly he hurt me, I still love him, and therefor am not mad at him for doing what he needed to do to find happiness. I could not honestly say I ever really loved him if I would begrudge him his happiness. I think the same is true for your husband. If your husband wants you back more than he wants to see you HAPPY, then he doesn't really love you.

So, you think you're supposed to spend your whole entire life either miserably stuck in a loveless, unhappy marriage, or miserably racked with guilt because you had the audacity to live your own life to please yourself and go out and find some happiness. And why?? Did your ex cure cancer, create peace in the middle east or something? Why does he deserve to have you martyr your own happiness, your life at his feet like you were some kind of sacrificial lamb? Why do YOU deserve to be offered up on that alter? I think you need to start by figuring out why you don't think you deserve to be with a man who is healthy, stable, and who you truly love and who is truly able to love you back. Why your self esteem is so low. and it's not because of the guilt trip he is currently laying on you. It wouldn't be working as well as it is if you didn't start with such low self esteem in the first place. No one can make you feel guilty about anything but you. You are the one choosing to feel guilty and you are playing right into your ex husband's, rewarding him for wallowing in self pity. Hey, if he can't manipulate you into actually coming back to him, not out of love and passion but out of guilt, then he can at least destroy any happiness you might find without him. I don't know why you left him as you do not go into detail, but I'm guessing it was NOT so you could spend the rest of your life surrendering all your power to him, which is what you're still doing. Francine Hughes felt guilty for leaving her husband, too. His family poured it on, saying what a horrible woman she was for leaving Mickey. when he had a car accident, they guilted her into coming back and nursing him. He beat and abused her to such a degree that one night after a particularly horrendous night of abuse, she snapped and the only thing she could think of to save her life and the lives of her kids was to set Mickey's bed on fire, while he slept in it. A very very extreme example, yes, but much lesser examples of this is what happens when we surrender our power to people who just want to manipulate us. Chaining ourselves in a prison of our own making, whining and pleading for someone to become something they aren't, instead of just saying, "sorry, I care for you, but this isn't working for me" with honestly and respect and setting ourselves, and them, even if it takes a while for them to see it, free. Think of the most famous celebrity power couple you can think of. Whenever you see pictures of their ridiculously beautiful faces on magazines, do either of them look at all guilty as they carry all their glorious children through the paparrazzi because of the "friend" left behind? No. They are perfect for each other, and they are happy, as everyone in the world has the right to try to be.

I think you should sit down and make a list. Think long and hard about it, and put a lot of care and thought into it. Make a completely thorough list of all the reasons why you left your husband, don't leave anything at all out, no matter how trivial it may seem. Go back and remember every conversation, every dinner, every whatever. Go over it a few times, take your time and make sure it's complete. Then when you're done, make another list of all the reasons you would have for going back to him that have NOTHING to do with making HIM feel better, that have NOTHING to do with your guilt, only your love and passion for him, only based on the positives of your feelings for hiim and the life you had together. Then compare the lists, then be honest with yourself and really ask yourself if you deserve to rack YOURSELF with guilt. Only you can really know the answer, so only you can say. No one else has the right to tell you if you're being selfish, or wrong. Only you know what will make you happy, and only YOU will be unhappy if you don't get it.

Oh, and p.s., good thinking going it alone for a while, until you get your head straight on your own, but you need to clear out ALL the emotional junk that is working on your emotions either way. Go get your pets. If you are in an apartment that doesn't accept pets, find one that does and move asap. that will be one less thing for you to feel guilty about, plus having their company and staying busy with the business of loving them and caring for them again will make you feel more like yourself.

Last edited by Larrylou'smom; 09-15-2008 at 07:05 PM.

 
Old 09-15-2008, 06:49 PM   #3
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Re: I left my Husband, the guilt is killing me, help

In your second sentence you say the reasons are many. There must have been something(s) very wrong with your marriage which allowed you to fall in love with someone else. You left him for those reasons and assuming they weren't things that could be changed, don't feel guilty for leaving.

 
Old 09-15-2008, 07:28 PM   #4
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Re: I left my Husband, the guilt is killing me, help

Just remember, your husband had 25 years to change, I doubt that he'll really change now...right? Don't let him continue to ruin your life. You say you've found love...don't let him take that away from you too!

 
Old 09-15-2008, 07:54 PM   #5
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Re: I left my Husband, the guilt is killing me, help

It would of been better if you had separated and were on your own before you had your affair but what is done is done. Now you need to take some time to yourself to at least put this marriage to rest and behind you. Get the divorce before you continue on with this new old flame. First thing you do is seek legal advise and stop paying for two places. File for a legal separation to start with so you aren't responsible for whatever debts your husband racks up. You are not responsible for him anymore. Get your stuff and animals from your old place and live in your own apt by yourself and finish whatever it takes to get yourself on your own and independent. If you can't stop feeling guilty then get a therapist to help you deal with those feelings. And stop calling him you aren't his therapist. Just focus on your own life.

 
Old 09-16-2008, 02:43 AM   #6
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Re: I left my Husband, the guilt is killing me, help

Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnD View Post
It would of been better if you had separated and were on your own before you had your affair but what is done is done. Now you need to take some time to yourself to at least put this marriage to rest and behind you. Get the divorce before you continue on with this new old flame. First thing you do is seek legal advise and stop paying for two places. File for a legal separation to start with so you aren't responsible for whatever debts your husband racks up. You are not responsible for him anymore. Get your stuff and animals from your old place and live in your own apt by yourself and finish whatever it takes to get yourself on your own and independent. If you can't stop feeling guilty then get a therapist to help you deal with those feelings. And stop calling him you aren't his therapist. Just focus on your own life.
Maybe the poster was right who said most men are very selfish towards their wives when they (the men) leave, but I also think it's good to keep in mind that each case is unique.

Yes, I agree that this (AnnD's post, above, in bold) would have been better, but very seldom, as far as I know, things happen that way. Anyway, hers seems to be very good advice.

You don't go into details about the intricacies of your 25-year-old marriage; therefore, it is hard to say how much of your guilt is warranted. In most cases like this, however, it is "natural" for people to feel guilty. They ask themselves: "Maybe I could have tried harder to save this marriage?" Possibly, you feel guilty also for having had the affair. Or having married a man without loving him. So, maybe your guilt is genuine, what do I know? Don't feel too gulty for feeling guilty. But don't let guilt and then pity lead you back to your husband. We don't know if he is now simply playing the victim, but apparently he is being rather immature.

I think you should acknowledge your mistakes. If adequate, you can even go as far as formally apologizing to your husband, although I think both parties need to apologize in the long run, but then after giving to "Caesar what is Caesar's", please move away from him, because he is not your child.

 
Old 09-16-2008, 05:56 AM   #7
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Re: I left my Husband, the guilt is killing me, help

Thank you everyone for the heartfelt advice.

My marriage has had many things wrong with it as far as I'm concerned. Bottom line is I felt like I had nothing more than a roommate who I also cooked for, washed his clothes, cleaned his house, everything. We had not been intimate for the last 8 years. He and I both worked fulltime, he would come home and take a two hour nap, have his dinner served to him, then he would watch TV for a while then head out to the garage to fiddle with his hobbies til midnight, while I cleaned the kitchen and went to bed at 9pm. The resentment I felt just built up and built up until I was so angry. I tried to iniate sex but he said he had "no drive" anymore.

And you know what? I wouldn't have wanted me to leave either. He had it maid, pun intended. I made all his doctor appointments, paid all the bills, everything but mow the grass. But now as I sit in my apartment, alone, the guilt is still killing me. He calls and wants to know how often to feed my cats. I'm like, oh my God! This man is completely helpless! And are my pets suffering because of this? I did take two of my cats with me but there are four more of my babies left at the house. I have been going over to check on them as much as possible but with him there all the time the most I can stay is an hour.

He wants to try marriage counseling. I know it's over but he just doesn't get it. Could a marriage counselor explain to him what I can't? They say marriage counselors will tell you if the marriage should or shouldn't go on. Maybe that will get him to see what I can't get him to see.

I just don't want him to lose his home. It's not fair to him. We can't sell it during this housing nightmare. He desperately needs to get a job. I feel so stuck.

 
Old 09-16-2008, 06:15 AM   #8
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Re: I left my Husband, the guilt is killing me, help

I see and I feel for you. This is not an easy situation. But excuse me, did you somehow cause him to lose his job? Why did he lose it after all? And why is it so difficult for him to get another? Do you think that when he is employed again you will be able to let him go?

 
Old 09-16-2008, 06:18 AM   #9
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Re: I left my Husband, the guilt is killing me, help

You last post sounds identical to my 7 year marriage. My ex-husband made no attempts to be responsible for his own life. He didn't even drive up until the last couple of months of our marriage (he is from London and never had to drive but it didn't make up for the four years in the US that I drove him to and from work and everywhere he needed to go).

I kept finding myself making excuses for him -- to myself, to everybody whose jaw would drop when they heard all the things I did for him. We were in a house together that needed repairs and he did so very little and only after me nagging him. This is a 50 year old man who plays video games on every spare minute he is not at work. I was so stressed doing all the cleaning, driving, shopping, yard work, laundry, etc. I don't know why I allowed it to go on. It was physically and emotionally draining -- it was no more than a roommate situation (and he always valued his comfort above mine -- for example even with heating and air conditioning). It was a roommate situation where he had it "maid" as you say.

I say all this because I, too, felt guilty. He made me feel awful about my decision. He kept telling me how I ruined his life and how I was responsible since I "took everything" away from him. Even to this day, and I'm not even 6-months out from my final divorce (we were separated for 3 years prior but living in the same house where I continued to do everything for him) I feel guilty. He gave so little -- I gave so much. But why do we women feel guilty? Is this the whole co-dependency thing? Is his refusal to own up to everything more emotional blackmail?

I really like Larrylou'smom's question, "So, you think you're supposed to spend your whole entire life either miserably stuck in a loveless, unhappy marriage, or miserably racked with guilt because you had the audacity to live your own life to please yourself and go out and find some happiness."

Why don't you feel like you deserve guilt-free happiness?

 
Old 09-16-2008, 06:18 AM   #10
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Re: I left my Husband, the guilt is killing me, help

I think he needs to seek counselling WITHOUT you. He needs to learn how to take care of himself. Of course he didn't want you to leave! What man in his right mind would willing give up what you gave him?

You gave far too much of yourself to get nothing in return. The saddest thing is that you stuck it out as long as you did. You deserve to put you first. If the guilt is really eating at you then I suggest you seek some counselling to deal with it WITHOUT him as well.

He's a grown man. If he can't figure out how to feed the cats, make his own meals, clean his own clothes, etc., then that's his problem. You sacrificed enough of your life and happiness. Take this time for you, even if that means cutting all ties and letting a lawyer be your voice with him. That may be the only way to separate yourself from him.

 
Old 09-16-2008, 06:59 AM   #11
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Re: I left my Husband, the guilt is killing me, help

I don't know why I don't think I deserve guilt-free happiness. Maybe because I've always put others first, me last. Make sure everyone else is happy, warm, fed, and taken care of. It was enough for a long time because I didn't know any better. Then I met my friend again and for the first time in my life he put ME first. I had a foot rub and a back rub for the first time in my life. But what is so ridiculous is I even felt guilty for receiving pleasure. Not because I was betraying my husband, but because I didn't think I deserved it. It felt funny to be the center of someone else's attention. Still does.

I think I'm going to try the counseling route and see what can be done to help HIM. I know he's severely depressed. So am I for that matter. I just know I can't go on like this.

 
Old 09-16-2008, 09:03 AM   #12
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Re: I left my Husband, the guilt is killing me, help

I don't know if I have much advice for you. But I wanted to say that I understand what that guilt feels like. It will make you go back to someone you don't truly love. The guilt hurts so darn bad it can ruin everything good trying to happen to us.

But I also wanted to say the guilt ends. It goes away. I can't say when, but it does. And when it does you'll know you weren't making a mistake.

I don't think you'll go back your husband, but if you were to all you'd be doing is going round and round with the same problems. He won't change and you'll still hold that resentment that will eat at you until you can no longer take it once again. I promise that.

But he will eventually start to take care of himself again. If he can't find a job than that is NOT your fault. If he loses his house that is NOT your fault. We as humans have to take care of ourselves, and if we can't or don't then it's our own fault, no one elses. Your husband may have been taken care of by you for years but he'll get used to taking care of himself. He'll have to. Good luck with everything, we all deserve happiness.

 
Old 09-16-2008, 09:14 AM   #13
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Re: I left my Husband, the guilt is killing me, help

Have you considered that alongside your guilt is normal honest grief for the death of your marriage? Even a failed marriage is terribly sad to end, and you (and your husband) will grieve for it. You will pull through this, and so will he. You have done a lot to try to comfort him, but basically, short of going back to him, which is a terrible idea doomed to fail and prolong the agony, you cannot do much more. Be kind, but make it clear that it is over. Taper off the contact and start to build your new life. Good luck, Sera.

 
Old 09-16-2008, 10:33 AM   #14
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Re: I left my Husband, the guilt is killing me, help

I think counseling is a very very good idea for you. You have serious issues to work out if you think you don't even deserve a foot rub or to be at the top of the list at least sometimes. And work on it right away, before you chase away the best thing that ever happened to you. I hope you do realize just how incredibly lucky you are. Many people never get even one real chance at love in this life, and you have been blessed with a second one, and make no mistake about it, it is a true, real blessing. And actually, it is a form of self indulgence, a refusal to open yourself up to the blessing the Lord has laid at your feet for the sake of what's familiar and safe, because you're afraid to step up and accept it, and that would be a real real shame. Don't blow this blessing by convincing yourself you don't deserve it for the sake of indulging in feelings of guilt so that you can stay put and stay in the familiar and in your comfort zone and not have to change or grow yourself. If you succeed in convincing yourself you don't deserve it, it won't be long before you succeed in convincing your new love, too. No matter how much he loves you, and you are blessed and incredibly lucky to have that, but no one, even the most loyal and pure of heart, can forever love someone who doesn't want that love and isn't emotionally available to return it. As long as you insist on hanging onto this guilt, you are insisting on remaining emotionally tied to your husband, and you can never completely belong to or be there for your new guy. And I promise you, if you lose this amazing second chance at love, then you'll have crippling regret. And if you think guilt is hard to live with, just wait till you really know that kind of regret.

Last edited by Larrylou'smom; 09-16-2008 at 10:46 AM.

 
Old 09-16-2008, 11:00 AM   #15
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Re: I left my Husband, the guilt is killing me, help

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ms_ENV27 View Post
I don't know if I have much advice for you. But I wanted to say that I understand what that guilt feels like. It will make you go back to someone you don't truly love. The guilt hurts so darn bad it can ruin everything good trying to happen to us.

But I also wanted to say the guilt ends. It goes away. I can't say when, but it does. And when it does you'll know you weren't making a mistake.

I don't think you'll go back your husband, but if you were to all you'd be doing is going round and round with the same problems. He won't change and you'll still hold that resentment that will eat at you until you can no longer take it once again. I promise that.

But he will eventually start to take care of himself again. If he can't find a job than that is NOT your fault. If he loses his house that is NOT your fault. We as humans have to take care of ourselves, and if we can't or don't then it's our own fault, no one elses. Your husband may have been taken care of by you for years but he'll get used to taking care of himself. He'll have to. Good luck with everything, we all deserve happiness.
I think this one post makes a lot of sense.

I also think that it's virtually impossible to live your life entirely free from guilt.

By the way, it is perhaps this sentiment of guilt that has turned many young people into Communists (guilt of other people's poverty) and a few others into Vegetarians (guilt of how farm animals are mistreated).

Many people may claim they can live without guilt, but to me they are basically denying their human nature. Anyway, no extreme is healthy enough. You should not be entirely selfish (self-concerned) nor entirely tortured by guilt. In fact, life is made up of moments when you tend to be more selfish (pleasure) and of moments when you tend to feel guilty (pain). Most of us are moving between those poles most of the time. So, to a certain extent, feeling guilt is understandable enough, but since it is a feeling, it will soon go away.

You don't let guilt or pleasure for that matter ruin your life. As for guilt, you do what you can do to minimize it, the feasible things, and then you let go. As for pleasure, accept it as a gift and enjoy it, because it may not last long enough this time - until it comes again.

Yes, there's a difference between feling guilty and acting on your feelings of guilt. You can feel guilt or sorry for your husband's, but you don't have to sacrifice your own life for his own happiness. As an adult, he is the main responsible for his own life.

 
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