"MY HUSBAND HAS MET AN OLD FLAME ON THE INTERNET"

WHAT DO THE PUBLIC THINK?

"First of all, I can truly understand how upset and confused you must be because, to a certain extent, I have been there before you, so I speak from personal experience. My journey began some 3 years ago, somewhere along the way someone said to me that there was no better way of predicting the future, than examining the past. So I would ask the question, was your husband married before? How did he leave the relationship(s)? How does he treat his children? What about his own brothers and sisters? His parents? You can expect to receive the same treatment that they received. I now recognise that my husband walks away from situations he finds undesirable, although he fulfils his financial engagements. He behaved like this towards his parents and his sisters and he is now behaving in exactly the same way towards me. I hope this helps." From C.
Therapist A is a counsellor with a psychodynamic approach with experience of working with adults and young people.

I can understand how difficult, painful, and possibly humiliating you are finding your husbandsí Internet relationship with a past love. I think from what you say he doesnít himself understand what is going on for him either but is overwhelmed by his feelings.

You say that you have been married for 14 years but in France for only three of those. You donít say much about the life you left behind. Was coming to live in France a bit of a fantasy for you both? It sounds as if you have the possibility of a life-style that many people would dream of; friends, a nice house and the chance to explore Europe in your motor home. But could your husband be feeling home sick? Maybe he misses his roots, his friends, ex-colleagues and family in the UK. It could be that he is suffering from depression. I think it is important for you to continue to try and draw your husband out and for you to try to understand what may not seem entirely rational feelings on his part.

I wonder when you started to drift apart. You say that you attack him verbally. I wonder how recent this is and what it is about? Could it be that you have been more content with your life here in France than he has been? Has he given you any idea what it is that frightens him about the future with you?

Be more than patient. There is much you need to try to ask your husband about. Listen to what he has to say and think about his answers. Donít leap in and try to counter what he says or make things better. Maybe if you can keep a sensitive dialogue alive, hold back on your anger but tell him how you feel, you can work through this situation together. If you can show understanding as well as your hurt, he may come to appreciate the real day-to-day love that has been and is between you, which involves understanding each other, tolerance and compromise, and be able to let go of the romantic fantasy love that he is full of at present.

You are suggesting that you are intending to develop your own separate life and this sounds like a good idea. Donít cut him out but show him that you can stand up for yourself, that you would like to be together, but that you can survive apart.

I wonder too whether it might be good to find some counselling help, either separately or together. You might be able to find a counsellor on this website or on the overseas section on the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy website, http://www.bacp.co.uk/

Therapist B is a Relate-trained counsellor with experience of working with relationship issues and is an experienced couples counsellor

"doesn't know what he wants. He says he need time and space...." I've highlighted those words as that is what is coming through to me from your email,& I imagine that this change in your husband's attitude towards you must be very distressing & frustrating indeed, in particular if he doesn't know what he wants. It seems clear that you would like to stay in your marriage, & are willing to wait a while for him to make some kind of decision. I can also see that you must feel the need to carry on with some kind of 'normality' despite this terrible heartache, as it least it is a way of trying to continue some kind of social life while you both struggle with this unexpected change to your lives.

However, it might be that your husband is feeling very confused, has torn loyalties,& probably doesn't want to talk honestly for fear of hurting your feelings. It could be useful to talk through what is happening to your marriage with a relationship counsellor, but I know that they aren't so easy to find in France-it might be worth looking to see if there is anyone nearby on the map on www.counsellinginfrance.com.

It is often difficult for couples to talk about intimate feelings when problems arise, but a neutral couples counsellor might enable you to discover what the thought process was behind your husband finding an old girlfriend on the internet. Was he disappointed in any way with your comfortable life in France, for example-sometimes getting older can make people get restless, search for lost dreams, & relive some old romantic associations which of course is relatively easy through various sites available these days. I can see that you must be feeling bewildered at the thought of a 45 year old romance being re-ignited & I wonder, like you, what the reality might be if they meet up face to face-but the important thing for you is to find out what has happened to your previously good relationship, & it would be helpful if your husband could try to tell you without feeling criticised or blamed in the process.

I know that you are feeling very hurt & bewildered, but I wonder if you could choose a quiet moment when you are feeling calm & ask if he could try to explain how he is feeling for say just 10 minutes-without being interrupted by you in any way. Putting a time boundary in a reasonable, friendly tone of voice might help him to start to open up a bit? This is the kind of action a counsellor might ask you both to do in a neutral, non-judgemental atmosphere, & it often helps someone to open up more if they feel that it is a genuine desire to understand rather than getting angry & upset etc-however understandable that reaction might be in your current circumstances.

I'm only suggesting that as a start as it looks like you have both reached a complete block in communication, & it might just help you to start talking to each other again. It often helps to have someone, who is outside your social circle, listen to your concerns & worries. If you don't have any outlet with close friends or family, then your thoughts can just whirl around your head without getting anywhere. I hope it has helped to share your problem now, & that you can find a way of giving your husband the time & space he has asked for without feeling so isolated & lonely yourself-bon courage.

Therapist C is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist with experience of working with relationship and many other issues.

I am wondering if there were problems in your relationship before this. You state that you were almost always together. What has happened means that your husband now has a part of his life that he is not sharing with you. He says he needs time and space and it makes me wonder if he felt somewhat claustrophobic in the relationship. You also state that it is now that you are going to move on with your life but what were you doing before? Were you relying totally on your husband to give a meaning to your life? Maybe you could address these issues with him. It is a difficult situation and you are understandably angry but, as you can see, attacking your husband will not resolve the situation. It may be worth asking him how he feels and felt about his relationship with you. As you say, it may be that he is in love with a fantasy but what is going on that he is turning away from you and engaging with the other person? You state that you said to your husband that the tears are over but you say that you are in despair. I wonder if about the communication between you and your husband. A marriage guidance counsellor or therapist may make it easier for each of you to express how you are feeling to each other.