I’ve Stolen, I’ve Lied, and I Want My Wife Back. Help!

I have been married for 11 years and with my wife for 13. We have two children together. I have been horrible to my wife. I have lied about pretty much everything. I have stolen money and rings from family members and sold them for money so I can buy alcohol. I even pawned my wedding ring to get money. I used to look at porn. In January, after being confronted by my wife, I told her everything. However, after being pressed for more truths, for some reason I told my wife that I cheated on her nine years ago. She then kicked me out. The bad thing is I really didn't. Now, obviously and understandably, she doesn't believe that I didn't. I have since seen a psychiatrist and was diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and alcoholism. I go to AA meetings, take anxiety medicine, and see my pastor two times a week to talk. I really love her and want her back. She won't even talk to me yet. All she says is "admit to the affair and we'll work things out." I told her I can't lie anymore. Last weekend, we ended up sleeping together and having amazing sex. Then the next morning, she told me to leave again. Now she is back to asking me to admit I cheated on her. I have also started running, which my wife says is stupid and I should work on my marriage, not myself. I just started seeing a counselor this week. However, she won't go. Any ideas what to do? Thanks! —Hurting Hubby
Dear Hurting Hubby,

You write that you have lied, stolen, and pawned jewelry from family, and used that money to buy alcohol. You were seemingly out of control, but you weren’t really—you made choices, choices that had devastating consequences. Instead of showing your wife your best self, you showed her your worst. The only thing you didn’t do is cheat on her, although you lied about that, too, and told her that in fact you had been adulterous. The appearance of cheating was the last straw for your wife and finally broke your marriage. Did you know that might happen? How did you want and expect her to react? Why did you say you did something you didn’t do?

These are important questions that probably have complicated answers. A good therapist can help you unravel the mysteries of why you did what you did. That deeper exploration and understanding of yourself is key to keeping such behavior from happening again. In your letter, at least, you seem to be taking some ownership of your actions, and that’s a good first step toward healing. It’s far from the only step you’ll need to take toward preserving your marriage, however.

You have been together for 13 years and have two children, so there’s clearly a loving foundation somewhere underneath all the noise; you say you “really love” your wife and “want her back.” You have just begun seeing a counselor (good idea) and have started running (another good idea), but your wife says you should work on the marriage, not on yourself. She’s partly right and she’s partly wrong. Working on yourself is part of working on your marriage, but another part would be to earn back her trust, which—if it comes to pass—will take time and a lot of effort on your part.

In your letter, at least, you seem to be taking some ownership of your actions, and that’s a good first step toward healing. It’s far from the only step you’ll need to take toward preserving your marriage, however.

 

Part of that process is showing her your best self, and not just for a day or two at a time. I think seeing your pastor twice a week, seeing a psychiatrist, going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, being in therapy, and taking medication to help with your anxiety are steps to revealing the good parts of who you are, both to yourself and to your wife. Don’t underestimate what you’re doing; you are moving in the right direction, no matter what direction your wife is going.

You write that you and your wife had “amazing sex” before she kicked you out again. Don’t overestimate what that means. Maybe that’s a sign that the fire between you two isn’t out, but it could also be a sign that you both missed the intimate connection you had, were in the right mood, and made the most of the moment. Good sex can be a part of a good marriage, but a good marriage is mostly about the less sexy moments between those moments.

You describe yourself, your mistakes, and your perceived faults, but you say little about your wife. I wonder what she is like. It takes two to make a good marriage, just as it takes two to fight and make a troubled relationship. I’m sorry that so far she has resisted going to counseling with you, and I hope that in the future she changes her mind. Marriage is a joint effort, and I hope you can convince her of that while continuing to work on yourself and work toward being more worthy of her trust. Seeing a marriage counselor together would help you both deal with the strong feelings of fear, anger, and resentment that are characterizing your relationship, particularly from her vantage point. Even if she won’t go, though, I hope you continue to do so, as therapy will help give you the tools to be a more responsible father, partner, and person.

I wish you both the best for your future.

Kind regards,
Lynn

Lynn Somerstein
Lynn Somerstein, PhD, NCPsyA, C-IAYT is a Manhattan-based, licensed psychotherapist with more than 30 years in private practice. She is also a yoga teacher and student of Ayuveda—the Indian science of wellness. Her main interest is in helping people find healthy ways of living, loving, and working in the particular combination that works best for them, connecting to their deepest energic source so their full range of abilities can be expressed. Lynn's specialty is understanding and alleviating anxiety and depression.
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  • Nine

    Nine

    May 1st, 2015 at 7:09 PM

    My husband of 18 year and I mediated our divorce 3 years ago, both crying and holding hands. We both said we loved each other when I took him to the airport to fly to Europe where he moved since. I felt devastated, lost in a city where I had moved to for him and had no real close friendships. Throughout the last 6 years of our marriage, I had gone to workshops and counseling. The few times he did, I did not feel the truth came out. After having described many situations I experienced at home with my husband, one professional counselor was convinced he had all the signs of being bi-polar, narcissist, perhaps even mildly schizophrenic…something he once said his mother had, but that he denied later he ever said. Whatever the case may be, our life together was bittersweet, fraught with friendship moments and crazy-making times that had me write facts as they occurred to be sure I wasn’t imagining things. I have no issue going to counseling, I want to grow and be a healthy individual. He, on the other hand, won’t own to the hurtful things he’s done, saying I think of the past and won’t forgive which is not true—I forgive, I just don’t want the violence to repeat. He’d like us to be back together…that I come and visit him in Europe…but when he left, I was left alone to support myself…have been applying for jobs since and just got hired for training in a new job…He takes my choice to work to support myself as a rejection of him, which it is not. What issues do I, we, he need focus on? Whom could we see who could help him confront what he does not own up to? Am I “living in the past” because I need him to own up to what he’s done and reassure me I can trust him? Whom could help us move forward together or apart? We both value marriage, 18 years of marriage means a lot, but I need to know I can trust him, that I can feel safe around him, etc…A penny for your thoughts? Thank you in advance.

  • Another 9

    Another 9

    May 13th, 2015 at 7:28 AM

    Nine, your marriage sounds a lot like mine…. A roller coaster, with great highs as long as you’re bending to his needs, and valleys of bewildered hurt, rejection, abandonment, and anger when your similar needs are met with criticism, attack and turning it around to make him the victim of your “unreasonable demands” so little by little, you find yourself making sacrifice after sacrifice and getting mixed responses…. Enough affection and words of affirmation and hope for you to believe that the sacrifice is worth it, only to have the actions not back it up…to be let down again. One day you wake up to find you’re just a shell of the person you once were, having set down all of your dreams and goals to support his, and then, the “affection” starts to feel like a demand….why aren’t you paying more attention to him? Don’t you want to BE with him? And he starts to feel rejected, and on the one hand that makes you mad (Seriously?!? You think to yourself), and on the other hand, you are ok with the conflict because it confirms that you’re dealing with his unhealthy places, and though its conflict, at least you’re not covering it up, and pretending that the rationalization of how you ended up here makes it ok….that your pain can be diminished and stuffed. You also don’t want to push him too far away for fear that he’ll actually go…. Confirming a rejection of you… And making your sacrifices for the marriage utterly in vain. We’re still married, but I feel like I’m living in a life that’s only partly real, and watching it crumble around me. I THINK there is more good to be saved by making our marriage work (3 kids, 15 years, and I’ve given up several jobs and career paths for him, so quality of life would be way different without his income supporting me). We used to really enjoy our time together, and there are many things I appreciate about him, and it’s so strange because he hasn’t done the typical things like cheat etc,
    But he has lied (sometimes without intending to…) enough that I don’t trust him. I totally trust him to pay the bills, but not to support me if I had a goal I was working towards, or that it realt WAS ok with him that we go to one restaurant instead of another….make sense? It’s all the little stuff…. It’s so strange… Compensatory narcisism. Meanwhile… I don’t know what to do…. In the depths of the lowest depression of my life. I really love everything about my life except my husband actually in it. We argue because I don’t trust him and I’m hurt and resentful, and I’d be perfectly ok if he didn’t come home –
    One less person to take care of, cater to… And feel bad because I’m more distant with him. At least when he’s not here, I can pursue things that are enjoyable… Like art and building, crafts & sewing… Creative therapy since I’ e given up my jobs. Lately, I don’t even want to do those things. Depression. I am better when he’s acknowledging the pain he’s caused me, and working to “make up” for it… But I’m afraid it’s too little too late, and the amount of work he has to do to regain my trust and intimacy will take so much time and effort that he’ll be discouraged and stop trying. I don’t want him to stop trying,
    To stop loving me (huge rejection that would be, again making sacrifices
    For nothing.) but right now,
    Even though he’s gotten some counseling, and taken some steps towards health, there have been backslides and he hasn’t been totally honest with his therapist, and I am afraid to hope for a good outcome and be let down again… So while he feels like he’a trying really hard, I’m still dealing with hurt and anger and resentment… Living in the bed he made. So… For now, status quo seems safer. He’s a great dad, doesn’t swear at me or anything obviously abusive, he pays the bills… And I say to myself….it’s not THAT bad…. But at the same time, when your spouse of 15 years doesn’t know how to be a partner, to comfort you when you’re sad, to be supportive when you’re excited, and has trained you to not need him…. It leaves me feeling empty with a broken heart he cries and says he feels horrible about then turns around and does or says something else totally insensitive, diminishing your pain, and you wonder – omg.. He SO doesn’t even get it. I’m just at a loss… So I cry, pick myself up and figure out how to make it through today without having any expectations, protecting my heart, and yet not letting him know I have no expectations because that hurts his feelings/makes him mad/feel like I don’t believe in him (i don’t much really…but he used to come through way more, and every now and then still does). I’m just going through the motions…… My kids are the glue. I’ve even given up church and being in ministry b/c i was tired of fighting with him about it….. So we don’t go… As soon as I stopped pressing the gas for him to do things that mattered to me….he stops… I’m out of gas.

  • Lynn Somerstein

    Lynn Somerstein

    May 3rd, 2015 at 4:04 PM

    Dear Nine,
    I don’t know if you’re living in the past, but I do know that you are living in a present which includes job training that you hope will lead to a better ability to take care of yourself. Once you learn to care for yourself you will be better able to choose and care for others.

  • Rebecca

    Rebecca

    May 4th, 2015 at 10:44 AM

    I hope that eventually the two of you can work things out but it does sound like there are going to be a lot of obstacles to clear together first. I wonder why you would tell her that you cheated even when you didn’t. If this was sort of like testing how much she would stand or if there was a part of you that already knew that this would be the one issues that she would not accept? Anyway, I know that it is all so complicated and we only know the parts of the story that you have included here, but I do know that if the two of you ever want to work it out I think that you have to not only work on yourselves as a couple, but that it is not a bad idea to work on yourselves personally too.

  • tyler

    tyler

    May 6th, 2015 at 3:44 AM

    There are times when you look back on the things that you have done in life and they kind of leave you wondering what in the world you could have been thinking when you did that. I guess it’s like they say that it is what it is and you just have to concentrate on moving forward from here. It won’t be easy but everyone can change and I hope that this is what you are wanting to do, to make amends with the family and set yourself up for a better life.

  • Stone

    Stone

    May 6th, 2015 at 1:39 PM

    sounds like you have some tough work ahead of you

  • Carla

    Carla

    May 7th, 2015 at 3:45 AM

    Although sad, it now seems as if the two of you are in completely different places with whether you want to try to make this marriage work. This is going to take a lot of work on both sides to get the two of you back to where you need to be. Marriage is like that, at times you want one thing and your partner wants another. The key is coming to a place together where you understand that little bit of give and take and you are both willing to accept that.

  • leon

    leon

    May 8th, 2015 at 12:30 PM

    I have to ask- I just wonder if you want her back because that is really what you want or because this is what you know and what feels comfortable to you?

  • Unable to trust

    Unable to trust

    September 9th, 2015 at 3:18 AM

    Another nine I just read what you wrote and it is all too familiar. I am sure I do not love my husband any more. I often wish he would never come home. He once told me he was leaving me and that actually made me a little happy. Then I was let down by him once again (he never does what he says he will) because he never followed through. He only threatens to leave and after a couple of days it’s as if he has forgotten all about it.

    I do not trust him. I so not want him to touch me at all. He lies to me. He lies to others. He lies about stupid things.

    I have 2 chronic diseases that cause me much pain. He began stealing my medicine 5 years ago. Of course he was sneaky about it. He had me believing thing a like the pharmacy was shortening me on my medicine or he accidentally knocked them into the toilet and they all got wet. He would tell me he hurt his arm at work and beg me for a pain pill so he could be able to sleep so he could work. He would even tell me I must be taking more than I thought and I just don’t remember it.

    I finally started to count my pills. I counted them when I got them from the pharmacy. I kept a record of when I took one. Pills kept disappearing. I started hiding them. Them I caught him taking pills out of the bottle. He lied and said his shoulder was really bothering him. I asked why he didn’t ask me and he said he thought I would say no. He promises he wouldn’t do it any more. A while later I caught him again. He tries giving me the same bs. I wouldn’t buy it. Then he started crying saying he promised he would never so it again. Of course he did. Again he begged and cried. This happened 4 more times. I finally was fed up and told him I was calling his parents because I couldn’t deal with this alone. He quickly became verbally abusive. The look of hate on his face was scary. I called his dad anyway. He finally admitted to is that he was addicted to my pain medication. His dad made him go to a drug counselor. I started keeping my medicine on my body. My husband started going through withdrawals. He gets on the computer and finds something called Krantom that said it helped get off of opioids. I told him it was crazy to take something you buy online. He ordered them. His dad lives our of state and had to return home. Husband said he was still going to counselor. Would not let me go with him. Said counselor said it was best if he did this alone. (Sure) the pills came and he started taking them. He said they made him feel great. That he had more energy. I told him he would just get addicted to something else. He said he would stop them after a few days. He also said he told his counselor and he didn’t have a problem with him taking them. Yeah, right. I don’t even think he was going any more.
    It has been 3 years. He is addicted to those pills. Paying $45 each week at a head shop in town to get them. He keeps saying he is going to wean himself off them. Again, yeah, right.

    Oh, he is also addicted to pot. He spends $80 a week on that. He says he can stop anytime he wants. He is 50 years old and has been smoking it since he was 16. Sure he can stop anytime.

    We are never able to save any money. We live paycheck to paycheck. And he has a very good job. He brings home $1,800 every 2 weeks and I am on disability getting $1,500 a month. So we have a take home income of over $5,000 a month and struggle with a house payment of $565, a car payment of $525 and the basics of electric, water, cell phone (only one, his job pays for his), no home phone, directv because he says he has to have it, and internet. The only thing he pays from his check is the house payment. His work provides his vehicle and pays for all his gas and maintenance.

    I pay everything else with the money I receive. (I have my own checking account so I can make sure he doesn’t spend the money I get. Oh, and his dad sends him $200 a month for some reason. Yet we are always broke.
    I see where he is always getting cash from atm’s. $80 here, $129 there, cash back from purchases. I asked why he takes out so much money. He said he needs cash for when they eat out at work because some places don’t take a card. Yeah, right. I see where he uses his card every day to pay for his breakfast and lunch.
    He lies about where he is going.
    He lies about having to go into work on his days off. He says he has to go in for a “couple of hours”. Then I see where he drove into town and used his card to buy those pills at the head shop.

    I do not trust him at all. I know am on anxiety and depression medication in addition to 6 other medications I take. I can not ride with him without having a panic attack. I think it is because I don’t trust him.

    I don’t want him to touch me. He can not understand that I cannot be intimate with someone I can’t trust.

    We have a 7 year old child. I have just shit down when it comes to him and focus 100% in her.

    Many times I wish he would die.

    We use to have a good marriage. Been married 16 years, lives together 4 years before that. It was good until I found out he lied.

    There were also other signs but I ignores them. He is very self centered. I would buy him gifts for all occasions. He has never bought me anything. He says he never knows what I would like. Yeah, right. I would tell him what I liked!!!
    I swear his life is all about him. What he wants. What makes him look good. Even if he has to lie to get what he wants or to make himself look good.
    He lies about what we own. I have heard him telling people we own land in the mountains. We don’t. He tells others that we go places and so things that we don’t do.

    I only live now for my daughter.

    I want a divorce. I have told him. He threatens me saying I am a bad mom and if I leave he will get full custody of our daughter.

    He does nothing for her as it is. I help with home work. I cook. I clean. I take her to and pick her up from school. I take her to play dates and birthday parties I am involved at her school.
    He does nothing.

    I don’t know what I am going to do. I really wish he would just go away. Not come home one day….

  • Lynn Somerstein

    Lynn Somerstein

    September 12th, 2015 at 11:39 AM

    Dear Unable to Trust,
    You are in a terrible place, and you might consider asking for help from a social worker, therapist, or religious leader. You cannot do this alone.
    Take care,
    Lynn

  • craig

    craig

    October 15th, 2015 at 10:04 AM

    Hi there need some advice, me and my partner have been together early 6 years we have a five year old together but she also has 21 and 19 year to a different man, we have moved 4 times in the space of 2 years, just getting settled how in the house we have had for coming up 3 years, I had troubled childhood and took to drink and drugs, got myself sorted 1 year into sobebrity I met my partner 4 year down the line I met my real dad and started drinking again not as a was before, but then lies started to kick back in I would get loans not for me for us to us sorted and get us buy I would get a half bottle after work then hide and then lie before admitting it, for the past year we have been both working and she is at full time college sometimes no time to ourselfs, but everything was looking up we went on hoilday for the first time and already booked up for next year we where due tae married in 2017, but Saturday past there I went to vist my dad spent a couple of days with him, my partner says she heard a woman in the house and she thinks have cheeted far from it, she text me saying bags are packed we are finshed, I was due to come back today but came back on Sunday night tryed everything from then to make her belive me but she adamant she is heard what she as heard and says a don’t trust you no more am at my whits end and fell like jumping of a bridge. A love her so so much

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