Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.
It sounds like you are very aware of what you are feeling. You stated that you feel better and more self confident when you are not around your husband and you feel worse when you are with him. This can be one of two things.
First, you are feeling upset about what he has done in your relationship. It is natural and expected that you would feel a variety of emotions from anger to depression. When he is with you, these feelings come up and you start to feel less focused, less confident and upset. The separation has you left in limbo and you have no way to address what you feel about him and what he did.
Two, you have moved on from the relationship and have no desire to be with him anymore. So when he is around, you not only experience reminders of what he has done, you feel strongly enough about not wanting to be with him that you experience several disconcerting feelings in his presence.
Whichever you feel is more accurate is most likely the answer you are seeking. It would help you to continue your counseling if you are still going. If you feel it is not helping you, seek out a new counselor. Oftentimes, finding a counselor you feel you can work with takes a few tries, much like it does with your regular doctor.
Is your husband sorry for what he did? This can also be part of what you are feeling. If he has not tried to make amends and worked on the relationship, then you are going to be stuck feeling the same as you did when you separated. It makes it hard to forgive and work on your emotions if he is still treating you the same way.
Also, keep in mind that mourning your loss of a marriage and stable relationship is important, even if you decide to keep trying to reconcile with your husband. No one marries expecting to be treated badly and cheated on. You most likely married with the best of intentions and expectations. But you suffered a great loss instead. Give yourself time to mourn. Be aware of the stages of loss and let yourself go through them naturally.
Here are some books that may help you:
How To Save A Marriage: 92 Tips On How To Solve Your Marriage Problems Without Needing Marriage Counseling by Gary Vurnum
Should I Stay Or Go? : How Controlled Separation (CS) Can Save Your Marriage by Lee Raffel
Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay: A Step-by-Step Guide to Help You Decide Whether to Stay In or Get Out of Your Relationship by Mira Kirshenbaum
Contemplating Divorce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Deciding Whether to Stay or Go by Susan Pease Gadoua
I hope this has helped you,Kate
You cannot worry about what others think. I know it is difficult, but they did not live through what you have lived through. Instead, focus on gaining support and help with others. A counselor is a good place to start. Also, if you have any friends to rely on, that would help too. I'm not sure if you have any support groups in your area, but that may be another place to try.
Your sons will form an opinion on what their father is doing regardless of what you say or do because they see the behavior he has for what it is, very damaging to the family. I would be more worried about them if they denied what they saw. Your daughter may be trying to escape the same situation and find a place where she isn't exposed to your husband's behavior. You may want to consider counseling for her (and the boys) as well to help her cope.
It would be more than difficult to trust your husband if he is doing very little to be be worthy of trust. And consider his risky behavior as a danger to you. If he is out and possibly with other people, he could bring home a sexually transmitted disease.
All of this makes it difficult to trust him. If he could start taking the situation more seriously, I'd say you would have a shot at rebuilding trust. But until he does, it's going to be difficult at best.
You have excellent insight! I'm very impressed. It takes many people some time in therapy before they understand as much as you do right now. Understanding where your problems came from and how you got to where you are is a great start to helping yourself heal and form healthier relationships as well.
It is good that you are considering therapy. I think the support and further insight you would get from it will help you feel better.
The first step to getting out from under his control is to stop feeling guilty. Easier said than done, I know. But if you can take small steps and go slowly, it will start to help. Next time he asks you about coming home, say no. When he responds with "you don't want me to come around later?" say no again. Then shut the door, move away, whatever. Then tell yourself you have a right to say that. He is hurting you and you are protecting yourself. You are doing something that is good for yourself, and for your family. He is not helping you or being there for you. The contact with him is not for your benefit. He knows how to push your buttons and he is using it for all it's worth. Don't let him.
If it would help, make a list of the good things about the relationship and the bad. Don't hold back. Say everything that comes to mind- feelings, behaviors, and the effects on your family, you and your children. Once you see all the problems in black and white, it will help you gain perspective. You can also refer to this list when you feel guilty or upset.
Practice staying away from him longer and longer. Say no more often. See how long you can stay away. It'll help you eventually end the relationship or at least say no when he is hurting you or the kids.
I think you will do wonderfully if you keep on the path you are on now. Keep going as you are now and keep seeking out support. And you can always check back with us here on JA if you feel the need for a second opinion or more suggestions.
You can step out of the conversation. There is no reason to play the game he is playing. Give short and only necessary answers. He is trying to draw you in and control the situation. For some reason, he enjoys this exchange. You can stop it anytime and let him know you will talk to him when he is willing to speak nicely and make sense. Then walk away.
He obviously has many issues that prevent him from behaving in a way that is appropriate for a normal relationship. He should care for you and put your needs before his, in an appropriate way, of course. He should listen to you and care about how you feel. He should also be his own person and be responsible for himself and the others in his care.
Here are some good books to help you understand what is normal:
An Adult Child's Guide to What's 'Normal' by John C. Friel Ph.D. and Linda D. Friel M.A.
Are You Normal About Sex, Love, and Relationships? by Bernice Kanner