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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5838
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Feeling much anxiety the last two days and not sure how to

Customer Question

Feeling much anxiety the last two days and not sure how to handle this. I've suspected my husband was aloof and pulling away emotionally the last month or so. I looked in his phone and saw emails back and forth with an old college girlfriend who is married. The emails are friendly and filled with news of each others' days. By the content, this has been going on for awhile. And what he is sharing with her he has not told me. Lots of enthusiasm on his part to her. Also, there's deception and avoidance on his part in other areas too. I do not care for his friends because they are cheaters and immature and his mother is very passive aggressive and has done major damage to our relationship. I feel up against a brick wall. Alone and concerned. We've been married 27 years. Empty nest. I've worked and he and I have worked to stay close but now I feel betrayed in many ways and wonder what else I don't know is going on. He hides behind his work which is intense with lots of traveling. I have a busy career too but do not feel our marriage is a priority on his part again recently. Can you guide me in the proper direction??
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

I am sorry to hear that your husband is doing this to you. By forming a relationship with another woman and pulling away from your marriage, he is putting his needs before yours and the marriage.

In order to deal with this, it is important that you let him know what you found out and tell him to stop the behavior immediately. Anytime a spouse strays outside the marriage it can cause strain to the marriage and undermine trust, which is essential to a good marriage. Your husband's relationship with this other person and his need to hide it is harming your relationship.

You mentioned that you tried marriage therapy. You may want to try it again. You need to rebuild trust and your husband needs to find out why he cheated and be sure he does not do it again.

There also needs to be clarification on some issues.

One, talk to your husband about what he did. Is your husband sorry? This is important, because if he does not take responsibility, recovering your marriage will be difficult.

Two, tell your husband to stop all contact with this other person immediately. He must do so as a first step to regaining your trust.

Three, see if he is willing to do anything to start repairing the marriage. Once this secret is out, he needs to be motivated to fix your marriage.

Four, make sure the two of you are talking about what happened. Your husband needs to be open and honest about what he did and let you ask any questions you need to. He broke the marriage vows and dragged you into another relationship. He needs to own up to it.

These are some of the most important issues you both need to be working on. If you do not want to go back to your original therapist, talk with your doctor about a referral to another therapist. Also, if you attend church, talk with your pastor. Pastors are often very good marriage counselors. Also, if you have problems affording therapy, try your local community mental health center. They can offer therapy on a sliding scale fee system.

The main issue is to rebuild trust. It can take a while and a lot of work, but you can do it as long as you both are motivated.

There are some resources that may help you:

Infidelity: A Survival Guide by Don-David Lusterman

Not "Just Friends": Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity by Shirley P. Glass and Jean Coppock Staeheli.

Surviving Your Worst Nightmare: A Guide For the Betrayed - Patti Snodgrass

You can find these both on or your local library may have them.

If your husband will not stop his behavior or he shows low motivation to repair your marriage, you may need to seek individual therapy and decide how you would like to handle the situation. You will need support and input so you can make the best decision possible for yourself.

I hope this has helped you,

TherapistMarryAnn and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I was looking through his emails on his phone. I do not think it is an affair at this point. So how can I tell him without confessing that I looked through his emails?
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

At this point, what your husband is doing can be considered an emotional affair. Anytime a man goes outside of his marriage and forms a relationship with a woman and his wife is not aware of it, it can be considered an affair. There are different types of affairs, including sexual and emotional. But they are the same in intent.

You can start off by saying that you feel he is pulling away and that you feel something is going on based on his behavior. Keep pushing the point (off and on if need be) until he admits to what is going on. If he does not, you may have to let him know you are aware of the emails and that you want the relationship to end.


Customer: replied 5 years ago.
OK. I'll try that. Can we keep this forum open through the weekend?
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

Sure, that is not a problem. Let me know how you are.


Customer: replied 5 years ago.

OK, Thanks Kate. I will look over that link you sent me and try to talk with him tonight. He emailed me this morning and said he sensed I was angry but doesn't have a clue.

I wrote back that I too sensed a difference in him and let's find time this weekend to try and reconnect....

I have to be careful with him because he's quick to get angry and go in his cave and not talk and blame it on me and hold off until I apologize. In the past, we've gone 3 weeks without talking. I don't want to go there. We started a weekly counseling session with books instead of going out to a counselor. But it's been months and months and he keeps putting it off....I will mention what you said about sensing his pulling away and talk around what I saw in the email.

This is all very draining.

Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

I understand. Trying to cope with infidelity can be hard emotionally and physically. Be sure that no matter what happens that you care for yourself the best you can. Eat well, get lots of rest and most of all gather as much support around yourself as you can. Sharing your burden will make a big difference.


Customer: replied 5 years ago.
OK. I do have close girlfriends who are trying to help me by listening and offering what they would do. BUT I really appreciate hearing it from someone like yourself with the background in it. I'm trying to take the high road and not be reactive and I'll try and keep my health. Today, I don't feel too well, but hopefully, I'll be able to get some of this off my chest with him this weekend and he'll be receptive and I'll feel he is being honest with me.
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

I hope he is open to hearing you. I'm here if you want to talk.


Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I'd like to close our discussion. Thanks for your help! We came to an understanding on boundaries, expectations, etc. and had good communication!

Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

I'm glad it all worked out for you! My best to you both,


Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

I'm glad it all worked out for you! My best to you both,