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Dr. Paige
Dr. Paige, Psychologist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1427
Experience:  Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist
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Husband and I have been separated for 5 mos. He has an apt.

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Husband and I have been separated for 5 mos. He has an apt. 5 min. from our house. We have a teen and tween daughters. After 21 yrs. of marriage, he seems to be in a midlife crisis (he's 49), and said he was unhappy for at least the last 10 yrs. I've been listening to the experts and improving myself, making changes. I poured out my heard in a letter to him a few wks. ago owning up to all the mistakes I know I made, telling him I soul-searched. I told him I want to make a last-ditch effort and get counseling (we never did). He said he would but hasn't seemed too eager since. I had emailed him the websites of 3 counselors. I have no idea what he's up to, as I can't see him face to face every day, but it's possible he's dating or playing the field. Is it wrong of me to ask him to coffee, a movie, a "light", casual kind of activity? I read that I should do 2 things: work on myself, and then try to make a platonic, friendly connection with him again, just like in the very beginning.
Hello. I think that your husband wants a bit more time on his own and does not want to be pressured into reconciling. It doesn't mean that he doesn't want to or that is not possible. If he is having meting with you that are emotional and he is open to at least the thought of counseling, then I think you are on the right track to get things back to a reasonable relationship. The state you are in right now is going to be very up and down. He may have felt guilty about opening up to you so much and decided its best to put up a front from now on as to not seem so vulnerable. This is normal and you should not feel hurt by this, he is just going through the process just as you are. Both of you will have some ups and downs with all of this. I agree with the 2 steps of working on yourself and being friends with him. In my opinion, while things are sensitive right now, things seem pretty normal given the circumstances. Try not to look so much into his aloof nature right now, although I know it is stressful for you, it is completely normal. I would do what you are doing and give him some space, but still offer counseling as a last ditch effort because you don't want to give up, but you also want him to feel satisfied with whatever crisis he is having. If he felt trapped or however he did feel which caused all of this, you want to make sure he gets whatever it is out of his system or else you will just be back where you were when this all started. Check in with him, be friendly but not smothering. Keep on the path you are on.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you so much, Dr. Paige. You are right in that it is very stressful, and I have some very difficult days filled with sadness, but I will continue to be patient and do as you recommend. 2 Final questions: Is it O.K. if he does date from time to time (I know there is no one serious but I did see him driving with a woman one day!), will I look like a fool accepting this and still just being there as a friend? And finally, if he's doing this, will he even want to do a casual movie or something with me, or is that too much pressure?! Thank you!

You would not be a fool to accept this. You don't have to accept it, but know that maybe this is a deeper issue within him which needs to be addressed in some manner before you do both decide to move on together. WHY does he feel the need to play the field? Is it strictly the fact you have been together 21 years? There are a lot of marriages which last just as long and longer without one partner feeling the need to stray. The core reason for this will have to be discussed and resolved at some point. I am hoping that he will want to attend counseling with you and this can be addressed at that time. If you push him about it now, he may push further away, so you should be careful about this, but keep it in your mind that the answer to why is the key to all of this. It may be that whatever mistakes you say you have made have caused him to emotionally separate himself from you. YOu need to give him enough space to force the feeling of missing you as much as you can. I know its difficult with the kids and you want to be with him, but this is the line you must walk. Try to keep enough time between contact with him so that he can feel alone and know what it is like to be without you. I know that sounds scary, but you need to take that chance.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks again. And the mistakes I made were that I did not give him enough attention and nurture that he deserved, as a human being. I got into a major rut after I had kids - 2 very strong-willed and at times quite difficult girls. So, my FINAL question: I last brought up the counseling thing last weekend (during our emotional meeting). He has the names of the counselors I found (all very pro-marriage), but he hasn't gotten back to me. If I ask him to go again, after a couple of weeks, is that pushing him too much, too soon? Or should I just wait longer? You mentioned that he needs things to play out, as he's going through his own issues. My fear about counseling is that he will feel forced to do things he doesn't want to do and rebel, so to speak. I've read horrible things that counseling seldom works and even does further damage (although it worked for my parents who nearly divorced, but made it through and have been married for over 50 years). Thanks.

I would pick a male counselor. He will feel less "trapped" into a situation where he feels that he is misunderstood. Counseling can save marriages, but you really need to find the right counselor. Do your research as thorough as you can. If you know of anyone who has been to a counselor, ask them their opinions. Take some time to really look into this. A few weeks is a good amount of time, but I would ask him his opinion. Do your best to make it his idea. That will limit the feeling he will feel like he is being forced to do anything.
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