My husband left very unexpectedly and I am still stuck in grief 6 years on

by Maryanne
(Melbourne, Australia)

Hi there. I’m so hoping that writing this down goes some way towards getting this grief out of me. I do feel as though the dam will burst one day. I was very happily married to my husband for 10 years (actually still am married) but 6 years ago he became very stressed with a new job which was clearly too much for him. We led a nomadic lifestyle and moved around the world with his job as a hotel manager. This wasn’t always easy but was very exciting. I had two children and was pregnant with the 3rd when he was leaving one evening to catch a flight. I had cut up some fruit for him and made him a cup of tea for him to take before the taxi picked him up. He came down to the living room and read off a piece of paper that he had fallen in love with someone else and was leaving. He explained that it wasn’t an affair as he truly loved this woman and through that love realized he didn’t love me anymore. Then he walked out the door. That was that. I hadn’t said a word. I was so in shock. I did not ever think we could live without each other. I knew we would always be together as we cared so much for one another. We rarely fought or argued. We laughed together. We had a relatively luxurious lifestyle so that made life easy. We had gorgeous children. We had great extended families. We had it all. And now he was gone. He moved to Singapore to live with the love of his life and I was stuck in the Middle East waiting for the children to finish off the school year – and quite honestly – waiting for him to come to his senses. He never did.
Since then, the children and I have seen him 5 times, and not once in the past 4 years. He swears he loves his children more than anything on earth. He never came to the birth of his youngest child and has not seen her since she was two. She is nearly 6. She has now taken to asking if the man at the door (maybe a delivery man or a relative) is her daddy. She also asks at least once a month why her daddy doesn’t live with us and I tell her the truth (sort of) I say that her daddy doesn’t love Mummy anymore but he loves her very much.
In the meantime I have come back to my home country and desperately needed money for my family and tried for several jobs but despite having a great career pre-children, that meant nothing today, so I started my own business in an area which I was not trained in but despite all odds it does well enough for me to survive with the kids. No holidays or anything extra but we’re ok and we love each other. We are a close family unit and for that I am incredibly grateful.
So that’s my story in short. My problem is that I wasn’t ever allowed to grieve because I had to stay strong for my children and myself. I felt that if I broke down, my whole world could collapse. I feel less on a knife edge these days but my grief is just as strong and I want to get over it. I want to move on. I don’t feel he is worth all these tears but I still feel so sad. How do I move on? I don’t have to see him so it should be easy. I feel like we never had a marriage breakdown – he was just gone. Like he had died.
Does anyone have any suggestions for me to help me get over this? Thank you.

Comments for My husband left very unexpectedly and I am still stuck in grief 6 years on

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Jul 18, 2013
My husband left very unexpectedly and I am still stuck in grief 6 yrs. on
by: Doreen U.K.

Maryanne to answer some of your questions. I had a strong Christian background. I had always struggled with forgiveness. But I LOVED my husband so completely I could FORGIVE him always, by overcoming any difficulty. I have God at the helm of my life helping me to do the right thing the way God would have me do it. I never distrusted my husband when he went away on a job. I wouldn't let my mind go there being suspicious as we can build castles or tombs in our thinking. I went on with the business of LOVING HIM and CARING for this man I loved. We all have moments of weakness and I believe my husband had one. He took full responsibility for his actions. If my husband had at any time wanted to leave I wouldn't stand in his way. This too is part of loving a husband. Being willing to give up what I want so he could be happy but I would be sad if I couldn't have had this life with HIM. I can't fully describe the love I had for him but would like to think it is of the quality of love God has for us. Which is why God is all encompassing and all FORGIVING.
I made no demands of my husband or my children in his care. Certain issues belong between husband and wife and excludes children. Boundaries have to be respected and my children would be able to HONOUR THEIR FATHER. As this is also a command from God.
I don't see infidelity as a catalyst to make the marriage better or anything I or He could do better. Infidelity would always be SIN and need to be repented of and be HEALED from.
My husband had insecurities from being abandoned as a child. A wife can do her part to love her husband, but can't fill the VOID a mother didn't do in nurturing. If a man or woman has a Void in their life through lack of nurturing from a mother it could cause a wound in a marriage and counselling could be beneficial here. People come into marriage with all sorts of baggage that needs to be worked out, but in my observation very few men agree or understand counselling. It means you expose yourself to a third person and this is not always easy to do. I hope what I have said has helped you in some way to HEAL.

Jul 16, 2013
Dear Maryanne,
by: Pat in Missouri

I am writing to respond to your message to me of July 6. First of all, how are you doing now?

You made a comment about my saying you need to love yourself first. Then you said you thought your husband had it all. So if "my husband had it all, what chance do I have of ever being truly loved again?" Dear Maryanne, I think you may have misinterpreted what I said.

We are all born as individuals. We are meant to be defined as singular people, 1 man, 1 woman. I guess you could think of it as Adam and Eve. You are still defining yourself as part of a broken relationship. My suggestion was that you look in the mirror and ask: who is Maryanne? We must all define ourselves as individuals, before we can share a meaningful relationship with another or it will not work. Your husband did not take "all of you." He shrugged you off with a scrap of paper. I doubt he has any feelings left for you. If he was a decent man, he would be contacting you to apologize and to help with and see his children. You are better than living as half of something that is not there.

You seem to be trying to hold on to a fantasy of what you once had. That is why you are still stuck in grief. Six years is enough, although grief has a way of raring its ugly head at any time. Your bouts of crying are very normal. They are called grief bursts. It's ok to have a grief burst now and then. It does not have to be a total collapse as you called it. Tears cleanse the soul.

You must get some professional help so you can figure out how to find yourself and move on. See a counselor. I would like to comment on your last statement "I hope to be in your shoes one day." I would not wish that on anyone! I am a trained counselor. I am good at giving advice, but I am on this website because I am dealing with my own losses. In 2011 I lost my brother, my father, and my fiance' all within 5 months. Every time 1 died and the service was over, I was just trying to catch my breath, then another died, then another. I am still stuck in grief myself. It's very difficult, when everyone you have loved is gone within a few short months. My education and training are of little help with my personal grief.

I share your grief and I know how it hurts and how difficult it is to move on. I cannot know your personal pain, but I can certainly relate to it. I did not have children to consider in all of my losses. Your children may also need counseling. Your youngest daughter must know what happened to her father. The older she gets, the more painful it will be for her. She is likely to experience relationship problems, when she gets into her dating years. I am sure your entire family feels lost. Family counseling would be a wonderful way to handle this. Getting all the pain and the secrets out together will help you all heal. You are an intelligent woman. I know you can get the help you need.

Take care. I send you more hugs. Pat

Jul 06, 2013
Part 2
by: Maryanne

The other thing you mentioned is that "grief has a way of pressing for resolution" and I think I am feeling pressed for resolution right now. I long for the weight off my shoulders and for the nightmare to end. I know it comes slowly but I would like to manhandle this grief to it's conclusion and I feel 6 years is well and truly long enough to burst into tears and the mere mention of my husband (not as a person but as a role).
Pat, something you say is that I will never be able to love if I don;t learn to love myself and I'm afraid this is true in my case. It is way too simplistic but I feel that my husband had it all with me but that wasn't good enough. So if my all is too little for someone to love me then what hope do I have to ever be truly loved? I don't feel sorry for myself but I do feel very disinclined to form friendships and certainly not romantic relationships. That used to be so easy for me.
You also say that I don't need to have a complete breakdown, just a cry. Then maybe I won't be so afraid of the final confrontation of what has happened (as that's what I feel is coming). I'm very afraid of collapsing in a heap.
I've really soaked up all your wise words Doreen and Pat. How kind of you to spend your time advising a stranger or your experiences and your recommendations. Thank you. I hope to be in your shoes one day, having been able to get over this.

Jul 06, 2013
You ladies are amazing
by: Maryanne

This is in two parts - PART 1

Dear Doreen and Pat,
You are both very inspiring and intelligent women and have both hit nails on the head.
Yes, I need counselling
Yes, my children need to hear the truth in order to stop building expectations of a relationship with their father. He needs to make it happen if it will happen. I cannot will it to happen.
No, I will never take him back. He is not the person I thought he was. Not even close. He is truly washed out of my hair. I have no desire to see him again but I do wish he cared about his children. I will admit that it is difficult when I have seen him because we didn't have any sort of relationship breakdown, he was just gone, so when I see him, my first, totally sub-conscious instinct is to be relieved to see him, like he's been away on a trip and has returned. It's very hard to relate this abstract breakdown of a marriage with his face and presence. He has felt this too and has had to leave when he starts enjoying being with his family. This doesn't really mean anything except to say that I might have been right. We might have had a good life, an enjoyable life together and it's easy to slip back into that groove. So my memories may be true and not his version of our lives. In case you're worried, I don't want him back in our lives, I just want my memories and the feelings I had and I think he had, to be true and validated. Otherwise I can't trust myself to be in another relationship, romantic or otherwise because I won't be able to trust what I feel is correct.
Doreen, I admire you so much for your strength with your husband. Did you ever forgive him 100% for his infidelity? Did you ever truly trust him again. You say you were afraid he would stray as he worked a lot away from home, so did you trust him then? Or did you withhold your trust in him while he was away? Women are so strong and you nursed him through a very., very painful and difficult to witness disease with the mesothelioma and the changes with the Encephalitis. Did your children help you through this? Did your children ever know of his infidelity or did they always regard him as a hero? Did your husband ever have trouble forgiving himself or did it stay with him till the end?
It seems the affair was a catalyst and an awakening in yourself to get issues sorted and to face the past. It may well have been the best thing to happen to you. Sometimes I think this is a great thing to have happened to me (can't believe I have written that) because I did not know how strong I could be. I am now an interior decorator which is a difficult job for someone who occasionally has self worth issues as people mostly tell you how clever you are but every now and again someone doesn't like your ideas and it sets me back years in self esteem. In order to remain professional, I have to shrug it off and come back with something completely different and with as much apparent confidence as the first time around.

Jul 06, 2013
My husband left very unexpectedly and I am still stuck in grief 6 yrs. on
by: Doreen U.K.

Part 2
Mary Anne I know you want to move on and you will? grief cannot be rushed. In many ways because you had to put your grief on hold you are actually experiencing it now as if all this turmoil just started and you are facing the rawness of grief for the first time. Grief has a way of pressing for resolution. But it is a slow process. You asked how you move on? ONE DAY AT A TIME. I should imagine that life is pretty hectic for you holding the fort and being the breadwinner. Your children are older and so their needs will have changed. They will enquire more about where their father is? and Does he love them? Children are very perceptive. If you were able to get the right grief counsellor this would help you immensely and help you move forward better. You will find Love again in your life. But I know it is hard when you loved the one you lost. Counselling would help give you the skills you need to rebuild your life with self esteem that was taken away from you when your husband walked out.
My husband travelled all over the world with his job and in our country. I was always worried if he should stray. He showed signs of this. One day I discovered he fell in love with someone else. I also had 3 children. Those were hard days. I didn't have the courage you had. My husband stayed. He realised his mistake. His insecurities came from his mother abandoning him as a young boy. I didn't do anything more or less. I didn't beat myself up for my failings. I had already been in counselling for years to repair childhood damage. I got my life back in new ways I never dreamed of. I was FREE for the first time. I related in a way that benefited the whole family by developing skills that helped them build confidence. With good Counselling, I became the linchpin that saved the family. My husband then developed 2 of the worst diseases. 2005 ENCEPHALITIS which nearly claimed his life and left him with a brain injury. 2009 MESOTHELIOMA a rare and serious lung cancer caused by working with asbestos. Incurable, inoperable and terminal. I nursed him for 3yrs.39days. HE realised too late how much I really loved him. But I knew he also loved me. He was MY HEARTBEAT. My world began and ended with him. He was and will always be the love of my life FOREVER. He died 14 months ago and I feel crushed by his death, but also relieved I lost him to death and not another woman, a woman's worst nightmare. I applaud you for your bravery, resolve, and sheer COURAGE to rebuild your life and your family. You are a very SPECIAL WOMAN. Please keep in touch on this site. My best wishes to you for the future. You will get your life back and you will be more successful. Good things will come to those who do the right thing. May you be continually BLESSED IN LIFE.

Jul 06, 2013
My husband left very unexpectedly and I am still stuck in grief 6 yrs. on
by: Doreen U.K.

Mary Anne I am so terribly sorry for your loss of your husband to another woman. What a cruel thing to do to you and the way he did it. He can tell you till he is blue in the face that he loves his children? He is not proving it by ACTION. I applaud you in the highest way for your incredible strength and resolve to getting your life together and putting the children first as a priority by starting a business to provide for you all as a family. This would have been an immense task for any woman on her own with 3 children to care for and not knowing where to start but knowing you/she had to do something. You are an incredible woman. I wish I was with you in person I would give you the utmost support. You have done well. Your children will grow up to Love and hold you close forever. If your husband realises the error he has made. PLEASE DON'T TAKE HIM BACK. Wash that man right out of your hair. When a man falls in love with someone else he will find a thousand reasons why he doesn't love his wife anymore. When a man travels with his job there is a vulnerability there that he could fall in love with someone else. He became a SELFISH SELF-CENTRED MAN.
Your tears are normal and a natural part of grief. You have LOST A HUGE PART OF YOUR LIFE. It does affect your identity. If you can see a counsellor to just assist you a bit and so help you restructure life with less grief this is good. Get as much family and friend support so you are not so alone. When your children are old enough you will have the freedom to restructure your life for YOU. This doesn't mean you cannot date or have companionship from another man. Just don't become vulnerable, just cautious. You deserve happiness. It will come to you. God will look down on you with FAVOUR. Because you did the right thing. You did not abandon your children. You will be successful in your life and be happy again. But let your focus for now being on the children and you will get immense joy and happiness from them. If your business is established put your energies and time here to help you move forward better. Join a friendship circle and make friends. Do little things to brighten your day. Make a special meal. Buy some flowers for the table. Put nice things around the home to brighten your mood. Put all your husband's pictures away so they are not in your face. It won't be easy getting that man out of your hair, but necessary. Don't let him use you if he ever came back. I will run out of space so continue part 2.

Jul 06, 2013
Dear Maryanne,
by: Pat

You are right--- you have never grieved the loss of your marital relationship. Until you do, you will never be able to move on. First of all, what's done is done. He owed you a lot more than to simply read a piece of paper, then walk out, never to return. What a jerk!

Now that we all know that, it's time for you to work on you. You need to get some counseling. You will never be able to love again until you love yourself. You need answers to questions like: who is Maryanne and where do I go from here? You also need to learn how to tell your children the truth about their father, especially the youngest one. It will hurt, but the truth often does hurt. She may need counseling too. She will keep asking about her father and she deserves the truth.

You are clearly a strong woman, having built your own business and managing to support your children. Have you ever sought child support from your ex. If not, you should. He owes it to his children. He totally abandoned his family and went off to create whatever else it was he thought he needed. Now, you need to create what you want. Seek back child support (all the way back to the day he walked off and left you) to help pay for your children's education. I do not know how this is done in Australia, but I am sure there is a social service agency that can help you with this.

You said moving on should be easy, but having a husband and father just walk out the door 1 day and never return cannot be easy. A divorce is truly like a death. I've been there too. Everything you know and do, that establishes the way you live, all of a sudden is no longer there.

It took me about 5 years to get past the pain of my loss and I had no children. I did get counseling, which was tremendously helpful. Counselors are great because they are good sounding boards and they do not judge. If you have someone who will listen, without judging you, it will be a big load off your shoulders. You do not need to have a complete breakdown. You just need to talk it out and cry it out. It will get better and you will find the new Maryanne. You can be happy again.

I send you many hugs and good wishes. Please write back and let us know how you are doing. Pat

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