Q. My husband and I have been together for a long time. Recently I found out that years ago, when he was out of state, he cheated on me. Now I’ve found evidence that he is on many sex/dating sites, Facebook, TikTok, and many other platforms that he keeps secret from me. He’s been sending selfies of himself to other women. I have confronted him and of course he lies about it, even after I told him I have proof.
When I ask him why he is with me — if he’s searching for other women — his response is, “I’m here, aren’t I?” He doesn’t say, “I’m here because I love you.”
I’ve been devoted and faithful. I love this man but I can’t live with him if he’s cheating behind my back. A part of me wants to stay, but the other part says I deserve to be treated with respect. It doesn’t make me feel very good knowing that I’ve never been good enough for him. It has always felt like he’s searching to replace me.
I’ve seen messages where he tells people he’s not happy and it’s too late. I tell him it’s never too late to be happy — if he’s not happy with me, speak up. I don’t know what else to do.
A. I can’t guess how finances play into this decision, but this is a great time to meet with a lawyer about next steps for dissolving your marriage. Find out if there are things you can do to protect yourself as you start the process.
Often I tell people to try couples therapy first, but your husband doesn’t want to talk about any of this. He’s not interested in your experience in the marriage, only what he believes he’s not getting. I’m not sure that talking about this, even in the presence of a professional, will get you anywhere good.
Going to therapy on your own, of course, could be great. Ask your health insurance provider or doctor for advice on finding help.
You say it hasn’t felt good to know you’re “not enough” for your husband. Please know that it sounds like no one person would satisfy his needs. He’s searching for attention — stimulation to make him happy about himself. He wants to get this from multiple people. It’s not as though he prefers any one of these other women to you; it’s more that he wants to see who else wants him.
That doesn’t mean you’re unworthy or won’t be enough for someone who wants a good partner. You are enough, but he can’t give you the marriage you desire.
It’s sad that you don’t know what to do or are too afraid to do it. How about instead of focusing on his happiness, you think about your own. He has no interest in how you feel or your marriage.
“I’m here, aren’t I?” I think this means he’s either too lazy to leave or he doesn’t want to lose out financially by getting divorced. I think he’s checked out of the marriage. I’d see a lawyer and finance person to see what divorce would look like for you. Think about your own happiness, too.
I think individual therapy would be good to help you make a decision about what to do. Consultation with a lawyer is important too to learn how to protect yourself. Even if he isn’t currently cheating, what he is doing is very disrespectful and inappropriate for a married man. He seems to have checked out of the marriage, so why stay with him?
Leave and seek your own happiness elsewhere.
I realize divorce is difficult, but you must play the hand you’re dealt. Your husband has broken his marital vows and apparently has no interest in repairing the relationship. You don’t mention children. Why stay in this unhappy place? Leaving may hurt financially, but probably not as much as staying will hurt emotionally.
Send your own relationship and dating questions to email@example.com or fill out this form. Catch new episodes of Meredith Goldstein’s “Love Letters” podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen to podcasts. Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters.