Dear Coleen – ‘He’s blaming me for the fact he went and had an affair’

Dear Coleen

I’m a 40-year-old woman and I’ve been married for 10 years. I’d say our marriage was good up until a couple of years ago when we ran into financial problems and we also had the stress of bringing up two young children.

Although we got through, something changed – or at least he changed. Then a few months ago, I discovered he’d been messaging another woman and when I confronted him about it, he actually admitted to having an affair.

I expected him to apologise and be remorseful and beg to stay, but instead he blamed me! He accused me of ignoring him and always putting the kids first and also said he couldn’t remember the last time I was ­affectionate with him.

While it’s true that sex has been ­infrequent, I do care about him and I’m not as cold as he’s making out. I just think we’ve had a tough time and it’s the first time our marriage has been ­properly challenged.

We are still together and he’s ended things with this woman. I want to make our marriage work, but he still seems bitter and angry with me – as if it’s all my fault that this has happened.

Can you help?

Coleen says

It’s rarely one thing or one person that’s responsible for a relationship breaking down and an affair is usually a symptom rather than the cause.

However, it’s not fair that he’s laying the blame at your door when he’s the one who had an affair, and being bitter and angry is not going to get a breakthrough.

He has to be willing to open up and put in the effort and, if he doesn’t, you can’t repair things all on your own.

If you really want to work on the marriage, then you’ll have to go deeper into your problems, make yourselves vulnerable and be really honest about how you feel. Therapy might help but, again, he needs to be willing to engage.

Another option while you’re at stalemate would be to spend some time apart to work out if there’s enough to build on and whether you miss each other.

I know couples who’ve done this and it’s helped to build a bridge back to each other. Yes, it’s a risky move, but if things are impossible now then it might be worth it.

But I think unless you confront the issues and he is able to accept some responsibility for what’s happened, then it’s going to be hard for you to move forward.

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