Q: I recently discovered that my husband is on several online dating sites. When I confronted him, he said he was sorry and claimed he wasn't necessarily trying to "hook up" with anyone. But his profiles on the sites state that he was trying to connect with people for those reasons. I have not found any real proof that he hooked up with anyone else, but he is such a liar I don't know what to believe! If we didn't have children, I would have already filed for divorce.
There are other issues, too - the biggest one being that his mother controls way too much of his life (both of them have said that I have no say in the matter). This online dating problem is just the newest issue and seems like the one that is breaking the camel's back in this so-called marriage.
Dr. Pepper Schwartz: Pardon me, but just because you have kids doesn't mean you can't leave. Women have definitely done it. If he has a job, he will have to help support you and them. If he doesn't earn money and can't help financially, then take this time to get a full- or part-time job and grow that career you've always wanted so you can eventually support yourself and the kids. Start planning for an independent life, because it sure doesn't sound like this one makes you happy.
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But to begin examining your situation, first speak with a counselor. You want to find out if there is anything you are doing that is exacerbating the problems inside your relationship. Maybe there are things you can do that will redirect his emotions and sexuality back into the marriage. It sounds like the two of you are living parallel lives except perhaps for the kids. Do you do enough things together to help promote a loving feeling? Is there any way you could fall in love again?
He is obviously unhappy in the marriage as well. He wouldn't be looking at dating sites and certainly not participating in them if he was, in fact, happy. You have proof that he is looking outside the relationship, so what makes you so sure he won't leave you? It seems quite possible to me. Either you have to work on the relationship - rebuilding fun, love and trust - or work at getting some survival skills should the marriage unravel. I hope you will first see if the two of you can find some good things to do together and see if you can enjoy each other's company and put each other first (rather than his mom!). But if that doesn't work, compose a life plan for life after marriage. Do not let everything fall apart suddenly, with no plan about how you and your kids would or will create a better future.
Dr. Schwartz answers questions every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Submit your question here. Read more of Pepper's columns here . And be sure to follow Pepper on Twitter @pepperschwartz.
Photo by Don Hankins via CreativeCommons.org