I do not understand my ex-husband’s manipulative ways

In 1996 I found my spouse to be having an affair. For the next four years it was back and forth between attempts to keep the marriage.

We had been to several marriage counselors, only there was never any continuation once we saw them. My Ex would stop coming after 2-3 visits and, my spouse would always start back his affair and, there was never any real depth in talking about what, why or how this affair was happening.

During this time frame, I kept hearing, "I love you," "I’ll do anything," "I can’t stop thinking about you," "I’ll go to counseling..." yadda, yadda, yadda.

It was like my spouse was or had a Dr. Jekyll & Hyde personality. Confessing his love and commitment one moment and then running to his lover the next. She was his co-worker. I knew her.

The whole ordeal is terribly long, painful and triteful. We are now divorced (after 28 years of marriage) as I could not handle the pain any longer. That is no longer my dilemma.

As the betrayed spouse, I have never received any answers about the affair. I have never received any offer of remorse, with the exception of my ex once saying that he "owed a lot to me" and once during the affair saying, "sorry"—which was countered by his Jekyll and Hyde personality saying, "What about my happiness?" "I love you but I’m not in love with you anymore." yadda, yadda, yadda.

There were many ill-kinded acts of resentment on my ex’s and her part. In truth, I felt at times they wanted me to hate them so I would do all the breaking up and start the divorce (which is what I did).

To this day, my ex will not talk about what happened. It is like we are strangers at yearly family holiday meetings. My ex-spouse did not stay with her. Rather he has moved out of town and has had several relationships inbetween.

My dilemma is that I feel stuck. I feel as though I was nothing to this person I shared 28 years and three children with. I am not being able to come to any type of closure regarding the whole incident.

It has altered my life (and my children’s) forever. We are Catholic and my ex refuses to discuss an annulment but rather has threatened me with, "If you ever talk about this again, I’ll never speak to you again..." (like my ex speaks to me anyway—he doesn’t).

I just don’t understand the mentality or reasoning behind my ex’s thought process. At present, I have taken to the thought that each person has the right to live their life the way they want, and I would never want to live with someone who does not love me. As well, we all have to come to our own spiritual enlightenment on our own path and time.

I don’t hate my Ex. I hate that he betrayed me, and continue to disregard my personal value, as well as to continue to leave me without the respect any human being should receive.

I still have questions. I still want answers, truthful answers, not about "what" my ex did but "why" he did it in the way he did.

Sometimes I feel like I am crazy. Like I am not good enough. Like I am never going to know the truth.

You should know as well that I have tried to keep myself busy by going back to college and graduating. I work full time. I keep close to my children (and now grand-children) and sometimes venture out with friends to dinner etc. But, for whatever reason, I feel empty and as though my life is on hold.

I, at this point, don’t care about him. What about me, the one who got left behind? How do they find what is called "closure?"

How do I fill the hole left in my heart? How do I overcome what feels like living a life of lies, loss, and trust?

I am stuck. I am depressed. And most of all, I want to live again… to “feel” alive again.

Yes, I have been seeking medical and professional help... but it is only "help.” I have not resolved this feeling of betrayal.

What do you suggest?


Where to start?

It’s not unusual for some people who are unhappy in relationship to force the other person to end it. Typically, such people make life so miserable that their partners want out. Doing so, however, is a very manipulative way of achieving one’s goal (see boyfriend is acting strange).

And while you don’t understand the mentality or reasoning behind your ex’s thought process, to be honest you probably never will. In all likelihood, your ex-husband doesn’t understand his own behavior. And if he did understand the motivation underlying his behavior, it doesn’t sound like he wants to share it with you.

Or think about it this way, you probably understand him as well as he understands you. In all likelihood, he probably doesn’t get why you need to know or why you won’t let it drop.

Most likely, the best explanation for what happened is also fairly simple: You and your ex are different when it comes to love and relationships. Some people approach love in a highly manipulative way—as a game to be played with little concern for other people or their feelings (see ludus and lovefraud).

Is there something wrong with you? Probably not. Life is unfair and you happened to marry someone who was highly manipulative and uncaring. Such individuals tend to be good at hiding their true nature early in a relationship. If that is the case, there is probably no way you could have avoided this situation.

And as far as “closure” goes, it’s a nice concept. But, getting closure typically requires dating someone who would never put you in a position where you needed closure in the first place. Again, you’ll most likely never truly understand his behavior—it’s outside your way of thinking.

Finally, how do you move forward? It’s great that you’re keeping busy, but keeping busy is only part of it. In fact, keeping busy for the sake of keeping busy, simply going through the motions, can often leave people feeling more empty (a restless emptiness). What helps is doing things that not only keep you active, but things which bring happiness into your life. However simple, small, impractical, irrelevant, or whatever, is there something which makes you happy? An activity where you lose yourself? Where you forget your troubles and worries, even if just for a little while? If you can find a way to bring some joy back into your life, it’s a start.

We wish we had better advice to offer.

 cheating husband | going crazy | life shattered | ludus

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