LIFE

In 2006, I Took The Kids To See My In-Laws, Then I Learned My Husband Cheated While I Was Gone

by Rebecca Endicott
Becca is a writer and aspirational dog owner living in NYC.

You know what they say: When the going gets tough, the tough get going!

When you find yourself in a difficult situation, it can be nearly impossible to move on, but our weekly Ask Becca advice column is here to help!

Each and every week, I select questions from our readers about life, love, money, and everything in between.

If you have a question of your own, you can send it my way by emailing AskBecca@LittleThings.com!

I select four submissions to discuss in the column and love to see readers open up the discussion.

Last week, we took on the end of a marriage, difficulty with grandkids, an abusive stepfather, and dealing with the death of a partner.

In this week’s column, we’ll be talking about meddling in-laws, where to celebrate major events, an unappreciative husband, and kids who are angry at their father.

Scroll through below for my very best advice!

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

**These names have been changed to protect privacy.

Overlooked And Underappreciated

Wife is upset when husband disregards her birthday
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

My husband and I have been married for almost 17 years.

We have three incredible boys, ages 16, 13 and 12. We got married young and fast.

Now, we have little to no physical contact with each other even though we sleep in the same bed.

He seems to put his friends first, and I literally have no friends or family within 400 miles.

My birthday just passed and he didn’t acknowledge it. He hardly ever does anything for me for anniversaries, holidays, and birthdays.

I keep thinking he will change and make an effort, but he doesn’t. He also had a few one-night stands when our youngest was a toddler and I was away with our kids helping his family out.

I go out of my way to do things for him: cards, notes, sexy pictures, and so on… He still makes me feel completely unappreciated.

I work a full-time job and so does he, but when I get off work my day doesn’t end.

I make dinner, do laundry, bus the kids where they need to go and he just sits there.

I try to talk to him, but he will not listen — will then just start a conversation with one of his friends.

He is very selfish and I don’t know what to do. And when he does want to have sex, I don’t. I don’t want to have sex with someone that treats me like that.

How can I fix this?

Anonymous

Becca's Best Advice

Dear Anon,

An outsider can never really know what’s going on in someone else’s marriage.

That said, my instinct says that you and your husband need to have a serious conversation about what you both get out of the relationship.

Right now, it sounds to me like you’re being used. You do all the housework and childcare, you work full-time, and he doesn’t even acknowledge you on your birthday. That’s a pretty poor way to support your wife.

I also can’t help but notice that there’s not a lot of affection in the way you describe your husband. The way you write, it seems like he may have used up all of your patience long ago and is now tap-dancing on your last nerve.

Honestly, he has a history of cheating on you. That deals a serious blow to a marriage, and you have probably never recovered your trust in him.

Even though the infidelity would have fallen in 2006, more than a decade ago, my hunch is that your marriage never really recovered, and that’s on him.

He’s not interested in having a conversation, so you need to show him that you’re serious.

Sit him down and explain that you are no longer happy in the marriage, and explain that you feel unsupported and unappreciated.

Tell him that he needs to seriously step up what he’s bringing to the marriage and that he also needs to prove he’s worthy of your trust.

Your next step after that might be couples therapy, which will send a clear signal to him that you aren’t messing around. After that, you might consider a trial separation.

In the meantime, I would see if you can carve out a little ‘you time’ to take care of your own needs.

Maybe schedule a personal day or two from work and indulge yourself. If you can find time to yourself every week then I would consider enrolling in a class or taking up a hobby.

Your kids are old enough to be by themselves after school, and it’s worth hiring the occasional babysitter to get some time to yourself.

As a bonus, enrolling in classes and getting more involved with the community can give you friends and allies. Tough times are always easier when you have a good support system.

Remember, marriage is a two-person job — it’s not your responsibility to do all the work!

Becca

Fed Up With Their Father

Children refuse to speak with separated father
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Hi,

I have a question. I was with my ex-partner for 20 years on and off. We lived together for the last 12 years and have two beautiful children. They are 14 and 12. We separated two years ago.

At first we were getting along, and he was seeing the kids and paying child support.

One day, we saw him with a new girlfriend. My kids got really upset because he never told them that he was seeing someone. The kids told him that they don’t want to see him.

So, Dad stops paying child support, and stops seeing the kids. Months go by, like seven months. We go to court so he can pay child support.

We go to mediation and we agree he will see the kids for an hour every two weeks until he regains their trust. We followed this schedule for a month, and now he wants more time with them.

The kids don’t want to see him at all. I have to force them to see him or talk to him on the phone.

I don’t know what to do? I’ve offered to go to therapy or go back to mediation, and he says no.

Thank you,

**Sofia

Becca's Best Advice

Dear Sofia,

I have to applaud you for being so mature and thoughtful in how you are handling an incredibly difficult situation.

It can be really painful for children to watch their parents split up, and I think you have done a great job of trying to make sure their needs are being met every step of the way.

However, even when you do absolutely everything in your power to ease the process, your kids are still entitled to a certain amount of anger and emotion.

Both kids are at a vulnerable, temperamental age. It can’t have been easy for them to realize that their dad is dating again, and it’s not surprising that it made them so upset.

I think your ex didn’t help matters by deciding that, if the kids didn’t visit him, he didn’t have to pay child support. His job as a parent is to communicate that he loves them and will support them (financially and otherwise) no matter how they feel about him in any given moment.

I think it’s great that he now wants to be more involved in their lives, but he can’t force them to forgive him, and neither can you.

If they decide to forgive their father, that’s a conclusion that both kids will have to come to on their own.

In the meantime, you can help them by establishing a few household rules. Make it a rule that everyone in the house has to speak respectfully of your ex, even if they don’t feel affectionate.

In addition, I would consider making a rule that the kids need to invite their dad to all major events, like plays, awards ceremonies, and so on.

Those situations make it easy for him to express pride and affection for his kids, and might help soften their attitudes toward their dad.

It may be an uphill battle, but you can help to nudge everyone to a happier conclusion.

Good luck, Mom. And don’t forget to let yourself off the hook sometimes. You are doing everything that you can!

Becca

Interfering In-Laws

Wife waits for husband to return to motel
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Dear Becca,

My husband and I have been having problems for a year now; we lost our home and ended up homeless. We have been living out of our car and motels for the past year.

His family has been on him to leave me, and they would take care of all his problems.

We had decided to move to my hometown and start over. We were a week away from moving out there when our car was towed. Sigh.

So my husband called his brother to see if he would loan him the money to get the car back.

He met up with his brother at a bar across the street from the motel we were staying at, and never returned. I filed a missing persons report.

Finally, after a week and a half, I finally got him to give me a sign of life.

I messaged him on Facebook and told him, if he wanted a divorce, to unfriend me.

He did not, so I started messaging him trying to figure out what happened — why he left.

Well, his brother told my husband if he left with him that moment, he would help him. I guess he thought that if he left he’d get his car back. Well, that did not happen.

All his brother did was put him on a bus to his parents’ house, and there he sits in the middle of nowhere.

They told him if they even catch him talking to me that they would throw him out of the house with nothing and no way to get to me. I have no car to go get him.

My question is what do we do about his family?

Deep down I know that they want to help him, but also it is unhealthy the way they treat him. He is not a child; he is a 32-year-old man.

They have tried to break up every relationship he has had, and I am not going to let them ruin my marriage.

What needs to be done or said to get them to mind their own business, but not hurt them so badly that they disown him? He is afraid that he is going to lose his family.

How can he tell them he wants to be with me? I want to write them a letter, but I know he has to be the one to do it. What should he tell them?

**Lisa

Becca's Best Advice

Dear Lisa,

I have a lot of empathy for your situation; it’s never easy to be apart from your spouse, particularly when it’s not your choice.

However, I think you need to approach this situation with an abundance of caution.

One the one hand, it’s very possible that your husband’s family is interfering and trying to break the two of you up.

On the other, I think you have to consider the possibility that he is the one trying to end the relationship without having to take any of the blame.

I think his story seems a little bit shaky. He’s telling you that his brother forced him to leave you and to go home to his parents.

Now, the parents won’t let him leave the house, and he says that if you talk to him, he might be kicked out.

As you point out, he’s a man in his thirties. To me, it seems like he had a lot of opportunities to stop this supposedly out-of-control situation.

He could have simply turned down his brother’s request. He could have chosen not to get on the bus. And he can leave his parent’s home anytime he likes.

At the very least, he could have contacted you sooner and explained the situation, since he has access to Facebook.

I also think you have bigger priorities than him right now. He’s comfortable and safe, if not exactly happy. You’re still homeless and without a car.

Leave him be, and focus on you.

I would seek out a homeless shelter that helps women in need, and build a home base.

Use your energy to find work of some kind, and try to save the money to put a more permanent roof over your head.

Prioritize yourself first. Once you feel more stable, it might be time to have a serious conversation with your husband about what he wants and where you both see your marriage going.

Good luck, and remember to take care of your own needs above all,

Becca

Your Family Or Mine?

Wife and husband unable to decide with which family to spend the holidays.
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Becca,

I’ve been married to my husband for two years. We were together a year before we married. Things were so great, until this year!

Every major event, we went to his family. This year, I finally decided to celebrate with my family. But he feels obligated to still go to his family and not with me.

I’m a big believer in the Bible. I believe in cleaving to your spouse and not to your family.

What should I do? I want him to feel obligated to do what I want to do.

Thanks,

Stressed Wife

Becca's Best Advice

Dear Stressed,

You and your husband are facing a dilemma that crops up in just about every marriage.

The answer to your problem is pretty simple: You and your husband need to agree to alternate major life events with the two different sets of parents.

Of course, that’s a lot easier said than done, and different couples have different approaches. Some couples switch between sets of parents each year while others may try to stretch the event so that they get to see both families.

I also think that there’s nothing wrong with occasionally taking a ‘divide and conquer’ approach.

It’s great to be with your spouse on big holidays, but for an event like Mother’s Day, where you both want to see your own mom, there’s something to be said for splitting up for the day.

Also, I think it’s worth noting that it won’t always be like this. The two of you are newly married. You’re going to have to juggle things for a few years to keep both sets of parents happy, but the tables will turn when you start your own family.

A few years down the line, you might choose to flip things around and invite both his parents and yours to celebrate major events at your house.

Eventually, the parents will want to relax and take a break from hosting, and that’s your opportunity to swoop in and bring everyone together!

Enjoy all your celebrations!

Becca

LittleThings Writer Becca
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

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