Savage Love Letter of the Day: Should She Stay or Should She GO?

Comments

1
He must be the last man on the planet where she lives.
2
This guy has a wife that is enthusiastic about having threeways and they have then regularly. Why would you fuck that up?

Leave his dumbass and never look back.
3
Don't make your next wedding a destination wedding.
4
"I don't know how to make this shorter."
Uh, it's pretty clear to anyone else reading your letter.
5
@4: I read that as "I feel inclusion of all the foregoing detail is necessary to give him a fair shake whilst explaining my resentment."
6
I'm always shocked when people don't believe they deserve better than this kind of shit. Under NO circumstances should you have children with this dude!

Life is too short to be miserable about something you can change. And life is also too short to be miserable about the things you CAN'T change. Basically, being miserable is a losing strategy unless it leads you to GTFO and move on to something better.

As a side note miserable people tend to make everyone around them miserable too (misery loves company). Jettison the miserable from your life and you'll find it improves all on its own.
7
Also, letter writer is a hot mess and this relationship sounds highly problematic.

Step One: Dump him. Definitively. No threats to break up contingent on him doing anything, because you already tried that. File for divorce, get yourself a divorce attorney and let that person contact him for everything, and don't have contact with him again.

Step Two: Get yourself to therapy pronto.

Not ready for Step One? See Step Two.
8
I don't think the issue is so much what he did as whether she wants to be in her marriage with him now.

This would seem to be characterized by three or four things: drugs, alcohol, a degree of openness that has included threesomes in the past and apparently doesn't preclude them again now, and the LW's recollection that her husband cheated on her with her best friend, another friend and a friend-of-a-friend on (at least) three distinct occasions, lying to her about this and 'putting her away'--acting as if these lapses did not happen. These events have poisoned her trust in him, and she is now impatient in a fashion she recognizes is unhelpful, even offputting.

I'm not sure the past can be undone.

It's also not clear to me what GO means in saying she hasn't been a 'perfect angel'. My sense is that she has, over time, internalized her husband's lies and his questioning of her faith in him; she is maybe short or stroppy with him, and unhappy, but this has been precipitated by his cheating. I didn't get the sense that she's cheated on him; but equally there are, likely, certain eye-opening events she's left out that would show her to disadvantage. How much drinking and drug-taking did she get up to? Does she want a relationship (any relationship) without these props--I'm guessing she does--or does her husband's partial sobering-up pose a concern to her, in that she's not sure she knows how to conduct a relationship in sobriety?

She can 'love' her husband in some form while understanding that he's not the person she should have a family with, and so leave him--and maybe that's the bottom line.
9
Beware of sunk cost fallacy.
10
This sounds like a disaster filled with manipulation, lies and anger. He's certainly awful... sounds like you might be too (from your own admission). You need to ask yourself some questions... how did I end up here? How do I express dissatisfaction (a hypothesis... outbursts followed by capitulation...?)? What is normal to me? Where did I learn that this was normal, and what else am I fucked up about that I might not even realize right now?

Good luck LW, you've got yourself some emotional unpacking to do!! It is unlikely that you can do so while remaining in your marriage. On the bright side, late 20s is a great time to take this shit on, learn about yourself, change yourself and start over.
11
Solid advice, Dan. Pretty damn good for a guy who's probably turning into a rakghoul as we speak.
12
But at this point, my family already had purchased plane tickets for our destination wedding

Right here is where I lost any sympathy. As Dan notes, destination weddings are always a bad idea, and the corollary is that people who willfully have destination weddings are always bad people. Husband sounds shitty, GO sounds not much better*, and they should split.

*"I kicked her out of my home and screamed at my man for about an hour." So, lashing out in frustration/anger is a near-universal human response, but screaming at someone for an extended period of time is itself an abusive behavior. Even toddlers' tantrum meltdowns don't last that long. Doing the math and noting that GO has been with this douche since she was 18 softened my read a bit, as it may well be the case she has no reason to know any better (gods know our social scripts around dating, romance, sex, and marriage are trash) and she's been subject to the manipulations of an asshole for nearly a decade, but, on the other hand, destination wedding.
13
Out the whole parade of poor decisions laid out in this letter, the destination wedding is the one that chills my sympathy.
14
I used to be married to a guy who used "I was drunk" as an excuse for all sorts of shitty/scary behavior: kissing another woman at a bar (we didn't have an open relationship), getting into a fight while waiting for late-night fast food, passing out from a standing position and hitting his head on the ground. Plus there was the day-to-day roller coaster of living with an alcoholic: the moodiness when he was sober, the glorious-but-short-lived glow of the first few drinks, the who-will-it-be-this-time personality (horny? sappy? grouchy? sobby? preachy?) that emerged when he was drunk. And I put up with it because I also drank too much (although I managed not to pull the kind of shit he did) and because I thought -- on some level at least -- that I didn't deserve any better.

My life improved in so many ways when we split. Letter writer, I am absolutely sure that if you leave this dude, yours will too. You sound like an open-minded, thoughtful person, and although 28 may feel old to you, it really isn't.

It sucks that you felt pressured to get married despite your best instincts. I can see how splitting so soon after an expensive wedding would feel like failure. But you're not doing yourself any favors by staying married to this guy. Better to do it now than spend another 10 years of your life with him.

Imagine what the rest of your life is going to look like with this guy. Imagine what would happen if your dad gets sick, or you get sick, or you lose your jobs, or any of the other things that truly test a marriage. This man has demonstrated over and over that he's not worthy of your trust. If he can't be a decent partner to you now, when the going is still relatively easy, you can be assured that he will be useless when the going gets tough.
15
Sunk-cost aside, I don't have much confidence that she would do better. If she's "no angel", you can bet dollars over donuts that she's one of those types that is attracted to not-super-reliable men. If this guy is on the upswing (maturing, sobering up, settling down) he's probably a safer bet going forward than whatever future dude she might hook up with.
16
Sportlandia "I don't have much confidence that she would do better." Wrong. Alone is better. In fact, alone can actually be quite lovely.
17
A justice-of-the-peace wedding is always the way forward. Cheap, small, and you can back out right up til the last minute.
18
For the Letter Writer, end the marriage. Don't look back. You can find someone better. No matter if he is trying to change, he broke your trust. You are leery of him. Make the decision to end the marriage..
19
Husband is scum,
but LW doesn't really deserve better;
(sometimes dumb rises to the level of a vice...)
stay together (to keep any innocent bystanders from pairing up with either of you)
Never have children.
20
@19: What method do you use to change your name after you get shut down each time?
21
GO’s husband cheats on her every few years that she knows about, and GO acknowledges that she has done things which don’t make her a great spouse (although cheating isn’t something she has done, so she says). Before GO can know whether the marriage is definitely doomed, it might worthwhile to know whether there is any correlation between these behaviors.

One other point, in life, as in golf, you have to play the ball where it lies. GO says she would have done things differently in the past, but that is irrelevant, she needs to think about where things are now. GO notes that there has been a change over the past few months. That’s a quite short period of time to judge any change, but it may be the start of something, if it is genuine and she can get over her resentment.
22
You won't be able to trust him, and he won't be able to stop cheating and lying, LW, because it really doesn't sound like your husband regrets any of the cheating and lying to you that he has done. That means it wil happen again, and again, and again. Next time it might be a worse STD that you will be stuck with forever, one that will harm any children you will have, even if those children are not his, because you'll be a carrier.

Go NOW, don't even bother with counseling. You can do better, much better, than someone who is a serial cheater, and an unappologetic repeated liar who is risking your health, and the health of any kids you might have, without any compunction or regrets at all.
23
What’s with all the dumping on the lw and on destination weddings? The lw admits she’s no angel, something we can all admit to in one form or another. Certainly she was naive and too trusting. Better that then always suspicious and pessimistic. So she got angry. The next time your s.o. gives you a SDI after cheating on you, please let us know how long you are angry/frightened/venting. I think the most you can fault her for is that she wrote a long and perhaps rambling letter.

As for destination weddings, perhaps the lw wanted to have a big special event and perhaps she didn’t want to do it in her shitty little town. What’s the crime in that? If everyone can go to Albuquerque then why not Vegas or San Fran? The argument that destination weddings are more expensive and harder to get out of quickly applies to marriage in general, to having kids and even to fancy prom dresses. People do it for the fun and if it is not fun for you then don’t do go. (Full disclosure, I did not have a destination wedding when I got married)
24
I read all the time, but this is my first time posting. If you hadn't mentioned your age, I would have thought for sure you were the wife of my ex-friend.

Your marriage will never get better. Someday, you may want to get sober. You may want to stop drugs. You will get dragged back in because those are the things that add spark to your sham of a marriage. He'll cheat on you with friends, friends will tell you months/years later, and when you fly into a rage, he'll tell you it was such a long time ago and he was drunk/high and look how he's doing now! He'll blame you and tell you if you only hadn't quit drugs/alcohol/threesomes, your marriage would be fine.

Divorce the motherfucker already, and stay single and clean until you can truly be a good, loving partner to someone.
25
Can't top much of Dan's advice. The only thing I might add: reconsider your social circle. It seems like you have a lot of friends (and best friends) that have no problem hooking up with your husband. Those aren't friends... They're acquaintances who are fun to get fucked up with. I'm not saying you need to dismiss those completely from your life. Drunken acquaintances are half the reason your 20's are so much fun.

But there's a big difference between drunken acquaintances and friends. It sounds like you need more of the latter in your life.
26
If you give me chlamydia once shame on you,
If you give me it twice…
27
"...Why did he cheat when he didn't need to?"
1) He is off-his-meds bipolar, a terrible parent and obsessively working for the CIA. He needs to fuck other women to preserve national security."
2) Was told that "cheaters never prosper" but he doesn't fucking believe that fake news.
3) He was Anthony Weiner before witness relocation put him in your orbit.
4) Hey! If it's good enough for the president, it's good enough for him!
5) Scarred for life as a child by the Milli Vanilli scandal.
6) Lifelong dream to get on The Jerry Springer Show.
7) Wants to establish his Republican creds so he can become Speaker of the House when Paul Ryan retires.
8) Hoping to be the inspiration for a Madonna song.
9) Got bored inflating footballs for Tom Brady and needed a new challenge.
10) Knows that no matter how big of a repeated asshole he is, you'll just say, "Crazy, I know."
28
tl;dr:

DTMFA
29
Yes GO, at 27 yrs old, you have lots of time to start over with someone who doesn't lie and treat you with such disrespect. Do not settle for this sad story, this man you married is a jerk.
30
When I was in a seriously bad emotionally abusive relationship that I kept working so hard to change hoping he would miraculously change because I loved him, I saw a quote that hit me harder than anything anyone said to me. It was something like. Don't cling to a bad decision just because you spent a long time making it... Also you need to seriously rethink your friends. It's one thing to have a friend do that behind your back but multiple friends? Man I'd be pissed!
31
You can separate without divorcing. Do the whole work on yourselves bit for a few months or more. Then reach out by phone call. Then chat semi-reg. Then finally meet up again. You want to go right now because you don't respect him even though you love him. He's done this to you because he doesn't respect you (even if he loves you) . You have independent growing to do, the both of you, before you can respect each other. Only then will it work.
32
I've been in this lady's shoes. So similar it could almost be a history of some of my past relationships. And while it's easy to assume that her omitted faults in the relationship are fixed attributes, I know from experience that sometimes this isn't the case at all. I was not often a good partner to some of my exes, simply because my resentment at not getting my needs met altered my behaviour, whether consciously or unconsciously. But now with my husband, we have a marvelous and mutually supportive relationship, because we both respect each other and have never, in our years together, disrespected each other's boundaries to the point of creating that level of resentment. That resentment will never go away, and you'll spend the rest of your life wondering what you could have done/experienced/loved/seen if you'd let yourself have your own life again. Walk away.
33
Generous response Dan, sorry you've been/ are sick. Yeah she may love him still and heavens know why, and given that it's the LW who needs to get to therapy. This man is not going to change. He violated their relationship and those she had with her friends. The women not much chop either, but at least they owned up to the deceit. No, this is a deep disregard for women and their friendships, from this guy, way too much work going forward.
34
OMG I agree, fully agree with @9! Has hell frozen over? I suppose what they say about stopped clocks applies...

Really LW, DTMFA, spend a few years working on yourself and then, if you want to and the circumstances are right, you can find a new partner. The fact that your husband isn't a terrible person in every possible way, that you have had some good times together, and that you have some nice memories is not reason enough to stay. Your partner doesn't have to be a monster—and you don't have to an angel—to justify a divorce, especially when you're 27 and have no kids. (Also, very often, internalizing "I'm no angel either" comes of living with the abusive gaslighting of a cheating partner.) Leave while you still have some nice feelings about him.
35
RUN!
36
DirtyGerty @2 is right. This guy did not know how lucky he is, and he's gaslighted you to the point where YOU'VE forgotten how lucky he is to have someone like you. Ditch the jerk. You're 27; regardless of what you may or may not have done to make you not an angel (which you can work on with a therapist), you have a world of men at your feet who will appreciate the threesomes and not feel the need to cheat as well. Think about whether you, yourself, have any substance abuse issues. And think about the fact that this guy is the only man you've been with in your adult life. Time to see what else is out there, and yes, that includes living a happy single or singleish life without some lying jerk in it, if lying jerks are all you can find at the moment.
37
The only relationship GO has known from the time she was 18 to now is with her husband (she's had threesomes, but always with him there; and she hasn't seen herself as being in a relationship with these other partners). I feel she makes the assumption that any other relationship she finds will be similarly long-term ('finding someone else'). In fact, one of the main reasons I'd give for her to leave would be that 'someone else' doesn't have to be her default mode of connection: she can do all those things other people are reputed to do in their early and mid-20s, like date, have multiple lovers or FWBs, press on with a career, explore her gay side more (should she want to--and not to be tied to a dick as part of the equation...). It may be that culturally she thinks relationships are oriented to marriage, 'the one', 'happy ever after'; but again it may be too early, or she may be too inexperienced in having relationships as an adult, for her to think this; she can have a lot of valuable and fun experiences starting as a newly single woman.

I feel some commenters are supposing, in their tone as much as anything else, that it will be easier for GO to leave her lifelong relationship than is plausible. One idea that's running in her head is 'if I were going to leave him him, I should have left before the wedding when I knew about his fucking my best friend' or 'a year and a half ago, when the cheating and STD came to light'. No. She can leave him any time she wants. She can leave because the legacy of lies has proved so disabling, now that they're (more) sober, that she isn't comfortable thinking about the next sixty years. Or because she sees that her relationship was built on wild high jinx and avoidance, and is unsustainable when they've given up the first and the second is impossible. Or for any other reason. My sense is that she's better than the painful situation she finds herself in; but will be a while thinking through it, examining herself, thinking over her options.
38
No! Don't go to couples counseling! If you can't bring yourself to walk away from the marriage without looking back, if you can't just dump him, go to counseling alone to work on your own issues. The responsibility of a couples counselor is to both parties as a unit. That means being sympathetic to the asshole. It means working with him to discover reasons for his behavior, and by extension, it excuses the behavior. Couples counseling within a power imbalance too often turns into the asshole engaging the counselor in help dumping on the victim. You do not need a counselor seeing his side of this story or blaming you in any way. You're already twisting yourself into pretzels trying to be fair, and a counselor is too likely to pick up on that and join in. If you can't leave on your own, make an appointment with a therapist and tell the receptionist that you need help leaving an abusive relationship. Stick to that.
39
@32 Exactly. I haven't been fortunate enough to find the right relationship, but know what you mean about how being with the wrong person changes the person you are. Dated a guy who was emotionally abusive last year and it brought out the worst in me, compounding feelings of low self-esteem from his constant criticism. This guy was a real asshole and a cheating liar, but it's only because of other relationship experience that I could recognize it. Otherwise, it would have been very easy to make excuses (ie. He was having a bad day, he didn't mean it, or she's just a friend) for all the times he lashed out at me or his excuses for where he was and shady comments about other women. Narcissists are expert manipulators and a lot of times he was able to successfully normalize his behavior problems. I think a good guage of a relationship is whether that person brings out the best or worst in you. But like a lot of people I internalized all the verbal abuse and lies, thinking that if I had a better job or lost 20 lbs he would finally love me. Left him and realized what a damaged person he was and that my own flaws didn't justify his abuse. A decent loving person would have been honest/faithful and approach with kindness and constructive criticism and not abusive, hurtful words.
40
@39) You are correct about one thing, if you lost 20 pounds he certainly would love you more.
41
@40 Trolling me won't make your sad, useless, pathetic dick any bigger. You'll need a plastic surgeon and a high pain tolerance for that.
42
@38 @39 You are both spot on. This guy seems emotionally abusive based on the gaslighting with the IUD, the fact that the LW is calling herself crazy, and the cycles of relative calm/upheaval. LW, please do not keep calling yourself crazy or blaming yourself for not leaving earlier. Do NOT go to couples counseling for all of the reasons @38 mentioned but do get yourself into therapy on your own. If your partner really wants to save the relationship he would go to therapy on his own and work on himself (and ideally work with someone who specializes in working with abusive men). But my guess is that he's not going to be willing to do that or admit that he's done anything wrong at all. He'll probably just continue to put everything back on you and likely be really nasty about it. I agree with Dan that is seems like you want to leave - another reason why having a trusted therapist for support is important. It's really hard to leave emotionally abusive relationships and you'll need outside support. Two good resources are Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft and Healing from Hidden Abuse: A Journey Through the Stages of Recovery from Psychological Abuse by Shannon Thomas. It's never too late to start over.
43
Go, you’ve listed a lot of reasons why you could justify leaving this guy, but at the end of the day, the only one that matters is that you’re not happy because he’s not treating you the way you want to be treated and you don’t trust him to be able to make a lasting change to become the partner you want. So, leave.

BUT, the red flag to me was "I feel like I still have time to start over with someone who doesn't lie so easily to me". My 2¢ is that you should not leave with the goal of immediately finding another partner. Eventually you want to end up partnered, there’s nothing wrong with that, but until you figure out what makes you happy, how you want to be treated, what you want from future relationships, how can you possibly pick another mate? Leave with the goal of figuring yourself out and how to make yourself happy because when you know how to do that, you won’t settle for less.

@27 Donny – I nearly sprayed coffee all over my keyboard, thanks for the laugh 😊
44
Girliegams @39, and generally: One subconscious misconception that a lot of us seem to have is that assholes are not capable of love. "He loves me!" That may be true. But he's still an asshole. Falling in love does not magically turn bad people into good ones. Being in love does not turn a liar honest or stop a serial cheater from cheating. In other words, it's entirely possible that GO's husband and your ex did love her/you. But feelings are not behaviour, and if someone can't treat the person they love right, they deserve to get their heart broken.
45
@43 there are a non-trivial number of people that spend essentially none of their adult lives outside a relationship. From one to the next, non-stop. It's hard to say for LW who's been in a single relationship the entirety of her adult life, but the way she writes leads me to believe she won't want to be single for very long (if at all)
46
@44 Yes, true. You make a good point. Feelings and behaviors aren't always directly related. Possible that a lying, cheating asshole is capable of feeling love, but not capable of handling a relationship in a grown-up, mature, caring manner.
47
@45 Sport - I don't think I worded it very clearly, but that is what I was getting at. She's looking at leaving the relationship, in part, because she's still young enough to find another mate... not just because she's unhappy and wants to solve *that* problem.
48
I have to disagree with Fichu @38. Couples counseling is a good suggestion — though if your husband is manipulative you should absolutely be careful about who you choose, make sure it is someone who supports you as well. A decent couples counselor can help you two communicate and add perspective, which sounds like you could use. If Asshole Husband convinced you that not having enough sex (while you were under stress) was an excuse for cheating, you definitely need a sane third party to tell you both otherwise. Other stress will happen down the road, that’s how life is. Talking and support compromise might get you through it (if you want to stay married), but the way he behaved last time sure won’t.
And speaking as someone who went to a counselor with two exes (before they were exes), it can absolutely help make a cleaner end to a relationship, and you will learn more from it than you would otherwise.
49
I'm genuinely bothered by that the LW's admittance of imperfections means that she deserves to be treated badly and that the husband's stint of good behavior means he should be forgiven for anything.

Hell I'm wondering what the LW's 'crimes' are. I'm getting the feeling the real problem is that she won't let hubby do whatever wants and clean up his mess without complaining. Oh a maybe one time she was late a on bill or dinged the mailbox.

#10 has a good point that the LW needs to leave and then sit with herself and figure out why she put up with this for so long. No one deserves to be lied and infected with an STD. And not being perfect [something often leveled at women] should not be used as a justification for abuse.
50
MsAnonymous @49: We always get only half of a story, and rarely do LWs confess to their own wrongdoings. John @12 points out that GO "screamed at her man for about an hour" when she found out about the cheating. Nothing less than a cheating liar deserves but does it hint that she loses her temper on a more regular basis? She also mentions her own substance use, which may or may not rise to the level of abuse. I'm not saying that she deserves any of this, but brushing any of her own mistakes under the carpet certainly won't help her to learn and grow as a person. I hope a good therapist can help her sort out the difference between honest self-evaluation and the gaslighting she's been subjected to.
52
"I don't know how to make this shorter. I am a woman with a husband and I can't get over his lies."

That's... that's really all you need right there. A liar is a liar. He'll never stop lying. Get out. Don't go to couples therapy either - start on the divorce and get your own therapy to work on your own issues.
53
@50 Does it? Look I'm not saying she's perfect but at the same time none of her 'sins' seem to come close to her husband's bullshit. Did she use? Well so did he, why is her drinking a problem but his is acceptable? She yelled at him for an hour? He cheated on her and gave her and STD and lied about it. That's a downright mild reaction in my book.

I'm put off by the bean counting and the double standards, and the idea that she's a bad person because she won't be a doormat to her husband, who's now putting on a 'good boy' show to try and keep leeching off her for a few more years.

DTMFA. LW and run.
54
Couples counseling is a waste once a relationship gets this toxic. Pull the plug and GTFO, and then get some counseling on your own to figure out why you put up with such an asshole for so long.

And love is not a feeling. Affection is a feeling, infatuation is a feeling, attachment is a feeling, dependency is a feeling, and all of those are feelings that lying assholes can have. Love is an action : it's the choice to act in someone else's best interest even if you're not getting anything in return (i.e., it's not transactional). This POS doesn't love you. Figure out why you haven't been loving yourself.
55
Get divorced. Start over with someone who hasn't lied to you, cheated on you, and given you STDs. Marriage is a partnership that involves giving your highest loyalty to your spouse, and looking out for their interests as much as your own. His behavior showed he didn't respect you. He didn't take your don't-screw-behind-your-partner's-back boundary seriously, either before or after the marriage. That's not loyalty.

You'd be better off to get a fresh start on a life with someone new, or better still, learning to live happily single for a while. And the husband? Well, having to accept negative consequences for bad acts is what makes people learn lessons and clean up their act. So do him a favor, too: dump him...it's quite possibly the one thing that will prod him to do enough soul-searching to really grow up.

Trust, once broken, is damned hard to reestablish. And why should you work so hard to do that for someone who thought so little of you? Call it quits. You're young...half my age...you can and will find someone who will treat you better.