Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Her Husband Lived Like Tony Soprano

Hello Terry,

I would like to ask your opinion and advice. I was married 34 years to a man who I felt loved me tremendously, and I had a good life. In 2004, he became someone else and the result for me was emotional, mental, and financial abuse. I am now divorced since January 30, 2007.

I am 58 years young and in good shape and am told I look 45. I tell you this, because I have not dated during or after the divorce, almost three years. I am alone most of the time except for my children, night classes at college and a support group. Alone is fine for me, but feeling lonely hits sometimes. Since I had filed for divorce, people have chosen to inform me of my husband's last 34 years, and it's been more like a Tony Soprano storyline!

My question is do you think I'm 'hiding out,' avoiding any social situations to escape meeting someone? I would love to meet a man to share my life with, but I am doing nothing to make that happen. Do you think I'm so 'shell shocked' by the betrayal of my husband that I'm like that ostrich with its head in the sand, and what would your advice be to help myself?

Thank you,

Once Bitten, Twice Shy

P.S. I have had many invititations to dinner, lunch, drinks and whatever else they could do for me, but those invitations have been from married men!

Hello, Shy-

First off, let me offer you my condolences about this unthinkable ordeal. Do I think you're shell shocked? I'm not a psychologist, but I know this: I'd be devastated if I'd endured a tenth of what you did. Who wouldn't be rocked to their core after finding out that the man they loved for 34 years wasn't what he seemed?

And I can't imagine it helps when people come along to fill you in about his true character.

You may very well be 'hiding out,' and who could blame you? Your trust in the man you loved, not to mention your own instincts has been utterly shattered. You should congratulate yourself for making your best effort to move on by taking night classes and joining a support group. I respect that.

If you decide you really do want to meet someone, but you're terrified by the prospect, it might be a good idea to talk to a licensed therapist (get recommendations) to work your way through your very reasonable fears.

As for the married men asking you out all the time, well, they're not helping you to develop faith that a happy, trusting relationship is in the cards for you. Keep telling them to get lost.

Although I never experienced a betrayal that ran as deep as yours, one way I was able to work through my fears about relationships was by writing the word "marriage" on the top of a piece of paper. Then I wrote, without stopping to edit myself, whatever words popped into my head about it.

Most of it wasn't pretty, but then I got to see in blue in white what exactly held me back from moving forward. Once I brought my fears to light, I worked through them.

I wish you all the best in working through yours.

Be patient with yourself. You've only been divorced 13 months, after all. Give yourself all the time you need to gather your strength. If people upset you with news of your former husband, shut your ears to them.