Relationship Question: He’s the cheater so why am I the ‘crazy one?’

Question:  My husband and I have major marriage problems, which have turned me into someone I don’t even recognize or like. While I don’t care about what others think of me, I’m mad that my children think I’m the crazy one in the relationship. I feel like they avoid me and they act scared of me. When my husband is around, they go to him and prefer to be with him because he’s the “calm one.” They’re pretty little still, so I can’t tell them what really happened in our marriage and why I’m acting so crazy. My husband has been unfaithful to me and has lied about money and other things over the years. If they knew that he’s really the crazy one, even though he looks normal and calm, they might feel differently about things. I hate that he’s the favorite and can hold things together better than I can because I’ve been so hurt. What should I do?

Answer:  I can imagine how crazy-making it is for you to have so much hurt showing on the outside with no real way of explaining yourself to those who matter most to you. I want you to know how much I honor you for working hard to protect your children from the details of your marital strife. Let’s talk about how you can deal with this painful dilemma.

First, recognize that what you’re really seeking is understanding. You want someone important to you to really get what you’re going through. You need them to see how painful this is for you and understand why it’s been difficult for you to hold yourself together.

Ideally, that person would be your husband, even though he’s the source of the pain. If you knew that he really understood what this was like for you and could care about the impact he’s had on you, chances are you wouldn’t feel so crazy. However, if he’s not willing to work through this with you, to attend couples counseling and own up to his own responsibility for the chaos you are experiencing in your relationship, then you’ll need to find the validation and understanding from someone else that is safe for you to be open with as you navigate your own troubled waters.

Because you’re having difficulty giving your family your best self right now, it’s important for you to have adult support from someone who can help you reconnect to your best self. This might come from a support group, from trusted female friends, from selected family members, from some in your church who are wise and encouraging.

I love Paulo Coelho’s counsel to “[not] allow your wounds to transform you into someone you are not.” Even though you’re hurting tremendously, you can heal and be your best self for your children.

This isn’t about competing with your husband to be the “favorite.” Instead, it is about you working to build your own relationship with your children that is separate from your husband’s parent-child relationship.

I’m thrilled that your husband is willing to connect with the children and build a relationship with them. That is in their best interest, regardless of his personal failings. However, if he continues to act out and betray the marriage, then he may force a situation where he ends up divorced and apart from his children. And that is rarely in their best interest. I hope, for everyone’s sake, that he’ll take full responsibility for his behavior and work to repair things.

Take charge of your mental and emotional health and get the help you need to heal from the trauma of betrayal. Your children deserve to have you back at full capacity.

Stay connected!


Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.


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Twitter: @geoffsteurer

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.

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  • Murat August 7, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    It is true that in general women are crazier than men:

    • Iggy August 7, 2012 at 5:44 pm

      “Women are bearing the brunt of the emotional stressors around us: they’re working, raising the kids, trying to juggle all these issues, getting all these things done, and they’re more likely to reach out and ask for help.”

      Yeah, so, first of all, YOU’RE WELCOME. Second of all, being able to ask for help makes you a stronger person. I would not call that “crazier” by ANY means.


    • Dghws August 8, 2012 at 11:35 pm

      You’re citing the Huffington Post as if it were a respected peer review journal and trying to link a report about women and prescription drug use to a specific problem in a relationship (the guy in this case). Why don’t you stick to something you know about…making more rambling negative comments about everything you can.

  • Not a Mormon August 7, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    He cheated, you get to.
    Go get laid.
    Stay away from the cult like this crackpot suggests.

  • Dsull August 7, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    Funny we spend so much time trying to get people to look at our achievements and qualifications instead of not being a Mormon, and you do the exact opposite. All I want is for the locals to my qualifications and abilities without knowing what my religious beliefs are. And in respect I do the same. Maybe you should try that more often.
    Lately your comments are more spite and less content. I find nothing in his answer that talks about the mormon church. Unless you know more about their policies than I do which is possible. I found that to be the same advice I’ve heard given to people I know from other Therapists.

  • Non Asian Pillow August 8, 2012 at 1:04 am

    To the person in grief:

    It’s tough to be the enemy. Get a divorce. Unfortunately, you have to swallow your pride and become one of those LDS statistics that are apart of a broken family dynamic. You’ve been casted out, according to you, by even your children. We live in an environment where people now get married and begin families while neither person has the maturity to be able to make it work “as they believe they want it, or others to want it to be.” In this case, you happened to have chosen a man that will look past his faith and resolve to the point of depravity outside of religious culture.

    Don’t turn to his parents. Don’t turn to your parents. Don’t turn to your brothers and sisters. Go with what you want feel you need to do.

    It’s no secret- it takes a high experience level of interactivity with people outside of “man come back from mission, we go to ice cream parlors and talk about the overweight singles in our ward” to get to know people. There are bad people out there, no matter the Jazzy glasses you have on. This guy you’re married to, is a bad person. You need to take the liberty to stand up for yourself.

  • Non Asian Pillow August 8, 2012 at 1:09 am

    Also, it’s obvious your “husband” is looking to head his seed across as many woman within his religion as he can. He’s a scumbag. Polygamy still exists. He just does it in a way a scumbag would.

  • Christian Wife August 15, 2012 at 9:48 am

    Contrary to the comments above, infidelity IS survivable. There are so many people today that will expect you to leave… even demand that you leave your husband. I was where you are now 6 years ago, my husband and I had a decision to make, one that as responsible adults with children we had to make together. We were going to stay together or we weren’t, and once we made that decision there was no going back. It took more strength than I ever thought I had, so many days where all I could do is beg God to help me, I didn’t even know what I was begging for… All I could do was beg. But through those countless prayers, a lot of couples therapy, endless patience, and so much work on both of our parts, we made it through it. Our marriage and our family as a whole are so much stronger than we ever had been before. We are held together tighter because we didn’t just take the easy way out, our marriage was worth the pain and heartache we went through, we loved each other enough to push through the pain, distrust, and disappointment to get to where we are today. The problem with the world today is that people think that there is nothing left out there worth fighting for.

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