Mark sought my help because he was thinking of leaving his wife, Linda. He had not been feeling in love with Linda for a long time, but they had two children and he really didn't want to break up the family.
"Mark," I asked, "Were you ever in love with Linda?"
"Yes, at the beginning of our relationship."
"Then what happened?"
"Linda seemed to get really insecure once I started my new business and had long work days. Even though I think I gave her a lot of attention on the weekends, she started getting angry pretty much every day. Then after our son was born, she seemed even more unhappy and irritable. She gets mean when she's angry and I just don't find that appealing. I don't feel close to her anymore."
"Have you said anything to her about this?" I asked.
"No," he replied. "She already seems so unhappy. I don't want to hurt her feelings."
"So how do you handle it?"
"I guess I just sort of shut down and pretend that everything is okay. But I'm spending more and more time at work because I don't like being at home and recently I met another woman that I'm attracted to. I realize I've got to do something about this."
"Do you really think that leaving her will cause less hurt than telling her your truth?"
"Well, if I just leave then I don't have to deal with her hurt."
"Mark, that's a lack of courage and integrity. And you have two children to think about. You once loved Linda and it's possible that you could again, but only if you are willing to be honest. You need to give Linda a chance to deal with this. She has no idea what's going on. She might decide to deal with her anger, or she might not, but at least give her a chance to make that decision. And relationship problems are never one-sided. Perhaps she has things to say to you too."
Mark decided to tell Linda the truth, even though he was really scared. He told her that her anger was pushing him away, and that he didn't like being home anymore because he felt so blamed and controlled by her. He told her that he was attracted to another woman who was treating him with kindness and caring, and that he wanted this from Linda. He told her he had been thinking of leaving and had sought my help and that I told him to tell the truth. He asked her if she would join him in counseling.