Laura on: "Those Aren't Fighting Words, Dear"

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/02/fashion/02love.html

I am so overwhelmed by the response to my New York Times Modern Love essay, “Those Aren’t Fighting Words, Dear,” and I want to thank you for your support. I am in no way a marital guru; rather just a regular married person who loves her partner and like so many, went through a hard time. I am happy to say that ours is a success story, and I’m, in my own way, grateful for my marital “adventure” in that it gave me the opportunity to practice what I had been working on privately in my interior life. The map is not the territory. My husband gave me the territory. I wrote a book about it as it happened, because, as a writer, that’s what I do. I needed the book I was writing to be finished and sitting on my bedside table, but I couldn’t find it, and so…I wrote it. I wrote it to process what I was going through and to hopefully one day help people. Wonderful worlds are opening up to me in this regard. I will keep you posted. It is a profound experience to read your comments and though I can’t respond to every one, please know that I am deeply honored that my story, even in its essay form, has somehow helped.
Yrs.
Laura

58 Comments

Filed under "Those Aren't Fighting Words, Dear"

58 Responses to Laura on: "Those Aren't Fighting Words, Dear"

  1. I was also was deeply moved by your (and your husband’s) story.

    It may be one that changes the lives of many people – perhaps this is what you’ve heard, but I want to add my voice in appreciation.

  2. After reading your story in the NY Times, I went looking to see what else you had written. I think what you shared about your marriage was important and will be interested in reading more of your stories about Montana, a state I love very much.

  3. You’ve inspired a million new words in me as well as a new closeness with my husband and a new realization of myself.

    I thank you so much and I thank fate for leading me to your essay.

    All my best.
    Betsy

  4. allison munoz

    A simply gorgeous piece of writing. Beautiful. I look forward to reading more of your work and good luck with it!

  5. Your piece in the Times was brilliant and oh so badly needed by so many. Thank you!

  6. MR

    I like the IGCI (the Ironic Grammatical Correction of the Idiom) that you have going in the titles of the blog and the NYT piece. Reflects the way your sensibilities filter the wilderness of both Montana and the heart.

    Looking forward to reading your posts, from a fellow trying to do some writing down here in Bozeman

  7. I thought that your piece in NYT was moving and beautiful and profound and true. I happened across it as I was researching a piece involving J. D. Salinger, and it reminded me of his work in it deep humanism and profound generosity. Thank you for sharing what must have been one of the greater challenges of your marriage.

    • lauramunson

      Thanks for your words. Not-so-dirty secret: each year on my birthday, I re-read “Franny and Zooey.” So you couldn’t have flattered me more. B-day coming up, and all.
      Yrs.
      Laura

  8. Bruce

    I’m still “processing” your article at the NYT and the comments attacking it that followed. It seems like it was a good experiment ably recounted if we are to trust your accounting. Many of the comments were simply reactionary and without repose or genuine consideration of your experience, and I wanted to support you for sharing your story in the face of such disapproval. This is probably a testament to how pervasive blame is in our culture rather than a more nuanced view of life. Others might have been a little more thoughtful, but seemed quite arrogant and almost ideological.

    As for not being a marriage counselor, well, that’s not all bad, is it? I mean how sensible is it to turn life over to the experts who believe they can package and systematize wisdom? It’s great to see a self-reliant frontier mentality in Montana. We could use a lot more of that in the current health care debates.

  9. Jonathan Jordan

    I was moved by your article. Are you of the Buddhist persuasion, or did you come to this enlightened outlook on your own?

  10. david & rebecca

    what book are you referring to in this post?
    fabulous piece in the times, my wife and i loved it.

    thanks!
    d&r

    p.s.
    franny & zooey: good stuff.

  11. Denis Dyson

    I have just read your NYT article “Those aren’t Fighting Words, Dear”, and I commend both you and your husband for not taking the ‘easy’ path (when in reality there is no ‘easy’ path).
    Your children are the real winners; to see adults work through difficult issues without denial, self-pity or recrimination, what a wonderful gift/lesson you have given them.
    I thank-you for the lesson you have given me, I will endeavor to share with my daughter.
    Denis.
    Denis Dyson

  12. Daniel

    I had just had a major fight with my wife (a mutual one) and was wondering what the future might be, when I read you piece. I realized that I recognized too much myself in your description of your husband, but am now trying to change that and adopt more of your attitude. So far, so good.

    But like many others I am sure, I am wondering how you got to the state where you were able to respond so calmly. Were there books (“End of Suffering?) or other things that helped you get there?

    Thank you.

    • lauramunson

      Thank you. I simply didn’t want to be in pain. What a powerful way to live. Esp in crises. Not perfect at this!!!! Trying.
      Yrs.
      LAM

  13. Hi Laura,
    I’m still thinking over your piece and have so enjoyed reading all the comments here on your blog (and thanks for your response to mine). I’m so grateful to “meet” all your other appreciative and thoughtful readers. I think I’ll give the NYT comments a miss!
    I’d like to know more about ending suffering. What does that mean? How do we do that? I’m still coming to terms with the death of my baby son at three days old three years ago, and my subsequent infertility. How does one not suffer? How does one step free? I don’t think you’re talking about any level of denial here. I’d love to know more.

    • elizabeth

      Valerie,
      I realize I’m not who your looking to respond to your questions. I just really empathize with you. After 3 miscarriages (took lots of fertility drugs just to get that far) and crying for what felt like 4 years straight, my husband shortly there after confessed to “not feeling the way a husband should feel for his wife”
      Once I got over the initial shock and feelings of betrayal because I thought we were in it together, I started to realize as much as we are married, he is not responsible for my personal happiness or good mental health.
      I’m trying very hard to practice gratitude on a daily basis. And as new agey as it sounds get a lot from the books “A New Earth” and “The Power of Now”. A well as councelling.
      Hopefully this does not come across as me down playing your tragedy. J.E.R.M

    • lauramunson

      VALERIE– you have had a tragic loss. I breathe deeply here. I don’t know what to say– I’m just a person with a huge heart and a writing obsession. And perhaps we meet here for a moment. You asked, so I’m going to plug in the philosophy and practice that worked for me: I have been through grief. It attacks like an animal. There is a time for it. And then there is a time for, dare I say, growing out of it. When that is appropriate…then we can re-join our lives. And we can control what we can control. Do you already know this? I’m just sending out some of what I’ve learned, your way. We can be in control of our happiness. Or at least, our wisdom.
      Yrs.
      Laura

  14. Hi Laura,

    I thought you would like to know that I received more responses from fellow family lawyers when I blogged about your article than I have ever received in four years of blogging! They loved it. August 8th, a Saturday, saw over 450 people on my Blog (high for a weekend) and on Monday, when lawyers hit their incoming email after the weekend, there were 729 people — many referred to this post because of blog subscriptions and my referral to my peers.

    Here’s a link to my blog post. http://tinyurl.com/l83xn6

    I am looking forward to seeing your story in book format.

    Jeanne M Hannah, Traverse City, Michigan

    • lauramunson

      You are AMAZING! THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT! I’m trying to buckledown to get the book version really powerful…and I LOVE all of your support! Truly. ox
      Yrs.
      Laura

  15. Laura,

    Words cannot describe the feelings I experienced when a good friend of mine copied me on your article, “Those Aren’t Fighting Words..” After being married for 16 years, my husband came home one night in February, sat me down and uttered the exact same words. Your piece was so compassionate and lovely and made my heart sing as I had the exact same response to his “awakening”. My husband did move out but we are now in counseling and hopefully looking forward to a very happy future together with our 2 boys. I have listened to my friends beg me to take a different stand and to consult lawyers etc but I have stood strong, set firm boundaries and allowed him to work through this very difficult process knows as mid-life. Thank you again sharing your beautiful and moving thoughts with many of us who can understand exactly how difficult but awakening this process can be.

    Karen Starr

  16. elizabeth

    Laura thank you for your article “Not fighting words” it would take me too long to explain how much your article hit home. I’m hopefully that my situation will end the same as yours. It gives me hope.
    Thank you
    J.E.R.M

  17. A A Lyons

    I just read your article and cried like a baby. I have dealt with this very same problem in recent years and although I did not take your calm approach, it originated the same way and is ending up in the same place, hopefully. Yeah I look like an idiot, a fool, a doormat, but hopefully it will all be for the best.

    Men can’t be men until they feel like men and they will try to blame you for it. I am not letting that happen anymore. I look forward to your book. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    You mentioned “The End of Suffering”; is this what you were referring to: http://www.theendofsuffering.org ?

  18. Laura -
    I received a copy of this article from a friend yesterday. I am now going through this. My reaction was very similar to yours. I trust in God to restore my marriage. When in difficult situations we often don’t realize that others are going through the same thing. Although it feels very personal, I realize it’s not about me…it is about his internal struggle. Thank you for reminding me that it isn’t personal.

    “We are faced with a problem that seems to have no human solution. There is no end in view and has all the marks of an endlessly impossible situation…..this is the platform upon wich God does His greatest work. The more impossible the situatio…n, the greater God accomplishes His work.” – Perfect Trust by Charles Swindoll

  19. Hi Laura,
    I just read your article in The Week and loved it so much I find myself propelled here to tell you. I have a question for you: Are you a fan of Byron Katie and “The Work?” Do you know who she is? Because your approach to your marriage and your life is not only Taoist but it’s downright Byron Katie-ist. And a blessing to have out there. Thank you!
    Truly inspired,
    Elise

  20. Rana Murr

    Hi;

    I’m from a far country called Lebanon in the Middle East, with different culture, but with the same problems.
    I read your article 2 days ago as my therapist send it to me.
    i’m married for 5 years now, with 2 kids and the third on the way, I’m with myhusband since 10 years.
    On my third month of this preganacy I heard the excat words:”I don’t love you anymore, I want divorce, the kids will understand one day.” And he blamed ME for stop loving me.
    I didn’t buy it either. but the only difference is that I didn’t duck it, I cried, I ranged, I begged, at the end I duck it.
    we’ve been in this rollercoaster for 6 month now, my baby is due in less then a month and he still coming late sometimes, not telling what he’s doing.
    I’m praying ad putting my trust in GOD that my story will end like yours.
    I want really to thank you for sharing your experince with everyone, as here in my country we are so discret about these things, women will bear all the martial problems without saying a single word, and the men take advantage as they know that if the women talked they want gain anything, but the opposite, they can’t say, like your friends, “kick him out” cz they simply can’t.
    Your story is realy a great motivation for every woman out there going through the same.

  21. Amy

    Dear Laura,

    I write to commend and thank you and your husband for having the courage to share your ordeal. I find it truly remarkable that instead of allowing your pain to shatter your spirit, you channeled it in a manner that would provide inspiration and strength for countless others.

    I would also like to share with you and your readers that occasionally men “of a certain age” experience a drastic change in personality not dissimilar to that of your husband because of a physiological issue. I’m not suggesting that I think this is what your husband was dealing with, but for some people, it might be.

    Awhile back, my forty-something husband began to behave like a different person. He knew that he was not himself, and he feared he was losing his mind. Fortunately, he was self-aware enough to realize that the problem originated within, and he began to research and then consulted with our naturopathic doctor, who ran some tests. He discovered that he had a chemical imbalance, I believe primarily related to testosterone (too much, I think). The naturopath prescribed some supplements and we made some dietary changes, and after some time, he returned to his old self.

    I mention this because I just feel that folks should not discount the possibility that sometimes couples face challenges that are not caused by fissures in the marriage, an affair, or a mid-life crisis, but rather, simply because of a health issue.

    Again, thank you for your raw, honest writing. Your eloquence and insight are immeasurable. I look forward to the book!

    Best Regards,
    Amy

  22. Rebecca

    Laura, I was so happy to read your piece re-printed in “The Week” magazine.

    When my partner did a similar thing, I also refused to take it personally…and I thought I was the only one crazy enough to take this sort of posture! I spent a year giving him no reason to blame me, getting out of his way and letting him sit with himself, where he couldn’t project onto anyone else his own trouble in being happy. I knew that I couldn’t give up the person I loved when I knew the whole thing wasn’t about me, I had too much pride for it…the feeling of waste in the idea was too painful.

    All my friends told me to break up, he tested me in 100 different ways, but I looked at him and saw right through it. I hung in there for a really hard year, sometimes I had so much doubt that the only thing I had to hold on to was the memory of being certain at a moment when I was more clearheaded.

    Thankfully, he came out of it, better than before. He is a beautiful man and a great partner. I’m so thankful to read about a similar journey, it takes a lot of perspective to keep your ground when the person closest to you tells you the worst things you could imagine (I don’t love you anymore), but I do believe if more people had it, it could save so many relationships.

    Sometimes we don’t know how we feel, if, as a partner, we see better than the person themselves, its an act of love to call them out on it and not be an accomplice in self-deception.

    Thank you so much, again.

    • Emily

      I really enjoyed your writing about your experience! I admire your strength and that you had figured out the internal happiness, outside of the achievements. And I was wondering what you had read and done that helped you with this.

      I am not in the same situation as you were. My husband and I have just had our first child and are feeling that distance that comes along with the new baby. I’m wanting to get back to being close as we were before when the glow and anticipation of our little boy was there. But I know a lot of the problem is in my own head. I am struggling with feeling satisfied with what I do in the day at home with our son, never feeling that I do enough. I have been seeking that internal confidence that you wrote about, that helped you through the tough times. I would really appreciate it if you can recommend some books that you read along your journey. Thanks!

    • Dear Rebecca and Laura
      I met my counsellor for the first time this week as I need advices. After hearing my story, she gave me Laura’s article that was published in last week’s Sun Herald magazine and asked me to check out her website.
      I have been happily married for 22 1/2 years and have been with my husband for 29 1/2 years. Happily married for over 22 years – we were very compatible, fantastic relationship – my best lover, my best friend, wonderful husband and excellent father. I am now going through almost what Laura and you had described. He didn’t quite say “I don’t love you anymore” but “I would like to move out to see what is like living my myself, have my own space and my own thing. I am not sure if we have much in common anymore…”
      I believe he is going through the mid life “adventure” and is lost. He said he needed “space”. He also has a lady friend whom he enjoys drinking and sharing intellectual conversation. He said he is not interested in her but reading mid life crisis, I realised it is called: “emotional affair”. When I was upset, he said he wouldn’t see her again but I don’t believe he is ready to do this. He wouldn’t tell me who this person is as he said I would over react and would be embarrassing as she is a good friend.
      It is so hurting, so hard to try to cope and manage what is happening but reading Laura’s and your letter, I hope I could be strong: “Duck, weave and wait”. I have good days and bad days and because he is such a beautiful man (like what you described your husband), I felt I need to “duck, weave and wait” and hopefully, able to share the happy stories like Laura and you.

      However, is there a good book I could read to help me cope whilst waiting for my husband to get out of the “mid life” crisis stage. What did you do to manage your feelings? Did you attempt to cuddle your husband and not sure how he would re-act, or did you leave him alone?

      Like you, I couldn’t give up the person I loved for over 29 years and I know he loves me too but confused at 56 years of age.

      I would like to know how to support him, get through this terrible stage of my life, stop crying and stay positive. Having experienced this, would you or Laura be able to give me some practical advices to survive and hopefully, I am able to tell my “happy story” (I hope) to help others one day?

      As my husband is such a beautiful man and I don’t want to give up so easily but I don’t know if I could get through and wait indefinitely (you said you went through for nearly a year – it just happened about 3 months ago for me and it is scary to think it may go on for a year).

      Your advice on how you managed when you went through those terrible times and how you handled your husband during his confused state of mind would be greatly appreciated. It may help me too.
      Thanks
      Michele

  23. I went through something very similar in my marriage late spring/summer. I chose to look for the gifts in the experience and embraced them full on. Gifts like learning to take down my walls that kept others out, including my husband. Gifts like moving towards him in love instead of away from him emotionally. I hope I never have to experience what I did again but I will never regret the gifts of growth and healing that came as a result of it.
    My tale includes some infidelity. We are rebuilding trust and doing well today. Which is another gift.

  24. SenoraSantos

    I just read your NY Times article “Those Aren’t Fighting Words, Dear” in The Week. I wanted to just say thank you for writing this. I wonder if you have read “The Power of Now” because it sounds like you used some of (Eckhart Toole) his ideas in overcoming the challenges you faced in your own marriage.
    I’ve been married for 2.5 years now to a wonderful man. We have an 8 mth old son. We met, fell in love and married all within 6 months. Within a year and a half we had purchased a house, started a new business, got pregnant and moved to a new town, away from friends and family. Needless to say, we’ve been through some challenges of our own.
    Eventhough it seems like I’ve been transported to the ‘fairy-tale’ love story, we’ve often had some hard patches. When we fight, his anger can be devastating and I’ve allowed it to penetrate my very essence. Sadly, I often measure my own self worth according to his appreciation of me. Lately we’ve been fighting more than normal. I was diagonosed with PPD after a difficult labor and he basically seems to think I’ve made the entire thing up just to torment him. On the good days we are in a paradise, on the bad days I am in hell. I’ve suggested counseling, which he vehemently opposes. Yet, there is something inside of me, call it power, call it understanding, call it maturity, that knows that I am bigger than the mean words, the fights, the cold shoulders. I can only hope I am right.

    What puzzles me most is that I can see how his actions are a result of his own insecurity. Yet he says he has no fear, and somehow manipulates each conversation so that I end up feeling like I am the one who is acting from a place of anger and fear. But I really do start from a place of peace, with love and good intentions….sometimes, though, I can’t help wallow in fear, judgement and doubt.

    I keep telling him that I am here to love and support him. I say that my self worth is not dependent upon our marital success. I say that we’ve achieved what I believe we had set out to achieve and this pleases me to no end. That losing it now would be such a shallow loss. He says he loves me but unconditionally, but it feels hollow when he says it.

    Your piece inspired me to continue to work on my own inner self appreciation and value me for me, rather than fear the loss of everything based on his actions. Maybe someday he will come around and sit across from me at the table and say thank you too. That is a wonderful thing to wish for.

    Thank you again.

  25. Hope

    Dear Laura,

    I read your article yesterday which was published in the Sunday Herald (Sydney, Australia), I think you have just changed my life for the better.
    I’m not in my forties and I’m not even married.. But I felt like your story relates to mine on so many levels.
    Because of you Laura I have decided that my own happiness depends on me, not our relationship, I’ve decided that he needs space to figure out who he is & all we need is time. Because of you I have decided to duck, weave & wait.

    Thank you on so many levels.

    xx :o ) I’m now smiling.

  26. Hi. One of the readers of my blog (in which I journal my feelings and experiences as an LDS woman dealing with her husband’s infidelity) sent me a link to your article. I came and commented, but it didn’t show up. I must have done something wrong. I just want you to know how much I appreciate what you wrote. It is the approach I am living as well, and in the face of the many ‘nay-sayers’, it is good to find I am not the only one not willing to give in to the temper tantrum being thrown by my husband.
    Good for you. I’m looking forward to reading your book. Incidentally, writing my own experiences has been immensely therapeutic for me. I have been thinking of doing the same (publishing). Of course, I have to get to the end of this thing first!
    Much love being sent your way, and much thanks,
    Gigi

  27. Laura

    I just read your article, “Those Aren’t Fighting Words, Dear,” on Oprah’s website and cannot express the gratitude and relief I felt knowing that there is someone else who made the same choice I made to not allow my husband’s issues to interfere with the way I wish to experience my life. I do love my husband, but his battle with depression has overtaken him over the last few years. While I understand that that my husband is suffering, I chose to ask him to give me and our very young daughter a respectful distance while he works out his issues. I have my bad days, but I manage to stay the course. What I find most difficult to bear is the unsolicited advice and insensitive comments of well-meaning friends and family. It’s been so hard to explain that I am not focused so much on the outcome of my marriage as much as I am trying to experience a good and fulfilling family life. I’ve gotten better about how I hear the comments and manage to not buy in to feeling judged. In reading your article, I realize that I am not wrong in seeking peace for myself and my daughter, and I now feel a certain strength in maintaining the integrity of my beliefs. Many thanks.

  28. Laura,

    I just read your essay, republished in “The Week”, and was blown away by your strength, courage, love and your wonderful writing. Wishing you and your family all the best!

    Eric

  29. Pingback: A treatise on Modern Love… « Heaven Help Me!

  30. Dear Laura– I read your article in the NY Times when it was published and have since talked about it and sent the link to dozens of people. My brother was inspired enough by it to attempt a reconciliation with his ex-wife. She is joining us for Thanksgiving.

    Tomorrow, I am speaking to a group of 16-18 year old girls and have turned to your article once again. Not for marriage advice, obviously, but for the concept of a non-negotiable “End of Suffering.” You have a strength that I want these young women to develop and I want it for myself.

    May you be blessed in all you do,

    Michelle Lehnardt

    • lauramunson

      Michelle– Your words meant so much to me this morning. I went to a party last night and a woman approached me, wondering why in the world I would have written that essay and exposed my personal life. (I’ve got a 300 page book version of the essay coming out in April, so that will be even more confusing to her!) Thank you for reminding me why it is so important for people to be willing to be vulnerable: to provide potential relief for others. Your note did just that for me. And I’m glad if my writing can inspire it in people. Have a GREAT Thanksgiving! Much to be thankful for!
      Yrs.
      Laura

    • lauramunson

      I’m so glad you’re teaching this powerful way to live to young girls. Imagine if we learned that we could be responsible for our own well-being when we were teenagers! That it’s no fun to play vicitim! To seek peace instead of drama! Go, Michelle!
      Yrs.
      Laura

  31. Kelly

    Laura,

    Over the past 6 months, my husband has been causing difficulties in our marriage. Just a few days ago, things had gotten so bad that I was ready to leave him, then someone pointed me to your article in the NYTimes. For the first time in months, I have been able to see the forest for the trees. You have given me the courage to stay and fight and a new way in which to do it. I have no idea how things will turn out, but I am more optimistic and hopeful than I have been in months. The weight has been lifted off of my shoulders and placed onto his. Thank-you so much for your words of wisdom.

    • lauramunson

      Kelly– Thanks for sharing. Regardless of the outcome, it’s a powerful way to live when you can see where you’re suffering, what you can control, what you must let go of if you are to be freed. That’s the weight lifted from your shoulders that you referred to. So many of us walk around with that weight, not even knowing it. Google Michelangelo’s slaves– esp “Atlas.” None of us have to live like that. I wish you the best!
      Yrs.
      Laura

  32. Donna

    My husband is currently deployed overseas and has been talking about divorce. Our problems go back many years over a 12 year marriage, he has been through multiple deployments and is (I firmly believe) depressed. He says he loves me still but is tired of hurting and hurting me.
    As of right now we are in a separation of sorts and I am curious to know what was on your responsible separation list. Upon his return in a couple months I’d like to have an agreement that establishes some ground rules.
    I sincerely like your suggestion, though based on the last year I can see that it was a terrible struggle to maintain that kind of consistency. I admire your strength.

    Thank you,
    Donna

    • lauramunson

      Donna– I admire your strength too. The list I got was off of Divorce.com. I’m not finding it right now, but I bet if you surf around, you’ll find something very similar, if not the same list. It was the basic stuff you’d think: money, living situation, rules with the kids– all heartbreaking, but necessary to look at if you’re going to separate. But more than that, it was a way to really take the medicine. That this would be the future. Just to look at that list was enough for both of us to really think again. I like the word “responsible” before “separation.” It takes us out of reactionary mode. If he’s depressed, that’s a whole different ball of wax. I hope the military can provide him with a good therapist. You have so much stress on you. I hope you are able to get exercise, eat right, and talk to friends or a therapist. You don’t have to be alone.
      Yrs.
      Laura

      • Donna and Laura,

        I write to affirm Laura’s concurrence with the phrase “responsible separation.” I love that concept and as far as I know, you’ve coined a new term that should become a standard for families.

        As a family lawyer, I have many clients in various stages of divorce, including separation or attempted reconciliation. I encourage my clients to do everything possible to reconcile or to separate responsibly for the reason that by acting like adults and working together responsibly, they can solve their problems in such a way that they will, hopefully, continue to co-parent effectively. Some of these people have, of course, another 16 or so years of co-parenting to face.

        When I initially blogged about the New York Times article written by Laura, [here http://tinyurl.com/l83xn6 I heard some skepticism among my peers. Many expressed the thought that women like Laura were just wimping out. I said “No. It takes a lot of strength and courage to try to make it work.”

        As I continue to read the new comments on Laura’s blog, “it touches my heart” (to quote a dear friend) to know that Laura’s approach has given strength, courage and forbearance to many women.

        Donna, I so agree with Laura’s advice to exercise and eat right. About the “talk to friends or a therapist” I’ll give you my advice based upon personal experience. When I went through an extremely difficult divorce, I chose the therapist route. Save yourself . . . and save those precious friendships. This is just one person’s opinion, but I say pay someone to listen to the hurt. Keep your friends close by not making it difficult and burdensome to be around you.

        As for your husband’s depression: I handle a fair number of military divorces. I see a lot of servicepersons returning from Iraq or Afghanistan with PTSD (post traumatic stress syndrome). One of my clients is such a person whose courage and strength astound me. He’s been proactive in getting special head trauma treatment.

        So get to know the people who can help both you and your spouse with the PTSD issues and any other physical issues. Advocate with everything you’ve got for services to help both of you. The services are there. But you’ve got to go get them. For some available resources, see the Military Family section of my website here. http://tinyurl.com/yg82nce

  33. Helen

    Am going thru similar situation myself. Your story has given me more strength than you will ever know.

    I think that when we get through this we will ultimately look back on this episode positively. It has rocked my world and caused me to really examine our relationship and see where we can grow and improve. Our marriage will never be the same, I am confident it will be much stronger.

    Funny that such a painful episode in your personal life has precipitated such positive development in your professional/artistic life.

    Life is truly a long game. I know I will get through this and good will come of it – just hard to know what form it will take.

    I so look forward to your book.

  34. Mark B.

    Hi Laura ! I’m from Europe and your messages also have their effect here ;-) … I’ve just read your article in the NYT and it touched me, it touched me a lot. It can go the other way round as in my case it’s my wife who’s struggling to know if she’s still in love with me. She almost said the same words your husband did : “I don’t know if I ever loved you”. She thinks she doesn’t love me enough but in fact it’s not about me, she’s looking to find herself, to find her place in this relationship. And all I can do is get out of her way for her to find what’s she’s looking for. Even before reading this, I’ve had the exact same reaction as you when she told me a few days ago. It was a kick in the face but I unexpectedly kept my calm. I usually panic … We used to have the same kind of problems some time ago but we let time heal the wounds, cried about it, argued and went on with our life. Even if we’re only married for 3 years and we know each other for 4 years, a lot of critics might say that it’s too soon, we’re too young etc. And it’s all probably true but there’s no timing on love and it’s like we’ve know each other for much longer (I’m 33, she’s 26). I’ve decided to give her the space she needed to sort things out and told her that there’s no way that she’s going to rip this family apart ’cause that’s the easy way out. I gave her the options: “or you fight and we change things; or we change nothing and divorce eventually; or we divorce”. I said to her I chose the first option knowing I needed to give her the time and space to think. She hesitated to agree because I already told her that before thus the first step still is mine to take, to show her I give her the space she needs. But I can do this, for the first time I’ve read about this on the web because at first I didn’t know what to do. Your article gave me the strenght to get trough this and opened my eyes, whatever the outcome may be. Yesterday she asked me if I was scared, I told her I was but told her I was mainly feeling strength and confidence. I’ve read at least a hundred topics about this subject and you may believe it or not, it’s yours who gave me the “push in the back” I needed … Thank you ! I’ll keep you posted !

    • lauramunson

      “Whatever the outcome may be.” That’s really important, in my opinion, and I’m glad you’re thinking that way, Mark. Thanks for sharing your story. My very best to you.
      Laura

  35. Our mutual non-blood relative, Bobbie G, just tipped me off to your column and book. I was so moved by your story and wish you much success in your career as a PUBLISHED author. :)

    Warmly, from cold Chicago,
    KF

  36. Laura,
    Love, Love, Love your book!
    I’m taking it to my twin sister today. I know she will love it too.

    Looking forward to more of your books.
    Best Wishes!
    Colleen

  37. jesse armerding

    I just wanted to say a very simple but deep and sincere thank you for this article. A friend of mine sent it to me. We’re both in our 20′s, and have both been affected by our parents separations/divorce. fighting off hopelessness about the future and relationships can be all kinds of hard. I know not every story ends up like yours, but your insight, grace and strength are so very inspiring. Thank you for being those things and for sharing them with the rest of us. A very different type of strength that is so noble and deeply loving, but also intelligent. many thanks yous and all the best to you.

    • lauramunson

      Jesse– I am so happy when I hear from people in their 20s because the message of my essay and the book (which I wrote first and which came out in April: THIS IS NOT THE STORY YOU THINK IT IS– A Season of Unlikely Happiness) is not age specific, nor gender specific etc. It’s something you can plug into wherever you are in life. Being responsible for your own well-being, esp in crisis, brings with it terrific freedom. Thanks for reaching out and for your kind words! yrs. Laura

  38. Jill

    Hello! I am currently going through an eerily comparible situation and have been also taking the high road approach (for the most part – slip ups have happened). I found the essay – Those Aren’t Fighting Words, Dear to be very encouraging – however, I do ask, do you think that his crisis, also causing him to be wrapped up in an affair would still benefit from these tactics?? Looking for more encouragement in this current season of life!

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