“I am separated from my husband because I have reasons not to trust him. Also, despite my complaints, he is online texting with WhatsApp all the time, even when he wakes up in the middle of the night and while he’s driving. Yet he never texts me or lets me see who he’s chatting with, and he doesn’t have a job.”
Secrecy and social media
Clearly there are several issues at play here:
1. Your husband is addicted to WhatsApp.
2. He has lost interest in you.
3. Worst of all, you are losing your self-respect in this relationship.
1. He is addicted to texting.
Texting can become a real neurological addiction, which is pursued despite the harm it causes to yourself and those around you. Jeanene Swanson writes in “The Neurological Basis for Digital Addiction”:
“So what happens is, you hear a sound [alerting you to an incoming text message], and your brain says, ‘There might be something good there, I’m going to check it.’” At that point, the mesolimbic dopamine circuits are activated, and a small surge of the neurotransmitter is released in the brain. “What you’re getting addicted to is the dopaminergic hit. With texting addiction, there is an added element of waiting for a response,” Karter says. “It is the anticipation that hooks us.”
Your husband’s texting addiction is the number one preoccupation in his life. There may be others but he has not shared them with you. He is allowing this “addiction” to destroy his relationship with you, and endangering others by driving while texting. The time consumed while “chatting” is preventing him from otherwise honoring his relationship with you and getting a job
Given that he does not admit that he has a problem, I don’t think he will change any time soon.
2. He has lost respect and desire for you.
Your husband isn’t interested in texting and chatting with you much because he knows you are always available, and he is annoyed by your complaining about him. He is on the defensive with you. Even if you didn’t complain though, he would be more drawn to texting with others because of the anticipation of response from people who are more fun and not in constant pursuit of him.
I recommend that you stop complaining and that you stop or greatly limit your relationship with him. You should pull back from someone who treats you with much less interest than his ether-based paramours. He will not suddenly desire you if you simply complain and pursue him while he neglects you – what’s the fun in that?
3. Loss of self-respect.
A loving long-term relationship requires that two people cherish and nourish the relationship. Your husband is not nourishing this relationship and your love for him. Continuing to pursue him despite his indifference toward you is a turn-off to him and is causing you to lose self-respect.
You need to stop obsessing over his texting. Instead you need to invoke self-discipline to move beyond someone who is living for his addiction. Don’t let fear of being alone misguide you. As long as that fear persists, he has no need to accommodate you in any way.
Rather than focusing on him, focus on your own challenge, which is to avoid wasting your time hoping for an addict to change his ways. You could say something like, “I’m so sorry but I’ve lost respect for you and recognize that your online relationships are more important to you than ours. I know you’re better than this. But I want to be with someone who wants to do something with his life, and puts me and our relationship first. I wish you the best of luck.” I would then move on with your life.
If you stop all contact with him, he may start contacting you more, which might please you temporarily. But don’t expect too much because like most addicts, he will probably go right back to more “exciting” cyber interactions. But you will have regained your self respect and your life!
by Dr. Alison Poulsen