Skip to main content

I made up a phantom lover to get my husband's attention

Dear Debbie,

For the past two years of my five year marriage my relationship with my husband has been quite bad.  Although I have read many of the self help books and done much of what was suggested, my husband seems oblivious to the fact that our marriage needs help. I have tried to communicate with him better, give him the space he might be needing, setting once a week dates, asking him point blank to give me more attention as well as just trying to keep busy so that I don't dwell too much on our problems.  Regardless of what I said or did, my husband just did not respond so, in desperation, I made up a phantom lover and told my husband I was having an affair.  Somehow I thought he would be jealous and finally give our relationship the attention it needed.  Well my attempt backfired and has only succeeded in creating more stress between us and my husband now wants a divorce.  I have told him I made the whole thing up to get his attention but he doesn't believe me and now I just don't know what to do.  I still love my husband and want our marriage to work out  and would appreciate some advice from! Signed, Desperate

Dear Desperate,

Although it is understandable that you want to turn this situation around, there is only so much you can do when your partner is oblivious to your pain.  It takes two people to make a marriage work and it sounds as though you have been trying to salvage your relationship alone which isn't possible. Your motive behind telling your husband that you made up the story about having an affair was understandably difficult for him to believe. However, asking for a divorce is a very logical and detached reaction and was,  perhaps,  the excuse he had been waiting for to end your marriage.

You need to try to come to terms with the possibility that you and your husband may be destined to get a divorce regardless of how much time you have invested in your marriage.  Before doing anything, however, seeing a marriage counselor or therapist might be worthwhile.  There may be some reasons of which you are unaware why your husband is so disinterested in working out the difficulties in your marriage.  An objective professional might be able to help you. 

If your husband is unwilling to participate in counseling you might want to go alone to learn how to cope with what is going on in your own life.  If you end up getting a divorce, try to remember how hard you worked on your marriage and do not blame yourself for being unable to salvage it.  If you do one-hundred percent of the work and your husband does none, you cannot be expected to do any more.

For more info: To have your questions answered by Dear Debbie, please email her at