Love Isn’t Always What It Appears to Be

Dear Dr. Hurd,

I have been married to my husband for almost 18 years. He is not very communicative, somewhat blunt and not very trusting of anyone. He is quite well off and has always provided a very comfortable life for us both. 

He has two grown sons from a previous marriage (she is still around, and we are good friends). I love both of the boys and the feeling is mutual. I am as close to being their mother as I could possibly be. I have spent quite a bit of my own money in our relationship, buying furniture, occasional trips and other things, including elaborate gifts for his children. They all, of course, return the favor.

The problem is that my husband keeps me totally ‘out of the loop’ when it comes to his personal assets. He has not allowed me to read his will, and he will not discuss his finances, savings, etc. To add insult to injury (at least I feel that way), he has recently made his oldest son the executor of his estate.

I have no reason to believe that he has any reason to distrust me, or would not provide for me in the event of his untimely demise, but I have to admit that I feel hurt, left out, insecure and not trusted.

The subject cannot be brought up without him dismissing it, minimizing it, or just walking out of the room. Is there anything I should do or say, or should I just trust that he has done the right thing by me?

Thanks, Helen

Dear Helen,

Don’t listen to what people say; listen to what they do. If there’s ever a contradiction between the two, what they do is what’s for real.

I wonder what your husband has to say about his position that his son, not you, ought to be the executor of his estate. From your description of him as ‘not very communicative,’ I expect he has said, and will say, nothing. So you are left with no choice but to ‘listen’ to his actions.

I must be frank in stating that his actions are powerful statements, indeed. Does he have every legal and moral right to do with his estate what he sees fit? Absolutely. But why on earth does he not want his wife—his chosen partner in life—to feel secure in the fact that she is (possibly) the beneficiary of a portion of his assets?

Though your husband is guilty of insensitivity towards you, he is guilty of an even greater injustice against himself: He is living a profound contradiction, to the point of living a lie.

It’s a contradiction to pretend that you love somebody and want to share your life with her, but then, when it comes to important matters, treat this person as a casual acquaintance. I don’t understand why he has chosen to remain married to you if he doesn’t feel about you in such a way that it wouldn’t occur to him NOT to have you as his executor. I only know that either he’s unnecessarily and profoundly hurting the one he loves, or (as painful as it may seem) pretending to love when he really doesn’t.

His refusal to discuss this issue with you is revealing. It proves he has no reasons for his actions or, perhaps worse, he knows his reasons aren’t rational and he doesn’t wish to name them.

I will certainly never have insight into your husband, because I will never meet him or talk to him, and he won’t communicate with you about it, I’m sure. I can’t advise you to stay with him or leave him, but I can tell you this: You aren’t with a man who truly loves you in the usual sense. I furthermore suspect that he is incapable of that kind of love.

His trust issues—whatever their origin and nature—have killed a part of him and, sadly, killed any hope you may have of enjoying the close, trusting, secure relationship you want.

Pursue life in your best interest. Be open to a better possibility if it comes along. Money is very important, but don’t let it be the overriding factor. Try not to lose hope that a better life is possible. Your husband lost that hope, if he ever had it, but you don’t have to.

Dr. Michael Hurd


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