“I was the wife in an extra marital affair. The woman (You & Me, 22/1/2009) is at fault because the man was married, and, since he did not leave his wife in four years, he is in the affair only for a good time. She may have not given him an ultimatum but there is indirect pressure. She says his wife subjected him to “Henpecking, bossing him, sleeping in separate rooms.” This is only what he told her. The mistress would not know the truth. He told her only what’s music to her ears. My husband told his mistress that he only lived with me and had nothing to do with me. In the meantime there was nothing wrong in our marriage. Others looked up to us. Our friends asked us advice on marriage. My husband cherished me and showed me love with all his heart and showered me with gifts. He never forgot special days like birthdays anniversaries. This is behind us now after some counseling and lots of prayer. I forgave him for his mistake and we renewed our marriage vows. We now have an even better marriage than before, but my wounds are still healing and it will be a while before I place 120% trust in him again.”
“Regarding affairs: it’s not fair to generalize. Of course affairs aren’t right, but life isn’t perfect and people change. People fall out of love all the time and it’s hard to hurt someone you’ve been with for a long time even when you don’t love them anymore. Affairs are a big ‘gray area’ where situations differ. Often, it’s two people finding each other at the wrong time. I agree that those two people need to do what is needed to make is right. Sometimes it takes time to work through the details. I found that my affair partner was ‘comfortable’ in his relationship with his wife but not in love with her. At the same time, she knew she had not done anything wrong. It was hard for him to hurt her and be the ‘bad guy’ in the eyes of family and friends. It’s the same with my husband: I no longer loved him but he had done nothing wrong. I simply fell out of love with him. Does that make my affair and me bad people? We care enough about our spouses to not want to hurt them, but realize it’s not fair to them or ourselves to live a lie.” (Edited only for word count)
“I am in an affair with a married man. Although it is a year it seems like a lifetime. I was married when we began our relationship. My husband moved away and I thought he was going to make the break with his wife. One day he tells me not to give up on him. The next day he tells me he never said such a thing. He talks about ‘boundaries’ and how he ‘chooses not to leave’ his wife. I’m miserable. I go to bed alone every night. Every day I help him with his work while mine falls further behind. I would love some pearls of wisdom. I need to end this: but how?” (Edited)
The pearl of wisdom – “I need to end this” – is in your letter. Until you sever this destructive alliance (it’s not a “relationship”) you will have no joy. Until you have extended time alone (without a man in your life) you will not re-establish your integrity.
How do you end it? There is no easy way out! Resign. Disappear. Move to a new city. Change your phone numbers. You owe him no “closure” or explanation. Of course this is tough but the sooner you act, the sooner you will find relief from your misery.
“I am in an extra-marital affair and want to end it. I never ceased to loving or being intimate with my husband although my relations with another man have shattered some parts of our marital intimacy at times. I told my husband I also love another man and am sexually attracted to the other man. My husband does not find it wrong.. I think I crossed the border because there appeared dark corners and secrets. Could you share your thoughts about ending the affair?” (Minimally edited the portion presented. But a small portion of a much longer letter.)
I am not going to pretend to know what you should do or suggest you cut all ties and go “cold turkey” from your affair. Men aside, you have to decide what you want. Some emotional space from both men (sexual space, too) might be necessary for you to clear the atmosphere and allow you to see (think, feel, assess, process, clarify) more clearly than you are able to do right now.
While I might be legitimately accused of going against my own advice offered in previous columns, your dilemma portrays the complexity and power of human sexuality.
Sexual behavior is ALWAYS complex and this (its complexities) ought never be downplayed.
Your husband, I’d suggest, finds this (your love and attraction and sexual activities for and with another man) not wrong for deeper reasons than meet the eye.
Face your own dark night of the soul. Decide what kind of woman you want to be. This is what is in the balance.
I took on two stepchildren twelve years ago who have become wonderful adults who love all their parents. Here are some things I did to make life easier:
- I didn’t take the place of anyone. I took my place.
- I didn’t get in the way of their affections for their parents, but expected them to be well mannered and enjoyed their affection when offered.
- I got out of the way when there was conflict and let the people who had known the children the longest sort it out. If I was a source of the conflict I admitted it, stood my ground, or apologized.
- I found being rigid doesn’t work too well with any kind of family.
- I did not get caught up in trying to make everything fair. I realized this was a trap and I wasn’t going to spend my life measuring everything.
- I got out of the way when the children had conflict with each other and I encouraged their father to do the same.
- When I did not have full cooperation from my husband I let him know immediately.
- I was friendly with the children’s mother so we could cooperate regarding the children.
(Synthesized from a conversation)
“My wife is having an ‘emotional affair’ with a best friend who spends more time with her than I do. He hears more about her life than I do, and is closer to her than I am. I watch this happening and over time it gets more and more intense and I am supposed to be calm because it is a close friendship. We have children, a house, and careers: a lot to give up for this ‘friendship’ that carries none of the responsibilities of the marriage. Am I supposed to stand by patiently or blow it all out of the water? Please help.” (Condensed, with permission, from a conversation)Join your wife when she spends time with her friend. While it might be a tall order, I’d suggest you get to know him, offer also to be a friend to this apparently lonely man. Push the friendship to the limit. It will expose motives, and either re-unite you with your wife, or have you picking up after a divorce. To push, to question, and to join them (especially unexpectedly) when they are together (since she is your wife and they are “just friends” you do not need an invitation to or permission to join them), is your only way to escape the anguished limbo you are currently feeling – and it will offer you the potential to regain emotional intimacy with your wife.
1. Speak up where you might previously have remained silent.
2. Realize that not everything you think and feel has to be said or reported.
3. Focus on your own behavior and not the behavior of others. (This might be the most difficult of the 11 suggestions).
4. Rid your life of all blame.
5. Realize you are where you are as a result of your own choices.
6. Set small, secret goals involving no one but you.
7. Refuse to compromise when it comes to telling the truth no matter how much love may be involved.
8. Forgive where you might have previously have been resentful.
9. Do not function in roles not legally yours (don’t play wife if your are not, or dad if you are not).
10. Grasp the fact that emotional health is an individual journey and no one can be held responsible for your journey toward greater emotional health but you.
11. Clarify, for yourself, where you end and others begin. (This IS me, my issue, my responsibility: this is NOT me, my issue, my responsibility).