I don’t know if you can help or if you’ll reply but I felt I had to write something to someone.
Basically I’m married, have been for 15 years, when I was 22. It’s been very rocky and we’ve had our problems. The thing is though I don’t think I’ve ever been true to myself, just gone along with things, just to keep the peace and keep my husband happy.
But now I’m in my late thirties, something’s happened and it all must sound pretty sordid but I know where my heart lies. I’ve always been fond of my husband’s brother in law, we’ve always just clicked, ever since I met him 14 years ago. The thing is about two years ago, when I was at a really low point in my marriage, but a high point within myself, he started to make it known how he felt and after about 6 months of flirtation together with resistance, we began to have an affair, I’m ashamed to say. I say ashamed but deep down he’s lifted me up and made my life a thousand times better than it was. I’m so in love with him and it’s mutual, completely and he’s prepared to begin a new life with me etc and it would be the most fantastic life but obviously the complications are huge as he has four children, I have two. I’m terrified of hurting everyone and ruining their lives.
I know it’s utterly wrong and we’re betraying my husband and his sister. It’s hideous when I think of us all together as we all get on brilliantly, the children all adore each other. But we’ve got this massive secret. He’s unhappy with his wife and I feel taken for granted and my life is passing me by.
My mother passed away three weeks ago and she had a difficult marriage to be honest and sacrificed her life. It’s made be think life is so short, and life just carries on when you’re gone and It all seems so odd really. I just want to be the happiest I can be and I know with him I would be.
I don’t know what advice I’m looking for, but I hope you won’t judge me and talk about marriage vows etc as I’m well aware of what I’ve done. But I can’t help how I feel for this man. Can a person love two people at the same time?
When parents die we often make massive changes in our lives or look at our situation and think “Is this all there is to it?” You no longer have the person who you might have feared would tell you off about your behaviour. You are now truly a grown up with only yourself to answer to. And if you look at how your mother probably gave up her own choices and needs for her own family, it’s not surprising you now wonder if you’re going the same way and if it’s worth it.
So –okay. What to do? I’m never in favour of sacrifice. You demonstrate the result of it – your mother’s decision to stay in an unhappy marriage for your sake didn’t necessarily benefit you. You knew she wasn’t happy – did that make you feel “Well, that’s fine because we were alright” or does it leave you with guilt? Do you honestly think your husband and more importantly your children are blissfully unaware of your feelings, your dissatisfaction and your affair? Oh sure – you may have got away with the actual details. But I have to tell you, if I had a penny for every child I’ve heard from who KNEW Santa doesn’t really exist and Mum is copping off with someone other than Dad but kept the secret because it seemed expected, I’d be very, very rich.
Can you love two people at the same time? Hell – two, ten, twenty. You love your kids as well as their father, don’t you? Love is infinite. Attention, however, is limited and for every moment you sneak off to be with your lover, your children go without, and you deny yourself and your husband the chance to sort it out. Being in love doesn’t excuse bad behaviour, either. You can’t help what you feel but you can help what you do about it.
My advice would be to give your marriage one last chance but do so with commitment and energy. Make an appointment with Relate, tell him you’re going and you’d like him there too and even if he says no, go. Use the sessions you’ll be offered to sort out what is really best. Either to remake this relationship or to end it, with finality and dignity and in the understanding you may no longer be partners but you’ll always be co-parents.
If you do decide to part, do so and THEN look to linking up with your lover, who meantime should have done the same. But don’t make one conditional on the other and be prepared for him to change his mind. The vows made in the heat of illicit passion may cool when faced with the actuality of a real relationship. Which is why the make or break option should be something you consider carefully. Leave if and because the relationship is something you can’t tolerate, not because the grass seems greener elsewhere. Choose that option and you may be in for a shock. I do wish you all the best!