He’s married – it’s not a problem

Dear Suzie,

I’m in love with a man much older and who is married with two kids.. which I have been aware of since day one. We started off as good friends but things changed.. never realised when this happened… it took us a while to acknowledge this. I know I love him and he loves me too.. and I’ve never wanted him to break his home.. he loves his wife too.. says he loves both of us.. I don’t really have a problem with it and am unable to stay away from him…

You don’t have a problem with it? I wonder if his children would have a problem with their Daddy having a bit on the side. I wonder if his wife (‘to love and to honour, to have and to hold, forsaking all others, until death do us part…’) would have a problem with it.

You see, the problem with indulging in relationships with married men is that it isn’t just between you and him. Other people are involved, and other people get hurt. A much older married man would know that. So I wonder what sense he makes of all this.

Is it love? With a marriage, two children, a home and a life together are his feelings for you so unique, so strong that he’s prepared to put it all at risk, to accept the fact that three people will be devastated, hurt, rejected and harmed if this becomes known? Or is he convinced it can be kept secret – and prepared to have a proportion of his time, attention and efforts stolen from his family and given to you? If the latter, you need to recognise he’s perfectly happy to have you give up the chance to have a home, an exclusive relationship and children to stay as his mistress.

Has he done this before? Or is this part of the old Mid Life Crisis Thing, where a middle aged man, feeling his years catching up with him, fearing his wife and children have got fed up with him, searches for a young lover to make him feel potent again?

Let’s get a few things straight. I concede that people can’t help what they feel – you can find yourself drawn to someone even if they are in a relationship with someone else, and if you are committed you can still fall for someone other than your partner.

But you can, you most certainly can, help what you do about it. You make a choice when you let feelings run on, and even more when you act on them. He has decided to betray his wife and children, and to use his age and authority to use and impress you. You probably think this is Real Love and the first time. I have my doubts.

Of course you can stay away from him, if you choose. Of course you can go on playing with this, if you choose. Just don’t think you get brownie points or absolution by saying you can’t help yourself. You can.

A lot of people are going to be hurt if you go on, not least you. If you were a friend of mine I’d tell you to stop fooling yourself, to stop denying this is a problem and to drop it – now. As a counsellor, all I can do is suggest you consider your options carefully and to make a choice. But be aware it is a choice, not a case of being driven or helpless. Whatever you do and whatever happens is entirely in your own hands.

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