Should I end my marriage?

Dear Suzie,

My wife recently had an affair with another man which totally devastated me, I left home and moved into an apartment of my own and have been there for 3 months. This was not her first affair, she’s had three that I know of and I thought this was the final straw and I was prepared to end the marriage, we’ve been married for 30 years! She stated that she didn’t love me anymore and wanted to leave and be with the other man but he has since broken up with her leaving her all alone.

During the time we were apart I started to see socially a dear friend that I’ve known for nine years and have become very close to her, however my wife asked me to give her another chance professing her love for me and now I’m torn in two and am so confused.

I’ve told my friend that I’m moving back home and have effectively moved back in with my wife, I still feel love for her and we never lost contact throughout the time we were apart and met each other often because we have an 11 year old child and I babysat while she worked nights, we used to meet on Mondays which are my day off and we often had sex too.

My friend has told me that she has strong feelings for me and I too have strong feelings for her although nothing has happened between us, I can’t get her out of my mind. She’s backed off me now and has cut off all communication and has said that I should give the reconciliation 100% but I feel I can’t do it anymore, my heart isn’t in it.

I find the whole situation intolerable and I really don’t know what to do, I feel that in my friend I’ve met my true soulmate and that we would be very happy together but neither of us wants to have an illicit affair. Help!

It sounds very sad and you have my sympathy. Clearly, you can’t go on as it is – something has to change!

There are two situations here and I think your real problem is that you are confusing the two. You seem to be feeling that your relationship with the other woman depends on whether or not you make a go of it with your wife. Thus, you keep thinking of the two women and swinging between one and the other, not being able to settle your mind on one or the other. Surely it would be so much better to address one before the other. You have been married for 30 years and have a child with your wife. You have a lot invested emotionally in that, so focus on that relationship first.

You were together for almost 20 years before having a child. I wonder why? Fertility problems? Or was the child an attempt to reignite or patch together an ailing marriage – an attempt that does not seem to have worked. You say your wife has had three affairs that you know of and tells you she doesn’t love you. She came back to you because her lover let her down. You still love her, and most important you have a child between you, but you do seem to be saying that her behaviour has hurt you and left you lacking in trust – or in self esteem and self worth.

If I were you I’d make an appointment with a Relate counsellor. I wouldn’t ask her to go – I’d make it a given; you’re going and she’s invited to come along too. With the counsellor, explore and understand your pain and hurt and maybe hers too. Discuss what you want and how you might co-operate to get it. That may be to stay together, with some commitment and some work. Or it may be to agree to end your couple relationship and be co-parents but not partners. If you decide that, then you can approach your friend and start again as a free man. Good luck!

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