Note: This is the first of a two-part series. Click here for part two
Dear Neil: I need help. I am in a 22 year affectionless, sexless and loveless marriage with my high school sweetheart. I am also in a three year extremely passionate relationship with another woman who I am deeply in love with. I know that, on the surface, what I should do may seem easy. Divorce my wife, and marry the woman I love. But nothing in this case is either easy or simple.
There are three children involved, ranging in age from 17 to 7. My wife has an extremely hot temper, and if I leave her I would expect her to prove that old Shakespearean quote “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” I am concerned that she will poison the kids against me—or attempt to keep the kids from me all together. I fully expect she will attempt to spoil as many of my friendships as she can—including with my own family. And I greatly fear that she will ask the court for large sums of maintenance and child support that will cut my lifestyle down to zilch.
There are some good things with my wife, also. We work very well together as a team. We’re good friends. We have a long history together (I’ve known her since the 5th grade), we’re bonded with each other’s extended families, we are great parents together and we enjoy similar activities and interests.
So what do I do? How do I make a decision? I am so torn up over this dilemma that I haven’t been able to sleep for months. I know this is likely to explode on me in the long run. I am leaning toward divorcing my wife and marrying my lover, but how do I know if that’s the right choice? Please help.
Tortured in Wyoming
Dear Tortured: The best way I know of to figure out which woman to choose is to ask yourself—and to honestly answer—a very sober set of questions that come from Myra Kirshenbaum’s book When Good People Have Affairs (St. Martin’s Press). Here are the questions:
- If my lover just disappeared, and if I put time and energy into my marriage, including our maybe working with a good couple’s therapist, can I imagine a realistic scenario in which things would be better for us and I would be content to stay in my marriage?
- Suppose you divorce your wife and marry your lover. Do you have a compelling reason to believe that two years after you married your lover that your lifestyle would be dramatically better (or worse) than it is now? Is there a good chance that you’ll lose touch with your children? Will you lose a lot of money? Will constant hassles with your ex and endless legal expenses drain your nerves and your bank account? Will you become an outcast to your family and friends?
- Can you honestly say that two years after your divorce you will be happier—and the divorce won’t have dragged you down too far?
- Come up with as many items as you can that you enjoy doing or would like to try. Which of these interests, passions or shared activities do you enjoy with your wife? With the other woman?
- Thinking about your lover, what do believe her exes would say about why their relationship ended and what it was like to be with her?
I will continue these questions in next week’s column.
Mate, I’ve been where you are thinking of going. At 33 I looked myself in the mirror and said I’m not sexually of physically attracted to my wife of 6 years and yes there was a younger lover on the side acting as a catalyst to my thoughts. The marriage was a daylight beauty and nighttime nightmare ie during the day we got on like a house on fire, we joked, loved our 2 beautiful pups (which I can tell you, for us had similar emotional connecting roots as kids), did stuff together, it was brilliant, and she was talented in many areas I admired, but soon as the sun went down it was blaringly obvious the void of intimacy I had with her, and had slowly been coming to the surface over years. I was the love of her life and she loved me unconditionally. So, the usual with the lover, she was putting pressure on me to follow my heart and be with her blah blah (and yes I did actually love this girl and had huge attraction to her). So, after many months of going back and forth in a mindless mess of indecisiveness and confusion, I finally said I want a divorce. Well, get ready for an avalanche of pain. So much hurt. I immediately starting having all the flashbacks of the good times and it was excruciating. I’m a stoic guy but I’m not afraid to admit I almost topped myself due to guilt (of shattering her heart) and realizing what I had just thrown away. So, if I have anything to say from my journey, which went on for bout a year, I strongly suggest cutting ties with lovers, and giving marriage a fair shot. I think you have to be able to say you tried, and properly. Only then, if it doesn’t work out will you be able to move on. Trust me mate, I tried living with lover, but the ‘what ifs’ nearly killed me. You need to know you’ve tried. Regret of not trying will outweigh any extra happiness that the seemingly perfect lover will give you. I can promise you there is no pain like it.
Hi Rotti, thank you for your comment. You are 100% right. I was in the exact same situation. Just out of curiosity, did you go back to your wife? Did the two of you work things out?
I’m in a similar position, sort of. Except, while I married the sweetest woman in the world, our love life is non-existent, totally sexless, due to medical problems on her part. However, we never fight, and get on well.
On the other hand, my lover is a beautiful woman with a fantastic sense of humor. The only problem is that we live in different countries. We’ve been back and forth a couple of times and now I’m at the stage of yet again looking for a divorce. My wife does not want me to leave, but the thought of never making love with the woman I live with is just too much for me to bear.
This might look as if it’s all about sex, and quite frankly, I was celibate for over a decade until I just couldn’t stand it any more. And yes, this divorce will cost me a lot of money but we both should have enough to maintain decent living standards. Luckily there aren’t any kids involved.
So, I will shortly be announcing for the final time that yes, I STILL want a divorce. I am sad about having to inflict that on my wife, who really doesn’t deserve this, but the thought of living the rest of my life without ever making love with the woman I love is just too much for me to bear. Even more than the pain of having to divorce my loving but sexless wife.
I don’t want him to leave. We’ve hadone a very hard year and half. House burned and I ended up with four year old niece depressed. He walked out on my depressed, always on his phone. I thought we has something special but now I see we do not. He didn’t tell you he has broke wedding vows . Sorry eddie
Just go back to your wife. Which woman will marry you and be with you for so many years already with kids and never left you. While you are jobless and had no income. Your wife still provide food on the table. If lover. Even you had married her. She will keep draining your bank account till zero and once that figure had reached. She will definitely leave you. No matter how you want to stop her from leaving. She will just leave immediaty. As i thought i had found one. Keep saying love me and keep calling me useless. Just let your lover go. Good one are the one that really been with you for years and not days nor months