Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Stuck in a Bad Marriage, Stuck in a Bad Affair

Hello Terry,

I bought your book online, strangely finding myself in a real mess (there are two stories here -- two different relationships entwined together).

I have been married for 10 years and am recently separated from my husband - my relationship with him has been rocky over the years. He has always been unsure of his feelings for me - always wishy washy - he had a few extramarital relationships, and it made me feel lousy, my self esteem was low, and I began to resent him.

In the last year, after his second relationship (about a year and a half ago) , and after being very hurt, I found myself wanting a relationship on the side: Someone who would just keep me occupied, was probably unhappy like me, and someone who would shower me with attention and help me to just focus on something other than my bad relationship at home. In other words, I was looking for someone to fill the void.

Two months ago, my husband still in his state of being unhappy with me and confused, found himself attracted to another woman. Someone he says he feels connected with -- then again it seems to be happening a lot -- three women in the past eight years! I asked him to leave the house. I just didn't want to deal with it any longer.

He moved out -- still unsure of what he wants. He does not want to get on with the divorce. He just wants to wait and see and what happens. I believe I must have felt disconnected with him over the past year too, since I started seeing this guy at work, but I felt he pushed me into it. I don't know anymore.

The other story:

I met this guy at work. Much older, we were attracted to each other. He is married (I know, I know. I can hear you sigh). We have been seeing each other for a year now (during my state of unhappiness).

He says he can't leave his wife. He tried leaving her years ago for someone else, but his wife won't accept it, and he stayed with her, living with the unhappiness of being physically disconnected to her.

Since my husband left home, I feel more lonely and have felt the need to stop my relationship with this guy, as I know it is not going anywhere (of course, sometimes I kid myself that some miracle could bring us together!).

I have initiated leaving him, and he says that he does not want to obstruct me finding happiness, and that I should move on, but I find it hard to let him go. I find myself calling him as I miss him terrribly. I have even toyed wiith the idea of speaking to his wife. I know it's bad. I know I am horrible. I so desperately want to get out of these emotions and turmoil.

-Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Hello, Stuck-

First off, you must cut yourself some slack. You've been in a painful marriage for 10 years and endured your husband's numerous infidelities. You say he's never been sure of his feelings for you, and it just doesn't seem fair to be stuck in a marriage with someone who is supposed to love you but makes you feel insecure, bad about yourself, and resentful.

So you had an affair with a married man. Yes, I did sigh when I read that, but when people are in pain, sometimes they do counterproductive things. You know you made a mistake by getting involved with this guy, and you know you should let him go.

Which is easier said than done.

Because, if you do move on, you'll be right back in the hole where you're receiving no love or affection from anybody, which isn't an attractive prospect. As things stand now, you know the relationship with the married guy is going nowhere, but at least you're getting a little affection.

However hard it may seem right now, I do advise you to move on. The fact that your husband is not living with you gives you a real opportunity to spend time with someone who does love you (ahem, I'm talking about you) and decide what you want out of a relationship, what will make you happy, and exactly what you want out of life.

Make a commitment to never call the married man again. Eventually, you will feel better about your prospects. Even better, you'll feel better about yourself. If you can, get a job somewhere else. Pining for the guy at the office every day will only make you miserable. Why prolong the agony?

Whatever you do, don't speak to the guy's wife. You've been cheated on, so put yourself in her place. You probably wouldn't appreciate getting a call from one of the women your husband's seen over the years. And you know, deep down, doing such a thing will not result in a happy ending for anybody.


Your husband has not made you happy, and it's possible he never will. I do think it's pretty cheeky of him to "be unsure of what he wants" and to avoid a divorce after he's left home to be with another woman. You might want to consult a lawyer or a licensed therapist to help you explore your options.

At the end of all this, understand that nobody, least of all you, deserves a wishy-washy, cheating husband. You made a mistake by getting involved with a married man. Wash your face and forgive yourself.

I'll say it again: Please decide what you want in a future relationship. Be specific. Determine what you want to feel, for example. You feel insecure, unloved, sad, and a million other negative emotions right now, so I'll assume you want to feel secure, loved, joyful and a million positive emotions from now on.

Write this down:

"I'm so happy and grateful I'm in a secure, joyful relationship with a man I love who loves me back and never lets me forget it."

That's what you're going for, right?

What would that feel like? Look like? Sound like? Taste like?

For example, what would it be like to come home to such a person? Go to dinner with him? Have him surprise you by meeting you for lunch in the office?

Keep the past in the past, and get past the present by focusing on the future as if it were the present.

Does this make sense? I hope so. I wish you all the happiness in the world.