My husband and I have had a loving relationship for a decade, mostly wanting the same things.
A year and a half ago, I took on a new client and we started an affair.
I told my partner that I wasn’t sure how I felt about our future. It was as close to the truth as I could manage. He begged me to stay and my sad double life started.
This year, I would barely see my boyfriend for months and it was so difficult. My husband has just received some bad news and must sense that I want to leave because he keeps saying how much he needs me. My boyfriend says that he sees a future with me but isn’t pressuring me. What’s your advice?
It’s no surprise you’re struggling in this liminal space.
‘You had your husband, an understanding and a comfortable life,’ says Dr Angharad Rudkin, ‘and they were blown out of the water after meeting your boyfriend.’
But what’s really stopping you from leaving?
‘You suggest it’s pity and loyalty towards your husband,’ says James McConnachie. ‘But I wonder if doubt about your boyfriend is what’s really holding you back.’
The passion you feel now is early-stage romantic love, amplified by the fact it’s an affair, magnified again by the fact that you can’t see each other regularly. It’s like having a luxury breakfast served to you in bed every morning. But is this a realistic meal in the long-term?
‘And what does your boyfriend really want?’ says McConnachie. ‘Maybe he’s so considerate that he really doesn’t want to put any pressure on you to leave. But is it possible that the current situation suits him quite well? Is it possible, even, that it suits you?’
We’re also wondering, would you have left your husband if this other man had not come along? Would you rather be single than remain in your marriage?
‘Because there’s no guarantee that your boyfriend will be able to offer a committed relationship should you leave your husband, so you need to be comfortable with the possibility that you might end up being alone,’ says Rudkin.
‘It’s also important to consider the changes made between you and your husband following that initial conversation. If nothing changed, it reflects how little motivation either of you has to amend any issues.
Let’s be clear, there’s nothing shameful about a relationship ending.
‘Painful, yes; socially awkward, yes; but a part of the human experience and certainly not to be avoided,’ says Rupert Smith. ‘There’s never going to be a right time to leave your husband – if he’s sensing your intentions, he’s going to keep finding reasons to keep you hanging on.’
So make your plan to leave but don’t think about the day after you start your new life.
‘Don’t think about the next month either,’ says McConnachie. ‘Think about who and where you want to be in two, three, seven, 20 years time. What kind of love do you and your boyfriend really have?’
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