Following are leftover questions from my online chat. “How Affairs Happen” (November 11):
My boyfriend and I moved together last year, partly to save money, and to be closer. He got laid off three months later and we’re growing further apart.
I’m now paying for almost everything. I expected him to be out looking for jobs from day one.
Instead he’s “doing it all online” but I notice there’s a lot of porn sites visited while I’m at work.
I started confiding in a man at work, who’s been so understanding, that I’m having feelings for him.
I know this is dangerous for my relationship but I feel like my boyfriend has to share the blame, if this goes further.
You want to tell your boyfriend to get off his butt and find a job. But there’s a way to do it productively.
Say that you understand that a job search takes time. Ask him if he has any leads, needs help trying to make contacts, etc.
Being laid off is a blow to his self-worth and daily sense of purpose. His reaction isn’t uncommon.
There’s often a level of depression causing a preference to stay home rather than seek jobs in person.
But you need to tell him that his watching porn instead of knocking on doors, shows a lack of interest in his own life and your future together.
Give him a month or two more to find work – any work. Even taking a shift at a coffee shop a few hours weekly would create some get-up-and-go.
That might lift his mood for more actively seeking jobs in his field.
Meantime, put your “understanding” colleague on hold and settle your relationship issue.
If, after more time, you’re still so disappointed in your boyfriend, be honest that you no longer feel he’s the man for you.
End it cleanly, first, instead of trying to justify an affair.
I married the woman everyone thought was “perfect” for me – same background, very attractive, and social - which is important in our professions.
Fourteen years later, I feel like we’re both playing out our roles and that our two children are the only connection between us.
My assistant at work is more aware of who I am inside.
Recently, on my birthday, she gave me a small but meaningful gift, and when I hugged her, neither of us wanted to let go.
We’ve already started what I believe is a love affair. I feel more excited about life than I have in years.
Okay, so it’s a love affair, not just a fling. But it’s still cheating – on your wife and your kids.
It’s true that love affairs sometimes become lasting relationships and maybe this one will.
But that doesn’t preclude your playing fair with your wife.
Tell her you feel you’ve lost your connection. Ask how she feels.
Maybe she’d like to find something better too. If so, you can hopefully work out an amicable and equitable divorce.
But if she discovers your affair first, it won’t go that way. And your children will eventually know you didn’t even try to get counselling or deal with things honestly.
Affairs involve sneaking around, deceit, and stealing time from family.
If you want a happy future, either with this woman or through your marriage, there’s a better way.
Either end the affair before it becomes all-consuming, or end your marriage. There’s no middle ground. That wouldn’t be fair to either woman.
I love and respect my wife of 11 years. She’s a good person, great mother, and loyal wife. But boring.
She has no interests beyond kids and homemaking. She reads and talks only about those topics.
She gets restless and disinterested when I try to discuss current politics, the economy, etc.
I know she’s not going to change.
I don’t want to break up my family, so I’m wondering whether a discreet affair wouldn’t 1) perk up my life considerably; 2) make it easier for me to enjoy my wife’s company; 3) therefore result in her feeling more appreciated.
Looking for Improvement
Your “solution” would only work if both of you agree on it.
Otherwise it perks you up for awhile, but you’ll inevitably get caught, and an angry divorce will result.
Your wife sounds bored with you or the life you’ve both set up.
You two need a marriage counsellor to re-learn how to talk to each other.
Tip of the day:
A partner’s periodic hard times doesn’t justify your having an affair.