I’m 39, married for 10 years with three kids, and began an affair last year with one of my ex-colleagues. She’s 38, never married, suffers depression, and has issues with commitment and being indecisive.
Our relationship has brought out our worst (verbally) – I complained about her priorities and lack of energy and time for me; she said it was her unease with my situation.
She’s also a workaholic with a demanding job.
We’re on a downward spiral ...
I’ve done everything, asking her to change and so on. But she’s become very cold and has pushed me out of her life.
I know she loves and cares about me; we still exchange emails, texts, and occasional phone conversations. I’ve never loved anyone so much.
My marriage was arranged, so although I respect my wife, I can’t say I’m in love, but I love my kids and want to do the best for them.
How can I fix things with my lover, or should I just move on?
- Sad Affair
You can’t do “the best” for anyone when you have a foot in two camps.
It’s clear that your lover wants more than a piece of your life.
It’s equally clear that you do not see yourself being open about your relationship with this woman and separating from your wife.
I believe you need to discuss your situation with a professional counsellor, over enough time to figure out what are truly your priorities. I don’t advocate separating as the first or best choice when children are involved, especially if you haven’t really tried to first focus on your marriage.
If you believe that, because your marriage was arranged, it therefore can’t be loving, you’re not really giving your wife a chance.
Recently, I heard from a friend who’d moved away several years ago. She's a struggling alcoholic with recurring depression and other health challenges.
Previously, she was separated from an abusive spouse, losing traction as a parent with her adolescent son, and not finding success in a career switch. She was under the guidance of a conservative religious leader who was invalidating all her survival choices because they included divorce. But, at least, she was sober.
This time she wasn't.
She said she had a new boyfriend, who was pressuring her to move to him, across the country. I said she should visit him, but not pull up stakes where she’d have no supports, and to call me back when she’s sober.
My own life is pretty bad so I avoid having a co-dependency relationship with her. I don't think I'm strong enough to let her dump on me without being drawn into her chaos. I haven’t heard from her since.
Could I have handled this better, and should I contact her?
- Wannabe Good Friend
You’re wise to know your own limits.
When drunk, this friend will use you as her listening post, drag you into the depths of her problems and poor choices, and drain you of your own energy.
Then, as she’s demonstrated already, when you don’t say what she wants to hear, she’ll withdraw.
Your fear that all this will harm your ability to manage your own life is necessary self-protection. Being a good friend means caring, and offering support when a) you can handle it; and b) when it’s being heard (even if not accepted).
Until she’s ready to deal with her addiction, you’re best off to stay distant.
My sister-in-law was upset that her employees found out it was her birthday (big deal).
They didn't make a celebration, they just told her mom to wish her happy birthday.
She said it’s not necessary for them to wish her happy birthday. Yet her employees went out of the way to remember or find out about it.
What would you say to someone who doesn’t want to celebrate her birthday at 26, or have her employees know when it is?
- She’s Ridiculous
I’d say nothing. I’d also wonder why her sister-in-law (you) is making an issue of this and trying to make this relative look bad.
I’d figure she either has age hang-ups (perhaps her employees are much older and she fears they’ll question her authority), or is a very private person. So I’d mind my own business.
If there are more serious matters involved, you haven’t made them clear.
Tip of the day:
When an extra-marital affair goes sour, it’s likely the whole situation that’s not working.