I've been having an emotional affair with a woman for a month.
She's been living with this man for two years, dated him for four, and she's unsure of what to do next.
Both of us know that we haven't been seeing each other long enough to warrant any permanent or reckless decisions about her relationship, but we don't want to lose each other. We talk everyday and email, but have kept the physical stuff out of the relationship thus far.
I'm not sure what we should do practically over the coming months while she thinks about her life. She's thinking about seeing a counsellor which I think is a good idea. Should we decide not to see each other?
My constant presence must be a distraction from her asking hard questions about her relationship. The longer I stay in fantasyland the harder it might be for her make those hard decisions.
- Wanting to get out of the wings...
She'd be taking an important step by seeking counselling immediately. She needs to find out what's missing in her current relationship, that allowed her to turn to another; she also needs to probe what it was that drew her and kept her in that relationship. Only then can she determine whether she sees you as an escape, or whether she's found in you what she really wants for now and the future.
You can use this time wisely, too. Think through whether part of your attraction to her is that she's harder to attain; many people enter "fantasyland" for the romantic challenge of a love that needs to be fought for and won. If so, that isn't a good enough reason to pressure her into leaving a relationship she may still find worth keeping.
- Withdraw for awhile.
I'm married to a wonderful man who has two children from a previous marriage. We get the kids every other weekend and for two weeks in the summer.
My in-laws always complained that they weren't close to my husband's children - they blamed it on his ex-wife, who they said didn't like them and kept them from seeing the kids. So, when the kids were with us, I tried to improve things. I'd have the kids call my in-laws; I'd invite my in-laws for visits, and would make sure we all got together on special occasions.
Neither the kids nor my in-laws show any interest in talking on the phone to each other.
When my in-laws visit, they only want to talk with my husband and me, they don't do anything with their grandkids. They never invite us to their home with the kids - they specifically ask when we have them, and then invite us for a time when we don't. They also stay through lunch and dinner, even when only asked to lunch. If we have them over in the evening, they stay so late we have to ask them to leave. We see them often.
So how do I get them to stop complaining to me about their lack of relationship with the kids? I feel guilty every time they say this, but nothing I've tried to do has improved their closeness.
Also, I don't know what else to do to keep a visit from being a 12-hour event.
Dump the guilt, this is your husband's job to repair. If he wants closeness between his kids and his parents, he has to help make their time together more interesting. He can arrange some outings together, and start a project like a family tree and history where the kids get to ask their grandparents questions about their background. You can participate, but stop feeling responsible for that relationship.
Also, set some limits. Be clear that an evening visit must end at a certain time, so you can get your sleep. Tell them they're invited for lunch but you two have other plans for dinner, etc.
Your in-laws sound lonely and set in their ways. Perhaps alerting them to some community programs they can attend on their own (or go with them once to get them started) will give them other outlets than hanging around your place.
About In-Laws: If you have an in-law problem in your family, you can get my personal help through my weekly TV show, Outlaw In-Laws, on Slice. See www.helpmyfamily.ca. for more information, and how to contact the show.
Tip of the day:
An emotional relationship may be the real thing, or an escape from reality.