I’m a man, 34, married eight years, whose wife is involved with an older man. She has strongly denied that it’s sexual.
He’s 52, married and has no children. Neither do we. It’s one of the reasons I’m worried, as maybe she lacks a reason for our staying together.
They met through an online book club and found kindred souls in their mutual interest. Both are avid readers, and he has the benefit of degrees in history and philosophy.
She’s become an open admirer. He must be very flattered and does nothing I’d expect from a married older man, to keep a respectful distance.
They talk on the phone daily. If I say that’s giving a signal towards a relationship, she dismisses me as “insecure.”
Any time he recommends a book, she’s lost in it for days, neglecting everything else, including me. At night, she’s often “too tired” for sex.
I work from home. She’s unemployed during this pandemic, but she takes every opportunity to go out to buy groceries, or “just walk.” She doesn’t invite me to join her, though I also need exercise and outdoor air.
I have no idea if she’s meeting him, and I won’t stoop to following her.
Is my wife having an emotional affair? Or is she just plain cheating?
The Younger Husband
Your wife’s displaying many signs of an emotional affair - preoccupation with another man, reciprocal attention from him and daily conversations.
Add her blaming you as insecure rather than acknowledging that she’s sharing less time and intimacy with you.
However, they do share an intense interest in literature which could be labelled a “crush” on her part, as opposed to actual cheating.
“Crushes” can still take hold after high-school days. In mature adults, it’s usually more a yearning for close bonding with someone. It doesn’t always imply a sexual affair.
Talk to your wife and tell her that you miss her, and still love her (if true).
Instead of accusing her or seeking an admission of guilt, say that you need to know if she’s still in the marriage with you. If she answers yes, ask her how she thinks you two can re-connect.
Show understanding for her shared intellectual interest with this other man but be clear you two also need time for your relationship.
If she agrees, suggest a couple of “date” nights (home-based, during a lockdown). Also, show some interest in the books she’s reading, encouraging her sharing their value with you.
Hopefully, the crush will lessen when it’s no longer private and excludes you.
If not, insist on marital counselling together, or go on your own to decide your future.
I’ve been seeing a psychiatrist for a year regarding my relationship issues, with no improvement.
I was involved with a guy for six years. There was substance abuse, which became very codependent.
But I miss him.
He’s met someone new and ghosted me; I had strong bonds with his immediate family whom I also miss. It’s extremely painful and triggering to not contact him though I’ve tried for two years.
I always return to unhealthy attachments with men and more so if the relationship’s abusive or toxic.
Still Missing Him
After six years of co-dependence and drug use, a year’s psychiatric counselling is a process, not an end. Especially since this is a pattern of abusive/toxic relationships.
Overcoming it requires a commitment to yourself to improve your life. Stay in therapy with your psychiatrist if at all possible.
FEEDBACK Regarding the man who’s never lived on his own but is urged by his girlfriend of five years to get his own place for her to “decompress” outside her own home (November 24):
Reader #1 – “This guy needs to get his own place to live on his own for a bit. He needs to grow up and experience real life!”
Reader #2 – “His partner doesn’t want him even visiting her house anymore. She’s hiding something, maybe a husband!
“Moving together should not be a financial issue. They could enter into a co-habitation agreement and, if marrying, into a marriage contract.”
Ellie - It seems that he’s missing what she really wants from him. So are the rest of us because she’s accepted his staying with his aging parents and having intimacy with her at her place, for four previous years.
So long as she doesn’t explain, the relationship’s going nowhere for him.
Tip of the day:
When a spouse feels intense attachment elsewhere, discuss feelings/intensions and seek counselling help.