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Leaving marriage for affair partner is that a good thing??

Tagged as: Marriage problems<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (3 March 2008) 29 Answers - (Newest, 23 August 2016)
A male Canada age 41-50, *ooking for help writes:

I'm pretty much down to my last option.

I'm a 37 year old married man, with two children. Have been married for 8 years, have been together for 15. I am in the middle of an affair. Not real proud of it, it is with a co-worker and it just happened. There was a spark, a connection, we related to lifes problems etc.

Some wife approx. 4 1/2 years ago, had post-pardom depression. We had a new born and an 18 month old. It was something that we didn't diagnose immediately, but eventually did and she was perscribed medication. Upon taking the medication there was a significant change in my wife.....she was responsible for bills, etc and completely became irresponsible. She went from caring that we were a penny short for a check writen to not caring if it was going to bounce. She didn't want much to do with the children, and wanted to be 'free' and not tied down. Meaning to have 'alone' time, to go to the gym (on drs advice) for exercise, etc. Since my job took me away from home not all the time but the odd time for an overnight or two, she thought upon my return it was my turn to be parent and she was free and could do whatever she wanted.

To make a long story short, after months of going out with friends she began an affair, with a guy I considered a friend. Not a great friend, but a group of 3 or 4 families hungout alot. I suspected something when I saw her new cellphone bill. I took her out one night and asked her face to face if anything was going on and if so, I wanted to fix our marriage, I would change whatever it was. She said no, that he was helping her get me a christmas present, he's a mechanic and at christmas I got a ton of auto mechanic tools to do stuff at home.

Anyway.......I got saved cell messages from her cellphone and discovered it was true. Confronted her, we slept i seperate beds for a while and I tried to figure out what to do. I leave for work at 4am in the morning so the thought of kicking her out wasn't an option, where was I going to find daycare at 4am in the morning. Also all I could think about was how can I kick 'their' (the two kids) mother out and leave. What would they think of me? Plus I still loved her (silly me) and wanted it to work. After getting off the medication, having some councelling, and going thru hard times of reliving the memories, here we are still together. but things have changed and it's not what it used to be. Always wondered if it would ever be.

Fast forward to about a year and a half ago. New co-worker, very attractive, amazing woman, we just clicked. There was a spark, a connection, others say the chemistry is so intense when we are in the same room. She was in a loveless marriage. The last 2 years she said they never had a physical relationship and she hadn't been touched in 2 years. Me with my troubles. It began as talking in the morning before work, then meeting for lunch, then so on and so on. It turned into and affair. Not a sexual one, because it's deeper than that. It's the whole do you believe in soulmates. She is from Georgia, I have ALWAYS had this thing for women from georgia, but have NEVER known one. It goes back to when I was a young teenager. There are other things that I don't believe in, but on a deeper level are very strange.

Anyway.......we are coming to the end of a 15 month affair. She wants me to leave. I told her from the beginning because I have two young children, that I won't leave. But it's very difficult 15 months into this, because a big part of me wants to. But it's not as easy as snapping a finger and making it happen. She is in complete love with me and I can so see myself with her. But have major doubts.

How do I leave a marriage with two young children. There is NO guarantee that her and I will work out. She left her marriage a year ago and if now officially divorced, so when they talk of leaving my wife comes up, she tells me she has done it (she too has a child but 3-4 years older than my oldest) and that if she can I CAN. She doesn't want to give me an ultimatum, but we are 3 weeks into not having anything physical. We are trying not to call or email each other and we'll go for a few days then start again, but the physical part is over and its something we both decided on. She can't do it, because she gets sad and her heart breaks when I leave for home, and I can't do that to her anymore knowing I'm hurting her which is something I don't want to do.

I feel like I'm spinning in a circle, a million things running thru my mind and trying to figure out what to do. Financially, leaving is something that could leave me in a bad spot. Not because of child payments etc, but a new house that has little equity, plus other reasons, financially it would be a huge hit which would reflect on the children where I live and where my wife lives. If I had know children, I would 98 % leave for this amazing woman. But as I stated to her in the beginning, because I have children, I would never leave.

Can I leave two kids, knowing that our split won't be as amicable as hers was with her husband. There still friends and have a great relationship dealing with their daughter. I know it wouldn't be like that with us. Do relationships with someone you have had an affair with actually work, if you leave your marriage? She wants me to leave NOW and says there is never a 'right time' to leave, I'm trying to figure out what the next step is?

It's screwed up I know......btw...I had a revenge couple nigher with someone immediately after finding out my wife had an affair, but for 3 + years was with only my wife until now.

Completely lost and not sure what my next step is!!!!

View related questions: affair, christmas, co-worker, divorce, married man, revenge, soulmate, spark

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A reader, anonymous, writes (23 August 2016):

I would really love to hear updates from other posters on this thread.

I am the OW in a love affair and he is currently in the process of a divorce, has moved out on his own, and we are going to start working on building a relationship together the right way. People who think that the moral aspect is gone for these affair partners has never been in such a situation before. You are very lucky if you have met "the one" and both were completely single at the time. When you meet "the one" you know. I am not someone who sleeps around with anyone and everyone, nor have I ever felt I needed validation from having a partner. I was single for a majority of my twenties before meeting this guy and was content in being so and not having sex or likewise. He was a hardworking family man and did not go out looking for random girls to sleep with. We resisted each other using every method we could have possibly used, including cutting contact for months on end, only to find that the feelings are not going anywhere and that the marriage can't be fixed. If you think that these guys don't sit around and ponder right from wrong in comparison to happy verses unhappy and how to make a decision, you are very wrong. And if you think the third person in this mess doesn't suffer, you are also wrong.

I have cried and kept many feelings to myself for the sake of not influencing his decision, I have pushed him away as much as I could and spent the last year and a half miserable because we couldn't be together.

And now that we are working on being together, I will likely endure sideways looks from his family and his kids I am sure. We will always have a rep for it, but just like with the affair, his opinion is what matters to me. We can find ways to make the rest work for us because that's what we have to do in order to be with each other.

In some ways I almost wish I never met the guy. He would be in a stable life, not addressing his unhappiness and just carrying on, and I wouldn't know what it feels like to be so in love, thus neither of us being voided by being apart. But that just doesn't seem like an option anymore.

It really relieves me to see that, though statistics around the web say it hardly ever works out, many people have stories where they actually do and are very happy together.

My advice using personal experience, it does require you to really take a look at your marriage. A good hard look, and do so without having the affair partner around for a good amount of time. Don't let your affair partner make that decision for you, because as much as they may love you and you love them, you have to decide what to do with your life and it really is a tough call. Your wife deserves to know, but unless shes willing to work through the issues, it doesn't do much good for the marriage.

I think that it came as a shock to his wife, which had her unprepared to accept it, though he was months ahead in doing so. Instead, she found out once, thought he stopped talking to me, and then later found out that he didn't which made her realize that it wasn't a fling, but an actual long term affair which is a much bigger infringement to a marriage. She could hold on as long as she needed to and they would bring themselves to an end without me being in the mix of it anymore, but at the end of the day no one wants to be married to a guy who is in love with another chick. I often wonder what she is going through and wondering if she'll ever come to terms with it the way I have been trying to myself. It has brought a great deal of stress to everyone involved.

Another thing is that you should talk to your affair partner. From experience, we had such an intense chemistry that it was a while before we could control our hormones enough to talk about important things outside of texting. I often wondered if a relationship between us would be possible considering that itself. But we talk a lot better now, and because of that I feel way more relieved. It's never easy to hear the one you love say that they aren't sure they want to end their marriage, or that they regret many things about the situation, but at the end of the day she needs to know where she stands. It was never about being told he would leave his family for me, but rather about knowing what I need to do with my life; lord knows I wouldn't want to have to go through the withdraw process of him again and again. For over a year he told me that he wanted to be with me but that it would take time, and for that year I waited around while he was still being husband and wife with her, which is something I now have to accept given that they are over and we still love each other enough to make it work. At the end of the day, I have to accept that this started as an affair just as much as he does, and while he has to live with any regrets and missing of her, I have to live with knowing that for a long time, I willingly shared him and he loved two women. It is never an easy thing to do, but when you know that being without each other is torture and the marriage does not have much love to it, you have a choice to make and should make it in a timely manner. People who wait too long to figure out what to do with a long term love affair have two outcomes: an affair that lasts years while being married or they end up completely single without either one of the people. It's a mess that eventually has to be cleaned up and everyone gets hurt no matter what, so the focus should be on the long run and how to go about either option in a way that is best for the children.

I often wonder if I am the reason he checked out of his marriage, though he insists it was falling apart for a long time before me. I still can't help but dwell on the part that he held on until she had enough and then came running back to me over here still in my feelings. If that's the case, surely he will regret meeting me as well. At the same time, what hurts is watching him regret what he lost there, while ignoring the possibilities of having it all over again here with me, while simply co-parenting with her.

I like to think that it just takes more time, as it is all fresh right now. I still feel bad as I sit here knowing he is grieving his losses which is expected to happen. At the same time, I know what I bring to the table as far as security and treating him right. It's just something I don't say because I want him to have his freewill and his own thoughts.

End the affair and cut ties long enough to focus on the marriage or come to terms with why it might not last. At least then you wouldn't have too much regret while trying to make it work with the new chick because you will know that you tried. If the marriage is dead and beyond repair, then end it before pursuing the new chick. This gives you guys a chance to do it the right way for the kids sake without the new girl in your ear trying to make it harder. If the feelings were the type to last and were legit, the new chick should still be around waiting for you in the end.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (29 January 2012):

I am just so astounded when one cheater went on and on about the Bible and justifying her cheating. Where in the Bible does it tell u to cheat, lie, destroy lives, hurt innocent people?

Other explain away justifying their cheating. The common tread amongst the cheating stories is that the Other woman almost always pressurises the married man to leave his wife and kids for her. She is the usurper, she calls the shots, she dictates the terms of his life, and fool that he is, for just some p*ssy he complies. Sometimes the cheaters do get to live happily ever after, the drama they created makes them want to prove that their "love" is above everyone and everything, not caring for the path of destruction they leave in their midsts. These people claim to be "so called good people", so called upstanding Religious people quoting from the Holy Book, but in reality what are they really??

My brother confided in me that he will NOT leave his wife for his lover. She has a role to play (yes on her back....) And that's it. She's not worthy to give up his life.

With cheaters if they wanted to betray and destroy just leave before u destroy lives and hurt innocent ones. Its as easy as that. But NO they want it all.

Sad, oh so sad but well, I have seen the wheel turning. Yes married people do leave for their lovers but the stats reveal that only 12% succeed. I'm guessing these 12% are found in DC?


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A reader, anonymous, writes (29 January 2012):

I left my marriage for my affair partner about a year and a half ago and am very happy. Our relationship was tested unbelievably during the past year and a half, and it went through a lot of changes, but I still have moments of pure happiness with him like I've never experienced with anyone else. I am still overwhelmingly in love with him and can't imagine my life without him in it. Being with my affair partner/now boyfriend turned out to be my best decision, and knowing that is a welcome relief after agonizing about what decision to make for a long time. Nothing is worse than the phase the author was in when he wrote this - that horrible period of confusion and indecision. It might have been easier if I had just followed my heart, but instead I tortured myself for years agonizing over what to do.

What I ended up regretting was not being more honest with my ex-husband and not leaving sooner. I wish I could go back in time and just tell my ex about the affair and leave as soon as I knew in my heart this was the person I wanted. Say - I screwed up, I cheated, I'm in love with someone else, we can't make this work, I'm leaving. Instead, he found out before I told him and we tried to fix it through counseling (a waste of time and another source of pain for both of us), and we all went back and forth in a painful cycle of indecision for months. I couldn't bring myself to tell my ex and hurt him that badly, but he ended up being hurt by my failure to tell him even more - not a good gamble to take. My efforts to fix my marriage after the fact, to do the "right" thing, just ended up hurting everyone and dragging it out.

Honesty is the best policy, but affairs also happen, even to otherwise honest people. My attraction to my current partner is something like I've never experienced in my life, and that attraction tortured me for over a year before either of us acted on it. When we finally did, it was like we were inevitable. It did not help I was clearly not satisfied in my marriage and more compatible with my current partner. Sometimes the best thing to do is just be honest, admit your mistakes, pay a lot of alimony out of guilt, move out and move on.

I understand the kids complicate things even more and weigh strongly in favor of staying put (I don't have any yet). No one can make the decision for you, but ask yourself this - are you delaying the inevitable and making everyone else miserable in the process (maybe the best thing for your kids is to leave as gracefully and early as you can)? Or are you recognizing that the parent-child bond is stronger than the parent-other-woman bond, and the pull to leave tucking your kids in every night for the other woman is pulling at you, but it just isn't strong enough? If it's the later, deep down, you may know the other woman isn't your soulmate and therefore isn't worth destroying the only single-family unit you are ever going to have over. If that's the case, don't do it. You won't survive the challenges and transitions in the first year and a half with her.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (5 October 2010):

It's probably psychologically healthier for you in the long run to divorce your wife if you really don't love her or if the marriage is really bad and is making you extremely unhappy and you can say with certainty that it won't get much better (you don't want to divorce and then regret it later on is all I mean). Staying in a very unhappy marriage will make your kids think this is what a normal marriage should be like. You would be setting a bad example for them.

However, if you are going to divorce, it is probably more honorable to do it as soon as you realize that the marriage is unhealthy and you can't or don't want to work on it anymore. You may not intentionally go out seeking an affair, many people don't ever intend to have an affair. They just some day unwittingly happen to find the person who really is "the right one" for them and are susceptible to falling in love and making the connection with this new person because of all that is sorely lacking in their marriages. Unfortunately though, because you were not honest enough to divorce long ago, you are still married when you eventually meet your soul mate.

If you divorce now so you can be with your soul mate, it looks very bad because it looks to the world like you were fine with staying married to your wife UNTIL you found someone "better." This is a very different message you are sending to your family and kids, than if you had divorced long ago because of issues between you and your wife only but before there was any third party in the picture. Divorcing long ago at least demonstrates facing the truth and being honest about the way things are and trying to be a better person for it, whereas waiting until you've met "the one" to leave your unhappy marriage, looks like an example of poor commitment to marriage or lack of courage.

I know that may not be how it really is. Many people honestly are trying to do the right thing of staying in their unhappy marriages against their true feelings because everyone tells them it's the right thing to do. And then if and when they meet "the one" it rips you apart so much that it finally prompts you to make the hard decision (stay married or divorce?) that you never knew was even an option to be made before because previously you were brainwashed by everyone that staying married is just what you do regardless of how bad it is.

Or maybe you were deeply unhappy in your marriage all along for having married the wrong person or for the wrong reasons. Maybe if all the people you've ever dated were jerks, then you end up marrying a jerk because you don't know there's anyone different out there. Then when you finally meet "the right one" (or someone who is not a jerk) it's like your eyes have been opened to what a healthier connection can be so now you are calling into question everything you've learned or been fed by society about what marriage should and shouldn't be and maybe you will conclude that you just can't have a 'real' marriage with your current spouse.

But nevertheless, it still looks very bad if you divorce your wife in order to be with your affair partner. This could lead to a more bitter divorce - or resentment from your kids if they are old enough to understand what's going on - than if you divorced first due to issues between you and your wife only, and were single for awhile, before starting any new relationship with anyone else.

If you have decided to divorce your wife, I think you should talk to your affair partner and put that relationship on hold while you go through your divorce and not be in any relationship for awhile.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (22 September 2010):

Life is very complex, and relationships especially with people that we end up committing to for life. We are on a high, in most situations, however there is always a little something that is not ideal as we are only human no one is perfect and in fact that makes you love the person more really. For me, I loved my husband more than he had, he did not want marriage, kids etc, to keep me he married me, not because he was head over heels in love. 7 years later we are really feeling the heat. Hostility and emotional black mail is part of our waking lives and I have to think back to the obvious initial mistake of accepting marriage to this person, whom I still have deep feelings for. However we are designed to love more than one person, but we have to learn to control this. I love people a lot, I am a social person, I am attracted to different people but do not need to get involved. We all have this in us - Control. However, we make decisions that could be completely wrong from the beginning especially when our child hood, parental support is not ideal and make mistakes. We then have adorable children, of course they are an extension of ourselves, so they are perfect. We want the best for them. I have one daughter aged 5. However I had a premonition that I was going to meet a man and visualised a letter from the alphabet, who absolutely loves children and has several children and ...... married. I was so confused by this recrring dream, he was also very successgful in the dream and head over heels in love with me, and willing to be with me. I did not want to have an affair, I prayed a lot and read the bible. How could this be the right thing to do? This is crazy man, crazy. But I deeply love the person that I am having an affair with, who challenges me and improves me completely. I will ask God for forgiveness and pray that we could have a great relationship. Again nothing is perfect, you could feel at odds because you wonder how did I make this mistake in the first place, am I in the process of making another one. These thoughts are negative, I am adopting the belief that this relationship with my affair partner will progress to the loving marriage we thought we had initially signed up for. We could love people in different ways, you could be the best parent if you are happy in yourself there is a lot of writing about happiness in psychology. How about counselling with yourself and the affair partner? rather than counselling the husband / wife that there is too much water under the bridge and you end up looking tired frayed and elderly over something that is supposed to fulfil you and make you whole as with most marriage ideology.

Some women have the heart to love children regardless of whether they come from their own womb and some women can't in a million years do that. The bible reveals extremely complex relationships with wives allowing their partner to impregnate maids, so it is a little bit confusing. Families are more complex now, I have seen more unhappiness in marriages that are40 years old, where coldness is felt by all who interact with them, the children especially. What are we staying for? Breakdowns perhaps and health problems. Unless the marriage is a contender then end the affair, in my case I am pitied for my circumstances

I feel it is important to protect your husbands and wives but they have to also take responsibilty for the relationship and just because you are married, abuse emotionally, physically or financially is not acceptable.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (17 September 2009):

Im in the same boat, only my wife and lover know all the details. I moved out a year ago, and am still undecided.

It is all so crazy! I never intended for this to happen, and used to be a huge critic of this.

I have been with my wife for 15 years, and married 8. Have two boys ages 5 and 18 months.

Having my own business, and trying to meet the demands of a household made me miserable. This aided in my becoming unapproachable according to my wife. The last year of living together was a disaster. She was also stressed out while taking care of the house, and two young kids. She was never an instigator of love and affection to begin with, but I guess that is how I married her. In addition apparently her birth control killed her sex drive as well. I thought you either wanted someone or you didn't.

I have been involved with my lover for 15 months, but she has been in my head for two years. It all started as an emotional affair I guess. She became a great friend and listener. We also have other common interests which are fun and exciting. As things got worse at home, my wife called me at work to ask me if i still wanted to be married. I felt at the time that I did not.

The following weekend was the start of the physical part with my lover. She does feel like my soul mate. She is absolutely perfect for me. She does however have her baggage too.

She is just finishing up a divorce after a 7 year marriage, and a relationship of 17. She has two kids of her own as well. I was the catalyst for her divorce as well.

Our kids have been hanging out together lately when I have mine on the weekends. Everything could be just fine. Her kids ask for mine when I don't have them, and the reverse is true of mine.

My lover is buying a house, and wants me in it right away. She feels that I am truly for her as well. I have told her that I do want to marry her, but this stuff can make you so crazy that you can change by the hour.

I just don't know how to move forward. I am in counciling, but it doesn't make choosing any easier. I guess eventually the decision will be made for me.

I feel perpetually stuck, and am being unfair to both women. I definately am in love with my lover, but not enough to show up with her in front of my wife yet. I am not divorced, and I feel that is very disrespectful. Also the changes and counciling that my wife has undergone have made her realize her part in all of this. I still don't know if our marriage can be saved, and how to just turn off my lover. I did love my wife at some time, I just have alot of resentment for how things went.

My lover is awesome, and I have never been treated so well in my life. She wants me to parade her all around, and treat her like a queen. She deserves all of that, but not being able to let go of my past life leaves me stuck. My wife has grown alot too, and not talking to her sucks as well.

This is awful, and I don't wish it upon anyone!! The thought of another man living with my kids kills me, and I am not so excited about living with someone elses kids. There are pros and cons to it all. The constant dialogue in the head is the worst, continuous scenarios never stop. Guilt is overwhelming!

My advice to anyone considering this is to get divorced first, and make sure that your conscious is clear.

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A female reader, devastated2008 United States +, writes (8 August 2009):

devastated2008 agony auntSTOP.. the affair. Do the honorable thing and address the issues HONESTLY in your marriage... without another woman between you. Then at least if it ends in divorce you know you did EVERYTHING possible to fullfil your vows and be a good father. You felt for your wife similar feelings in the beginning or you wouldn't have married her... you need to find out why that went away... and I guarantee it wasnt all her fault. If it was there once it could be there again and maybe even better because you will be truly connecting and forgiving and addressing the problem.

Leaving for an affair partner is devastating to children regardless of the callous way people refer to how children are resilient.. you want more for your children than that.. they shouldn't have to bounce back. But it is also devastating to the spouse... you made vows and they were supposed to have meaning. Till death do us part is not just a cute/romantic phrase it is a promise... I am not suggesting stay and suffer, but stay and address the problems. Leaving for someone whose character has already been proven is ridiculous. YOU KNOW that when the going gets rough and it will... she will cheat... YOU ALREADY KNOW IT. And she knows the same about you... its not love its selfishness and a shortsighted cop-out. Your needs count but not at the expense of everyone involved. The longer you stay involved with her the more difficult it will be to recover for all involved. End it NOW!

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A reader, anonymous, writes (18 June 2009):

I can tell you that affairs are fun for a while. I met my soulmate in 1998 and we both were married. We lived together for 6 months, I had two small kids then. The financial stress got the best of him and he went back to his wife. We always loved each other and began seeing each other a couple of years ago. My kids are teens now. Well his wife caught wind and left him six months ago. My husband whom I slept apart from for 15 years was shocked about us again, but ok with it. Now I am with my soul mate who is 18 years older than me. Once you get with the person that you cheated with, even if they are your soul mate, you will have a hard time trusting them due to the way the relationship started from an affair. It is a struggle and I never believe a word he says, I doubt him on everything because he had an affair with me, still sleeping with his wife at the time, and he told a ton of white lies. I love him and I want to marry him but am so unsure if I will ever trust him. He seems to always have a hidden agenda, but then again it could be me being paranoid. So to sum it up, make sure that when you are in love with this affair person that you are both strong enough to get past the affair part and move on to a flourishing relationship without doubts of infidelity and lies. I am trying to cope but I have two options...Leave him and don't look back or face my fears and get help.

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A male reader, MotownPhilly United States +, writes (4 February 2009):

I'm just wondering if the "Anonymous" poster of September 8, 2008 is still around....

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A male reader, MotownPhilly United States +, writes (5 January 2009):

Wow. I would really like to hear from some of the people on this thread (especially "anonymous" woman below) who have left their marriages to be with their affair partners and how it worked out. In my case, I am married and was having an affair with a woman (also married) for 2 years. We kept telling each other that we loved each other and talked about a futrue and yet never did anything about it.

She ended things about 3 months ago saying she wanted a normal life. However, we've recently started seeing each other again. Not sure what that means. We're "seeing" each other meaning that we occassionally see each other and text. It seems as if all the feelings are there and she tells me she loves me and why didn't we do anything when we had the opportunity? To complicate matters, she is now pregnant, but says she is depressed about having the baby.

We've talked about being together and she wonders if she has the courage. I do too, but on the other hand, my issues in my marriage are the same as when I met her and my feelings just as strong for her. I need to do something and these feelings just aren't going away. I don't know what her feelings really are now, especially now that she is pregnant (with his baby) but she doesn't seem very happy.

And yes all of the advice I've gotten and the conventional wisdom says stay in your marriage and work on your marriage and everything, but like some others have said, conventional wisdom doesn't really talk about honestly facing your feelings.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (8 September 2008):

Have an affair with someone you REALLY love – Everyone (councillors, friends, peers etc.) says walk away, it is not real love, time will heal, it is not worth it - but deep in your heart you know this is the one. So what do you do, you listen to all these people, you do the “right thing” for your children, your family, your career – and what happens? Let me tell you….

This happened to me - I was married, had a great job, great kids, great house – everything was great – except I was the unhappiest I had ever been, life seemed pointless and I was always striving for the next best thing. Then I met her – she changed my life. Honestly, I have never felt like this for anyone. We were great together, related to one another, we spoke, we laughed, we cried – we did everything together – my soul mate really. She really wanted to be with me and I really wanted to be with her but I thought I would do the responsible thing. I went counselling with my wife and decided to work it through – against all that I felt!!! I listened to everyone else and not to myself. So I lost the lady I love and now a few years down the line after all the promises have faded, I am back to where I was, unhappy & striving for the next best thing. Except now I am a worse person – I am bitter about the one I lost, I have become a worse father and husband. I am distant, withdrawn and just carrying on with life. If my wife doesn’t like it – she can go have an affair – I am indifferent. Time did not heal because I was not honest with myself.

What I am trying to say is that everyone thinks they know better, but be true to yourself. Look, in my situation someone was going to get hurt but what is worse – living a lie and giving up a piece of yourself or being true to yourself and trying to be a better person. Honestly – the first option ends up hurting more people.

Not saying this is the advice you must take – just my experience.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (26 May 2008):

Wow. I think I'm your coworker with a slightly different set of facts. In my case, we met in business school. He has been with his wife for eight years, married for four, and they have a two-year-old son. No history of infidelity on either side, but they've been growing apart ever since he began school. When he met me, I was engaged (no kids or prior marriages). Like you guys, we tried to stay apart. It didn't work very well. Every time we severed contact, one of us would move closer to being together--I broke off my engagement; he told his wife he wanted a divorce. We're tentatively back together now, and it looks like the divorce is going through.

Over and over again, I read about how these relationships don't work. The odds are against us. I'm certainly the villain in society's eyes. There's no sense in justifying my behavior--or his--because I'm sure you understand where the shades of gray are.

The best I can do is offer you some insight into what your coworker might be thinking. Before he and his wife decided on a divorce, he was extremely conflicted. He's about to embark on a new career, which means money will be tight; he wants to be a father to his son; he felt he owed his wife more. The list goes on, but I think you can sympathize with what he was going through. I could as well--at least logically. But emotionally, it didn't make sense to me. He told me he loved me more than anything; from my perspective, staying with his wife was the cowardly thing to do. I wouldn't want to be married to a man in love with another woman, particularly when he was miserable in his marriage. The money didn't matter to me--having him was far more important than material comforts. Having grown up the child of divorced parents, I thought his son would be fine--and far better off than he would be growing up in a household with two parents who didn't love each other. I thought that he was just martyring himself by staying with her. And he would say things like "I'll find you if we do divorce," which would make me even more angry. I just kept thinking, "He can't love me as much as he says he does and go back to her." I knew that giving it another shot with his wife was the honorable thing to do, but I also knew that, whether it failed now or failed in ten years, his marriage was over. The difference was that in ten years it would be too late to be with me. Which isn't to say that I wasn't overwhelmed with guilt, particularly remembering what I saw my parents go through and how much my mom suffered.

Now he's actually getting the divorced, I'm unbelievably scared. Contrary to what traditional wisdom says, I think we do have a shot. He wouldn't be doing it if he didn't think we did; I wouldn't be staying with him if I didn't think we did. But I expect some bumpy roads ahead: he feels awful guilt, openly second guesses the decision, lets me know he's missing her and how painful it is for him to hurt her. These are all things he is supposed to be feeling, so I feel like an awful person when it makes me insecure. I've decided to just be open about it and give him some space during the process. But every day I expect to get a phone call from him saying that he has changed his mind.

What will happen later? We've talked about kids, about where we would live. I know that I will always be vigilant to changes in his behavior that would let me know he is seeing someone else. But I probably would have anyway given the circumstances of my parents' divorce. I'm very worried he'll come to resent me, that there will be unrealistically high expectations for who I am and what we are supposed to have together. I wonder if he'll fling it in my face when we get into inevitable arguments. It's not really his personality to do so, but the worry probably comes more from my own guilt and belief I deserve to have it flung in my face. How will his friends treat me? How will his soon-to-be ex-wife treat me (he says she doesn't know that he's seeing anyone else)? How will his son treat me as we progress and as I have kids? I don't know. There are no guarantees. But I do know that, for me, it's worth the risk. This is the man I love, the man for whom I would do anything. I've already compromised a lot of myself to be with him and would continue to do it because I love him that much.

The worse thing you can do is continue in limbo. You're either going to have to let your coworker go or you are going to have to divorce your wife. It's unfair to both women to keep them both suspended while you make up your mind. As I said, in my case, the biggest decisions were made when I wasn't in contact with him--probably because it hurt so much to be apart that we were willing to make those decisions.

It's going to be awful whatever you decide. And it's going to remain awful for a while. Good luck.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (13 March 2008):

I am amazed at how people can rationalize anything. So you have always been facinated by women from Georgia huh? How very fortunate for you to have found your soulmate. It wasn't about sex it was deeper than that huh? Get real. Both of you knew that sex was part of the affair. It does sound noble to say that it goes deeper than sex. My mother used all of these types of rationalzations when she had an affair on my father 12 years ago. My sister was 5 and I was 8 and to this day, I resent her for what it did to my life. No more family vacations, no more sense of really belonging to a "family" just shuffled back and forth between my parents. Karma ALWAYS comes back around. It has for me and it will for you too.

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A male reader, Wild Thaing Canada +, writes (7 March 2008):

Wild Thaing agony auntWell, now that you've dragged innocent children into your mess, what do you want to hear from us?

It's clear that you have an inner voice that either you ignore or has completely lost its moral compass.

You can choose to continue to rationalize your behaviour, or you can start to make some tough choices, all of which result in hurt for one or more people. Damage is inescapable now.

If you've never read Hamlet, I highly recommend you do. You will find a brother in Shakespeare's tortured protagonist who dithers to the point of losing all that he values.

Decide on what you value most in your life and get on to making the tough choices that are consistent with what you value most. Otherwise, suffer Hamlet's fate. Good luck and take care.

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A female reader, cb United States +, writes (7 March 2008):

No matter what you do, she knows that you are a cheater. You cheated on your wife with her and she is never going to be able to trust you. It will always be in the back of her head that you just left your wife and kids for someone. She will end up checking your phone and wondering why you are late. There really isn't anything you can do about it. It is what Womenit is. It sure is easy to live in the fantasy. At some point real life happens. How are you going to explain her to your two young children. I'm sure your wife will fill them in and you can be certain your wife will tell them that she is the reason mommy and daddy are not together anymore.

There is a very good chance that your kids will hate her. You can figure spending about 400.00 a month in child support. If your wife didn't work, throw in some alimony. When your wife finds that her life is falling apart and you are really gone, the anger will begin. You should count on her being a little psycho. She may even call your work, family and friends. You already said that she suffers from depression. You obviously weren't man enough to see her through better or worse. There is also a good chance that you will leave your wife and kids and your new woman dumps you for someone else. She doesn't have a problem flirting around with married men. If you don't want to be with your wife, then leave her. As for the new woman, it is doomed before it started.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (5 March 2008):

It sounds to me that whilst your wife was experiencing medical problems, she was probably showing signs of a mid life crisis with the way she acted. As is the case, when it is not pricked up most people do not recognise or realise it when it happens. therefore she never sought help and nobody offered it! My advice is to sum up as other posters have suggested where you want to be. If you want to be with your wife and you truly love her then severe all ties and make a family again. If on the other hand you feel it cannot be salvaged and that the other woman is for you, then at least your children are young and can adjust, as hard as it will be. Either way you need to make a choice and listen to your heart, it is the only way it work. All the best.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (4 March 2008):

I just read on post suggesting you bring the kids into the mix with this lady.



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A male reader, anonymous, writes (4 March 2008):


She has met the children. They know her. They have spent time with her child.

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A female reader, TELLULAH United Kingdom +, writes (4 March 2008):

TELLULAH agony auntYour girlfriend is right, there is never a good time. Having been through this myself, I can tell you that it is really hard to start with. Of course financially you wont be as well off. But will you be happier! now thats the question. If only crystal balls really worked eh!.

Is your marriage worth saving? I dont know you, but I would say from your email that its not.

Your children are young enough to adapt, something they will find much harder the older they get.

So it comes down to the money really, and whats more important to you. This amazing woman that you found, or missery and a safe bet. Of course there is always the chance, that as your wife has already had one affair. She could have another, fall in love and then end it with you. This also means that you would lose your fanancial security anyway.

Also I object to anyone genralising that if you have an affair that you are a bad person. Thats not always the case, there could be a number of reasons for it to have happened, rhythmandblues2.

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A female reader, hello1 United Kingdom +, writes (4 March 2008):

hello1 agony auntWell if your worried about your kids, why dont you introduce them too her? To see how they interact with each other. Your kids will be more hurt if you two are still together and they find out your still having a affair with the co worker. Your realtionsip with your wife sounds like it's going to end anyway, no use in kicking a dead horse. So why not try a proper relationship with this co worker?

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A female reader, unbound88 United States +, writes (4 March 2008):

unbound88 agony auntOne of the posters on here said "good people do not have affairs with married men and your relationship has a very low chance of surviving your divorce". This is not always true as every situation is different, and I know this first hand. I have known a lot of "good" people in my life, even my own father, who had an affair. They were normal, everyday people with needs and desires, not malicious or intending to hurt anyone in any way. This does not make you a "bad" person - who are we as "humans" to judge anyway? Let he without sin cast the first stone. We are indeed "human" and things happen in life. You are not evil for this to have happened OR to be contemplating divorce. You are a human being who is flawed like the rest of us and desires love like the rest of us and was not getting it at home. Also our society places such a value on "marriage" that a lot of us value the concept of being married over the fact that we need to marry someone COMPATIBLE and not just anyone. Our HUMAN NATURE is to desire love on an inner level and this woman provided it for you and you for her.

Kudos to you, for you are a man with a conscience enough to think about it to the point where it is breaking you down. I think you should weigh each situation and go with your gut in the long run. This could be your one chance at love and happiness with your soul mate and you never know when or if that chance would EVER come again. Maybe it was meant to be for you to be married to someone not compatible so when you met the one who actually WAS, you would recognize her. The children are resilient and can recover. Just make sure you remain a major part of their lives and it's also good they are this young because it would be a lot worse if they were older. If they see Dad is happy they will be happy too in the long run. There were some great responses on here. God bless you in whatever you choose. It will be hard at first, but it will get easier each day. Remember it's always darkest before the dawn.

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A male reader, Danielepew Mexico +, writes (4 March 2008):

Danielepew agony auntI wouldn't want to be in your situation. Whatever you do, you and someone else will end up very hurt. I feel like none of us can really tell you what to do, as only you know what hurts the least. You have been given great advice but perhaps there's a need to sort of summarize it.

Tuatera is right: you can't continue in your situation as it is. Even if your coworker were willing to wait for you, you would eventually need to make a decision. And that "eventually" has arrived.

From your post I take it that your oldest child is five years old and the youngest child is like three years old. Do you think both you and your wife could sustain your marriage for at least fifteen more years? Maybe, but it seems unlikely. I don't think your marriage is ever going to improve. And I'm fully with floraltemptations in saying that parents who stay together "for the kids" do them a harm that they don't imagine they are doing. Kids do feel that their parents don't love each other, and resent the facade that parents put up. And they resent the lovers, on both sides. And the fights, the screams, et cetera. Also, can you be sure that your wife wants the marriage? I don't think she has failed to notice that it just isn't what it used to be.

Personally, and thinking as a child, I prefer a divorce over parents who stay together without loving each other.

Then, I have to agree with you on the fact that a bitter divorce does a lot of damage to the kids, too. Maybe you see this damage as a real thing, and then you stop to think that maybe you can sort the problems with your wife and spare the children that damage. Like I said, that's a big maybe. And staying with the children is not "absence of damage". It's a different kind of damage only.

I'm afraid that the marriage had deeper issues than just depression.

You said you told your coworker that you wouldn't be leaving your wife. So, I'm afraid that you're not really that much into her. Yes, you resent losing her, but I don't think that anyone who really loves a person makes that sort of "disclaimers" at the beginning of a relationship.

Your coworker is also getting hurt. If you're going to dump her, do it now; don't waste her time.

Money is a real issue. Just think what happens to a child whose parents divorce, first, and then has to live in much poorer conditions than he was used to.

Sometimes affairs do become lasting relationships. But you can't be sure yours will.

Have you thought whether your coworker would get along with your children? Would you get along with her daughter? This is very important. Your relationship with your coworker just is not going to make it unless the children from both sides like "the other one".

Before you consider your relationship with your coworker, you should consider your marriage and your kids. And only then can you think about moving in with your coworker. Proceed as you should.

Hope these elements help you think better. I wish you the best.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (4 March 2008):

Hi there,

You have got yourself into a weeny mess. I can't advise you to continue the way you are, with both women and lives.

It will all get worse and not better so you need to start facing a few home truths.

You have to STOP using your childrens as your excuse. Leaving or not leaving will never change your position as their father and it is over to you what type of father you are by your relationship with them. You are continually avoiding a decision and using the kids as your excuse.

So make some decisions based on what you know for sure.

As this continues, your ability to be uneffected by your double life is going to stuff everything up and your going to make matters worse. You have to decide if this women, who is waiting in the wings for you, is something which is more important to you than your current wife.

You need to look realistically at the women. You have a realistic view of your wife, you have shared ups and downs and 15 years together warts and all and know her good and bad points, as does she. If she is now, not who you wish to commit to, then get that sorted so the confusion is gone.

While you continue to be connected to this other women, who you only have a 15 month history with, you don't know all there is about her YET, and how can you jump into this uncertainty. You would be making the same mistakes over and over.

Just stop for 5 minutes and think about who you are and what you are really wanting now. Don't bring the kids into it, they will still have two parent but at least if you start to make some decisions, the parents they have, will be good examples of how to handle difficulties. You may end up being a better father, once you start to focused on some of the important issues with all of this drama.

You need to stop playing with lives and start making some decisions. Avoiding a decision is going to make matters worse!

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A reader, anonymous, writes (4 March 2008):

Copy and paste this into your browser.

Here is a lot of information on affairs and infidelity from an expert psychologist who wrote a book about the subject....if you want some guidance, take a read here

and my vote is for your marriage, your affair partner has for one a lack of character, good people do not have affairs with married men and your relationship has a very low chance of surviving your divorce....sorry.

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A male reader, looking for help Canada +, writes (4 March 2008):

looking for help is verified as being by the original poster of the question

UNBOUND88- wasn't sexual in the beginning. It was someone to talk to, we each understood what the other was going thru, etc. I did become sexual......likely a couple months in. She's always wondered if it was just about the sex. It's not, it's about the fact she talks, listens, takes care of me, makes sure I'm ok, hugs me, kisses me, just is a care-taker and takes joy in making sure I am happy.

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (4 March 2008):


The fact of the matter is both you and your wife are most obviously no longer in love with each other.

So staying together, in a loveless marriage, for children is not going to do anyone, especially the children, any favours.

You'll be miserable, your wife will be miserable. Eventually the children will pick up on this and eventually it will get so bad between you and your wife that one is bound to crack and leave out of anger.

Children are remarkably adept ad adapting ot these things, that not to say it won't hurt them emotionally... believe me, it will, but so long as they understand it was not their fault and that daddy and mummy just don't love each other anymore. Make sure they realise that just because daddy and mummy don't love each other, it doesn't mean they don't love them (the children).

So get the divorce, and don't be bitter about it. You and your wife are obviously oblivious as to what marriage means (I do wish they would erase FOREVER from those ceremonies because it's almost never true) and if you trully are happier with this other woman who has gotten a divorce for you then you owe it to yourself and her to make that relationship official in the eyes of society.

You WILL see the children as much as you do now if YOU choose to do so. Just don't try and force this new woman on them. Don't insist they call her mother or anything like that. Allow them to warm to her on their own terms.

And don't push them to like her, it will take some time before they begin to get over the fact she broke up yor marriage. Eventually they'll discover a bond, it may not be as friendly or as happy as you wold like, b ut it will certainly be cordial (and thats probably the best you can hope for).

It is all up to you. But raising children in a loveless marriage is as bad as divorce if not worse. The pain they feel from a divorce will lessen over time, the pain they feel knowing it is because of them that their parents are miserable lasts a lotl longer and just gains in strenght the longer it has to settle.

Whichever way you choose to go, I wish you all the best and always remember affairs (even in revenge) are not a way to solve marriage problems... as you know they only create more or make the existing ones worse.

I hope this helps.

Flynn 24

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A female reader, floraltemptaions Canada +, writes (4 March 2008):

Honestly speaking- you've gotten yourself in a tough space- BUT.... you need to make a choice, as living the life you have been living up til now is not a way to live, for anyone involved, including your children. While your children are young I understand that they probably don't know what is going on, but let me tell you, while they dont know the details, they sure do know whether they live in a happy house or not. Coming from parents who "stayed together for the kids" I truely believe that this is the biggest mistake you can make, for you and your children. My parents separated 3 months after I (the youngest) moved out of the house... and are both much happier now. Honestly, I dont think you can worry about the financial "hit" that you will take, simply worry about your childrens happiness and your own happiness. This is a choice you need to decide, not because of the other woman, but whether you think you will ever be happy in your marriage again or not. The other woman should not be a deciding factor, as who knows if it will work out with her or not??? If you do leave your wife, you should get a place on your own and just date for a while. Don't be shacking up with the other woman right away, as you will forget why you left. (kind of like jumping from the frying pan to the fire!) anyway- whatever you decide, you either have a lot of counselling ahead of you with your wife, to make your marriage work, or the unknown. I hope you make the right decision... best of luck!

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (4 March 2008):

You say that it's not as easy as snapping a finger and making it happen but it is.

Your comment that there is no guarantee it will work out with this woman speaks volumes, as that shouldn't be a factor in deciding what to do about your unhappy marriage.

The right thing to so is to take steps to end your marriage and then move on.

It is possible, if your wife left you tomorrow (just as an example) then you would find a way to cope and move on, and manage with work and the kids, so there's no excuse for staying in an unhappy marriage and doing nothing about it, you are staying because there's something in it for you, and no other reason.

You and your wife deserve to be happy and not to be living in such a horrible decietful situation, and your new lover also deserves better.

It's not too late to sort this out, I think the only reason you are even on here asking for advice is because your new lover has forced you to do something about the situation by calling an end to your affair.

Decide what and who it is you want and go get it, if you don't you only have yourself and lack of courage to blame.

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A female reader, unbound88 United States +, writes (3 March 2008):

unbound88 agony auntI am confused. You said this was "not a sexual relationship because it went deeper than that". Then later you said you did have sex but have taken a break from that now. So how long have you actually been having sex with her? Please elaborate and I will comment further. Sounds very interesting to say the least!

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