Seeking expert counseling is a sign of strength. A personal relationship with a caring professional is proven clinically effective.
You are indeed involved in a tangled web. You say that his wife and you are best friends, yet you did
not say if she, or her children, know about your relationship, and if so, how they feel about it.
You say that the solution may seem obviously clear for most, but you am very torn. This is what is confusing to you. These are two separate issues.
Yes, the solution is obviously clear, not only to others, but to you too. This may be the only opportunity to end this relationship with everyone fairly intact.
You are torn, not between two situations, but rather between causing pain or not causing pain. Any transition of this enormity has to cause heartache, and bring tears. No one is dying, however, and there is an opportunity for four people to succeed in having a new start, unencumbered by whatever you had to do for the past 15 years to keep this relationship going.
You had many years to become a couple but never did. Now you finally realize that you want more as you approach retirement age. You want someone to share your life with, not someone to share with someone else. You are not about to move in to his house as a second wife either.
You didn't realize what you were missing, perhaps, until you met this new man. Now it will be hard to turn back, and if you do you will henceforth have regrets, or at least second thoughts, especially at home in your lonely bed.
This is your midlife crisis, a time to rethink your life as you enter your late middle years, and contemplate further into the future.
Sometimes a difficult solution can be made with the help of a simple list or chart. I suggest a list for each alternative man, of pros and cons in having a relationship with each man. The simple act of clarifying your thoughts and crystalizing them on paper will show you the best path.
Your current lover will have to make his own way if you decide to move forward with your life. He has a lot to confront, but it is his to work out, and not yours.
This is a coming of age for you. The very fact that you "allowed" yourself to meet someone else shows that unconsciously that is exactly what you wanted and needed to do.
All sorrow and grief from loss is endured and then fades away. You do not have to lose your friends, but just re-establish the relationship, and have your own partner for the next stage of your life.
I urge you to physically make the list, add
to it as needed, and let it guide you to mold your decision. I believe that you will ask wisely and in your best long-range interest.
I hope this new year brings you great joy and happiness, and renewal, if that is what you seek.
My very best wishes,
Elliott Sewell, LPCC, NCC