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psychlady, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 6893
Experience:  I have over 16 years experience in treating adults presenting with a variety of relationship issues
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I am a 53 year old male, married for 25 years (second marriage)

Customer Question

I am a 53 year old male, married for 25 years (second marriage) and have been having an affair for 10 years. I have waited until my children are out on their own and established to ask for a divorce.

My wife is refusing to divorce and she says we are obligated to stay in a loveless relationship for the "family". She blames me, tells me to get over it and that if I go through the motions the feelings will come back. She has enlisted at least one of our children who is critical as well as my mother (good Catholic) who guilts me as to my responsibility to family.

I try to get out of this, but then the guilt takes over and I wonder if this is my lot in life--to take care of others?

What advice do you have? If I should break the relationship with my wife, how do I do so after so many unsuccessful attempts?

Staying in the relationship with my wife means ending the affair which will have me lose what little happiness I have.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  psychlady replied 6 years ago.

This is very complicated but you are not doing anyone any favors by staying in the marriage including you. It is going to be difficult no matter what your choice. Ultimately the decision is up to you. If you stay with your affair and leave your family then you take the chance that your children will be resentful. However with continued communication with them (not your wife) you may get them eventually to understand that you were not happy. You would however have to work through the stage of abandonment they may feel but it's not impossible. Being with your children does not have to mean that you stay married.


If you stay in your marriage than you are just putting up a facade of the healthy couple. That sounds miserable. If you wish to move past it marriage counseling is an option but you seem past that. You are not fooling anyone and they may be mad just because they know about other women.


The decision is up to you but I would try to find a way to have an amicable end to your marital relationship while making sure you have healthy discussions with your children and hope they can understand your motives.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Thank you for the reply. But a point of clarification is that the affair I've been involved with is the same person for 10 years.


I agree with what you have said so far, but the biggest need I have now is to know how to end the marriage.


My wife moved out 9 months ago to accept a job in another state but is making plans to move back into the home this month. Things were not good when she left, but after she left divorce was discussed but she will not accept it. She is not accepting what I have told her, i.e., I don't have intimate feelings for her, being treated with disrespect by her and the kids (23, 24, 25) etc. Her response is that she forgave me, I need to forgive her for not always being kind, get over it and just go through the motions and the feelings will come back.


I just lost my father a few months ago who I was close to and my mother tells me to get my act together, I have responsibilities to my wife and worse of all, my father would never act like this.


Despite my attempts to discuss and resolve, I always surrender and then I feel frustrated and weak. I can't seem to get beyond the guilt, the hopeless feeling and the feeling that I am destined to stay in this relationship for ever.


How do I get my wife to understand that we need to end the relationship?

Expert:  psychlady replied 6 years ago.

You can take one more shot at getting this across to her, possibly before she gets in town or right after. Have a detailed plan in your mind and it will more likely get across to her. Her being out of town actually will help you in being firm and consistent. What I mean is that by the time she comes back have a detailed and truthful plan laid out and she will get it. Investigate another place to live and have details. The date you plan to leave and the living situation you have decided on. Other details that are important should be discussed to. Contact a divorce attorney in regard to a separation agreement. With details the situation becomes a lot clearer.


Most of all you have to stand strong. Actually doing the background work should also give you confidence. Decide on finances etc. When things come together, it tends to give it some validity. Also arrange plan regarding children. If you think it's best to just let them get past this, then so be it. You have to decide how to transition. You are not destined to be unhappy

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

What approach or what words do you recommend to approach my wife? Remember we have had discussions in the past, even of splitting property, but now we have basically ignored discussing the elephant in the room.


I'm not sure you understand how hopeless I feel, it's like I'm trying to move a boulder up a hill and it rolls back! Also, how do I deal with my guilt?

Expert:  psychlady replied 6 years ago.
I think I understand that this seems hopeless and there are lots of people that feel as you do when a relationship ends. You have to work past it and I know that's hard but it's possible. Try to find support and a distraction immediately. You need to tell her in straight language without any raised voices or hurt feelings. Clean and to the point. As far as your children make sure you say it is not about them and then you have no choice but to let them heal. Find a support group like Parents Without Partners or other source to help with the loneliness. Discuss this accurately but briefly. "I think we should end this and this is where I am going etc"
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Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Thank you. I called her today (she returns on Saturday) to begin the discussion but she said my timing was bad, she didn't want to talk about this and she would wait until she returned.



Expert:  psychlady replied 6 years ago.
Take back some of your power. It's okay to bend a little but don't let her dictate the boundaries of this discussion. You be firm and make some of the rules. I need to talk and this is why etc. You may be keeping you at a distance so that this issue doesn't get resolved except her way. This is really going to take you being firm, to the point and not on her terms. You can do it. It just takes a little force and a lot of persistence. Don't bend until she dictates the circumstances.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Thank you. This is extremely difficult. You mentioned in your first reply that this is complicated. It is.


The woman I've been having the affair with for 10 years is someone who I have never had these sorts of feelings with before. I have indicated to her that I intend to leave the marriage and she has been beyond patient, putting up with things I told her I would never put up with if I were in her position.


She has accused me of taking advantage of her, misleading her, enjoying living in two worlds, etc. I am totally satisfied when I'm with her, on all levels. It's just not being able to break this connection with my wife due to her unwillingness to agree to the divorce, the pressure the children (all adults) put on me and my mother. I feel like I'm letting them down if I pursue my own happiness.


The woman I'm having the affair with has said that she cannot live with my wife returning to the home and "going backward". She asked me if I could assure her we wouldn't go backwards and I told her I couldn't, then due to her reaction said "I will do my best to not make this happen".


I'm afraid I can't be firm enough with my wife to break this off but I don't want to lose the relationship that brings me happiness.


I think you get the sense of the situation I'm in so would appreciate your thoughts.

Expert:  psychlady replied 6 years ago.
I will try to help. Let's deal with affair person first because that is less complicated. Although you can't guarantee anything, you can build on this relationship gradually and productively since it makes you happy. If you tell her this regularly, then she may be more understanding. She is certainly not being unreasonable in putting limits on your relationship. She does not want to be the fall back person while you leave and go back to your wife. And you know that.

As far as being happy, you are clear on what makes you happy. The problem is not difficult because you know what you want. The problem is that you are putting off the decision because you want to save face. That is not possible. Your children eventually will respect your decisions (they may not initially). You can't avoid making this break once and for all. Communication with your wife should stop then unless necessary. That will also reassure your girlfriend. You should concentrate on developing a different relationship with your children that includes your new relationship. You are hurting them more keeping them in limbo. Also disconnect from your wife on all levels and it will make it easier.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Update: My wife returned this weekend. I had called her twice before her return to talk about things but she blew it off saying she would when she got back.


Upon our return from the airport, she said she was going to our son's house for about 30 minutes. She was gone 5 hours. On Sunday, she said she had to focus on cleaning out financial files since that hadn't been done since she's been gone, so she spent literally hours shredding papers.


In the meantime, I just waited around for her to be done so we could talk. I didn't contact my girlfriend either, which has hurt and upset her.


Now my wife has left to travel out of state to visit relatives. She just said she was going and wasn't sure when she'll be back. She does start her new job next Tuesday so she'll return sometime this week.


What is wrong with me that I can't force this issue, why do I let my wife dictate? Some of it I think is because it is easier and there is this magical thinking I have that my wife will come back and say this isn't what she wants and will be ending our relationship.


Please help.

Expert:  psychlady replied 6 years ago.
Make this happen! By finding your strength you make your own results. This is your opportunity to make your wishes happen. It isn't hers. So find the time, the motivation and the strength. Right now you effecting the emotions of 2 women so this is the time to resolve this once and for all. Try to find the motivation through examining the results that you want and making them happen. Otherwise the result will be left up to the family.

If this is helpful please push accept. I am psychlady
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I thought I was on the 30 day trial of unlimited questions? If I accept it says it will charge my credit card an additional amount? Please advise, your responses are helpful.
Expert:  psychlady replied 6 years ago.

You may be. I'm new so i don't know the mechanics so go with what you signed up for. Sorry


Continue to address your situation. You don't have to be passive. Show your strengths by setting firm boundaries. That will help with being dominated.


What will also help is making decisions and showing consistency in maintaining them. You will gain more respect by showing that you do as you say and stick with it. This will help you as well

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Now to phase 2. I attempted to do what you said, but feel like I'm hitting my head against a brick wall.


Her response? She is reading a book that is saying it is now the norm for long-term relationships to be emotionless and no intimacy so that it is okay. She also says that I have the wrong idea about her and if we just spend more time together, especially in public that I will see how other people view her, great, wonderful and that my feelings will change.


She has taken over the house phone, which has been my means of communication because I don't have a cell phone (she does). But she answers all the calls, brings me the phone and then hovers while I talk and then she asks me about it.


I feel less in control than before.


I know this sounds a bit bizarre, and even I'm beginning to realize it is. What do you suggest now?

Expert:  psychlady replied 6 years ago.
I agree that that sounds very controlling. It's a way to restrict you from having any freedom or choices. Nothing is going to chance by going out except to boost her ego. She may mean it in a nice way but the choice in yours. I don't know of any book that says that lack of intimacy is normal. Maybe there is but that's not how it goes. She probably wants to limit your freedom because she knows you are serious about change. Use that to find compromises or to make other long term plans
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Everything she is saying is about her, i.e., her financial goals, she is going to get in shape, etc. was said that it wasn't for me, which makes me think she may be thinking independence.


When we spoke at length of her financial goals I actually thought she was leading up to saying she was going to be independent but then she took another turn, saying her financial goals are the same as mine. I pointed out they were not. I asked her about happiness, she said being financial secure will eliminate worries for her. And that's when she brought up the book she's reading.


She'll say she's going to get into shape for her not me (which is all fine of course), but then she says we need to go out in public more so I will see how wonderful she is from other people and I'll change my view.


She'll try to initiate conversation with me, acting as if things are fine; for example ask about my work, etc. So I get the impression she is thinking we are working on the marriage when I have told her I'm not.


So it's a bit confusing.


My goal this evening is to continue talking with her, telling her what I want. I'm afraid though that she won't hear what I'm saying. Any suggestions?



Expert:  psychlady replied 6 years ago.
Persistence and consistency is the key. Talk until she hears. Otherwise she will go on as if you didn't say it and you will be guessing at what things mean. Be persistent! By consistent I mean the following. If you punish a child for doing something and the next time you do, he begin to get the impression that it wasn't that bad and next time he may get away with it. Be very consistent. Every time the subject comes up or you are talking, say the same thing. If she is doing something like getting in shape be consistently indifferent. Everything should be consistent with your goal - not being together. The balls in your court too because it is your decision.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Thank you for your encouragement. I garnered my resolve last evening and was firm in having the discussion despite her taking two phone calls and wanting to talk about her day.


I think I had been deluding myself that she was planning an independence. She had said a few months ago that she wasn't going to wait forever for me to change my feelings and all her talk of doing things for her and her future goals.


She basically said last night that she loves me, she wants to stay married to me, the problems are all mine and I can change feelings if I want. I told her my feelings weren't going to change and why didn't she divorce me and she said that wasn't her intent and that it was up to me to do so.


Remember I told you my mother is also pressuring to "get my act together" and be a good husband. Yesterday my mom called and asked about my wife and if I was "cooperating".


I am feeling stronger, but this resistance on my wife's part and denial of reality is making things more difficult.


Do I just proceed and take the hits as being a bastard?

Expert:  psychlady replied 6 years ago.
You are those things. You are someone who wants on to a place where you can find happiness. You don't owe anyone part of your life after you are not emotionally invested in it. It may take some hard knocks to be happy but it will be worth. Eventually your children and mom will come around and learn to respect your decision. Do what makes you happy. They will get over it.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Okay, I've been trying. Every evening. Last night she started in again on that she is has the support of the family, she is trying, making every effort, I'm not and I needed to look her in the face and tell her that I have made effort.


In her statements she isn't being aggressive as in the past which threw me as I was prepared for her anger.


Of course this induced all the guilt I've been feeling, so I just clammed up and didn't say anything. I do feel that for years that I have made an effort, her being back in the house has not changed my feelings. But have I tried to pretend? i.e., fake interest in her day, go on a date, have intimacy, etc. No and I don't believe doing so would change the feelings that I have toward her and continuing the marriage.


All I feel now is tremendous guilt, a sleepless night and a bit beat up.


I can get in my head what I should say to her but then when discussing I seem to have difficulty staying on track and allow myself to be diverted so that nothing moves forward.


What do you suggest?

Expert:  psychlady replied 6 years ago.
It seems like your behavior is a lot like your thinking. You are mentally exhausted by this relationship and feel a sense of hopelessness in ending it. You are willing to take on shame and guilt because you feel some of this yourself. The result is that you are guilted into submission. You have to what you know is best quickly and probably painfully but this pain will be much shorter lived than staying. You have to focus on how to facilitate your wishes and see them through. There is always a certain amount of guilt regardless because you had planned to raise your children in a loving 2 parent home. But things often do not work out that way. So find a way to see your wishes through so you can go on with dealing with guilt and hurt feelings.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

I am mentally exhausted. This past weekend I was focused on being firm with her, redirecting, etc. She is aware of my "girlfriend" and knows the girlfriend is my best friend.


At first she appeared to agree and be at peace with our separating and moving on. Then a few hours later, she says she can't agree to a divorce until she knows that I have tried to mend the relationship. She said that I owe it to her, our children, family to do so. She is proposing that we take 6-12 months and "act as if" we are a couple and this would include my giving up my relationship with my girlfriend. She even went to my girlfriend's house to "plead" with her to get out of my life. My girlfriend wasn't home though.


The proposal includes going out on dates, talking, taking trips and giving the appearance of a happy couple.


I do not want to agree to this proposal but yet I have tremendous guilt. My girlfriend says we must recognize the guilt, take the hit and move on as it is what it is.


I'm sorry if you think I'm being a weakling about this, but I appreciate any guidance you may have given this new development.



Expert:  psychlady replied 6 years ago.
This is definitely new development. This is not a way to mend things as she calls it. This is a way of participating in something that makes you unhappy and being phony to others in the world. Being a happy couple isn't an act. So I would recommend that you not participate at all in this facade. If you heart says I'm done, then you don't need to engage in this charade. Sorry for being harsh, but this is what you need to do in discussing this. Spend that time mending things with your children and moving on. Make arrangements and if necessary see an individual therapist. This can be very helpful. Make arrangements to make yourself happy which you probably in the past haven't done. Relationships are very risky and no partner owes the other partner anything! Your only obligation is to take care of your children
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

I know I could stay in the relationship but I wouldn't be happy. I don't believe that my pretending would lead to any changes in the feelings.


It is extremely hard when she is almost begging me though. Is this normal?

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Another thought--I've been avoiding her questions about the girlfriend, mainly to spare her feelings as I have so much in that relationship that I don't have with her.


She says that I haven't been fair to her by keeping the relationship with the girlfriend. Would it be helptful if I told her the truth about the girlfriend relationship?

Expert:  psychlady replied 6 years ago.

I wouldn't bring in the girlfriend discussion at all. No good can come of it. This will make no one feel better.

Trust me that is not discussion that will help things. If you decide to have it later, that's great. You know it's unfair so leave it alone and move on to more productive things

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Upon more thought, I agree with you too. What is upsetting to me is that she (my wife) is making this about another woman and that really isn't the case at all. My feelings had eroded for her years ago, I just kept in the marriage until the children were raised and my sense of obligation to "family".


My preference would be that we mutually agree that we do not belong together. On Saturday our discussions were that. She concurred that we would not want to stay together without being happy. We even talked of separating things.


Then she took a break and came back and said, "I change my mind, I don't want a divorce". This has been a pattern for the past year. Then she proceeded to focus on the girlfriend issue.


So now, I'm not sure how to redirect? I'd like to continue the discussion with her tonight.

Expert:  psychlady replied 6 years ago.

First your indecision and concern for not hurting her feelings only encourages her behavior. She can sense your guilt and she is feeding off of it.


The key to this discussion isn't specific words. It's consistency, ability to maintain your goals, negotiate (but only where it's needed, not until it hurts), strength and persistence. If you back down, you will lose the ground that you have gotten. Be rational and logical even if she isn't. Stick to your guns and maintain a focus on this discussion. Don't go off on a tangent - that is disastrous. No guilt, no emotional discussions. What do we need to do to separate physically and emotionally. Who goes where? period