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Dr. Norman Brown
Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
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Experience:  Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
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I am having a relationship with a lady who is still married but are no

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I am having a relationship with a lady who is still married but are not together. She told me it was only a financial situation. She doesnt want me to meet her son! Today, she broke up with me today. She is afraid of her son's reaction and her daughter-in-law. I am concerned about the truth and what would happen if her son's secret is found out!! I care for her and if truth is found out, the situation could get out control. I know I am insecure and want to deal with problem. Need an opinion with clarity!
Thank you for your question.

My apologies but I am a bit unclear as to what you are seeking to accomplish. Could you please explain as I am not seeing a legal problem here, at least not directly. Thank you!
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

This wasn't for an attorney! Sorry!

Your beloved seems to be very uncomfortable with the idea of directly spoiling her image as married when her biological son may not know it's a marriage in name only. That would put you inside of a family with secrets that you know very little about. And you don't seem to have much choice about what's going to happen, since you're not recognized as her partner in reality, and some other man is. Is my interpretation correct? How long have you been seeing her? What are the financial conditions that impact your status? and do you have your own financial power to make a difference?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I have been seeing her for 4 months. I do have the financial power. Your understanding is on target! I care about her a great deal. She has been struggling financially and I have assisted her by helping purchase food. She helps her disabled brother and I wasn't around, she would have been in trouble! Money doesn't mean much, I do not want to be a fool with my heart! Any clarity from your thoughts?'

So now please tell me about the marriage she's currently involved with, and more importantly: How could you envision shifting her status and yours, esp with respect to her legal spouse and her son. If you'll sketch out at least 1 or 2 paths & strategies you've come up with, then I can begin my advising by being somewhere near what you've already thought about, instead of still just guessing at factors I don't know about.


It's also significant that youve been seeing her for only 4 months. For with all the obstacles that are in the way between the two of you, it is very likely that you are idealizing her and as a result underestimating both yourself (Freud's famous essay On Narcissism argued that men put their beloved women on a pedestal and worship at their feet, while striving mightily to be worthy of the love that their hearts & sexual perception instinctively gives to women.) Obstacles such as these can keep Passionate Love burning brightly for much longer than is normally needed to establish a realistic relationship where the warts begin to show. And Passionate Love is blinded by its heartfelt intensity so the mind is mainly just composing hymns of praise and sonnets, while trying to defeat the obstacles, and a realistic assessment of lifestyle, life-goals and intimate compatibility is not yet possible. So you have to consider both the obstacles and your own inclination to fight like Odysseus in Penelope's Ithakan Palace after his 20 yr absence, despite the fact that you hardly know this particular Penelope at all. You know you don't want to be a fool with your heart.


Maybe it's still too early for you to advance towards shifting the powers-that-be in her life. I have a client whose girlfriend of now 20 yrs has depended on another man for keeping her house, while he is psychiatrically disabled & indigent, and the old benefactor (& would-be lover) just died. So tell me some more about the conditions you find, and also both your and her histories of romantic relationships.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I agree with your thoughts. I feel as though she is lying to herself hoping that life can be a bed of roses. Not happening here, she will not face the truth. I am concerned about how I fell like this. Do u think I am out of line, if I call her husband to get his thoughts. I have met him and we liked each other. He is aware of me! Need to come to some kind of decision! Lost my wife to cancer several years ago! Have dated many ladies, but judy is one who I think the most of! Cant keep my prospective in check! I let my heart go and now it feels she has a hold on me!

If you lost your wife several yrs ago (mine fears her cancer will come back after 8 yrs), then your heart may be just ready to open its bud again, and the chemistry (measurable thru astrological composite charts, if it's a factor) plus the obstacles are enough fertilizer for your heart. Would she be switching from one sugar-daddy (who she's bored with) to a new one (with greener-thumb chemistry)? Life can be a bed of roses if you're a queen by marriage whose husband's kingdom supports your throne, so you (like Princess Di) can devote your energies to benevolent support for others. That is an upperclass ideal few contemporary American women get to live out. But does your financial power make you such a king? Wouldn't other (younger, if you prefer) women want that role too?


What "Princess Di" offers in the modern marriage (discussion type in my textbook) is Romance. Sounds like she might be good at that; but what else does she want to make HER OWN LIFE meaningful--besides practicing benevolence?


What do YOU want in a partner & a partnership? Which types of spousal Intimacy were most meaningful in your former marriage? And which do you yearn for now? (You can use numbers for degrees of importance: 1 = mild 3 = maximal)


Types of Intimacy [From Love & Intimate Relationships: Journeys of the Heart, Brown & Amatea, 2000.]

1. Physical. Familiarity & closeness with another's body in work & play, medical care, touch, massage.

2. Sexual. Erotic pleasure sharing.(The typical default meaning for men, whether verbal or emotional sharing are involved or not.)

3. Emotional. Empathic attunement & expressing emotions. (The typical meaning for women, though the reality may be that one is giving & receiving only the emotions one wants, and not Crisis (9) or Conflict (10).)

4. Intellectual. Sharing spheres of ideas.

5. Aesthetic. Sharing experiences of beauty and excellence.

6. Creative. Sharing acts of creation together, including brainstorming.

7. Recreation. Fun, sports, play.

8. Work. Cooperating in tasks or occupation, wage-earning.

9. Crisis. Facing crises, problems & pain together.

10. Conflict. Struggling with differences & frustrating interaction cycles.

11. Commitment. Trust & mutuality from common investment of self.

12. Spiritual. Sharing religious, spiritual & transpersonal experiences & concerns.

13. Communication. Verbal sharing and understanding. (Typically combined with Emotional, Intellectual, Crisis, Conflict, etc.)


Have you been looking to replace the types of Intimacy you lost when your wife died? Or has your advancing age (& maturity), plus perhaps a transformation through a widower's romance led you to seek different core intimacies that what your habits had been?


If Judy has a hold on you, it's possible that you could experience a melt-down of your identity-up-to-now and a subsequent rebirth as a new man, even if Judy isn't loving you in the same ways as you're loving her, and even if the romance doesn't eventually restore the stable partnership you might be seeking (ie "Commitment" intimacy).


However, if you don't feel respect for Judy's handling of money, you'll be feeding the thorns of your relational destruction if you-or-she don't face it & change.


I think you're asking me to rain on your heart's party. But fear of deepening investment of self (aka Love-development&transformation) is right on-time at 4 months.


I'd be uneasy about approaching her husband, worried that hearing his history with her and possibly jaundiced perspective would turn your rosecolored glasses yellow, OR that he'd gladly "give away the bride" which reinforces his hold over her and demasculinizes you. I sure respect your confusion.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Great response! Thank you! As I attempt to be completely honest! I was cautious in this relationship! I thought I was! I see myself regressing in the romantic world!

My relationship with my wife was outstanding! I have the belief system, if you tell someone you loved them, old school thinking! I might expect something too soon! I make an investment in the woman, if I tell them I love them, if they reply as well! I think we have accountabililty to each other. It seems she reponds, I am not sold if she is completely honest if she cares for me as she indicates. Due to my lack of security, I seem to push too hard. I hate that in myself, clear I am insecure about the contents in the closet. I hate to say this, women today are so different! it seems they aren't as trustworthy. My choices concern me! My lack of ability to select is questionable at best!! This has been since I have been dating. My wife was secure , loving and trustworthy.

This is the writing of the card, she gave me at christmas! Quote!


You're someone who's genuinely caring and giving, someone who listens with an understadning heart. And especially at Christmas, I 'm so thankful that I have someone like you in my life. I took this as a meaningful, however, I am now thinking, is this all a bunch of garbage!! Go figure!!


We had a conversation today!! It seemed a conversation of negioation. She wants to go dancing on Sunday night without being with me! Alot of her friends ask her to dance but not since she have been going out with me. I am not threaten by this at all.She is a great dancer. I went bymyself last Sunday. She was not with me and I was asked to dance many times. I do not like the music she really likes. She loves dancing and she misses it very much. She told me, it was like she would not let me play golf. She wants to dance! I say, go for it! Her night out! She has been doing this for years! I watch her always leave by herself. We smile at each other for months before we even spoke. She always wonder why I never spoke!


Alot of the women out at the club, cant understand why I chose Judy. It is not her looks, she has a "stressful look". I have always have had very pretty ladies. She is very down on herself because her worn look. I see beauty in a different way.


It does bother me,. She doesnt want me to block her opportunity to dance. Apparently, dancing is more important to her than she indicated. Your opinion on this thought! I look it like playing golf. I do not want her on the golf course with me! LOL! She pointed this out to me! Good for her!


All of this could be a mute point, especially, her lifestyle with brother and son. I think when she said she loves me, she does, but her existing life style isnt secure by any of the stretch of the imgination. What happens when this job runs out. Things get tight and she goes into a panic mode.

She will reach out and look for comfort. As u said a possible sugar daddy. I hate that term. I will not be her enabler, but I will help. I do not regret helping her by any means. When I saw her pantry, I felt needed.


I said to her, if i ask you to marry me, what would be your answer. She said "no". Her life is too screwed up and I was a great guy and she would not pull me into this.


Well, I have said a great deal! Please respond to this asap! We are going out on Friday. I want to be relaxed, need suggestion to accomplish this.

It's too late tonight for me to get to the insights I want to reach for this contribution of yours. So I will sleep on it, after responding to just a few sections. Thinking out loud, so to speak, and it might lead to more--but it's more likely that tomorrow morning some insights will be greeting me when I wake up.


I totally understand your "old school" feeling/thoughts about love, because it's how you held your beloved and were held by her for what was a whole lifetime already. But you have another life to lead now, and you're very unsteady about where you should start and what to expect. You want love to mean Forever (or till death do us part) but you can't know for sure if Judy (or any other woman) holds the same meaning for love.


Each of these women have their own lives that have formatted what love means for them. Most of them probably want love to be that way too, since it sounds like these women are 40 to 60 or old and in the same age bracket as you. But if their generational learning was different or the local culture and marriages they had were different (like perhaps some of their husbands were flakes or drunks or cheaters or otherwise inadequate), then their cautiousness towards dropping their defenses and just giving themselves over to love could take different forms than yours.


Perhaps Judy attracts you more because she obviously needs you, where the others were more successful at giving you the impression that they were doing fine all by themselves. Her hypothetical answer to your hypothetical marriage proposal is a fascinating&frustrating curve-ball. But the mess that the US banks and WallStreet and the worldwide competition have thrown us into has pulled lots of us into dire straits.


Your hypothetical proposal was also spontaneous fruit of your first bloom of love, and such toying with the Forever part of the love experience is normal for teenagers and twenty-somethings too. Have you asked her what she imagines she'd have to do or change (specifically) to start feeling worthy of the love you're giving without reservation?


Perhaps you could help her brainstorm how to bring her job situation into greater stability in the future. And then there's her charity cases--is it Both Brother & Son?


Am I right in assuming that you're in your 60s and very popular at the seniors dance club, because you've stayed fit and kept your life running successfully, and such men are in short supply compared to the women who are looking for one?


That's all for tonight. Perhaps you'll need to stretch yourself and learn how to dance to the music she likes as well as to the music you like. Is it Latin music that makes her dancing-passion different? Or Rock&Roll?


Actually I suspect that feeling like getting married is a REALLY BIG EMOTIONAL ERUPTION FROM DEEP DOWN for you, because your marriage was SO fulfilling that its after-effects could have profound effects on you reach this new beginning. You have every right to be scared, because you have done a sacred union for a lifetime, and now you're hoping you can do it again--cuz nothing else compares. But when you succeed in starting up a new love that's as powerful (and you WILL succeed because you have already chosen to go forward on that path), it will be DIFFERENT than what you were so used to before. So both you and your new partner will have subtle and unfathomable differences that can make your lives quite challenging. And that's worth being frightened about too. But it's something you can succeed at also.

Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1206
Experience: Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
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