Woman finds that loving feeling with lover, not husband
Q: Been married 26 years, two children in college. We've had a lot of major ups and downs. My husband had an affair 11 years ago that threw my world off its axis. Without looking for it, during one of our very down cycles, I had one five years ago with B. I ended it, and tried to focus everything on my marriage.
But I'm not happy. My husband deep down is a loner and seems content to leave the relationship in what I see as its natural state — two people living in the same house, getting along, taking care of day-to-day stuff. I care about him, but don't love him, although I believe he loves me.
I have resumed my relationship with B. I am tired of fighting it. I don't want to miss out on this kind of love.
I want to be with B, but I know the pain I would cause my family. I am so torn apart by this, and am having increasingly more "meltdowns" where I sob till there's nothing left. I don't know how to give myself permission to be happy, when it comes at the expense of people I care about.
A: Clearly this is complicated, but there's a simple answer: Stop seeing B. Maybe "simple" isn't the right word.
You're starved, I get it, and you believe you've found sustenance. But the cost of seizing it while you're still living the lie of your marriage is too high. Otherwise, you'd be able to stop crying.
End the affair; clear your head, soul, conscience, schedule, and whatever else your affair has muddied; address the failed marriage. How? That's what the head-clearing is for — so you can know which marriage-saving or -ending actions to take. Then envision life after. Permission, step-by-step.
In time of crisis, friends fail each other, but not purposely
Q: So, my mother had major heart surgery. For months prior to that, she was very ill. Thankfully, she is making a full recovery.
My friend rarely called me during the months preceding the surgery, and wasn't really interested in hearing about it. I talked to her afterward to let her know it was successful, but not in the two months since.
I finally spoke with her two weeks ago and she admonished me for not keeping her up-to-date. I was taken aback, but I apologized, and we moved on. I'm left feeling really mad at her for accusing me of, what? Being a bad friend? I'm mad at myself too for not questioning her about where she's been. So, do I let her know, or let it go? Am I a bad friend?
A: You're really asking whether she is a bad friend, aren't you?
And the answer is, maybe. It's also possible she's just awkward and lost; a lot of people respond to a crisis with complete social paralysis.
All of them will know they're needed . . . but to do what? Visit weekly, send cards, walk your dog, back off and let you call them? One person's support is another person's offense, and many lack the courage to risk mistakes.
So, try approaching this as two people who could be better friends to each other. Tell her you felt her absence, but also failed to tell her what you needed. See if she rises to meet you.