Dear Anne - I fell in love with a coworker whose wife had not had sex with him for most of their 10 year marriage. We have not had intercourse but spend lots of time joking, hugging, touching and offering each other moral support. I do not think he has the courage and resolve to leave his wife but he likes seeing me and I love him more than anyone I have ever known and feel extremely jealous that he stays with her when I have so much love and affection that I want to give him. I do not want to hurt anyone but I do not feel his wife will change from being a very self-serving ice queen type. Why do these guys stay with these women? What can I do to get happier so that I can heal and have more to offer in the future? How can we resolve this so everyone can be happy? Is there something I don't understand about what might be keeping him in his marriage and what he wants from me and how I can have the fulfilling close loving friendship and companionship I need and want in my life?
Dear Anne - I have read your book "My husband's affair" and I found it extremely insightful. However, I sit at the other end of the spectrum. I am 'the other woman'. I am married and well educated. I recently got involved with a married man with children at work. He is more than 15 years older than me. He actively pursued me and we were both extremely attracted to each other. We would laugh together all the time. He and I are both in unhappy marriages. He has told me he loves me. He recently phoned me and told me that he had decided what he really wanted, which was me, and that he was leaving his wife. The very next day he recanted and said that although he loved me he couldn't bare the look on his children's faces if he were to leave. Now, he has cut off all contact with me. We do not speak, however, he still sits across from me everyday in the cafeteria and stares at me. Both of our spouses now know about the affair and both seem willing to stay and work past it. Do you think he is going to try to call me again eventually? I am having an incredibly hard time dealing with this. I just feel so foolish. Please, any advice you would have would be very helpful.
Dear Anne - I have been involved with a married man for about one year who was in the process of leaving his wife, due to my uncertainty about where we were going I ended up sleeping with someone else. This married man I am deeply in love with but hardly ever got to see. Whenever I approached the subject of spending more time with him or him getting to know my daughter he would tell me I was pushing him and that he needed to go at his own pace. I became terribly worried about whether or not he really wanted me the way he said he did. I want him back so much. I am in love with this man and want to marry him one day. He has recently moved out of his house but feels that he can’t trust me. If I could, I would change what I did. I was very insecure about where we were going. After all, how many married men really do leave their wives when they tell the other woman? He is truly in love with me and I am hoping to regain his trust. I have tried to tell him that not all relationships have to end because of this sort of thing and that you can actually become closer sometimes. Please help!
Answer to Letter #1
My heart goes out to you, because your life will be the greatest tragedy of all in this love triangle.
Often men having affairs, tell the other woman the self-serving ice queen story about their wife. Almost always there is also another side to the story. Most often these men who have affairs have wonderful wives who are hurting because their husbands are not investing the energy into the marriage that it deserves. The wife's resulting sadness can sometimes cause him to convince himself, his affair is okay. Any woman who is properly loved by her husband will respond in a loving manner. If she does have "ice queen" behavior, the way he has treated her has contributed to her emotional condition. He is not an innocent victim.
In the event that this man marries you, it won't be long before you've become the “ice queen” he's telling some other woman about while he cheats on you. As you describe the situation, this man you've been seeing is following the typical behavior of a man with a good wife who is having an affair. He is lying to you as much as to his wife.
When a married man creates a relationship with a woman outside his marriage, he is insulting that woman. You are second best. He hasn't left his wife because he loves his wife. If she really is an “ice queen,” then you have to wonder what's wrong with him. He chose to marry her! People marry people at the same level of emotional maturity, and with similar levels of emotional baggage.
You can never resolve this so that everyone is happy. I specialize in working with, women like this man's wife, loving, caring women, who are good wives, while their husbands are having affairs. My husband's other woman also thought he was her prince charming, there to rescue her from her unhappiness and to leave me. She kept telling people that he was the one she was going to marry. He never spoke out otherwise, because he thought if he did it would end the affair, yet deep down he knew he was never going to leave me. It had nothing to do with the other woman, her looks, or her personality. It had to do with the reflection of himself he saw in her adoring eyes. It was an escape from his responsibilities at home. Rarely do men leave their wives for their affair partners, but they do lead them on.
You're involvement has contributed to unimaginable pain and hurt for his wife and children, and sadly you will be the most hurt of all. Affairs are never okay. You need to minimize the pain by walking away, and working on becoming a woman who would no longer be satisfied with being second best.
What's keeping him in his marriage is he loves his wife more than you, and his wife is not nearly the "ice queen" woman he tells you she is.
My words are intended to set you free, not to hurt you. I hope you will find the strength to stand for what you deserve in life in the future and avoid relationships with married men.
Answer to Letter #2
Of course your marriages are unhappy. You've been putting all your energy outside of your marriage and into an affair. If you would put the same energy into your marriages that you put into the affair, you could have the same love in your marriage that you're having in the affair. Your unhappy marriages are not all your spouses’ faults. You each contribute to the unhappiness. When people leave their marriages and marry their affair partner, they soon become disappointed. Within months the same unhappiness in their former marriage pops up in the new marriage. Ta-dah! The common denominator in both marriages is you! It's easy to feel in love when you're having an affair.
For your sake, I certainly hope he won’t call you again. And if he does, it speaks volumes of the weaknesses in his character. He is then a man who does not keep promises. He lives his life by feelings, not by commitment. It means he doesn't have the skills to build a happy marriage. Don't kid yourself. There's a reason why his marriage isn't happy and he's got a lot to do with it. If he cannot build a happy life with his wife, he won't be able to build one with you. It's so hard to see these things clearly when you're emotionally involved. If he marries you, he will not be the same man he was when you met him. He will no longer be able to respect himself. He will not have the respect of his children. He'll hardly be able to look himself in the mirror. His issues are his issues, and he'll still have them (even more) if he calls you again. You need to work on finding happiness for yourself.
When a man is having an affair and telling his affair partner how much he loves her, and how she's the one and how unhappy his marriage is, he is going home and telling his wife the same thing. If he's been lying to his wife, he's been lying to you too. A person who is dishonest in their marriage does not become honest in their affair. They tell the truth when it suits them, and they lie when it suits them. They aren't living by principles, but by what feels good in the moment. If he marries you, there will be times when it doesn't feel good. No couple in a happy marriage of any length of time will tell you their secret is they married the right person and lived happily ever after. Happily married couples will tell you their success involved hard work, commitment and doing the right things, sometimes when it wasn’t easy.
How he treats his wife now, is exactly how he would treat you if he married you.
Get the love you want by learning how to solve your issues and fall in love with your husband. Stay away from any man who is married to someone else. Stop sitting across from him at the cafeteria. Get a new job, and if that's not possible, for heaven's sake eat on the other side of the table and look the other way. At least save some dignity for yourself. Work on your own personal growth. Why did you marry a man who doesn't make you happy? And why are you content to be second place to another man's wife?
I don't know whether this married man will call you again or not, but I do know that if he does, you're headed for a life of misery. The truth is often hard to face at first, but in the end it always sets you free.
Answer to Letter #3
Statistically only 3% of married men marry their affair partners and if they do only 3% of these marriages work. Unfortunately, once the affair becomes a marriage, the same traits the man brought with him to his first marriage, he brings with him to the second. He likely blames his wife for where he’s at, and he’ll likely say he doesn’t love her. In reality, he is a significant part of the problem in his marriage.
An affair is characterized by excitement. A large part of what makes it exciting is the “forbidden” element and the lack of commitment. Our culture has been feeding us a lie, that there is a “soul-mate” for each person and we’ll be happy when we find this one magical person. A married man will often give his mistress the impression she is the one. He is often also telling his wife this at the same time.
Life is a matter of principles. From my experience working with couples, I would question that you ever genuinely had this man’s love. If you did he wouldn’t have made comments like, “I was pushing him and that he needed to go at his own pace.”
Even if you fear that your "cheating on this married man!?" has lead you to lose him, this would, in fact, be a blessing - because that is almost certainly what will eventually happen anyway.
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