This was sent to Aunt Babz via email...
I am in a situation, and I'm not sure what to do. I have been married for 28 years, most of which has been enjoyable. Over the last few years, my wife decided that our sex life was over. I am 53, she is 48, We had some serious discussions about this...she would promise to do better, but better never happened. In February of this year, I started an affair with a married woman, somewhat younger than I, who was essentially having the same problems at home as I, but she was also dealing with an abusive spouse. When we started out, it was to be a friendship to provide sex and intimacy to one another. As you might guess, the relationship grew to be much more than that...we fell in love. We agreed recently that we would both leave our existing relationships, and start anew with each other. This past Thursday, I told my wife of my intentions, and left. She was "floored", as she never suspected anything. Since I have left, I have been experiencing almost constant guilt, and the related feelings that go with it. On one hand, her lack of giving me the intimacy that I needed and deserved caused me to go elsewhere to find that, which is very important to me. On the other hand, we did experience many wonderful times and memories over the years. It kills me when my mind starts remembering things that were good. I've had some thoughts about going back to her, and trying to work things out. I just don't know if she would ever be able to get over the hurt, nor ever trust me fully again. Then there's the thing about sex and intimacy that may never change. Also, I do love the woman I am with. I promised her that I would follow through wwith this, which factored into her own decision to leave her husband as well. In addition, she is not in a position to sustain herself financially without my help. Is is normal to have the feelings that I am having? Also, I would most appreciate any advice that you may have for me in this matter.
Instead of giving advice, I think in this one I will actually refer to feeling and healing. I know that seems odd, but you don’t need advice. You have made your way and are living with the consequences. What you need now is the resource to ‘deal with it’.
Sex is a complicated part of a relationship. Some people can have sex multiple times a day. Some can live without it. But the real issue is intimacy, not sex. Any person can masturbate, watch porn, and get a joy toy, what ever it is that you need to release all those hormones. But the physical intimacy of your lover, your partner, that is what is so important. And unfortunately, many lose their sexual drive when they get older, are on medication, and multiple other reasons. You have obviously been on the side where this is just not good for you, and was not having the issue resolved. You have talked about it with your ex-wife and you did express your desire. She in turn could not do what it was that you were asking. There is no fault here… just an unfortunate and natural part of life.
Seeking out intimacy is something that 99% of today’s society will get down on a married person for. Of course I am guessing on the statistics, but honestly I think that to be pretty darn close. But thankfully, that doesn’t matter. Why? Because no one can really judge another until they walk in your shoes. And a relationship without sex, without that bond, without trying to rekindle, well, that can make the most loyal partner go astray. Doesn’t matter if it is right or wrong, it is human biology.
But what to do with the old noggin’ once the deed is done.
Seems to me that you are not quite happy with the relationship that you are currently in. I know that you stated that you love this woman, but I also think you are comparing her to your ex-wife who was absolutely great minus the no sex thing. So now you are questioning how much the sex really meant to you. Also you are likely wondering if you should have gone down this road at all. Which is expected when you still have intense feelings for another person.
I always tell people, a few things, when it comes to making a decision and one of them is to actually not think of the other person but to think of your self. Are you happy with the person you are with? If not, why is it that you are unhappy? If you think it is because you had shared and loved your life with your ex-wife, then think of her next. How much penance are you willing to do for her to trust you again? And do you think that she would even grant you that option? Given that she is likely not going to bend on the sex issue, can you be faithful to her? Are you ready to give up your sexual expression to be with her and really BE with her? Then the hard part, if you are thinking that you are not happy with the woman you are currently with, or any of the above questions, you do need to step up and call it off. No matter what the outcome is with you and your ex-wife. You need to be fair with this woman, and you need to be kind. She left an abusive relationship, which is great, but that will pack a lot of esteem issues and the last thing she needs is to go crawling back. So if you need to break it off with her (and you do if you are not 100%) then do the out of the ordinary and make sure that she has solid provisions and support. She will need it.
Maybe you are fine with the decision you have made regarding your ex-wife, and the two of you have ended amicably (or as well as you could) and you are having a hard time healing on your own. I don’t know all the details, so I am going out on a limb. Healing a wound that is not your own is difficult, and sometimes only time can take away the sting. But if you know, or think you know what it is that you ‘feel’ you need to do, then just do it. Make that phone call, make that visit, have a talk, write a letter. Do what ever it takes to say “I’m sorry”, no matter if it is to your ex, your current partner, children if there were any. Who ever it is, even if there are multiples. Healing is a difficult thing to try and take on, but it doesn’t happen over night and without effort
Part of the guilt that you are suffering is that you did indeed cheat on your wife. The fact that she was ‘floored’ means that no matter how often (or not) you two were having sex she never thought that you would stray. Comfort with your partner will make a person think this. And you know this, and feel guilty. So ask yourself this, you know first hand what it feels like to not have the whole of your partner. You know what it feels like to hurt someone (even if you really didn’t mean too). You know that the affair was (although probably uncharacteristic for you) ‘wrong’. So, why would you doom yourself to repeat any of it by not playing fair with your current lover?
Guilt comes to us when we have felt our morality has been compromised, and when we have hurt those we love. It doesn’t come to us for finding a hundred dollar bill on the street, even if it was someone’s last resort. We don’t know that, and we are blinded by the lack of connection. Guilt is your heart and soul way of telling you something is wrong, and you need to do something to make it right.
I’m not saying that you should leave your partner and see what happens with your ex. Hell, maybe all that your heart needs is to apologize, really apologize and have your ex forgive you. Maybe your soul needs to feel like you haven’t ruined someone else’s life (and I don’t think any one person is to blame here, just for the record). Maybe you need to be completely honest with the woman you are with in order to make this a good move for you. Honestly, I do not know the answer.
Even though I said I wasn’t going to do it… My advice is this; listen to all those things that your heart is telling you is right. Otherwise, you will just be living in guilt. Good luck, and let us know how you are doing.