A year and a half ago I left my husband of 30-years because I was unhappy with what our lives had become. We hung in together through hard times and celebrated many joys, including our grandchildren, but a string of disasters such as a death in our family, bankruptcy, along with my husband's seemingly perpetual dark moods following the end of his career led to a total breach between us. It became an emotionless, sexless valley of despair. So, I decided to spread my wings and fly. I was exceptionally heartbroken, but at the same time I was excited at the thought of starting a new life.
In short, I had an affair, which gave me back my self-confidence as a sexual and emotional being. My new lover and I met on business trips and we developed a strong sexual bond. However, I soon realized he was not "the one" by a long shot. Yet, the experience left me exhilarated and it made me feel alive again. My husband did not know about my fling and was therefore blindsided when I asked him for a divorce. He was crushed and pleaded with me that he could change. It all seemed too little, too late, but I agreed to a separation instead of a divorce.
I secretly joined an online dating site and had a bit of fun in the process. During our separation my husband became involved with another woman. At first I was furious, jealous and hurt even though I knew I had no right to be. I think he ended the relationship because of my reaction. My hurt caused by his affair actually seemed to bring us together as we tried to work through the confused state we found ourselves in. We began seeing a marriage counselor where we discussed our feelings for the first time in years. I told him about my affair but kept my post-separation dating a secret. We both began to change in ways we never had before.
Now days, we meet a few times a week, share dinner and have sex regularly. The sex is not electrifying, but it's good and the feelings between us are comfortable, intimate and warm. This is where I become confused. Agi, I have really enjoyed our separation, my husband has never been more attentive and appreciative. You could say I have it all. I get his steady love, attention and sex. I am considering taking him back; however, I am worried his 180-degree turnaround will disappear if we resume our old roles. I don't want to play the fool again. On the other hand, I don't want to lose the person I have invested so much of my life with and may still have a long future with. Is it just stupid hope, or do you think we can make it? Agi, I'm asking you; should I go back to him, or can I keep the best of both worlds and stay separated?
Dear Still Alive,
Your story is quite unique, mostly because people who have gone the distance and passed the thirty-year mark usually stay put. A part of me admires your moxie for making a drastic change in your life, but the other side of me thinks having an affair was not the best way to achieve it. I can hear your pain and frustration when you share the story of personal disasters; conversely, life is made up of ebbs and flows and the commitment you both made to each other over thirty years ago was not only a contract but an eternal promise:
'I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad (dark moods or good moods), for richer, for poorer (bankruptcy or lottery), in sickness and in health (death in the family or birth of a grandchild.)'
Somewhere along the journey the two of you got side tracked and didn't communicate to each other in ways that may have prevented the collision of your relationship. All that has brought you to the place where you now question whether to take back your husband or keep the best of both worlds. Hmm... Let's look at the obvious. You can't just stay separated forever and expect your husband to hang around and wait for you. At some point you need to have a come to Jesus moment with yourself and decide what it is you really want. In all honesty, you're behaving like a man going through mid-life crisis. He strays and then expects his wife to hang around and wait for him while he continues to go out and taste the fruits of other women. Not cool and not a formula for success. You both deserve better than that after spending thirty years of your lives together. I'm going to try and be gentle about this with you; You have a lot of nerve getting upset with your husband when he began dating after you had an affair and asked him for a divorce. You might as well have taken out the kitchen scissors and cut his twins off.
When a couple spends as many years together as you and your husband have, they tend to create a symbiotic relationship that will either have a negative or positive affect. In your case, it sounds like the symbiosis was turning into a mushy pile of mud. Your husband's dark moods may have been a reflection of what was going between the two of you, or in this case, not going on between the two of you.
I understand you're having fun dating, well, I have news for you -- dating is supposed to be fun! However, dating is tricky business; there are a lot of love addicts out there who are looking for the initial high you get in the early stages of a relationship. Some of them even mistaken it for love, but if you have learned anything through this process you should recognize by now what real love it. It's someone who loves you on Sundays as equally as they do on Fridays. So, if you want a deep visceral connection with someone you can trust, admire and respect for the rest of your life you won't find them by staying in the dating phase because you already have him.
Try being different and give your marriage a second chance. This doesn't mean you have to move back in together right away. Both of you should have to work a little to regain each others' trust. Start by creating some ground rules, which should include not dating anyone else while the two of you are dating. My rule of thumb when it comes to dating:
"If I am sleeping with you we are to be monogamous. Not only out of respect for what we may be creating but for physical safety."
Set up a time frame that you both agree on for moving back into the family home. Once you achieve this, schedule date nights, and once a week each of you are responsible to surprise the other. It could mean an evening of romance or a day of going scuba diving. Sometimes adding a little cayenne pepper to a relationship can heat things up in the most unexpected ways.
I wish you all the best my friend ~
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