Talk to Wendy (Love: The Good, The Bad, The Incredulous)

Wendy Olsen, MFT

Q: I’ve been with my wife for going on 13 year now. I love her, but to be honest I’ve never been in love with her.  Our marriage was somewhat out of necessity. I’ve spent the last 4 year trying to end things. We’ve had separations during that time and she’s even caught me a few different times with other women. However, no matter what she want let me leave.

I don’t know whether I’m staying out of convenience, familiarity or what but it feels wrong to continue to go on in a union when neither one of us is truly happy. I’m really not sure what to say to her, and how to make sure I stick to my guns this time. Please help.

Wendy: Ending a marriage is never easy and can, in fact, be a long and messy process.  Given what you’ve said, it seems as though you are looking for the path of least resistance.  If you have truly decided that divorce is the only answer, put on your hip waders, batten down the hatches and start the storm.  It will be difficult disconnecting the entanglements that come with a marriage.

Having said all of that, I want to encourage you to work with a mental health professional to help you navigate this process and provide you with much needed support.  Both you and your wife should be involved in therapy together.  Many people don’t consider utilizing this resource while they are going through a break up.  This can help you understand the hows and whys of what didn’t work, the things you can work on individually moving forward and, if you have children, how to be the best co-parents you can be to your kids while their family is going through significant changes.

I am sorry to hear that you feel this is the only answer.  I know it is very difficult.  Please do yourself and your family the favor of reaching out for support so that you navigate this process with the least amount of fallout.

Q: I’ve been dating a guy who I’m really into. We really connect on a deep level. He’s everything I want in a mate and I can see us getting married. The only sticking point is that he’s an ex’s father. We promised not to say anything to my ex unless we really got serious about each other and we’re at that point now. Another problem is that even though it’s been awhile. my ex still has feelings for me. It would hurt if he knew I was with someone else. It would probably devastate him knowing it’s his father. I don’t want to hurt him, but I also want me and my companion to be able to be happy and not have to hide our relationship. What should I do?

Wendy: Your situation is a sticky one.  You need to be prepared to be the bad guy, so to speak.  There is no easy way out of your particular closet.  You chose to pursue an intimate relationship with the father of a former lover.  Although, clearly that was a poor choice on your part, the onus is ultimately on your current partner.  He is the father.  There is always a greater responsibility for parents in their relationships with their children.  And although these relationships change as children age, the buck always stops with mom and/or dad.  Dad has crossed a line in his relationship with his son that will have long-lasting ill effects.

You seem to have a clear understanding that you and dad’s actions will be devastating to the son. You also appear to be prepared to move ahead, guns blazing.  I hope you are also prepared to be isolated, judged, persecuted and generally unsupported.  It may not be forever, but it will be something you’ll endure for a period of time.

I wish I were able to give you a more flowery response.  That isn’t possible given your situation.  I wouldn’t want to leave you with a false sense of optimism as you move forward in your relationship.  You asked a very simple question:  what should I do?  You should end the relationship with dad.  You should be leery of any man that trolls his child’s toddler pool for romance.  You should avoid any man that puts his love of his genitals over his love of his child.  You should run away from any man that wants to put his genitals where his child’s genitals have been.  You should love and respect yourself enough to have a relationship with someone that is free and clear to grow in its own right within the context of your family and community that can be supportive, not divisive.

Q: I’m a woman in my early 40’s involved with a 22 year old. Our relationship is purely physical and I devilishly have to admit to it also being extremely fun. Though we’re two consenting adults I’m beginning to feel that maybe I’m doing him a disservice by stringing our arrangement out. He should be out with women his own age, and getting on with his life, shouldn’t he? I feel bad as well because society appears to judge what I’m doing as wrong. I keep thinking I’ve already had 11 years of hard marriage, isn’t it okay to indulge in silliness for awhile?

Wendy: Yes. Be honest and respectful.  You are both consenting adults.  Have fun.  He may very well come to the realization that your relationship has an expiration date at which time he may explore relationships with his peers.  Treat him with the same level of respect that you wish to be treated.  If either of you feels that there is more harm than good that comes from your frolicking, then take the steps to end the hurt.  Other than that, lovingly indulge.

Wendy Olsen is a Marriage & Family Therapist, specializing in Sex Therapy. You can find more of her advice here.

CC Licensed Image Credit to Alex Proimos