Do I leave my girlfriend or my wife?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Q: I am a 43 year old male that has been married for 20 years and have two teenage children. I was caught in an affair ten years ago but was able to keep my marriage together. I am currently having another affair with a girl I have known several years. I feel that I am falling in love with her and I know she feels that way about me. I have already hurt my wife before but am now very bothered about what to do. I will always love my wife but we have some issues and I know I don’t give her the respect a husband should, and I just can’t see things improving for us in the future. I have two huge fears: First if I give up the affair and break things off with my girlfriend I am afraid I will regret the decision years down the road and may have lost out on someone that I truly love, second I am afraid of hurting my family both financially and mentally if I leave them for this other woman.

A: Some people just don’t learn from their mistakes, do they. You seem to be one of them. Please don’t ask me to feel sorry for you. Once again you have tried to avoid your problems and your responsibilities by getting involved in an affair. And once again you are jeopardizing your family while you play out your private drama. I don’t know why you didn’t get involved in couples therapy after your first fling but I certainly hope you do so now. You owe it to your wife and kids to at least give it a try. If you ever want to be a mature man, you owe it to yourself too. Your wife may or may not have it in her to forgive you again but at least you will have given her the respect of having some say in the decision.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 17 Aug 2008

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2008). Do I leave my girlfriend or my wife?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 25, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/08/17/do-i-leave-my-girlfriend-or-my-wife/