I’m Married and in Love with a Married Woman

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

From S. Africa: My cheating habits started a few years back. I feel that I was pushed into the hands of another woman. My wife hadn’t been working for some years at that time and we just had our second child a few months back. As a sole bread winner it was getting very difficult to support my family. We were very stretched financially. I tried to discuss with her to try find a job but she would have none of it. She would flatly refuse to look for job. I was getting depressed and drowning in debt to try to just to survive. I took up loans and exhausted my credit cards. I felt unloved and unappreciated. This led me to having a fling with a colleague at work. It was mostly sexual than any anything else but it somehow made me feel “loved” again.

Unfortunately my wife found out about it and this completely broke any trust she might have had for me. I also knew that things will never be same again and that this experience would change my life.

My salary has tremendously improved over the years and she has also been working for over year now. Unfortunately with her working some awkward shifts I always feel that it has been left to me to run the household even when she’s at home. I have to prepare kids lunches and breakfast everyday. She doesn’t even bother helping. I drop them off at school everyday. Have to make sure that I cook for them. I buy groceries, pay the bills, tug in the kids at night, be a husband and a father. I take good care of my family and I believe that we live a comfortable life.

But the truth is, I have always felt lonely and unappreciated. I have a wife who can’t even cook a decent Sunday lunch for me. In my quest for some comfort I met this married woman. For the first time in many years I feel truly loved, appreciated and valued. She is a career woman, beautiful, smart and I become alive when I’m with her. I love this woman with all my heart and she also feels the same about me. She’s also in a loveless marriage and feels very unappreciated.

I believe that we both deserve another shot at happiness. I don’t think I could ever love my wife again. I’m in love with another man’s wife. Our love for each other feels so right. I don’t want to lose her. Please help me. I’m drowning in self pity. How can I handle this dilemma I find myself in?

A: You are correct. You are drowning in self-pity and you have a long history of substituting blame for action. You were never “pushed” into someone else’s arms. The fling with the colleague was a decision you made to make yourself feel better. It’s not “unfortunate” your wife found out. It’s the usual outcome of such poor decisions.

This is not to say that you haven’t had a troubled marriage for a very long time. It appears that you and your wife never figured out how to be on the same team. You still haven’t. Children have to be fed and cared for. A house has to be kept up. Finances have to be dealt with. Instead of negotiating how to accomplish these tasks together, you or your wife have each taken on tasks and then resented the other person. It’s not a way to make a marriage. Sadly, you have apparently never gone for counseling to learn how to have a cooperative and mutually satisfying life.

It’s not too late to save your marriage, unless you two decide it is. You loved each other enough to marry and to bring children into the world. With some hard work you can reclaim that love and learn how to have a mature relationship.

Even if you don’t do that, you do need to do some individual work to learn how to be a functioning partner in a functioning relationship. Otherwise, you’ll bring the same lack of problem-solving skills to whatever new relationship you decide to pursue. However much you may think you are in love with the married woman, a relationship with her is bound to fail, if you don’t take responsibility for your part in the failure of your marriage and learn how to forge a different kind of relationship. That’s necessary whether you decide to make another go at your marriage or if you are to be successful as a divorced co-parent of your children or if you decide to start over with someone new.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 4 Sep 2014

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2014). I’m Married and in Love with a Married Woman. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 30, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/09/04/im-married-and-in-love-with-a-married-woman/