We are married for 10 years, three kids (8, 5 and 2 years old). My wife did not work 4 years ago. When she got her first job, she felt in love with her boss (she is 30, he is 55 yo). After about 6 months of platonic relations, they had a sex and my wife became pregnant. She told me the truth almost after she got the pregnancy result. Our decision was: she stayed with me and the family and gave a birth. Thus we got the third child in our family. In principle I have changed since that time: more time with family, treat the third child as my own (even maybe slightly more). The lover told the truth to his family and is now divorced.
What all involved in current situation want (as I know): 1) My wife. She does not want to divorce me, however cannot leave her lover, she is very emotional connected to him (a lot of texts, short emails; it is likely they do not have sex at all). In case of divorce she will definitely go to a part time job, unlikely to have a good career. She tried to leave the lover (several attempts). She wants to keep the current situation. 2) The lover. Ideally he wants to live with my wife and his biological son. When my wife does not reply to him, he thinks she may have died. Agrees with the current situation, may want to have more often meetings with the kids. 3) I. Want my wife to leave the lover. Her job contract with him will end soon, so she should not see him too often. My wife and I live as we did before, can really enjoy our family time, do not want to hurt each other. But I think something is wrong with the current situation. I proposed to start decreasing the number of texts, emails and to stop any meetings expect those related to the child. So the situation should evolve and it will be easy for him and her to separate.
Your instincts are right. This situation is not tenable and does not have much merit for anyone in the long run. The real question isn’t what your wife is going to do, or what her lover wants or doesn’t want, but what are your needs and limits?
I would highly recommend individual therapy for you at this point. This will help you sort through your feelings independent of everyone else’s. You listed what you wanted to have happen above — but it all had to do with what you want your wife and her lover to do. The real work here is for you to stop hoping things will change ––and start thinking about what makes sense for you given the current situation.
Tolerating your wife’s ongoing unacceptable behavior and extending yourself has reached a limit. She has only been able to be marginally available to you, and continues to text, email and for all practical purposes stay emotionally connected to her lover. She has not respected your needs. You’re wife has made a series of very poor decisions with regard to you and your family. It is time to start thinking what you need to do, not what you hope your wife and her lover can do to help you feel better.
In individual therapy I would explore what your limits are. I would ask yourself if your feelings for your wife are still the same after the disappointment she has caused and continues to cause. Has your love for her changed at some fundamental level? I wouldn’t put the emphasis on what she should do to help you feel better. I would rather see you sort through your own feelings and find ways to manage them.
Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: http://www.dare2behappy.com/. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.
APA Reference Tomasulo, D. (2018). My Wife Can’t Leave Her Lover. Psych Central.
Retrieved on September 20, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/10/26/my-wife-cant-leave-her-lover/
Last updated: 8 May 2018 Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018 Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.