I too am very, very sorry you have lived such a difficult life for such a long time. However, that doesn’t justify your current situation. I think you and your brother are mistaking relief and the excitement of doing the forbidden for love. You have both been deeply unhappy so it makes a kind of sense that you would each fall for someone who understands your pain.
But – Your lover is your half brother, 10 years younger, and a father. You are married and a mother. You are both longing for family and connectedness but there are too many differences and obstacles to overcome to make this work over the long haul. Most important, at least three children are going to be deeply affected if you and your brother try to live together as a couple. If you stay in your town, the kids will have to bear taunting and shame. If you keep your secret by moving everyone away, they will be wrenched from their security. (You do realize that relatives and friends will eventually figure things out so the kids will find out anyway.)
That doesn’t mean you should stay with an abusive husband. It does sound like all he is doing now is too little, much too late. You are not obligated to forgive him. You certainly shouldn’t forget how he treats people when he takes them for granted. It could be that this time with your brother has been a much needed boost so that you could finally think about the divorce you’ve been too afraid to consider without a safety net.
Now that you’ve taken the step of asking for a divorce, you need to use your personal counselor to help you find the courage and strength to make a life for you and your kids on your own — not to indulge in fantasies about a forbidden love that will wreck so many lives. I hope your counselor hasn’t gotten so caught up in feeling sorry for your pain that she isn’t able to see the larger picture and give you the support you need to move forward.
This article has been updated from the original version, which was originally published here on August 13, 2007.