SHE ALLOWS HUSBAND TO CHEAT BUT REGRETS IT
DEAR MIDLIFE BACHELOR::
My husband and I have been married for 25 years. We are 50 and 49 now. He had affairs throughout our marriage. We split up for a while, and then I forgave him for his infidelities. I had kept the home we built together (literally with our own two hands). He now lives upstairs, and I live downstairs. We have had a "don't ask don't tell" agreement about his lifestyle. We have lived together for 29 years. Now here is the problem.
His most recent lover made the very stupid mistake of calling our home looking for him. That made me very sad, since I still do very much have feelings for him. I
requested that he move out. I have developed a bit of post-traumatic stress disorder from the continuing reminders of his affairs. He doesn't want to leave. He swears that he loves me with all his heart and wants to grow old with me, but he just HAS to keep his lover. She makes him feel young, and the sex is fabulous. I can't make him understand that he can't have both of us.
I understand that we have what amounts to an open marriage, and that I have no right to ask him to be faithful to me, since we stopped being "hot" for each other years ago. I believe we are doomed if we stay together. In the end, I will get sick from the stress and he will feel resentment toward me at having to hide his lifestyle (lose his freedom, so-to-speak).
He believes that he and I are one, and that he can't live without me. He says he will do anything to keep us together. The thought of leaving me, our home, our beloved pets, and his life as he knows it, terrorizes him. He has no money. He's never lived alone. He is totally freaked out right now.
The only solution I can find is that we go back to the "don't ask don't tell" arrangement we had before the phone call (mentioned above). But after 29 years I ALWAYS know when a new affair starts and ends. It is painful for me to witness.
Is it fair for him to ask me to sacrifice my health and well-being so he can be free? Couples counseling is out of the question. He won't go. Any suggestions? Thanks!
MIDLIFE BACHELOR ANSWER:Hi - wow, you know I cannot say that I've ever run into this exact situation in the past ... and nothing like this have ever happened to me ... but I'll give you my opinion nevertheless.
There are really two people you can blame for this situation - and you, yourself, are the first to blame because you are the one who has allowed him to have multiple affairs over the years. Of course, he is also to blame - because he is the one who was having these affairs. You seem to still be somewhat okay with these affairs, as long as you don't know about them explicitly ... but it is wearing you down ... and that's why you mention the PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
Since he won't go to counseling AND since you are starting to feel like these affairs shouldn't continue, then my advice is that you give him two choices - either stop all affairs (and stay married to you), or you ask him for a divorce. Give him two weeks to think it over.
If he winds up telling you he will stop the affairs, but does not - then that should be an automatic divorce.
I'll be honest with you - most of the people who write in to me about their spouses cheating do wind up getting a divorce ... because cheating is often a serial offense ... meaning that if it happens once, it most likely will continue to happen. In the majority of cases (including during my own marriage when my wife cheated on me), the cheating simply continues after a short break.
So my advice is that you have the discussion with him that I outline above, and start to mentally prepare yourself for the steps you'll likely need to take when the need for a divorce becomes apparent. You should read this article here, too - as it contains some good pointers that I think are especially relevant to your upcoming situation (splitting from your husband):
How to Deal with a Midlife Crisis Affair and Divorce
Good luck to you - please update us with how things work out.
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