This is part of the giant breakup letter never sent.
My observations about your personal struggles with your marriage:
- I know you are struggling right now and trying to do the right thing. You’re waffling and conflicted. You’re scared and upset and worried about hurting people and losing their respect. I understand completely.
- Before you make a final decision about your future, search your heart for the answers to: What will you regret the most? What will keep you awake at night? Nag you in the back of your brain? Make you sad?
- You need to decide whether you want to sincerely commit to your marriage or walk away from it with dignity and courage. It takes guts to own up to what you really feel and do something about it – either way.
- If you are really devoted to your marriage, fix whatever is wrong that made you get involved with me. If you aren’t able to do that, don’t have another affair. You are better than that. You are a good man. Know when to throw in the towel.
- Don’t let your inability to express what you really need and want – or others’ inability or unwillingness to meet your needs — continue to make you betray your own integrity.
- One reason you say you want to stay in your marriage is the pain it would cause others and the respect you could lose among family and friends. I submit to you that you will cause more pain and lose more respect if you are disingenuous. I also think that if you split up, you will find more support and acceptance among your friends and family than you expect.
- Not once did you say you wanted to stay in your marriage because you are in love with your wife, or because she is in love with you.
- Your wife deserves to have a faithful husband who is genuinely dedicated to saving his marriage because you love each other and want to spend the rest of your lives together. You deserve the same in return.
- I rationally understand that it’s not a “Me vs. Her” contest and it’s not about which one of us is better or who loves you more. But I feel unworthy and like my love is worth less to you than hers.
- You said you want to stay with her because she’s a good person and you don’t want to hurt her. I’m a good person, too, and I don’t deserve to be hurt, either. It’s this point that makes me believe that you really do love her and that your feelings for me aren’t as intense as those for her. When the heat was on, you chose to protect her and hurt me.
- Leaving her might not be worse for her in the long run, and it’s a bit arrogant to think she might be better off with you than without you.
- Even if she knows about me she might stay with you. Some spouses tolerate a lot to avoid being alone. If you continue to stay with her you definitely will lose me forever. Because being alone is better for me than continuing to live a lie.
- You had to end your relationship with one of us. I realize it was a lot easier to get rid of me. I know I can’t be too offended if you chose the path of least resistance, or perhaps you really want to be with her more than anything else.
- Nearly everyone knows I left my husband largely because I was involved with someone else – because he told them. I still have all my friends, my mom still loves me and I’m still getting a paycheck. People have been less judgmental and more understanding than I thought possible.
- My ex is bitter, angry and miserable. He would be over it by now if I had left him when he first suspected. I stayed with him because I couldn’t muster up the courage to end it. My cowardice was nearly more hurtful than the infidelity.
My heart is with you. Always.
The last time I was with you, you said, “I wish I had met you 10 years ago.”
It was one of those unfiltered, yearning comments you make now and then. You have said it before, in less romantic and passionate settings. I recall at least one phone conversation about it. You became single about 10 years ago and dated a few women over about three or four years until you met The Wife. In the phone call, shortly after The Breakup, you told me how you never felt about anyone the way you feel about me. When The Wife came alone, you married her after a few months of dating.
“I settled,” you said.
Ten years ago I was married. I was about five years into my relationship with my husband. It hadn’t gone completely south yet — I hadn’t considered cheating, for example — but it wasn’t idyllic. He had been convicted of a major white collar crime and served time in federal confinement. He went back to school to start a new career and had just graduated. I was working three jobs. Times were tough, but I was doing what I had to do to keep my family afloat. If only he had ever done that. OK, that’s not fair. He did try to do that after he found out I was having an affair. But it was too little, too late.
Had you walked into my life, then, would I have fallen for you?
Who knows? I doubt it. You and I found one another because we both were looking. It was obvious from the start what both of us wanted and we pursued it with gusto. None of this “it just happened” crap. Affairs don’t just happen. People make conscience decisions to do it. You can change your mind right up until the time you take your pants off.
My life has changed dramatically over the past decade. So has yours. Mine is better now and I think yours is, too–despite the unhappy marriage to the disabled wife. I’m happier than when I was married. All in all, I’m probably better off than you. Despite the pain of parting, as well as the financial devastation, divorcing my husband was the right thing to do.
Today I’m wearing the jacket I wore on our second date. I’m sure you don’t remember. It’s red (not my best color) with a pattern, it’s unconstructed. It was probably wouldn’t button during that bookstore coffee shop meeting nearly four years ago but it’s too big now. I’ve lost more than 50 pounds in the last 18 months. I’m probably down 40 from that date day — I gained a few before I stated losing. I think I look much better today than I did four years ago.
You’re pretty much the same. You have facial hair now, just like you did then. You recently wore the same sweater you wore on our first date. I suspect you’ve gained a few pounds, but you still look amazingly fit. A little grayer, which is sexy. You still have all your hair.
I heard from you yesterday. It was the end of the workday. I got a text:
“I miss you, love you and want you. Very badly.”
It follows up on a text you sent late last week:
“Looks like a pretty good week! When do I get to see you again?”
I answered both texts — last week we had a text and a phone conversation. We discussed getting together late this week. I answered yesterday’s text echoing the sentiments. You didn’t reply. I’m sure you were on your way home.
Ten years ago I would never have imagined I would be in this situation. The former Other Woman who hooks up with the Married Man on occasion. Who the hell does that? I know you’re trying to hang on to me. I’m having a hard time letting go, too. But I’m thinking more about it and getting stronger every day.
I don’t want to be doing this a decade from now. But I don’t want to give up quite yet, either.
My heart is with you. Always.
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