Q: I am married with kids and am attracted to a married man who keeps me around for fun and games, treats me shabbily, and goes back to his wife. I am willing to end my marriage to be with him, but he is unwilling to leave his wife. I am ‘the other woman’ in his life, and I don’t feel close to my husband. I don’t know how to unhook myself from this toxic, addictive relationship and how to feel fulfilled in my marriage. What should I do?
Ans: While it would appear that you’re with him because of your emotional involvement with him, it would seem that he doesn’t look at the relationship in the same way as you do. You would be correct to assume that you’re being viewed as a cosmetic enhancement to his life or side-show trinket that merely exists to placate his desires. If this feels sufficiently humiliating, you may feel prompted to end this relationship and perhaps even focus on your marriage. If the humiliation hasn’t tipped you over quite yet, you may choose to bide your time and hope for better days ahead with this man.
Either way, you’re going to have to make a choice or else a choice will be made for you by the evolving circumstances in which you are feeling neglected and treated shabbily. Several wives who come for counselling complain that they don’t feel close to their husbands but don’t specify why they don’t feel close to them. These wives may also miss out on many opportunities to communicate with their husbands. Even if communication does take place, it may take place in a typically piece-meal, unclear, sarcastic or cold manner and thus much is lost in translation
between the mind and the spoken word. The emotions must never overpower the agenda and if the agenda is to fix the relationship, a proper investigation about why the relationship has taken a nosedive will have to be conducted by a qualified psychotherapist. A person may be prompted to seek love and passion elsewhere if there is something in their marriage that doesn’t fulfil them. What are you seeking and reaching for? Does your husband know how you feel?
Many toxic things are addictive. Just because one is addicted may not justify what one puts the mind and body through. When you ask me what should you do, it’s also important to ask yourself what you are prepared to do. What you’re willing to give up in both these relationships would also clearly indicate where your comfort zones lie and how important is your dignity to you.
One thing is certain — you can’t have it all. In life, we’re often led to crossroads where we may have to pick a certain option or drop a certain path in favour of another one. There’s no way to know for certain what road leads where. All we have are the sum total of our experiences to guide us. Your experience with this man has been that of being given a raw deal and your experience with your husband is one of a growing distance between both of you. Both these experiences may feel frustrating. You will have to decide on which frustration you’re okay to bear and which frustration you would like to address directly.
Whatever you choose, you can never be 100% certain of the outcome. Do you want to repair the relationship with your husband or do you want to wait around for your boyfriend to change his behaviour with you?
Do what feels right to uphold your dignity. If you don’t protect your dignity, that will set a poor precedent for everyone who chooses to treat you shabbily. It will show them that they don’t have to worry about the consequences of rubbing you the wrong way and that will continue to humiliate and upset you.