I recently caught my wife who has been having a rollicking affair with her personal trainer for the last 10 years and has given him a lot of my hard earned money too. I am a successful businessman and she has her own boutique. She has been largely been a good mother to our kids, but has this other life of betrayal and lust. She also admitted to having had two abortions with him. I feel humiliated and like a fool, but do not have the courage to disrupt the life at home for the kids and myself with a divorce. I cannot live with her, and yet without her there will be a lot of chaos as she was the one who kept the home and kids routines running smoothly. I feel like a wimp as I write this. She doesn’t seem to have remorse, nor does she offer much of an explanation for her choices. I am getting increasingly snappy and irritable even at work because of the home situation. What is the ‘right’ way?
Ans: Infidelity is a humiliating ordeal and your pain is most unfortunate. Your wife’s double life has caught up with you. Clearly, you are now faced with an important choice. Leave her and (in your mind) let the kids suffer without their mother or let the kids prosper under their mother’s care while you suffer with the knowledge that there is another man in her life. There are no easy answers to this but know that whatever you choose, pain and suffering will be an inevitable part of that choice. Some courage will be required to end the suffering. You will have to ask yourself what kind of suffering you are okay with bearing. The suffering of having to bring up your own kids without a mother and perhaps with the support of paid help so that your life doesn’t get de-railed? Or the suffering and discomfort you feel from the knowledge that your wife has no remorse about her repeated romantic and sexual affairs with another man.
Either ways, you are faced with a decision that only you need to make. Hard decisions are not always popular or simple choices. Every choice draws out it’s own path along which you will have to walk in pain or with pride. You are mixing the roles of your partner ‘as a wife’ and ‘as a mother’. All human beings can be different people in different situations. A largely stoic and able military leader may be not so empathetic and mostly emotionally uninvolved father with his children.
A gifted chef may not be the friendliest person at a party. The nicest looking actor may be terrible with money. A talented actor may be a lascivious sexual predator. Desirable and the undesirable qualities can co-exist in all human beings, so it’s best to stay clear of such simplifications and judgements.
There is a fact you need to face here. Your wife is a good mother to your children. However, this should not steal away from the fact that you feel like you have been unfairly treated by your wife. You have a right to your emotions and to expect to be treated in a certain way. Do not worry about the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ approach here for now.
Our lives are a lot more nuanced so sometimes the answer may not strike us right away. Let’s break this down further. Instead of ‘right vs wrong’ debates, strongly consider what feels moral and convenient to your current emotional situation and to your life as you have it planned. You have a right to plan your life. You also have a right to not be happy with the way the current plan if it’s not heading somewhere desirable.
It’s not worth trading your comfort for someone else’s since such trade-offs could perpetuate the snappiness, irritability and ‘feeling-like-a-wimp’ considerations that you have shared in your question.
Everyone is responsible for their own journeys and emotions. Your journey is strictly your own. Your emotions are strong indicators at which way the needle points so you should not ignore them while at the same time – marry that emotion with seeking out the facts that give you a more balanced answer.
A semblance of normalcy versus normalcy are not to be confused in relationships. You owe yourself the right to be happy and healthy so put your needs above the needs of any ‘image building’ that concerns you while you could choose to carefully consider the logistics and emotional ramifications of a separation versus going to a qualified marriage counsellor.
Take your time and give this some serious thought. Seek to understand if you are looking for a healthy and happy way forward to remedy the situation with your wife or if you have already decided that you are not keen on any ‘fixing’ and that you want a way ‘out of this relationship — once and for all.
(Aman R Bhonsle is a qualified Psychosocial Analyst and a Professional Youth Mentor with specialisation in Transactional Analysis and REBT. He is available for consultation at the Heart To Heart Counselling Centre.)