I have been married for nine years and we have a seven-year-old child. I always thought of our marriage as almost ideal. My husband is a loving, generous, kind-hearted, wonderful person, who is also a great dad.
About three months ago, I had a phone conversation with an ex-boyfriend of mine, whom I dated seriously for about a year, eleven years ago. We had not spoken for eleven years, and it was strictly business that lead me to try to contact him. After all these years, we talked as if nothing changed and ended up talking for two hours over the phone that day. (We live on opposite sides of the continent.)
A few weeks later, we arranged to meet, and that's how my affair began. When we are together, it's so natural and feels right, and after all these years, he is still my soul mate. We keep talking about "just being friends" for the sake of my child and my marriage, but we always end up with more than friendship. I love my child so dearly and don't want to do anything to hurt her, but what do I do when I know that I am really in love with someone other than her dad?
When I broke up with my ex-boyfriend eleven years ago, I knew I would never ever love anyone the same way, and I think I just looked for someone who would be a good family man, and that 's exactly what my husband is. He has all the criteria I looked for in a man to build a family with. Although I care for him genuinely, I am not in love with him. My logic/mind is telling me to do one thing, while my heart is telling me to do another.
I am not even sure any more how important it is to be truthful to my own feelings, because that means hurting my husband, our daughter and our marriage. Could you please give me advice?
My Ex-Boyfriend Has Returned
The only person who can tell you what to do in this situation is you. To help you properly assess this situation I suggest you consider the following points:
- You don't mention why you broke up with your boyfriend eleven years ago. Focusing on what went wrong in that relationship may help remind you that your "soul mate" is not as perfect as he now appears to be.
- Affairs are not "real life." When a person is having an affair, it is easy to romanticize and fantasize. You don't deal with the daily grind of living with all of its demands. Yes, you have your moments of passion and pseudo intimacy. However, you can't create the kind of deep intimacy and love that can only result when two people share and build a life together.
- The point you make about not hurting your daughter is well taken. Most studies show that divorce is hard on kids and although most kids bounce back after a few years, not all do. This is certainly part of the equation and must be seriously considered.
- If you decide to stay in the marriage, it would be most advisable to curtail contact with this man. He is definitely a threat to the marriage.
- No two marriages are alike. It sounds like the relationship you have had with your husband, until now, has been a good one and until this ex showed up you didn't seem to doubt it too much. Nine years is a considerable amount of time to live with someone and still get along well. It doesn't sound like you just "settled" for this guy, and were limping along.
Often passions cool, excitement wanes, and something needs to take their place. If this is the case, and your husband is as wonderful as you say, you can put your energies back into the marriage and revitalize it.
Fantasizing about life with your ex will be counterproductive. How life would have worked out with him if you had married him is one of those things that you will never know.
Good luck in the difficult choices that lie ahead.
Naomi L. Baum, PhD