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QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
Relationships Department

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other SelfhelpMagazine.com staff.

Question

While separated from my wife because of a long term affair of hers that I discovered and my living overseas, I became involved with another woman. We were together for a year before I returned to the USA. We spoke often about getting married when I divorced. Now, I see my wife regularly and have begun to reconsider my plans and have become very confused.

My wife did many hurtful things to me during her affair, and my new love is a wonderful person with whom I share more common interests than I ever did with my wife. Am I crazy for considering staying with my wife?

Answer

As I understand your situation, you were married and living with your wife in the USA. You discovered that she was having an affair. You separated and went to live overseas. While you were out of the country, you became involved with another woman with whom you have a great deal in common.

You have strong feelings toward her and have considered marriage. You have subsequently returned to the US in order to terminate your marriage. In the process you are seeing your wife regularly and are having second thoughts about whether you want to divorce. You are confused by your feelings. On the one hand you still have hurt feelings about her affair, and you have positive feelings toward her based on the years you were together and the time you are spending with her now. On the other hand, there is the woman you met while overseas with whom you share much in common. You are wondering whether you should try to work it out with your wife or should you start fresh with your new love.

I suppose the answer to this dilemma involves several factors: (1) the degree of forgiveness you are able to experience, (2) your previous history with your wife, (3) the degree to which her affair may have been a symptom of something wrong with the marriage, and (4) the strength of your feelings toward your new love. Based on what you have written, it would appear that you are not finished with your marriage.

At the very least, you and your wife might want to consider marriage counseling if for no other purpose than clearing the air between you. You might find that there were mitigating circumstances in which you played a part which contributed to her indiscretion. You might find that you still have strong feelings toward her. On the other hand, you might find that once you deal with your hurt and anger you will feel freer to pursue this new relationship. You owe it to yourself as well as your new love to come to terms with where you stand with your wife before beginning a new relationship. You may also discover some things about yourself that could be helpful to avoid making the same mistakes in a new relationship. I am big proponent of learning from our mistakes. Each relationship affords us the opportunity to grow.

3/5/98

Dr. Edward A. Dreyfus is a Clinical Psychologist, Marriage, Family, Child Therapist, and Sex Therapist. Dr. Dreyfus has been providing psychological services in the Los Angeles-Santa Monica area for over 30 years. He offers individual psychotherapy to adolescents and adults, divorce mediation, couples counseling, group therapy, and career and vocational counseling and assessment.His book, Someone Right For You, is available in the Amazing Bookstore Catalog.

Dr. Dreyfus can be reached at: (310) 208-5700.

 

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