All Woman

Married, but still in love with my ex

With Wayne Powell MA Counselling Psychology Relationship Counsellor

Monday, February 03, 2014    

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Dear Counsellor,

Twenty three years ago I met this guy and really liked him, but because I knew he was a user, I told myself I did not want to be part of his statistics. After much persuasion from him, we went out on a date one evening. He forced himself onto me and had sex with me without my permission.

I did not tell anybody in my family about it. This is a secret I've carried with me all these years. At some time I could see it was eating him up inside, but he never said sorry. He would just come and sit with me in the evening without any conversation.

During the time we were together, communication was not one of our strong points. Our relationship was based on senses and emotions only. He eventually decided to leave town but would come home once a month on weekends. He would see me briefly then.

As far as I am concerned, we never had a relationship. I knew I had strong feelings for him, but because he was so unstable, and a womaniser, I never talked about it or told him how I felt.

One weekend he asked me out for dinner and during dinner informed me that he had impregnated a woman and decided to marry her. He then gave me a set of tear-drop earrings and that evening, roads closed.

Two months after his marriage, he called me and told me about problems he was experiencing in his marriage. At that stage I broke all communication with him. I then met my current husband who is 20 years my senior. I decided to get married for the wrong reasons, but I eventually learned to love my husband because he treated me like a queen. I cannot ask for a better life.

My ex would always call me on my birthday, for Christmas and New Year. I was OK with that. Then last year, suddenly, out of the blue, I received a call from him informing me he was in town and wanted to have coffee. During our coffee date, he began to apologise to me about everything he had done in the past. He said he always loved me. Since that evening I've had deep feelings that I never knew I had, which developed stronger and stronger by the day. We are currently having a long-distance relationship, but sometimes I get the feeling that we are making the same mistakes as when we were younger. Sometimes I get the feeling we are just tolerating one another.

I want to call it off, but I am too scared. I'm not sure how his marriage is doing, because we never talk about it. My marriage is doing very well. I have no reason to cheat on my husband, except that I still have feelings for my ex.

One very instructive declaration in your letter is, "Our relationship was based on senses and emotions only". From the start it does appear that you allowed your heart to rule your head and even though you were very aware of the gentleman's "busy" schedule, you allowed yourself to be swayed by his persuasive talk. Many men have mastered the art of sweet talk and many women knowingly and unknowingly have fallen prey.

Unfortunately, many women can testify that their first date experience was identical to yours. They are forced against their will to engage in sexual intercourse which is the definition for rape and punishable by law. Many date rapes are never reported and so the perpetrator walks away and continues his vicious assault on the next available victim. And like you, for fear of verbal abuse or ridicule from others, including friends, family members and in some instances law enforcement agencies, they live with this nightmare for years which will no doubt create psychological challenges in present and future relationships. There are numerous sexually abused women walking around today who are unable to function appropriately in relationships due to the unresolved issues that were not addressed. It is critical that they engage in counselling to at least rid themselves of guilt and self-blame.

Another critical self-confessed statement you made was, "I decided to get married for the wrong reasons". Again, a terrible mistake many women and men make. A rebound relationship will never eliminate the thoughts and memories of the ex especially if no closure was achieved and so this baggage is carried into the new relationship which causes intra and interpersonal conflicts.

So your dilemma, though not unusual, could have been avoided if you had followed your gut feeling and not started a relationship with your ex having known of his history as a womaniser. Now you are caught between a rock and a hard place. Your husband is apparently unaware of the fact that you still have feelings for your ex and in a matter of time, no matter how skilful you may be, your emotions will betray you and if he is observant, he will notice something unusual about your mannerisms. If, as you said, you are having a long-distance relationship with your ex, this will certainly impact your marriage as it is difficult to serve two masters and give them both equal attention and commitment.

Take a minute to consider this: Your loving husband has provided you with the basic necessities of life: food, clothing, shelter, etc. To use your words, "He treated me like a queen". What more could a woman want? Are you not grateful that you have a man that many would die for? Why spoil a good thing? Why put your marriage at risk?

Even though your ex has declared his love for you, you both are now committed to other persons in marriage. You would appreciate that marriage is a sacred institution that was designed for persons who have decided to commit to each other exclusively.

Believe it or not, even though you may not be meeting with your ex physically, you are still cheating on your husband albeit from a distance. You both are emotionally connected to each other.

Your guilt is understandable and happens only because there is conflict between your heart and your head. Your head is saying give him up for logical reasons while your heart is saying hold on to him for selfish reasons. The question is which faculty will you allow to take precedence? Only you can make such an imperative decision, no one else can. Look at the likely outcome of both options and decide which is in your best interest and that of your marriage. Which one is short-lived and which one has longevity? Which one is purely emotional and which one is rationally centred? To help you make a determination you may wish to sit with a counsellor to help you analyse the options and arrive at a considered position.

Wayne Powell is a relationship counsellor. Write to





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