Dear Counsellor, I've been married for 15 years, with two beautiful daughters and a very good and loyal husband. I am 38 years old. I fell in love with my colleague, who is also married and has a one-year-old daughter. One day we just ran away and started living together, leaving our families in hurt and pain. We were together for three months.
When my daughter's birthday came I was very depressed, and realised that I needed to see my children. Although my boyfriend and I both missed our children every day, we tried our best to console each other. But when I called my daughter on her birthday, she cried for the first time over the phone, and I broke down as well.
We decided to go back and repent. We called our parents, with the understanding that we would return. Now he is with his parents and I'm with my parents. My husband sends pictures of my kids at times, because he knows I miss them. My in-laws are angry with me. They don't want to see my face.
The truth is that I still love my boyfriend and I yearn for him. I sometimes regret our decision to separate. I'm so depressed.
Please help me. How can I come out of this situation? I know I should stay with my parents so I can get to see my kids, but I can't live without my lover. If you could give me some advice, I would really appreciate it.
As I responded to your letter I had to keep looking back every so often to ascertain your age, your years of marriage, and your mention of “two beautiful daughters”. Had you been in your early twenties, unmarried and childless, I could better understand the elopement, which is typical of those who are young and madly in love.
Sometimes when we get carried away by desire we allow our heart (emotions) to rule our head (intellect), which makes us do some unbelievable things. In your case you ran away from your loyal husband and beautiful children to be with another man who also ran away from his wife and child. So the thinking, I assume, was that you both would erase the past and start a new life together… and live happily ever after.
Unfortunately, this was not the storybook ending you both were expecting. You woke up and realised that life is not a fairy tale. The reality of your decision has now sunk in, and now you are in damage control mode.
Despite your admission of your husband's loyalty and kindness, those qualities were obviously not so important to you. Apparently your boyfriend has the missing attributes that your husband does not possess. Was that what enticed you to flee the matrimonial home? Whatever that missing factor was, couldn't it have been worked on through counselling sessions? Whatever had been missing over the 15 years of marriage, was the situation irredeemable?
The truth is that many couples will opt for the path of least resistance when their relationship goes south. Instead of seeking help, they go in the direction that seems easiest, and then suffer the consequences later.
It is a pity you never considered how your running off would have affected your children. They clearly had nothing to do with whatever motivated you to act the way you did, and they did not deserve to bear the strain of this devastating emotional experience.
What message have you sent them as young girls growing up? This experience will scar them forever. You say that you and your boyfriend are now living with your respective parents, and that you still yearn for him. It seems that you are not seeking to restore the relationship with your husband. But how does he feel about all this? It is clear that you require counselling intervention. Not just you, but your husband and boyfriend as well.
You must know that you can't have your cake and eat it too. Do a cost/benefit analysis of the situation and see which decision would be in your best interest and that of your young daughters.
I believe, though, that there are some cultural considerations that may inform your decision. I advise you to be guided by them.
Wayne Powell is a relationship counsellor. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org; check out his work overseas on www.seekingshalom.org, e-mail email@example.com.