Divorcee

Friday, October 21, 2011

Question

I thought my husband was having an affair with our next-door neighbor's wife. Eventually my suspicions got so unbearable that I confronted her. She told me she had been suspicious about her husband having an affair with me. After comparing calendars and excuses for being late, we suspected the worst, and set a trap. That was how we discovered that the affair was real, but it was between her husband and my husband.

This has been the scandal of the neighborhood. I don't know how other people found out. I just want to push my divorce through as fast as possible so I can move away from here and start over. But in the meantime, my neighbor has been so incredibly kind to me. We've spent many afternoons together, talking through our hurts and disappointments, while our kids play together in her back yard. I eventually realized I was attracted to her. A few days ago, she tripped when she was carrying some drinks into the living room. I caught her, and we just wound up kissing. It was like nothing I've ever experienced.

If you had asked me six months ago if I could have sex with another woman, I would have thrown something at you. Now I am on tiptoes, hoping for more intimacy every time I see her. She says we should just take it slow. We have all the time in the world to get to know each other. But I just want to have a mad love affair. I was so deprived in my marriage that I need to be touched.

There is another concern which is our two divorces and conflicts over child custody. If our husbands find out we are together, won't they be able to claim we are unfit mothers? 

The pressure is unbearable. I cry myself to sleep every night. Knowing that my husband really wanted another man devastated me. If he'd been keeping a mistress, I would at least feel that I could compete with her, and maybe win him back. Now I am getting a lot of reassurance and attention, but it's distracting. I don't know whether to be furious with my husband or elated at falling in love with another woman. Despite enjoying my crush very much, this all feels like a bad dream and I wish I would wake up My life was so much simpler before I pried into my husband's secrets.

 

Answer

I think the most important paragraph in your letter is the last one, where you add up all the stressful things that have been happening, and admit that it's taken a huge toll on your emotions. No wonder you are crying yourself to sleep every night! Anybody with a monogamous marriage would be devastated to learn that their partner had been unfaithful. A husband who lied about his sexual orientation practically doubles the impact. I really want to validate your feeling that it might have been easier to deal with his affair if it had been with another woman. 

I hope that you can at least understand that you are not at fault here. Your husband did a really good job of deceiving you. Very few wives suspect their husbands of being bisexual or gay. They just assume that a man who is attracted to other men won't pursue a straight marriage. Sadly, there are still some men who wind up married despite being gay. It's usually a very bad idea and results eventually in a lot of unhappiness for both spouses and their children and families. Coming out may seem unthinkable if you hate the fact that you are gay, but believe me, it is easier to do it and get it over with than it is to postpone it long enough to create a false life where other people are depending on you to be something you are not.

You are understandably angry with your husband for having a gay love affair. But now you are having a same-sex attraction of your own. That might undermine any justification for being angry with him. Just remember that the point is that he lied to you and made promises to you he could not keep, not his sexual orientation. There's nothing wrong with being gay. There is something wrong with perpetuating a marriage that's really a con game. 

I'm concerned that you may feel more involved with your friend than she feels with you. After being touch-deprived, of course your desire is very strong. You long to get involved right now and see where that leads. I can also empathize with her suggestion to slow things down. Concern about how this would affect your divorce and legal decisions about child custody is valid! But the intensity and immediacy of falling in love are hard to deny. I just wish that if you were going to find out what it's like to love another woman, it wouldn't be in these circumstances, because you can't freely celebrate or enjoy it. Going back and forth between being angry at him and overjoyed with her is going to blow your fuses out if you aren't careful.

It sounds to me like you need more resources. Get a counselor. I strongly recommend that you pay in cash and do not tell anyone else you are seeing a therapist. I wish this was not necessary, but I don't think you should be punished by the legal system for getting some help. The last thing you need is to see someone on the witness stand who has heard all of your secrets. But if you don't find an advocate who can help you to manage all of these experiences, I am afraid you might fall into a depression or trigger yet another crisis in your life. You are also welcome to write to me again if it helps to tell somebody else what is going on. 

Be gentle with yourself and your friend. Both of you have been through a lot already. A new relationship under that much stress has little chance of success unless everybody is very patient and understanding. Learn what you can from the situation, enjoy what you can, and try not to set yourself up for failure or pain. It may be that you are simply reacting to a special quality that she has, rather than experiencing an attraction to women in general. You won't know until you've had more experience and more time to think about your feelings. If other women are going to be a part of your sexual or romantic life, you'll be able to explore that once this nasty divorce is finalized.

 

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