Tell Me About It

I left my wife for another woman but it might have been a mistake

I’m between a rock and a hard place and I know I have to make up my mind soon

PROBLEM: I decided to send you this letter to beg you to give me some light in my situation. I am writing from South America. I am a 54-year-old man who had been married for 25 years and who separated eight months ago because I found someone else who was giving me things my wife stopped doing a while ago.

My wife and I made the mistake of not talking to each other about our issues, and then it was too late when I decided to tell her there was another person entering my life.

The problem is, I realise my wife is going though very difficult times financially, and she had to relocate to “my not-yet-paid apartment” in another city, my hometown, while I am in the city where I have my current job.

This week I was off work and I came to visit my adult sons, and she told me to stay in the apartment. In the meantime I told the woman I am dating that I needed some time because I was not ready to start another relationship.

I don’t know what to do now, since I don’t want my wife to suffer and I don’t want to hurt the woman I am dating now. I know this woman has been wonderful during these months we’ve been together, but I still think of my wife and how to help her.

I’m between a rock and a hard place and I know I have to make up my mind as soon as the end of this week, when I am going back to where I work and where she is. I know she is getting tired of my indecision but I haven’t been able to chase off these guilty feelings.

Please help me.

ADVICE: This seems to be a crisis time for you. You need to take the opportunity you are being offered to come to a decision. Your 25-year marriage needed attention and real conversation, but it seems that your unhappiness found solace in another woman instead.

The difficulty for you is that someone is going to be hurt no matter what you do. Perhaps you can learn from your mistakes and speak to the women involved in an honest manner and allow them the dignity of having their positions heard and honoured.

The new woman in your life is already becoming tired of your indecision, and perhaps is beginning to feel she is not the most important person in your life. This might be intolerable for her, and if she puts up with this situation she might become clingy and insecure. Do you want this to happen?

Your wife is suffering financially, and it sounds as though she cares about your position, because she offered for you to stay in the apartment as you visited your sons. This is laudable, but if you are to consider a reconnection, you must first ask yourself: what are the issues you need to face and do you both have the capacity to challenge the habits and patterns of 25 years?

It sounds as though you have a slightly parental approach to your wife and you feel the need to provide for her: is this a habit? If it is, it could lead to your belief that she needs to be cared for and this can affect the intimacy and equality of your relationship. Your wife has gone through a separation, and if you are to offer her reconnection, you need to be very clear that it is not a trial but a serious commitment.

Your indecision tells you that both the relationships on offer are serious contenders for you, but if you continue to waiver you could lose both, as the women involved will not tolerate endless indecision and dashed hopes.

Think of the role-modelling you are doing for your sons; how do you want to be seen in their eyes? This might let you know the kind of potential you have as a person and help you to exercise the kind of principles that you would like to be known for.

Indecision means that we straddle two options while committing to neither: the effect of this is the opposite of satisfaction. It leads to endless rumination and speculation of what the future might be like.

The future will be the result of the decisions you make each day. If you continue with indecision and guilt, this is what you will become. Make a decision now and take responsibility for your actions: make amends to those you have hurt and do them the honour of knowing where they stand so that they can begin to build a life for themselves.