Tell Me About It

My long-distance husband and I have grown apart and I have feelings for someone else

Tell Me About It: I felt very guilty about this in the first place but lately I have been getting very close to a man at work

Problem

Five years ago, my then new husband moved abroad – he was offered a job opportunity that was too good not to take.  I could not go at the time as both my parents were getting older and my Dad had been very ill. 

We thought that I would be able to move to my husband’s location in under two years but things have not worked out as we planned.  My Dad died and now my Mum is very needy and I stay with her one night a week – as do my other siblings. Minding my mum has brought our family much closer and I’ve been really enjoying socialising with my sisters and brother and I feel very settled in my life.

I also got a promotion in my job and I am really enjoying it and I can see a long career structure in my future if I stay here. 

My husband and I have grown apart and he has stopped talking to me about plans for moving and we have stopped making love almost a year ago.

  I know that he is lonely and a bit depressed and that his job is what keeps his self-esteem up but I no longer look forward to spending weekends and holidays with him. 

I felt very guilty about this in the first place but lately I have been getting very close to a man at work and I am having a huge sense of attraction to him that I’m not sure I can resist for much longer.  I haven’t told anyone of how I feel as I know the whole community will be involved in the story but most of all I don’t want to hurt my poor husband.

Advice

The long-distance relationship is now very much a norm as couples work in different cities and even countries, but most people warn against it as it can be extremely difficult to maintain.

If long-distance is part of the relationship from the very beginning, there are adjustments to make and all assumptions have to be dissected so that communication can be close and intimate.  The long-distance couple need to be clear that they are on a relationship trajectory in the same way as others and milestones need to be created and met.

Constant and real communication is the key in this situation and while this is assisted by technology, there is no substitute for real physical connection that needs to be prioritised and regular.  The danger is that, as time goes on the couple develop separate lives and the time spent together becomes somewhat fake and forced.

What brought you together may still have traction

In your situation, it seems that you and your husband have struggled at putting the relationship in the centre of your lives and now you realise that it has slipped away, almost without consciousness.

What brought you together may still have traction if you gave each other the time to experience living together but this would require a huge decision on one of your parts.

If your husband moves to where you live, in order to rescue the marriage, he will be moving into your life which has no place for him and his isolation and loneliness could be exacerbated. His job seems to offer him stability and asking him to let this go might be detrimental to his mental health.

Possibly the most hurtful situation is one where you have an affair with the man at work and your husband finds out and is then rejected on many grounds

Your letter suggests that you moving to his location is not an option either now or in the future. You sound as though you have left your relationship physically and emotionally and if this does not change then separation is on the cards.

Possibly the most hurtful situation is one where you have an affair with the man at work and your husband finds out and is then rejected on many grounds.

For a man who is suffering from depression, the damage to his self-worth by betrayal can be huge so you might want to cool down the ardour with the man at work while you deal with the question of separation or togetherness that seems to be in front of you.

If you chose separation, your husband will need time and support to manage the loss of his marriage and even though you live in different countries, mediation can offer a structured and agreed method of separation.

The family mediation service is a professional and free service to couples and it can offer your husband a number of sessions where he can get to understand how the marriage broke down and allow him to feel that there is a fair process to the dissolution of the relationship.

While you have the life you want, your husband does not but he will need to be given time and respect in order to come to terms with this crisis.  Alternatively, you might choose to give the relationship a chance and as a couple you might then benefit from couple counselling.

Resources