I've been married for 10 years (I am 36), and we have two children that are under 10. Since they were born, I've felt trapped. My husband has always been an absent father. He continued to go to work, see his friends, and travel, and he left me home alone with two kids. He also kept complaining that I was not a good wife, not a good housewife, not a good mother, not a good worker. He kept pointing out all my faults and he never really tried to share the burden of raising our kids. He concentrated on his job, obsessed by our mortgage. I told him we could sell the house and pay a rent, but he refused. I kept holding on to love, knowing that he loved me and I loved him. Even if he wasn't perfect, he was still the best ... until one day he wasn't.
I found a way to return to my career and I was given the chance to travel for three days and leave my kids with my mom. While away, I met an old flame, W. I met up with him again on subsequent business trips until I fell in love with him. We live in different countries and only meet now on business trips. He has wanted to have sex with me, but I've always refused. I started calling him almost daily. I wait for my husband to go to work so I can talk to W. I hate holidays because my husband is always around and I don't have the chance to talk with W.
W is in a difficult marriage. He and his wife have jobs that make them long-distance, and they have children. He doesn't love his wife, but he believed that she was the best person with whom he could build a family. He has cheated on her before.
Since I fell in love with W, I don't want sex with my husband. I only want W. I am afraid that my feelings for W are only infatuation. And I know that my husband, although he is rude and criticizing, is faithful. I know that the right thing to do would be to leave W and try to reignite my relationship with my husband. But I feel a strong urge to be with W. I feel I deserve some moments of happiness after all I have been through as an almost-single mom. I say to myself that as a single mom, I deserve to have a lover. I can't possibly think of leaving W. We are coworkers and the work I do with him is crucial for my career. Other than this, I really, REALLY, want him. I am so confused.
– What I Want
Well, you're right. It sounds like you should be focusing on your marriage. I'm not saying you need to reignite anything or remain married (I'm not sure of that at all), but I do think you need to figure out a plan with your husband. If you want to leave and have started to imagine an entirely different life, you need help. You can ask your husband to go to counseling. You can be clear about your unhappiness.
You say you can't possibly think of leaving W, so I guess I can't argue with that. But you should know that he's just a distraction right now. Don't assume W can be your next husband, supporting you as you work and parent. W has done nothing to prove he can be in your world in a real way. He's a distraction – and an important reminder that you want passion and connection. He is a catalyst for change, but he is not the final answer. He has too much going on in his own life. Also, it doesn't sound like you trust him.
Sometimes letter writers ask us whether they should chose one road or another, Robert Frost-style, as if there are only two of them. But there are usually more. In your case, there are plenty of roads we can't even think of right now. It’s possible you haven't met the right partner yet. Maybe this entire exercise is telling you that you'd like to be single, for real.
Focus on what you want for your long-term future, and the questions you're asking now might become easier to answer.