Is it time to end my second marriage?

I've been married to my second wife for the past decade; it's her second marriage too. Our marriage has had its ups-and-downs, but mostly downs of late as the legal cost of her ex's meddling (he is still fighting custody order) has been growing exponentially. Basically, her entire income goes to lawyers. When I brought up marriage counseling about a year ago, her response was to talk about selling our house, separation, and divorce. It took me by surprise because I was not thinking about divorce. We tried counseling, but it made things worse. Ultimately she made it clear that she realized she wanted to stay with me because she needed my financial support to make ends meet and keep fighting for her child. She flip-flops between "I can't imagine not having you in my life" and "I don't want to be seen in the same room as you." It is really toxic for me and my therapist agrees.

Recently, I went to the wake of a high school friend. There, I ran into my high school crush (whom I never had the nerve to ask out but spent a lot of time with in high school). As we reconnected that evening, I found out that she has been divorced for about a year. After 30 minutes of talking, she needed to leave to get her daughter, so we agreed to get together the next week to catch up some more. A week later, the crush and I met at a restaurant in her town. We really caught up on old times and had many great laughs over a couple bottles of wine. At one point, she asked me why I never dated anyone in high school. I spilled the beans about my interest in her back then. She began to flirt with me and we stayed in the restaurant until well after it closed.

On the way to her car, she was flirting with me and commented that we could go to the hotel next door. I seriously thought about it, but decided against it. Since then, things continue to be toxic with my wife and I am constantly thinking about the other woman. In a sense, I am regretting not going for the cheat. I asked my wife about marriage counseling again, but she said her therapist thought she needed to work on her own issues before couples counseling. Is it time to just end this marriage and move on?

– Torn between commitment and (potential) happiness


Yes, it sounds like it's time to end this marriage. You're already moving on. You're seeking out others. You're taking small steps (like writing this letter) to admit you want to pursue life on your own.

Your wife might need her own counseling at the moment (and it's great she's getting it) but you don't have to work around her schedule. If you need answers and want to deal with the toxicity, you can explain that you need couples counseling again – because you have things to say. You can tell her – in that space – that you no longer want to be in the room with someone who doesn't want you there. You can also talk about how separating from each other would work. A third party can help you deal with the practical questions.

As for the high school crush, maybe there's potential with her. She reminded you what it's like to be around someone who wants your company. She gave you hope, which is nice (and you did the right thing by leaving it at that). Still, it's best to call her what she is – a distraction – at least for now. You shouldn't be planning a life with her. You are very much married, and by the time you and your wife figure out what's next, the high school crush might be with someone new. Do not string her along while you make choices. Deal with your present before lining up your future.

– Meredith

Readers? Should the LW stay in touch with high school crush?