Will I continue this affair forever?

Hello Meredith,

I'm a married woman in her early 40s with two young children. My husband is 12 years older and we started dating when I was 21. Though we had fun for many years and the sex was good, our personalities are very different and clash frequently. The classic introvert/extrovert pairing just hasn't held up, and things have become increasingly difficult for us. I need conversation, connection, and friendship that I just don't have with my husband, even though I can say he is a wonderful father, a supportive spouse, and a very kind person. I often tell people that I am lonelier in my marriage than I would be if I were single.

Almost a year ago, I became romantically involved with a very good friend who has been married to his wife since he was very young. For several years, our friendship was completely platonic. We shared common interests and had fun together, socializing with our families and mutual friends. Then last spring it changed for me and I became attracted to him. We started to spend time together alone, and before long we were having a very romantic affair. A lovely, fun, and mutually satisfying relationship evolved, tempered only by the guilt we both feel at times. It hasn't been easy, but it actually feels like we're building a relationship together, though sometimes I am sad about how our romantic feelings complicate the once vibrant friendship we shared.

We have a terrific time together and the sex is wonderful, but there's no long-term plan between us other than continuing to have a secret affair as best we can into old age. No one knows about it, not even our closest friends, and I feel terrible admitting this, but I feel guiltier about hiding my affair from them than my husband. My boyfriend doesn't want to get divorced and leave his wife because he feels it's better for his kids to stay married, which frustrates me because I do think about divorce. The complicated nature of it all makes me quite sad, and I have absolutely no idea how to proceed other than to remain in this holding pattern because the alternatives all seem worse.

- Stuck between loneliness and love

I can't promise that coming clean about this affair will make your life better or easier. All I know is that you don't have to follow your boyfriend's lead. He might want to stay married, but you don't have to. If you want to get a divorce so you can have a relationship that suits you – one you can tell your friends about – you can make your own plans without him. You can leave your marriage and set up a more honest life for yourself. You can find a partner who can be with you for real.

I'm not saying all of that would be easy – it would be complicated, painful, and a loss in so many ways – but it doesn't sound like you want to remain as you are. If you remove the boyfriend from the equation, there are options.

I've been thinking a lot about people in your position these days. If you're having an affair with someone you can only see on occasion, in secret, how do you keep it going during this time of social distancing? How does not seeing them make you feel about the person who's actually in front of you? It’s a good time to pay attention to the people at home. Notice what – and who – makes you feel grateful. Also pay attention to what you'd be willing to live without.

The point is, your decisions about your marriage should be about you, your husband, and your kids. Forget the boyfriend's priorities and focus on your own.

– Meredith

Readers? Time for a divorce? Is a forever affair possible?