Do I leave my husband for my ex?

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Several years after college, I lived with a boyfriend for three years who I thought I would marry. We loved each other very much but had some trust issues, and our relationship ultimately ended badly. Fast forward to today (21 years later). I have been married for 14 years; he has been married for several more. We got back in touch probably three years ago now and had been emailing/texting almost daily (after some on and off contact since about 2008) until we finally met up again in June. Our emails and texts were mostly flirty/sexual in nature and we met up to fool around.

When we saw each other it was as though no time had passed and I felt as though I had found my missing piece. He felt the same. It was less about sex and more about wanting to just be together. He lives far away and was here for a quick visit so we just saw each other twice for about an hour each time. We just talked (and kissed). Being with him made me happier than I have felt in a very long time. But now I'm lost. We are both married with kids. Do I follow my heart and see where things could go with him or do I stay in my marriage knowing that a huge piece of my heart is with someone else?

– My heart


You've chosen to tell us nothing about your marriage.

I keep re-reading the letter, looking for anything about your partner and why you've been in this committed relationship for 14 years. But there are no details. No talk about how life is at home. No commentary about how the two of you share a world and kids.

Is that because you've never have strong feelings for your spouse? Maybe you're so smitten with your ex at the moment that you can't remember.

But ... let's make it a simple question: Do you love your husband?

You ask, "Do I stay in my marriage knowing that a huge piece of my heart is with someone else?" My answer is that there are many pieces of your heart. If you husband still has some of them, you need to start there. Spend time thinking about why you might stay and how you could make things better in your real relationship.

You'll have to take space from your affair to do that. Because you are having an affair – emotional and now physical. Stop doing that and pay attention to what's in front of you so you can make a thoughtful decision about next steps.

You're behaving as though you're choosing between a life with your ex and the one you have with your husband, but what if you knew your ex had no plans to leave his spouse? Would you want to work on your marriage then?

At Love Letters (back me up, everybody), we've always told people to separate these decisions. You can decide that you want to leave your marriage, but there are no guarantees that you'll find a soft landing with your ex. If you leave your marriage, you have to be ready to be alone – because that's a real possible outcome.

– Meredith

Readers? Yeah. Share your opinions about next steps.