I have a nagging jealousy about my wife’s ex-boyfriend. Twenty years ago, when she and I were friends (and I hoped for more), they had a sexual relationship. Years later, we had our first date. The night before that date, she was with him, and he confessed his love and said he had a nervous breakdown when they broke up. She tells me that he is handsome but strange. She chose to marry me (a clear message) but stays in contact with him, although she knows it makes me uncomfortable. I secretly read an e-mail in which she reminisced about romantic evenings near Lake Tahoe and invited him to lunch with her on the river and to pretend it was Tahoe. He loved the idea. I assume it happened. Although I don’t think she’ll get physical, it’s clear she gets something out of the relationship because she keeps it secret and won’t give it up at my request. Should I ignore it and be glad for what I have with her, insist she end contact and threaten to leave if she doesn’t, hook up with an old girlfriend of mine and get even, or transcend it all and realize I’ll never have another human being to myself?
Should you ignore that your wife is having an emotional affair and be glad for a marriage that offers some companionship but fails to meet the basic criteria for intimacy? That’s up to you, but I don’t recommend that you threaten her with your absence. After all, she probably already experiences you as absent (either because of the lack of intimacy between you or because of an inability to accept love), hence the affair. If you have already threatened her but have not followed through, your words will fail to invoke much concern. I also can’t support you in being spiteful. If you hook up with an old girlfriend, you’re guilty of trying to take advantage of her feelings for you in order to prove your worth to your wife. In the process, you damage your integrity and self-respect while needlessly hurting your former flame. Plus, where is the logic in manipulating someone you once cared deeply about (ex-girlfriend) in order to hurt someone you care about now (wife)?
Your proposed transcendence is too saturated with melancholy (a heavy emotion) to be feasible. You must release the unrequited emotions of your youth if you want to rise. Stop wishing for what you once imagined you could have with her and wake up to who she is now. Confess that you read her e-mail, admit you are afraid of losing her and invite her to attend counseling with you. That should help.
I was bewildered by the letter from the 35-year-old woman who is attractive and has her act together, yet is still single. I’m a 39-year-old, single male in the same boat. I have no children and have never been married, but I can’t find any single women for dating or even friendship. Why is it so hard to meet someone? Would she be interested in meeting me?
Her letter stimulated the interest of several men, and, with her permission, I’ll gladly forward their contact information. But your question, “Why is it so hard to meet someone [compatible]?” is beyond my understanding. I know at least a dozen attractive, interesting, accomplished women in their 30s and even more who, like me, are in their 40s and have yet to meet someone they can settle into a healthy, intimate, committed relationship with. Readers, can you share your insights? Write, call or e-mail me with your answer.