I’ve been married for 20 years to a woman with depression, although she won’t admit it or seek help. I planned to stay with her until my older son graduated from high school in 2008, but we had an “oops” a few years ago who is now 7. I love both boys with all my heart, and I want my younger son to have a dad. The problem is that I’ve been on a journey of personal growth and my wife can’t support me intellectually or emotionally. I live out of state but work in California. I met a truly blessed woman online and would like to get to know her. I’ve heard you meet certain people for the times of your life when you need them. How do I continue to grow, be a father to my out-of-state son and not leave my wife destitute and without health insurance?
Oh, sweetie! Opting to remain married until your eldest son was off to university means you were not fully present in your marriage or as a parent. Your body may have been trudging through the obligations necessary to ensure that others believed in your goodness, but your mind was occupied imagining a future sans wife and sons. Before you argue that your family had no idea, shift through your history. Find all of the ways they did or could have known of your secret yearnings. Doing so will keep you honest. Truthfulness is the foundation of true personal growth.
A few years ago there was a sappy e-mail making the rounds that said we meet people “for a reason, a season or a lifetime.” I know a man whose ex-girlfriend sent it to him so she could try to hook him back into their very unhealthy relationship. Comprende? You are confused. You believe greeting-card logic provides spiritual truth. Worse still, you are employing that sentimentality to justify the relationship you started online with a woman who is not your wife. Hmm, in personal growth we call that cheating, betrayal and, yes, having an emotional affair. When a committed person lacks the spine to admit his or her own mistakes, he or she pretends the world is offering them something better. It’s a way of denying personal responsibility for his or her failure at marriage. Don’t be that kind of man, OK? Admit your failure, make the changes in your personality necessary to avoid a repeat and keep living.
Now, let’s talk about your wife. It’s not easy to live with someone who struggles with clinical depression and refuses to manage it. But the notion that your wife should support your personal growth is curious. If she is not able to support it, could it be that you do not require any support? Searching the Internet for a new woman to squeeze into the spot that another woman currently occupies tells me one thing: You are emotionally needy. Rather than embark on a new relationship, you need to learn to companion yourself on the spiritual path. Grow up and be an adult. Find a competent marriage therapist and go with your wife. Or move back to California and get a divorce with these components: a custody agreement allowing you to have your school-age son every other week, an agreement to pay health-insurance fees for your family and alimony to your wife so she won’t be destitute. If taking care of your family leaves you without much cash for the single life you imagined, get over it. Adults clean up their messes. Pull on your rubber gloves and get to work.