Updated: September 28, 2012 6:05AM
DEAR CHERYL: My wife and I have been married for 14 years. She was pregnant, and I did what I believed was the right thing by marrying her. I don’t think I ever loved her the way she hoped.
Three years ago, I had an affair with a woman named Sally that got really serious. There were hundreds of text messages, and we met every day.
She was married. She and her husband had had problems for years. After two months of our sneaking around, Sally’s husband found a text from me and all hell broke loose. He called my wife and told her everything. I told my wife that I hadn’t been happy for a long time, but I lied when I said nothing had actually happened between us.
I met with Sally after all the smoke had cleared and explained to her that I couldn’t leave because of my daughters. I told her that I love them and don’t want to leave them. I grew up the only child of a single mom.
Now I’m so miserable that I’m going nuts. It’s affecting my work, which affects our finances. (I’m the only one who works.) It’s killing me. I feel I let the one person get away who would have made me the happiest. I wish I would have chased her down and told her I was crazy and didn’t know what I was saying.
We still text occasionally, but she won’t see me or talk to me. She’s moved on with her life, probably because she thinks I will never leave my wife.
I don’t feel marital therapy will help. I will never love my wife the way she deserves.
I don’t want to have sex with her, but I do it to avoid suspicion.
My thought is, when my oldest turns 18, I’ll ask for a divorce. That’s three years from now. I know it would be best to discuss this with my wife, but I think she’d completely freak out and give me a very hard time in court with visitations, alimony and child support.
Am I wrong to wait? Am I wrong to not forget about Sally and move on with my life? Even if I left my wife, I have no idea if Sally would want me, but at least I would be true to myself. I’m so unhappy. I feel like I’m on a downward spiral. — Lost
DEAR LOST: Before you go any further, you have to be absolutely honest with yourself and answer the following question. If Sally would divorce her husband, are you prepared to divorce your wife and marry her?
On one hand, you say you couldn’t leave your daughters. On the other, you say you regret breaking up with Sally and realize you’re not being true to yourself.
The answer to that question will determine what you do.
If the answer is yes, then there are steps you can take to make the divorce as easy as possible for your daughters by being respectful of their mother, living close to them and maintaining an active presence in their lives.
If the answer is no, then there’s another question you have to ask yourself. If Sally is no longer in the picture, would you still want to divorce your wife in three years? Is the marriage intolerable or is living without Sally intolerable?
Get back to me with your answers and we’ll go from there.
Got a question? Send it to email@example.com.