The Lover's Perspective on Infidelity
Dear Dr. Harley,
As I read your suggestions regarding affairs, I don't see any compassion for the lover. You suggest that the lover never be seen again, to just get out of the picture.
I have built a relationship with a man over a period of 10 years and the last 3 have been sexual. I want to spend the rest of my life with him, because being in love is such a beautiful experience, something I may never experience with anyone else.
I believe he is a gift from God. In all of its wrongness, there was so much right. I don't believe something so beautiful, could not have been a gift from above. But he does love two women, and we can't live in this triangle forever. He has chosen to try and make it right at home, and I cannot prevent him from trying. But we work together and neither of us can leave town. There's no chance of us escaping that way. And I can't stop loving him.
How can the lover stop this triangle? Tell me that even if he divorced his wife and we were to get together, it wouldn't work because it was built on such an ugly foundation. Ugh! How can two people with eyes wide open, be so blind?
One of the most destructive and painful acts that one human can do to another is to have an affair with his or her spouse. I've been told by women who have experienced both their husband's infidelity and being gang raped that the infidelity was far more painful. I've been told by men who have experienced both their wife's infidelity and the loss of one of their arms or legs that the infidelity was a greater loss. That's why I am so much opposed to affairs, and why I try so hard to help couples prevent them.
People try to justify their behavior by creating a belief system that supports it. In your case, you try to believe that God had something to do with your affair. I've heard it expressed many times, but it can't possibly be true. God would never give you someone else's husband, because to do so would create so much pain for his wife and children.
Married men are out of bounds for you. You must find love and happiness among those who are not married because to do otherwise is the most cruel and self-centered thing you can do to a woman and her children. It may have been bliss for you, but it was a nightmare for your lover's wife.
You are right when you suggest that, even if he divorced his wife and married you, the relationship would not work. Most affairs don't end in marriage, and most of those that do, end in divorce. Affairs are definitely not the way to find a life partner.
My advice is for you to leave the job where you work with your lover. The longer you stay, the longer you will feel depressed and lonely if he reconciles with his wife. I know that you want to stay, out of hope that you and he can renew your affair. But that hope is terribly misguided.
You feel that you may never experience the love you have with anyone else. The love your developed with your co-worker grew out of a long friendship, and you may be feeling that you are running out of time. But not all great relationships take 10 years to develop, and the experience you have can shorten that time considerably. What is most important is your recognition of how much you need a man that meets certain emotional needs. When you find that unmarried man, you will not only find fulfillment in your life, but most importantly, your happiness will not be the cause of someone else's sorrow.
(I received the following letter from S.B. as her response to my answer)
Dear Dr. Harley,
I know married men are out of bounds for me, I wasn't looking for such a relationship when this started. I also know this was destructive and painful to his wife and children. I never said it was right. You yourself wrote that people get into this foolish act because their needs are unmet.
But I do believe that God brought this man into my life and me into his. Perhaps it was to tell us to never do anything like it again, and to show us what we were missing and what steps we need to take to get on a right track.