Have I got a gem for you today! This comes from an advice column. I wish I knew which paper ran this tripe. Is there a newspaper called The Observer in England? Horrible advice! Horrible.
Here’s the story:
The dilemma: I’ve been in a relationship for four years. It started as a workplace affair, but we fell madly in love and knew we wanted to be together forever, which meant leaving our spouses. She went first, informing her husband their marriage was over. But she did not tell him about our affair. They agreed to separate and all was amicable. When I confessed, I was able to end my marriage, but not without difficulty and revenge acts. Neither of my children has spoken to me since, despite my efforts to reconcile. Three years later, my partner and I are still together. It’s mostly very good. My problem is that she retains a strong relationship with her ex. I understand this is good for co-parenting, but it makes me uncomfortable. She hasn’t divorced him or made any effort to- even though I made a point of getting a divorce to ensure a clean start. In contrast, my ex-wife and I have never been able to have a polite conversation. She is spiteful, vengeful and constantly asks for money. I appreciate my actions have had consequences. However, I struggle to manage my jealousy and fear my partner will return to her husband. It feels as if she is keeping her options open. Am I being irrational?
Let’s hit the pause button because there is so much to digest here, and we haven’t even gotten to the juicy “advice” yet.
From what I’ve managed to put together they began as a workplace affair but fell madly in love- in the span of a year. That was enough time to decide it was worth it to destroy two marriages (or perhaps only one…) and abandon at least one set of kids (although I’m guessing two sets since he mentions his love co-parenting with her husband/ex-husband). That sounds about right. It’s all about the happiness.
Second thing I’ve noticed is not only is she a cheater and a liar, but she’s also a liar. No, that wasn’t a mistake. Obviously, the majority of the cheaters out there have to tell lies in order to carry on their affairs. She continues with the lies. She has gaslighted her husband into believing that their marriage just magically went poof! It’s over. No real reason why. No, I’m not fucking my co-worker. We just grew apart.
Next I’m hit over the head with the news that she is not divorced yet! The bitch went first in letting her husband know their marriage was over and she’s still married? It’s been three fucking years!
This guy is a cheater so I’m not terribly sympathetic but those feelings he’s having? That wondering, “Am I being irrational in feeling jealous? Am I irrational for wondering if she’ll return to her husband that she hasn’t managed to divorce in the three years since telling him their marriage is over?” is a gigantic red flag waving furiously in the breeze, signaling the fact that this is not a good person he’s with. She is a liar and a cheater who will say or do whatever is needed to put herself in the top position. She has not changed for him. She conned her husband and she’ll con her co-worker/affair partner. He feels like she’s keeping her options open because she is. If things don’t work out with the shiny affair partner then maybe she’ll give her poor sap of a husband another shot.
I get it. I really do. He left his wife. His kids won’t speak to him. His wife won’t play nice and refuses to help him out with image management. Meanwhile, his partner in crime is skating along, consequence free. No one knows she’s a lying, cheating whore. She kept that shit to herself. “I’m not going to tell him I cheated on him. There might be consequences. What if I need him later?” It’s almost like the two of them decided to rob a bank together and only one of them got caught. He’s doing hard time while she’s out spending all the money they stole together. That’s a bitch, huh, dude?
Fear not, though, because Mariella is on the job. Her response to his question: Am I being irrational?
Just a touch. You do seem to be ignoring the obvious, which is that your partner’s approach is netting positive results while yours has created only adversity. She’s engineered a departure low in acrimony while yours is marred in misery.
Of course it has! She’s been lying and gas lighting her husband! The only reason her “approach” (correct terminology: lies of omission) is netting positive results is because the spouse in her situation does not know the truth!
She’s engineered a departure low in acrimony while yours is marred in misery.
Oh, she’s engineered something all right! Her departure is low in acrimony because her spouse has not been given the full information. He was never told, “I’m leaving you for someone else.” He can go blithely about his life believing they just grew apart when the reality is she was fucking her co-worker and making a fool of him.
I’d put money on your being one of those impetuous lovers who doesn’t like to let detail get in the way of an increased pulse rate. There’s certainly romance in the notion that the right two hearts would forever beat in unison and previous commitments were merely training for this, the real thing. It’s also a pretty naive stance to take.
What are you babbling about?
Rushing from one relationship to the next, swearing undying love and tying yourself up in hard to untangle commitments is beset with obvious flaws. It may play to your sense of insecurity to believe that your new partner is hedging her bets, but a better way to regard it would be with a degree of admiration for her superior wisdom.
Are you fucking kidding me? It’s not wisdom. It’s lying. It’s omitting pertinent details. Details like, “Oh, by the way, I’m fucking my co-worker and have been for the last year. I’m leaving you for him.”
She’s managed to elegantly detach herself from her marriage without causing undue emotional misery and excess pain.
No, she’s lying. She’s keeping pertinent details to herself so that she does not experience any unpleasant consequences.
Now she’s embarked on this relationship with you, but without the same determined disregard for past experience. Instead, she would appear to be carrying with her the lessons from her first foray that include the possibly, hard-earned, that wanting a relationship to last forever and achieving that are two separate and sometimes unreconcilable ambitions.
Wait just one minute. This advice might be great for two divorced people who are getting together and trying to create a life with one another. It’s bullshit advice for a couple who were having an affair. She didn’t learn shit. She’s an opportunistic whore who will work the situation to her advantage. That’s what she did in her marriage, by not being honest, and that’s what she’s doing now.
What exactly is it that she is supposed to be learning? Not to get involved with a dishonest person? Not to date a cheater? I’m pretty sure those lessons are lost on her. She’s dating one and she is one.
She’s not a heartbroken, dumped spouse with trust issues because she was betrayed. She was the one doing the betraying. Stop writing as though she was wounded by the demise of her marriage, as though her relationship failed despite her best attempts. She cheated. She left him. The only reason the marriage didn’t last was because she was fucking her co-worker and decided that the grass was greener with him. At least partially. She’s not completely sure.
For many, their first wide-eyed love affair will struggle to last the elongated journey that our increased lifespans now provide. Sticking together for up to 80 years is a tall order and we could all do with lowering our expectations.
Wow- I don’t even know where to begin with that one. I guess the most obvious is to point out you don’t see a lot of 80 year marriages. Most people die before that can happen. Even reaching 50 years together is rare.
Secondly, what do longer life spans have to do with any of it? The median age of marriage for males from 1890-1940 varied from 24.3 to 26.1. It dipped down to 22.8 in the 50s and 60s and slowly began going up again. The average age of marriage for a man in the year 2010 was 28.2 and in 2018 it was 29.8. So yes, they’re living longer but they’re also getting married later. Both men and women have many more chances to date a variety of people and sow their wild oats before getting married. Premarital sex and living together are not the grievous sins that they once were. Women are not always as financially dependent upon men as they were in the past, when they were basically considered property.
This whole “people live longer and it’s not realistic to expect fidelity for that long” is a crock of shit. It’s an excuse. But sure, let’s lower our expectations instead of raising our standards.
The mistake you’re making, and it’s a common one, is to plough on without a moment to digest the experience you’ve just emerged from- which makes you the proverbial old dog!
Again, you speak as though the letter writer has emerged from a long term relationship through no fault of his own. It’s as though you believe the person who cheated and the person who was cheated on go through the exact same thing when the relationship dissolves.
They don’t. One of those people forges on by themselves. One of those people has to deal with being betrayed and replaced. One of those people must deal with feelings of shame and regret and anger. One of those people is left feeling like maybe they weren’t good enough or left wondering, “Why wasn’t I enough?” I’ll give you a hint. It’s not the person who was fucking another person and has another partner already lined up.
Your partner, on the other hand, seems to be proceeding far less impetuously, at the revised pace of one set on her path but mindful of the pitfalls.
Of course she is. She’s mindful of all the consequences that could befall her if her husband knew the truth.
That does say something about her expectation of your relationship- not least that it’s imbued with the wisdom of past experience.
Tying another individual up in public statements of intent and transforming irrational impulses into set expectations doesn’t make it any easier to keep them on board- as both your exes have discovered to their emotional cost. The fact that you see your current partner making a similar commitment as the only way to feel secure about your hold over her deserves further scrutiny on your part. It suggests that what you are in pursuit of this time around is no more achievable than it was last time.
Um… he’s not trying to convince her to marry him. He does, however, want to know why she still isn’t divorced. Supposedly, they are madly in love, remember? Why would she want to remain married to her husband, the one she was cheating on with him?
I think you are correct though that this is no more achievable than it was last time. At least the last time he married a woman who wasn’t cheating on her husband. He also didn’t marry a woman who, despite being madly in love in with him, refused to divorce her first husband. He didn’t marry a liar.
I’ve no doubt your wife was furious you were breaking promises that she felt were non-negotiable.
Yes, it’s amazing how furious some spouses can be when they find out they’ve been lied to and cheated on. It’s amazing how angry it can make you to realize your whole entire life as you’ve known it is over and you’re forced to start all over- by yourself- while your spouse traipses along with your replacement. It’s downright puzzling to think that just because someone went to the trouble of asking you to marry them and then made vows to you, that you might believe those promises and believe, too, that they were non-negotiable.
You’ve proved her wrong by leaving her and now you want your next partner to make those same unrequited promises all over again. Think about it- it really doesn’t make sense. Embarking on a relationship preoccupied with how swiftly you can create an inescapable institution doesn’t bode well for the success of the enterprise.
Many of us will move on from relationships that aren’t perfect or have lost their allure over time, but life is supposed to be a learning process. I appreciate that the world today may not encourage belief in that concept- and your determination to declare your current pairing a “together forever” situation when you’ve already broken that promise once is just another indication that as a species, we still have a lot to learn.
That’s adorable. What it boils down to is this: So many people are simply too provincial to understand that marriage is temporary. It means nothing. It’s just two people who have decided this sounds like a good time- for now. When it’s no longer fun- dump them and move on. Make sure you have the next one lined up, though, before you move on. You wouldn’t want to be lonely.
I suggest you enjoy what you’ve got- and when you are content enough not to care whether she commits publicly or not is the perfect moment to get remarried.
I had to go back and re-read because Mariella keeps mentioning remarriage. Unless she omitted that from the letter she published, there is nothing in this letter that indicates he’s freaking out because she won’t marry him. He’s freaking out because his affair partner hasn’t left her husband, despite telling the poor sap their marriage was over three years prior. He’s freaking out because she never did ‘fess up about their affair.
What Mariella is suggesting is for the letter writer to feed his mistress lots and lots of cake. Do the pick me dance, Cheater Boy. Don’t make demands. Don’t enforce boundaries. Whatever you do, do not impose consequences. Wait silently and show her that you, too, can be a useful sap.
Lest anyone fears I’m going soft, or feels like I’m defending the original cheater, I’m not. I just happen to think all of this advice stinks to high heaven. If Mariella is willing to gaslight a cheater the way that she has throughout this advice column I don’t even want to see the kind of damage she could do to a deceived and hurting spouse.