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She Won't Leave Her Husband

Oliver wrote:

Dear Anon,

Five years ago I separated from my wife and a few months ago we got divorced. She lives abroad and we don't see each other as we had no kids from our marriage and no speial reason to stay in touch. We only very occassionally contact one another and she has a new partner and I'm delighted for her.

My life path has charted somewhat differently. Four years ago I met Fiona, a lady in her late thirties. We met at dancing classes. She was married with two children (8 and 11 at the time) and I imagined that nothing would ever happen between us, though I was hugely attracted to her from the outset.

Nevertheless, our friendship grew over some months and we always found so much to chat about. Life seemed better whenever she was around. It was a real case of the "colours seeming brighter and the musics sounding crisper" and all the cliche's that I thought were concocted by romantic novelists. Fiona's marriage was not a happy one and she told me how she had felt that she had made a huge mistake even on the day of here marriage, how she had wanted kids so badly and at least found happiness in them, how she had suffered depression as a result of feeling trapped and guilty about wanting life to be different.

Fiona's husband is not a bad man, but he has a strong personality and a strong family and has been a very dominant force in her life. This seems to echo her childhood - she was brought up by her dad after he separated acrimoniously from her mother. Fiona's teen years were not happy - the second wife to her dad did not get along with her or her brother and they both feel, to this day, that they suffer from that to this day.

Anyhow, I soon fell in love with Fiona and to my amazement she fell in love with me. We had a whirlwind romance and after a few months her husband found out - not surprisingly he was very upset. He moved out of the family home and bought a second home within fifteen minutes drive. I started to get to know Fiona's two boys, but I never met her husband. Fiona and myself got along better than I had ever done with anyone before, but she didn't want me to replace her husband as their father, so he continued to be involved on a very regular basis (Monday to thursday he worked away and so would only come back on Friday-Sunday when he would see his kids). I had no problem with this - I had no desire to make life difficult or sad for her boys and I respected her view that she wanted her husband to remain an integral part of the boy's upbringing.

Two years ago this September Fiona and I decided to "take a break" and she went to marriage councilling with her husband to see if they could rescue their marriage. Fiona's view was that she could get along with her husband, but she didn't appear to want to live with him again and she has always maintained that the physical relationship she has had with me is so much better than with him or anyone else. She maintained that she was never really attracted to her husband physically, but that this would change after marriage. She felt for various reasons that even she didn't understand that she didn't want to break away from him completely. (Of course the family unit played a role in this - Fiona feels very responsible to her boys and sometimes comments on the respectability that comes with being married.) This "break" was never complete - Fiona and I would text and meet for coffee - and after six months she told her husband that she didn't want to move back with him. They decided to separate.

One year on there is no movement on the separation. Fiona and I get along as well as ever. I'm absolutely mad about her and she says she feels the same. Our time together is very special but it's not all romantic - I bring her to work, meet her for lunch and bring her home almost every day (although this is kinda romantic actually) and she stays over on saturday nights mostly. But since the "take a break" episode I don't get to see the boys and she recently spent three weeks in the US with her boys and husband and i found that really really difficult. It's not that I'm suspicious - Fiona says she wants to be part of the new experiences that her boys get, and I fully believe her.

The problem now, however, is that there seems to be no end in sight to the arrangement where I will always be in the background (though Fiona's friends, mum and dad and brother know of the situation and I get on great with them (they live abroad so i don't see them that often, perahps a couple of times a year) and her husband is aware she's still seeing me - though he's not aware to what extent). Fiona and me can talk about anything, but she's adamant that she doesn't want to go back to her husband or move our relationship to a stage where I move into her house (or mine, for that matter). Fiona tells her workmates that she's separated and they even know there's "someone else" and I've met a few of her colleagues.

I feel so sad and confused. I love her so much and this has been four years now so it's not a spur-of-the-moment thing. We have been through a lot and still the affection and physical relationship we have is so so strong. But this dual-life is reall difficult for me and none too easy for Fiona.

What should I do?!!! I'm at my wits end.

Confused confused confused

Dear Oliver

There's no doubt that you are in a sticky predicament; rather the mirror image of so many women who are strung along by married men.

Only you know if:

1. She's simply being sensible; putting the children first.

2. She's simply never going to have the courage to take the next step. Not consciously using you - but not really committed, either.

3. She's consciously using you, and if pushed, husband would come first every time.

Don't be sidetracked by friends, family issues; what we're discussing here is your one-to-one relationship.

Once you've decided which of the above applies, then your course of action will be clearer, though you'll always have to weigh up the 'good' side of now against the risks of rocking the boat.

You always have the choice; you can simply walk away. For her, the choice 'in principal' is equally easy. Is she letting the complications get in the way of a decision?

Ultimately, it's up to her. All you can do is consider what's best for you, once you are sure where she stands.

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