Dear Dr. Ellen: I guess I already know what your answer will be using logic and common sense. However, being a common sense person, thinking this through so many times, I still need some help. It starts out like this. I was contacted a while back by the very first love of my life. I was only 13, he was 15. He moved away, breaking my heart and his too. Unfortunately at that age, you don’t have many choices. It’s now 30 years later. We talk a few times over the phone, laugh, and decide to meet in person. Well, the chemistry is incredibly strong, but both of us being married with children, do everything possible so that nothing happened. He came from an abusive home and survived a horrible childhood. His goal in life is to break the cycle and never have that happen to his children. He does love his wife, as I do my husband, but the problem we have is this incredible connection, a bond like I have never felt about anyone. I can feel it even when we occasionally email each other.
It’s not that anything is missing from my life. In 20 years of marriage, I have never strayed, nor have I had much of a desire to do so. But with this friend, I can’t describe it any way other than an addiction. It’s been 15 months now, and we both had hoped this would have faded. We have never given ourselves an opportunity to even be alone together, for fear of what may happen. We tried giving this thing distance, but then we’re both miserable. - Stacy
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Dear Stacy: I’m sure you do know my answer. If you both truly love your spouses and your children, you will stop corresponding with each other, PERIOD. If it was just a friendship that was rekindled after all these years, then the spouses would be informed and included. It is a decision that you can make to end it now. It is also a conscious decision to cross over the line. It doesn’t just happen by chance. It is a decision to cheat or not cheat, live a life filled with lies or not.
It is also important to understand the reason you are able to form such a close bond. You are in a very controlled environment. There are no children to deal with, relatives, friends and money problems - just two adults spending quality time with each other. Stick in a couple of kids, living with each other every day, dealing with the relatives and money issues and let us see how much fun it still is!
You are cheating your husband out of having a wife who loves him with all her heart and is 100% there in mind, body and soul. The more time you spend thinking of this other man, the less time you spend thinking of your husband. I know that you know deep in your heart that what you are doing is wrong. You say that both of you are happily married. The way you judge your behavior is to turn it around and say, "If my husband was secretly talking on the phone and arranging to meet an old girlfriend or friend behind my back, would I consider myself happily married?" Would he consider himself happily married if he knew his wife was doing the same thing? Although you may think that you are not harming your husband by living this double life, you are destroying the intimacy that a husband and wife should share. What you both have consciously decided to do is to selfishly think about yourselves and pretend that you have not done this intentionally. Well you have. Make no mistake, in the end, you will cause many people a great deal of pain. Your husband and children will suffer. Your friend’s wife and children will suffer and both of you will suffer by seeing the chaos you’ve created. I vote for both of you to end this now. Your husband and his wife do not deserve this. - Dr. Ellen