I have betrayed the husband I once adored
This is hard to write, as I know in my heart I am wicked, which makes me wary of your reply. I’ve been married for 30 years to a man I once adored.
Unfortunately, the adoration was one-sided; he has never supported me emotionally, does not contribute financially any more, and appeared not to care about me or our children. He never cuddled them, which hurt such a lot.
My grown-up children liken their upbringing to a single-parent family. We muddled along and made our own little routines without him.
Two years ago, I joined a dating website and met a man I've come to love deeply, who loves me
He worked away during the week and was at home at weekends, when he went out with his friends.
We were way down on his list of priorities, never as important as expensive hobbies. In all those years he made me feel unloved and unattractive, threatening to leave if I did not lose weight.
Looking back at my marriage, I find it difficult to find happy memories, yet there must have been some.
We have never been partners in the true sense of the word, never been friends, never shared each other’s lives because he never wanted to. One day I woke up and decided that things had to change.
At this point I still loved him and still wanted a sexual relationship, so I tried to talk to him.
For a short while things were a little better, then they returned to how they had been before.
He never thought that our relationship would change and was happy with the way it was. This went on for several years until I made a decision. Enough was enough.
Two years ago, I joined a dating website and met a man I’ve come to love deeply, who loves me.
I did not do this lightly; rather as someone in the depths of despair, who desperately needed something in a life which was (still is to a certain extent) joyless.
I can talk to this man, tell him my deepest feelings, hopes and fears, which my husband has never wanted to know about. We connect on a level that I never believed I could ever have. We are friends, too.
My self-esteem has blossomed — I no longer think I’m unattractive and take pride in my appearance, all thanks to my friend.
My husband has taken notice and is frantically trying to change. He acknowledges he has treated me very badly over the years, and thinks he can put it right.
I cannot have a sexual relationship with him again. The thought of it fills me with dread. Yet I am somehow afraid to take the next step, which would be to move on.
On one level I love my husband, yet I have no respect for him any more. Why do I feel so awful
I have betrayed my husband in the worst way. I have always thought women who had affairs were terrible. Your thoughts would be appreciated.
First, I read your letter again, then wandered through my house, looking at the hundreds of books, reflecting on how the story of human nature expressed in novels, poems and plays — not to mention biographies, memoirs and works of philosophy — has always been one of immense complexity.
Was Dickens a great, wise man who understood people in all their light and shade, or an unfeeling hypocrite who deceived his wife, cast her off and was unloving to his children The answer, of course, is both.
As I grow older, I find it harder and harder to make judgments.
Yes, I will call someone ‘wicked’ if their behaviour seems to merit the term (thinking especially of violent, cruel people), but I’m careful about doing so.
Since I am not without sin, I don’t go around chucking stones — and the world would be a better place if more people embraced that home truth.
You tell me you always thought unfaithful wives (and husbands, presumably) ‘terrible’. But doesn’t such a judgment depend on the circumstances Isn’t every story different
It is surely possible to argue that it is also ‘terrible’ to waste a life in unhappiness, and to turn your back on a chance of joy.
Sometimes a marriage will break up because one of the partners has fallen deeply in love.
And, despite the unhappiness caused, I have known that sad situation to lead to greater contentment for all concerned — yes, even the one originally wronged.
HOW TO CONTACT BEL
Bel answers readers’ questions on emotional and relationship problems each week.
Write to Bel Mooney, Daily Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT, or e-mail [email protected]
A pseudonym will be used if you wish.
Bel reads all letters but regrets she cannot enter into personal correspondence.
What’s to be done about the fact that none of us know what’s going to happen, or what we will make of it Nothing, except to realise that we have to play the hand of cards we are dealt as best we can.
There will never be an end to literature because these human stories repeat themselves again and again.
Do you want me to take sides here Give you ‘permission’ to leave your husband and start a new life with the man you love so much and who makes you deeply happy
Well, since you ask, and given what you tell me, I wouldn’t find it that hard.
You say you have ‘betrayed’ your husband ‘in the worst way’ — but it could be argued that he betrayed you, too, all through the marriage, by making you so unhappy.
Perhaps you feel so ‘awful’ because of a natural sadness at contemplating the death throes of a long relationship.
To face the upheaval of moving on takes enormous strength, energy and courage; I know because I have done it.
Sometimes relationships come to a natural end and you can console yourself by seeing that path you walked with your husband as just one you will tread before you die.
I suggest you Google a poem by Mary Oliver called The Journey and reflect on her last lines:
‘As you strode deeper and deeper,
Into the world,
Determined to do,
The only thing you could do —
Determined to save,
The only life you could save.
Choose happiness. I would.
I live an unhappy, routine-orientated life at home with my parents and sister
I hope you’ll provide words of advice about how to overcome my crippling anxiety.
At 22, I can’t bear to think about all of the experiences I’ve missed because of it.
Since I was extremely young I’ve always been very shy, cursed with a memory of a sexual encounter with another boy when I was around six.
Sometimes I doubt it happened at all. But whatever the truth, I think it’s helped to ruin my life.
never had a girlfriend and hung around with all the nerdy kids at
school due to lack of self-confidence, never experiencing the things I
should have at that age.
I have no friends at all. After A-levels, my anxiety problems really
took hold. I’ve since battled against obsessive-compulsive disorder,
body dysmorphia disorder and social anxiety.
However, I am in employment and my manager has earmarked me as someone with potential, yet I do not believe in myself and therefore would hold myself back from actually fulfilling this promise.
The idea of being at the centre of attention, having to make important decisions, fills me with dread.
I even struggle when driving, constantly worried what other drivers think. Why
I’d love to be carefree like everyone else. I put obstacles in the way of any social event and live an unhappy, routine-orientated life at home with my parents and sister.
For the past two years my sister has faced similar — or worse — problems, and I feel angry towards her for having tormented our parents with them for so long. I have told no one about mine.
I know I should sign up to some activity classes, but I am terrified of such a leap.
Also, I don’t want to visit a doctor, and be stigmatised as suffering from a mental condition, because nervous illness seems so selfish and a person can recover by themselves.
What I need is a mantra and some friendly advice to defeat my problems.
You ask me for a mantra, a miracle sentence, to cut through your
problems. Let me offer: ‘My life does not have to be like this.’ I would
like you to write those words on your bedroom mirror (try a lip salve!)
and then make yourself smile at your reflection, as if they were
written on your features.
Then take some deep, deep breaths as you promise yourself that 2012 is the year in which you’ll act — and change.
More from Bel Mooney…
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BEL MOONEY: Would it be madness for me to try for a baby at 45
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BEL MOONEY: Stop being a martyr and kick out your unfaithful husband
BEL MOONEY: Splitting up past 60 is so selfish… and stupid
BEL MOONEY: I've got to leave home before I turn into my abusive father…
VIEW FULL ARCHIVE
Whatever the cause of your problem (and you acknowledge that your
traumatic memory might be false) you do yourself and others a terrible
injustice to use the word ‘stigmatised’ about having a mental condition.
Then you describe what you call ‘nervous illness’ as ‘selfish’ — as if
suffering as you and your sister do is somehow weak and bad. Then you
assert that a person so burdened ‘can recover by themselves’.
I’ve lived for 43 years longer than you have. Therefore, believe me when
I tell you this is all wrong. I’m instructing you (yes!) to stop basing
your self-assessment on such damaging errors.
Suppressing my curiosity about your family, the way you were brought up,
why your sister shows the symptoms too, whether your parents talk, and
so on, I’ll use this space to counsel direct action.
First, understand that social anxiety disorder is the third largest
mental health care problem in the world.
Visit the U.S.-based website
www.socialphobia.org and read every single word on it, following all the
Gaining knowledge, you will hopefully feel some relief that you are not
the freakish person of your self-image, but one of very many who feel as
The informative website offers cognitive behavioural therapy as a useful method of combating the problems you describe.
So your next homework from me is to find out about this. Visit an NHS
website — www.nhs.uk/conditions/cognitive-behavioural-therapy — for a
very useful start.
Watch the video and remember to follow all the links on the right side
of the screen. They will lead you to a counselling directory — and you
can enter your postcode to find a counsellor or psychotherapist near
I truly believe this is the way forward for you — and might well also be
useful to other readers.
Since you are in work, you will be able to
afford to pay for some sessions, and will choose to do so if you really
do want to defeat your problems.
…and finallySo much vitriol in the virtual
It’s wonderful to get feedback from readers who feel helped.
Last week’s main letter was from ‘Helen’ about her anger with the husband who had not been caring through-out her third pregnancy (unwanted by him), though he now adores the baby.
Her response is: ‘Thank you for your insight and help… I agree with you and am trying to move on from those negative feelings that were holding me back . . .’
But although Helen was happy with me, she was saddened by the tone of some online comments on her problem.
She asks me to print her uplifting wish that ‘all those who automatically judge others in a harsh and unfavourable light will maybe use 2012 as the year where, instead of thinking the worst, they think the best’.
Sensibly she adds: ‘I understand that by writing into such a public forum you invite people to criticise you and I do accept that, but making unfair judgments on others is so common it is a sad reflection of the world we live in.’
In this one small case I do wonder at the nastiness which made a 20-year-old woman write: ‘I would divorce her in labour.’ Why did one woman label her ‘completely irresponsible and immature’ and others as ‘selfish and self-absorbed’
Of course, many online points are sensible and insightful, bringing new perspectives to readers’ problems. But others use a hectoring tone; for example: ‘Stop having children like a dog has a litter.’ Helen likens this to ‘bullying’.
It’s difficult, isn’t it All of us love sparky debate — after all, it’s the lifeblood for columnists like me — but the virtual world can bring out a level of vitriol that is not always appropriate when dealing with personal issues.
Helen tells me: ‘Your page is a lifeline but although that’s what we get from you, the online readers are sometimes mean-spirited and their unnecessary hate can too easily outweigh the sound advice you give.’
Is that true As always, I welcome your thoughts — whether online or not.