Dear Gray Areas,
For the last few months now, I have been having what I would call an emotional affair with a married colleague. We talk and text all day long, make excuses to have lunch together, and sometimes meet up before work when his wife thinks he is at the gym. We have not had sex yet, but both of us very much want to. He is trapped in a loveless marriage to a woman who sounds to me like she has serious mental problems. They have not slept together in years, but he fears if he leaves her, she’ll be heartbroken and may even do herself harm. I have told him I am always there for him,day or night, but he is such a good man,and he is so worried about hurting anyone, I fear he will remain stuck,when he could be having so much joy and love in his life with me. How can I help this sweet, sweet man see that he deserves happiness?
Isn’t it odd how many cheating men have “crazy” wives at home? Could it be that being married to a lying, cheating malcontent can render one, how shall I put it, less than chipper? Just a thought…
Yes, sadly, there are a lot of ‘crazy’ people out there, and you will be joining their ranks if you listen to another word out of this guy’s mouth. I’m guessing – in my spooky, almost psychic-y kind of way – that he also told you he sleeps on the couch or in another bed, they haven’t had sex since their child was conceived, if they have one, that she isn’t as smart/sexy/funny/charming/interesting as you, and that he only went on vacation with her recently so as not to arouse suspicion. Uh-huh. You want to know how I knew that? Because THAT’S WHAT THEY ALL SAY. I mean, seriously, guys, can we not vary the script just a tad? Getting, uh, kinda old.
Okay, let’s suppose for a moment that he’s telling the truth about his home life :
Scenario A. If things actually are as bad as he tells you,then why doesn’t he end his marriage, move out and find a place of his own, wish his wife well with her future romantic life and move on with his own? Hmmm, let’s see…could it be because he is too scared? Scared of change, scared of anyone being mad at him, scared of life?
Scenario B. He has exaggerated wildly and misrepresented his marital relationship and living arrangements. He is very cosy and content there, thank-you very much, but wants to have his sexy fun cake and eat it too. His wife in this scenario is not, in fact, crazy, but a partner he wants to keep. He has family, stability and comfort there, not to mention someone to travel with, take to functions, host dinner parties and spend the holidays with, but he spices things up a little (or a lot, if things progress physically) with you. You, on the other hand, under Scenario B,face a future of waiting for the phone to ring, snatched trysts and the agony of seeing someone about whom you care deeply live his ‘real’ life with another woman, while yours seems to be on permanent hold.
So, let me cut to the crux of the matter. Scenario A : he’s a coward. Scenario B : he’s a liar. Gosh! What a catch!
Here’s the thing about marriage. No, scrub that; here’s the thing about life in general : it occasionally makes demands of us, and it isn’t fun all the time. There’s a reason the wedding vows are full of opposites : richer/poorer, sickness/health, better/worse. He made a deal, and he’s not sticking to it. Now I know relationships change, sometimes irrevocably, and I am not anti-divorce. Far from it. I think you have one life and if you really on some deep level realize you have made a huge mistake in marrying someone, it is best to get out as quickly and cleanly as possible, hopefully with minimal damage to the other person. We are lucky to live in a place and time in history where we can do such things. He wants it all,and by providing him with a thrilling little frisson of secrecy and fantasy, you are actually enabling him to stay in his (boring,real) marriage. The complications arising from this are also, in your case, exponentially riskier since you work together,which is a whole tinderbox in and of itself.
My advice would be this : end this now, before you get really hurt and/or fired. If you cannot do that, promise me this…do not remove an article of clothing in this man’s presence until he is legally separated from his wife and living in a place of his own. It could be that the two of you were made for each other, but the current arrangement suits no-one but him. Funny how that works out.
if you have a dilemma for Gray Areas, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
all Gray Areas posts and submissions will be kept anonymous.