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squirbel's avatar

Married and my loyalty is wavering! Help!

Asked by squirbel (4277points) November 10th, 2010 from iPhone

I have ALWAYS been a woman who only saw her man as a man, everyone else was just, well, there. I have always been loyal. That’s one of the descriptors used first about me by friends.

But my husband and I went through a rough patch, where he was going through doubts about himself – and shut me out. This went on for a month. I was starving for love and attention – and because I’m in a foreign place, with no family, and no college friends still in town (everyone graduated and migrated)... I was feeling the need to pour my heart out to someone.

There is one person from my college days still in town – a man who I dated (our intent was to get married) for 2.5 years. Our history goes back 7 years – since then I’ve forgiven him of his indiscretions. I called him up, and asked if I could pour my heart out to him.

Well, yesterday he came by (I told my husband he was coming by). When I saw him (7 years later, mind you) my heart tugged. At the moment and the moments before I saw him, I felt no emotions toward him. But as we sat and talked, and I reveled in the fact that he knew me and my quirks, and my personality, I started to weaken. I started thinking thoughts of how if my marriage failed, I would go to him. Apparently, by his word, he’s been beating himself for letting me “get away”.

I’m a good woman. I love being my husband’s helpmeet, caring for him, cooking good meals and being praised (he talks about his meals at work!), keeping the house and finances in order…

I’m ashamed that I’m wavering. This is the first time in my life I’m feeling these conflicting emotions. Tomorrow Mike (non-husband) and I are going to lunch – Rob (husband) already knows cos I’m loyal like that. Between my husband and I, we understand this outing to be good for me because I’ll be getting out of the house (rare, lol). But my heart is pitter-pattering – to me, tomorrow’s outing feels like it’s bad, bad – like a date.

Argh. I know I won’t cheat. I know I will probably tell my husband about my weakness – the best antidote to secret feelings is to bare them publicly. But is it wise to tell Mike tomorrow of my weakness?

Just a little background on Mike – he’s a very upstanding fellow, gentleman-like and proper; old fashioned. I’m old fashioned too. He and I are both very spiritual indivuals – when we were connected we had the holy trinity of relationships; spiritual, physical, and emotional. The first day we met, I received a strong impression saying “this is your husband.” I shared this with him, even though I thought it seemed stalkerish, weird, and weird… And it was received with a grain of salt. Before you ask, I am certain it was God that impressed me, because it occurred in a place in my brain where I rarely think my own thoughts.

ASIDE: I cannot see thoughts the way they are portrayed in movies and such. My brain is very location aware – different thoughts arise from different places, and I know them at the same time I think the thought. I’d appreciate meeting someone else like this.

When we dated, I tried not to think about that little thought, and strove to not let it weigh our relationship down. I laughed it off as if it were nothing.

Fast forward, and now Mike has lamented losing me. Yesterday I asked him, sheepishly, “hey – you remember that impression I got…?”

He immediately replied, “Yes, yes – and it burns me every time I think of it.”

My rational mind is telling me that I’m in a weak emotional state, and Mike is there, giving me the affections and appreciation I’m not getting from Rob.

But my emotional mind is willing to quit this marriage, and go to where I’m sure to be loved, appreciated, treated like a gentle lady…

ARGH. I’m not a cheater. But right now I’m cheating emotionally. I’m lying next to my husband, listening to Pandora, listening to songs from the time when Mike and I…

I’m sad…

Should I tell Mike what I’m going through because of how he weakens me? I need him because no one else is in town to talk to. I need him, for the emotional strength I get from him. But he, being a proper gentleman – regardless of his feelings – will suggest we limit our contact to phone only, or he might listen to his irrational man-side and continue toeing the line with me. It’s 50/50 with Mike.

I’m torn guys. Don’t forget I love my husband dearly – I’m just trying to deal with these new feelings.

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25 Answers

iamthemob's avatar

I don’t think you should think of this as emotional cheating. You can’t control your feelings, you can only do your best to control your actions.

You need to talk to both Mike and your husband about this. To what extent you go into it with either of them is your choice. But it sounds like you’re going a little crazy – and keeping that in is just going to end in disaster.

squirbel's avatar

Crazy isn’t the half of it – I can’t sleep.

prolificus's avatar

Having travelled a similar path once, I would suggest a few things. Continue to be open and honest with your husband. Limit what you share with Mike – if you share your romantic feelings and reactions, you will be inviting it in return. It’s normal to feel such things, given your history and situation. However, I would just keep those feelings to yourself and allow yourself to press (work) through them privately (journal, share with anyone else except Mike). Also, if you continue to meet with Mike, do so in public places. Avoid alone time together. Treat Mike like you would any other friend. If you cannot, then take a step back and deal with it.

This could be an opportunity to renew emotional intimacy with your husband, if you pay attention to what comes alive in you when you are around Mike and learn to own those things as yours regardless of Mike’s companionship. Then you can share with your husband the “alive” in you.

Above all else, guard your heart. You know your limitations and the intimacies no one else besides you and your husband should share. Don’t punish yourself for feeling alive around Mike, just don’t give your alive self to anyone but yourself and your husband.

nikipedia's avatar

Well, I do think you should think of this as emotional cheating. How would you feel if your husband had similar feelings for another women? How would you want him to act?

If you are having problems with your husband, and you genuinely hope to fix your relationship, then your focus needs to be there. The feelings you have for Mike are bound to be intoxicating and overpowering and very, very bad for your marriage.

You are a smart woman. You already know the answers to this. If someone else was posting this question, you would be the first person to tell her to (1) cut off contact with Mike and (2) focus on fixing things with her husband.

And for what it’s worth, far be it from me to judge. Should you decide that your marriage is not what you want, and you’d prefer to explore other relationships like this one, I think that is a totally valid choice. But knowing your posts here, I don’t think that’s what you want at all.

squirbel's avatar

Thank you @prolificus. Wise words, in line with my upbringing.

You’re right.

Heh, nikipedia, I chuckled because you “know” me! xD

perspicacious's avatar

I didn’t have to read your whole narrative. I know you think your story is unique; it isn’t. THIS IS THE STUFF AFFAIRS, ADULTERY, AND DIVORCE are made of. Break off contact with your guy friend right now. Stay close to your husband—that is what you vowed to do. THERE IS NO GRAY AREA HERE.

LuckyGuy's avatar

If you want to stay, stay. Don’t string “Mike” along. No matter how gentlemanly, upstanding and proper he is, he is still a guy. That means when the time and testosterone levels get above a certain point he will be thinking with the other head. Of course you will be flattered. But it is the beginning of the end. If you want that, fine. But understand you will never be able to go back to what you have now. This is how an affair starts. Whether in a bar or the church choir at some point the cheater thinks “I can tell this person anything.” and things at home spiral down from there.
Look in the mirror and ask yourself where you want to be a year from now. Then act accordingly.
Good luck to you.

lillycoyote's avatar

I think you either need to fix what’s wrong with your marriage or leave your husband and move on. Fix what’s wrong with your relationship, your marriage and if you can’t then cut your guy loose; don’t play games with him, with this other guy, or with yourself. One or the other, not both; not going back and forth between staying and going, between wanting to be married, married to your husband, and wanting to be single, or to act as though you were. It might be o.k. to waver, to be tempted, to think about it, but not for very long, or waver very much, I don’t think. There’s really no absolutely compelling reason to get married these days, given the options and if people do get married it should be about a commitment, I think. If it’s not about that, then why bother getting married when you don’t really have to, when you can just live together?

Cruiser's avatar

You have already justified your reason for being with your old flame that apparently is burning bright and IMO you are one hug away from throwing gasoline on the flame.

You have 2 paths and the one you already know is to stay by your man and leave Mike where he belongs and that is in the past.

The other is to feel that intense love and connection you know exists with Mike. Life is too short to not live life to the fullest.

john65pennington's avatar

I get very bad vibes from you question. the devil is sitting on the left side of your shoulder saying “go girl go”. angels on the right side say “stay true to your mate”. the devil can be very pursuasive. be strong and cut this tie with an old flame, before it gets out of control.

You know what i mean, right?

marinelife's avatar

Run, don’t walk, away from Mike. Do NOT see him alone. Do not see him at all.

You are looking at this guy through rose-colored glasses. You just said he had indiscretions. What do you think he is doing with you, a married woman?

You are in a very vulnerable state. You love your husband. You should be spending your thoughts and efforts on working on your marriage. Tell your husband how you have been feeling. Put some effort and get your husband to put effort into reintroducing romance into your lives. Get Harville Hendrix’s book Getting the Love You Want.

If you feel like you need a break, get your husband to get you a ticket home for a one-week vacation.

But do not, do not keep seeing this guy.

Reread your question details and see the self-justifying phrases.

Blackberry's avatar

Essentially, you either stay, or you go.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

You don’t need to defend yourself by putting out there that you’re a ‘good woman who cooks good meals’ – that’s so unfortunate, that that’s what you think a good marriage is about. If you feel what you’re doing is a date, then don’t do it and you must talk it out with your husband…though I don’t have much confidence in him to handle it well…this emotional shutting you out for a month is a big red flag…or would be for me.

SuperMouse's avatar

If you want to continue your marriage to Rob stay far away from Mike. If you are not in love with Rob and want out of the marriage, keep seeing Mike. If you want to stay married, your focus has to be on your relationship with Rob and all spending time with Mike will do is steal that focus.

No matter what, I think you need to spend some time trying to figure out exactly what you want. Are you wanting to spend time with Mike because you are bored and want something interesting to do? Or is it because you are truly falling out of love with Rob and you are looking for an excuse to get out? Either one of these could be a reality and you are allowed to want out of your marriage. But just be sure you aren’t heading down a path with Mike that might destroy a marriage that you truly want to be in.

janbb's avatar

I just sometimes wish there wasn’t such a long line between the heart and the head! I feel for you.

wundayatta's avatar

I have a couple of suggestions and one comment.

I think that you need someone to talk to. That’s what therapists are for. They are safe people to talk to. Usually they are professional and do not breech the therapist/client barrier.

Second, I think you’ll need help in sorting out what to do about the distance between you and your husband. Again, therapy would help—in this case, couples therapy.

Finally, I want to reemphasize a point that @marinelife made. You are fantasizing like wild about Mike. You think you know him, but he could have changed a lot over the years. I don’t think you said you ever lived with him, but if you haven’t, then you have no idea about so many things that can make huge differences.

Once you jump ship, it’ll be very difficult to go back, although if you husband really loves you, he might still be willing to try to work it out. Still, you’d best count on it being the end with your husband. You may not get a second chance.

I know a lot of people who have had affairs and have been taken back. Usually these are men taken back by women. I’m not sure it is that common the other way around. But who knows. Emotions may be more important than a physical intimacy, even for a man. There would be jealousy and mistrust, and everything would be so much harder.

You owe it to yourself to try to work it out with your husband. If your marriage doesn’t improve enough to satisfy you, then you can separate, and see what happens. Maybe after you try Mike, you’ll want to try to reconcile. But at least you will have done it honorably, and you will know for sure what kind of bed you are making for yourself.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@wundayatta “I know a lot of people who have had affairs and have been taken back. Usually these are men taken back by women. I’m not sure it is that common the other way around. But who knows.”
Ignoring gay/lesbian for a moment. Also, assuming the distribution of number of partners per person is equivalent for men and women and every woman is doing it with a man. Therefore shouldn’t the numbers of men screwing around equal the number of women? Just askin’

Mike is a wedge and knows it. He is messing with another couple’s marriage and is well aware of the consequences for them. Maybe he is just divorced and is seeking revenge, or maybe he is just looking to dip the wick. He has nothing to lose. He is taking advantage of the situation. Did he do that to the last partner? and the partner before that?. What about the next one?. The best data is the data that is already out there.
Keep his phone number just in case you are looking for someone to mess with a year from now – if you decide to end the marriage. Otherwise tell him to please respect you and have no contact.
I know that is like telling a crack head to “just stop”. See him in 2 weeks when your hormones are on the other side of the cycle and you are stronger and then tell him to wait for a year.

wundayatta's avatar

@worriedguy We’re talking about married people. Women do not stray from their marriages as often as men do, and I presume that means men are straying with a lot of single women a lot. There are other variables. Women may not ask for forgiveness as much. They may be more committed to leaving once they leave. Men might be trying to have both wife and girlfriend. I could think of more reasons, but you get the point. We don’t really know anything until we get the data.

squirbel's avatar

@worriedguy You’ve got Mike completely mischaracterized. Please don’t continue to slander my friend.

Everyone, when I woke up this morning, my head was clear. This question was the result of late night + nostalgic feelings + resentment for the coldness my husband was giving. Bad things can occur with that combination.

I love my husband; I will be true to him. I told him what I was going through, and he expressed his trust in me. I talked to Mike, telling him he was my Kryptonite, but I’m committed to my husband. He replied that he’s having difficulty with the situation, but he’s working on it bit by bit.

GracieT's avatar

I think that this is an example of the “grass is greener” syndrome. You have something that isn’t as attractive as something that you don’t. Who’s to say that after leaving your husband you would be happier or more satisfied? I know that you think that your relationship with your husband is meaningless, but you took vows with him.

Supacase's avatar

I know how compelling old flame can be. I know you are convinced that Mike is a great, stand-up guy and I will take your word for that. What I see, as a complete outsider, is that he is knowingly carrying on an inappropriate relationship with you. Let’s face it – if either one of you has romantic feelings toward each other then you should not be hanging out together.

He is in it because there is no risk for him. If you stay with your husband, he has lost nothing. If you leave your husband, then Mike has his choice of whether to be with you or not. That is no guarantee he will want to commit when it is a matter of reality rather than fantasy.

If he does commit, there is no guarantee this is a relationship where you are “sure to be loved, appreciated, treated like a gentle lady.” Things change – I think your relationship with your husband is proof of that. This isn’t where you thought you would be when you married him, is it? For that matter, your original relationship with Mike years ago is another example of how relationships do not always meet our expectations.

So… you could end up with your husband, with Mike or all alone.

squirbel's avatar

GracieT, while I appreciate your effort to answer, I have never once said I think my marriage is meaningless; I did reiterate many times how much I love my husband.

On top of that your replies came after the problem was solved. Please read more before responding.

Thank you everyone! This problem is resolved! Thank you!

LuckyGuy's avatar

@squirbel I’m sorry if I misrepresented him. He does know you’re married. Right? Is he single? My warning bells go off.when you start trusting him more than your husband. It is just soooo easy to get sucked in.
You are lucky. Many people don’t ever get the opportunity to decide. Good luck with whatever you choose.
We’ll all still love you either way. ;-).

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I don’t think this is emotional cheating. You two have been out of contact for years so your brain “refreshes” on sight and old feelings ping around, not that they mean anything relevent to the present. It’s good that you know yourself and you enjoy the life you’ve chosen and are proud of the values you set for you and your husband because that’ll keep your head straight. Take big breaths, share with your husband how awkward it is the mind triggers emotions and nice it is not to be a teen or young inexperienced adult anymore.

When I was quite young, something similar happened to meet upon meeting someone face to face after a decade and I had no idea what was going on, messed with my head for a few years too.

squirbel's avatar

@Neizvestnaya You hit it on the head. I think the old feelings were refreshed by nostalgia and my vulnerable state. Thank goodness for the clarity sunlight brings! :)

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