'Should I Leave My Wife For The Other Woman?'

"We didn’t expect it, but fell madly in love.”
Karl Tapales via Getty Images

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Nobody goes into a marriage expecting it to end. But sometimes, relationships change and you may be left wondering if the grass is greener elsewhere.

This week, we hear from a reader, Graham, who’s questioning whether to leave his wife after finding a connection with somebody else. Graham and his wife have grown-up children who’ve left home and he says they have little in common these days.

“Early in our marriage when our kids were young my wife lost all interest in sex. I tried everything. Being patient, talking to her, and even asked her if we should go to counselling. The only response I ever got is ‘I can’t help it if I am not in the mood’” he says.

“After several years of trying to turn things around I gave up. I did not want to tear our family apart. I have a high libido and out of frustration stepped outside of my marriage. The woman was also married and in a similar situation. We didn’t expect it, but fell madly in love.”

Graham and this other woman gave “serious thought” to divorce, but ultimately “life got in the way” and they decided to stay in their respective marriages and raise their families. However, they’ve recently reconnected.

“We probably did not talk for eight or nine years. I never fell out of love with her, so I contacted her. Come to find out she felt the same way,” he says.

“Periodically we have been able to spend time together and our feelings for each other are as strong as ever. I am seriously thinking it’s time to step away from my marriage and enjoy life to the fullest with this other woman.”

We’ve asked Counselling Directory member Geoff Lamb to share his advice.

What would you say to this reader?

Lamb laments that Graham has not sought professional support about his situation sooner, but says it’s not too late to seek an outside perspective.

“It sounds like you’ve been living with this problem in your life for a very long time. I know you’re saying that your wife refused to go to counselling, but did you ever think of seeking some help for yourself?” he asks.

“I realise that this is question about the past, but it may be important to help him realise that the way he’s presenting his situation assumes that the problem lies with his wife and that he has no part in creating the relationship with her.”

How can Graham decide whether or not to leave his wife?

For Graham – and anybody else who’s faced a similar conundrum – Lamb recommends asking yourself why you’ve stayed until now.

“I would probably ask him to think about what made him decide not to divorce his wife, in other words, what does he mean by ‘life got in the way’? What’s actually changed since then?” he says.

“I’d also get him to imagine two scenarios, one where he stays with his wife and the other where he leaves her to set up a new relationship with the other woman. What would each of them feel like?”

In a situation like this, it can help to weigh up the gains, losses and difficulties each scenario present, not forgetting that this will could potentially impact Graham’s relationship with his grown-up children.

“I would advise him to be as honest with himself as he can in considering the alternative futures,” says Lamb. “He doesn’t mention whether the other woman is still with her family, but maybe he needs to think about how the two different futures would be for her and for her family?”

What practical steps can Graham now take?

It’s “absolutely imperative” that this reader talks to both women about what he’s thinking, feeling and planning, says Lamb.

“Reading between the lines, it sounds like he’s thinking of this as his problem that he has to make a decision about before involving either of the women. Maybe this is part of the problem and I observe this in a lot of the men I work with – they want to come to a decision before talking to their partner about a situation.”

Graham needs to recognise that the women he’s involved with have a stake in their own future. This is not a “decision” he has the right to make in isolation.

“It’s also important to be transparent about what he wants for his future life with all the parties involved,” says Lamb. “This ensures that, whatever decision is arrived at, the future relationships are based on openness and transparency.”

Love Stuck is for those who’ve hit a romantic wall, whether you’re single or have been coupled up for decades. With the help of trained sex and relationship therapists, HuffPost UK will help answer your dilemmas. Submit a question here.

Rebecca Zisser/HuffPost UK