Dear Tina: My story will probably sound like a thousand others you've heard, but I am in desperate need of some answers. I am 53, my wife is 48. My wife had a hysterectomy about 15 years ago, so menopause is not likely part of this equation. As you are probably guessing, a large part of our problem has to do with the lack of intimacy and sex. We had talks about this a few different times, and she would promise to do better. "Better" never happened, and I became frustrated. In February of this year, I began an extramarital affair with a married woman who was not getting the attention she needed at home either, plus her husband has been abusive to her. I know her husband, as I worked at the same place with him a few years back, and I can see how he could easily be that way. As time progressed, we developed very strong feelings for each other, far beyond friendship, intimacy, and sex. We both decided to leave our respective marriages, and to be together. We made plans, got an apartment, bought furniture, she moved her 7 year old son into the school district near the apartment, so on and so forth. Last Thursday, I told my wife of my intentions, and I moved out. The lady I am seeing is living with me at this time. I do care deeply for this woman, but the guilt of what I have done to my wife is eating me alive. Yesterday, I told my girlfriend about what I was feeling, and that I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to handle all of this. Naturally, she was very upset and distraught over the possibility that I could be having second thoughts. It would be virtually impossible for her to go back home, because of the past circumstances, and she is not really able to support herself on her own. There would be no child support, as her son is from her being raped prior to being married. I DID promise her that I would follow through on this, and I'm sure at least part of her decision to leave her husband was based on having the security that I would provide. I don't know if the uncertainty I am feeling about all of this is due to guilt, part of a natural grieving process, or if I am having second thoughts. If I go back home to my wife, I feel that she would take me back, provided that we would go through some serious counseling. If I leave this woman I am with, I will feel terrible about not keeping the promises that I made to her, and leaving her in a position to where she couldn't now take care of herself. To make matters worse, her mother, who has been very domineering to her over the years, was very much against her making this decision, and she says she could not bear having to face that, if I left. I suppose that I've gotten myself into a fine mess here, but I bet I'm not the first or only one who ever has. I have been married to my wife for 28 years, and outside the intimacy and sex issue, there have never been any real problems between us. I am a religious person, believe it or not, and have been praying diligently for some help and guidance. Before you suggest it, I really don't think that I would feel comfortable going to my pastor about this. Is there any advice that you can give me? I'm desperate. Thanks in advance
Whether you go to your pastor or someone else, you need to get counseling, all by yourself, before you make any more decisions. You are ruining lives here, yours and everyone else's. You are emotionally immature, and your lover doesn't seem to be much more mature. There's a child's life involved as well. You are obsessed with sex, and it's running all your decisions, which means they are bad ones. There's already been a lot of irreparable damage. I don't know where you live, but use my " Guidelines for Finding and Using Therapy Wisely"to find a local counselor and make an appointment right away. You need someone objective to help you sort out this mess.