About Last Night: Should I leave my wife? 19-08-18

September 3, 2018

Q: I’m a respectable professional in my 50s who has lived in a loveless marriage for the past 20 or so years, since our children were born. I’m no saint, but have tried to be a loving partner and carer. Last year, I met a man (34) who opened my eyes to the possibility of love. While Linda and I still have sex occasionally, it’s Tom’s body I desire. Should I call it quits on the marriage or continue to live a lie?

A: It is very common for a couple who have been together for decades to lose their passionate spark, and that often begins when babies arrive. It is also common to be physically attracted to a much younger lover.

In your case, you have found a same-sex attraction, about which you are comfortable. What is unclear is whether you have always known you were attracted to men, or if this is a new realisation. Did you marry Linda for love, or to be socially conventional?

I spoke to Melbourne sex therapist, Dr Christopher Fox about your situation (sexlifetherapy.com.au). He also thought that while you are comfortable in your attraction to Tom and desire to be with him, your question about living a lie, is not clear.

Perhaps it is not clear for you either. If you are feeling confused and uncertain about the whole situation, Dr Fox suggests you break the issue down into smaller pieces.

“In essence I see three issues which can be addressed: the current relationship; the relationship with Tom; and negotiating disclosure about oneself to others.

“People can choose to remain in a relationship which may not fulfil every need. The questions I think you may need to consider are, ‘What do you get from your current relationship?’ and, ‘What will you get from not being in a relationship with your wife?'”

It might be that you are considering leaving an established lifestyle in pursuit of a love that is not really on offer. Talk to Tom about what he is looking for with you. If he does not want to go deeper with you, do you still feel the time has come to start a new life? The intensity of your feelings for Tom could be the lure of forbidden fruit, or the greener grass over the fence.

It is the third question that you really need to address. Dr Fox emphasises that he is not suggesting you apply labels, such as “gay” or “bisexual”. Rather, he is inviting you to be clear about who you are, and to communicate your truth to Linda and Tom. Have you talked to Linda about your dissatisfaction, or your same sex attraction? Does she know about Tom? Do you know if she is happy? Perhaps she would like to be free to find a partner who does want her.

Similarly, what does Tom know about your marriage, your desire to move closer to him, emotionally, or the fact that you might plan to leave your relationship?

Each of these issues can be addressed independently, says Dr Fox, although the issues are inter-dependent. “I would urge you to consider where you are in your relationship journey and how you wish to manage this as a first port of call.”

Any decisions you make need to be informed decisions, and the only way to be fully informed is to speak, and hear, the truth. If you decide to proceed on the basis of lies and deception, or unrealistic delusions, there is probably not going to be a good outcome. Truth telling can be frightening, but you might be surprised by what eventuates when everyone’s cards are on the table.

Dr Fox acknowledges that it can be extremely difficult to think clearly at a time like this. “The multiple questions can become anxiety-provoking and it may seem clear-cut some days and confusing the next.”

As this decision has huge repercussions for you, Linda, your family, as well as for Tom, it could be useful to seek professional counselling. Any bridge burning needs to be thought about very carefully.

Email: abtlastnight@gmail.com

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