Pining for a married man

All Woman

Dear Counsellor,

I am separated from my husband, and I met this married man at the place where I worked. He is a handsome hunk, confident and intelligent. I really don't know how things got started. It was a friendship, then we started liking each other. Things moved very fast and we had sex.

I was handling his business interests and so we spent a lot of time together. We were together for nine years, and he took good care of my daughter.

I subsequently migrated and he was devastated. Before I left he planned to travel to see me and keep the relationship going. He came to see me once for 20 days, having told his family that he was going to explore business opportunities abroad. While he was with me his wife kept calling and fighting with him. By that time she knew all about me, and would call and text me. While he was with me she blocked me from all social media, and stopped calling and texting. I understood how she felt, being a woman myself, but he used to tell me that she was not taking care of him.

After he left it was really tough, as I don't have any support here. He told me clearly the day we started our relationship that he can't leave his wife and daughter. Last year he and his wife had a big fight and were not talking to each other for three months. After that they reconciled and he told me that he doesn't want to lose his daughter or to give her a broken home. He keeps telling me that we should do some business together. He will keep coming and going, he says, and then his wife will understand that it's a business relationship. It's really tough for me to understand this. Whenever he goes out with his family I really feel so unworthy, as he is enjoying time with them. He says that I was quite aware before entering this relationship that he was married, but he doesn't want me to be with anyone else.

I am totally confused about how to proceed. We haven't been communicating of late, but I really miss him although he was never mine. His wife blocked me and doesn't want to communicate with me. She thinks I'm the only guilty party.

I think that this man really loves me, but he can't leave her. What should I do? I also want happiness and love in my life.

Relationships develop intentionally or unintentionally, and are most times driven by the desire to satisfy physical and emotional needs. In your case, the trauma you experienced after the separation from your husband left you very vulnerable, and so getting emotionally attached to someone who reached out to you during those moments of depression was not unusual.

The dilemma you obviously faced was not being able to make your head rule your heart, and so you went on this fantasy ride hoping that it would turn into reality. Mr Mention told you that he had no intention of leaving his wife and so your status would have been that of the “other woman”. He agreed to look after you and your daughter financially and see you on the side, but that would be the extent of the relationship.

So after nine years of engaging in this “see you when I can” relationship, you are beginning to feel that playing “runner-up” to the queen is not what you desire, as the secondary position devalues your self-worth.

Some women will say that in a time when a good man is hard to find, a shared man is better than having no man at all. Others put it bluntly, “I'd rather have half of a man if I can't have the whole.” The reality, though, is that most of the “other women” seem to end up with the lower half, because the relationship is often strictly sexual.

As you sit and contemplate the future of this relationship, ponder the following questions: Are you prepared to continue playing the “matey” role so that Mr Mention can continue to have his cake and eat it? What message do you think he is sending you by discontinuing his communication with you? Do you believe that you deserve to play a secondary role in a relationship? Don't you think that your daughter will eventually emulate your lifestyle?

You have made a very factual statement, “He was never mine”, and so you are now coming to terms with the reality of the situation. You do have the right to live your life, and even with the desire for happiness and love, what is more important is love for yourself. You need to value and regard yourself as worthy, instead of allowing your present circumstances to devalue you further.

Loneliness is very distressing, and many women find themselves in relationships that they don't necessarily desire, but resign themselves to unsatisfactory relationships in order to avert feelings of loneliness. The truth is that many of these relationships are temporary, but the challenge is, unlike a light switch, the feelings you develop for the person cannot be turned off by the flick of a switch. And when you have reached the point of frustration and want out, it is most difficult. It therefore makes sense to guard your heart and decide whether your loneliness is worse than the frustration and grief that you will experience in a “see you when I can” relationship.

As you enter a new year, I would challenge you and other women who are in similar relationships to do an honest evaluation of your present state of affairs and determine whether it is in your best interest to continue this journey.

Your narrative should be a lesson for many. Do take care of yourself and your daughter. Others have survived and so can you. Believe in yourself and do what is necessary to survive on your own.

Wayne Powell is a relationship counsellor. Write to agapemft@gmail.com or powellw@seekingshalom.org. Check out his work on www.seekingshalom.org and his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MFTCounselor/.

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