I am married but we live more as flatmates due to an accident my husband had five years ago. He will need more care as the years go on due to his injuries, and I’m not the kind of person who’d turn my back on him. However, I have developed feelings for a wonderful guy online who is 20 years older than me.
He’s been my lifeline through this whole situation, the accident and beyond. We’ve become best mates. Plus, he loves me and I love him. He is married too, and while his wife knows I exist, no one really understands the extent of the commitment we have (his wife would be furious to say the least). My husband knows about this guy; they are friends also. We would love to be together one day, but we’ve both made the tough decision to stay put in our current situations and fulfil those commitments we made. The thing is, I miss romance. I refuse to have an affair – it’s not right. But my needs aren’t being met. My online guy gives as much as he can, but I’m left wishing it was more.
I just feel lost. I’m struggling with what I’m getting (and not getting), to accept that it’s enough. I’m more or less having to learn to live as a single person, but I just don’t know how. Can I make this work and if so, how? CF
Wow. Tough situation. Firstly, the stress of your husband’s accident. Suddenly switching from lover to carer. That’s a massive adjustment for both of you. Plus, being denied all the things many of us take for granted in a relationship – like, sex, affection, romance – I’d wager would leave you more at risk of developing feelings for someone else. But let’s not split hairs over whether it’s innocent or not with your online guy. You are having an affair; an emotional affair that has the potential to hurt a lot of people, yourself included.
I know you’ve been through a lot and are craving a life for yourself that’s meaningful and fulfilling. I also sense you’re a good person who wants to do the right thing – hence, keeping it ‘safe’ and unsexual. But I also feel for this guy’s wife. She has no idea that her husband’s deepest feelings are being shared with a woman on the other side of the computer screen, rather than with her. If I was her, I’d be shattered. Both you and your online guy have chosen to honour ‘in sickness and in health’ vows with your partners. While that’s noble to a point, there’s no denying your ‘reward’ for that may come at a price to those who depend on you for stability.
So. Your options as I see it. Is there any way you can pour your energies into improving a physical and emotional connection with your husband? Couples where one partner is struck down with illness or injury have to adapt and be creative to maintain a level of intimacy but it can be done, from what I’ve read. If that’s not possible, would you consider opening up your marriage? Non-monogamy, or becoming monogamish (as Dan Savage puts it) is an option that could take the pressure off both of you – if it’s something your husband would agree to, but I also hesitate to suggest this as he may be mourning, like you are, the loss of the relationship you had before as well. But as for continuing your relationship with the online guy: to me, it sounds like something that’ll only dissatisfy you more as time goes on. Better, perhaps, to look at other options for creating a future that works for you in a way your current situation doesn’t.
Love, reality chick