“From the outside I look like the lady with everything. And I suppose I am, really. I have a wonderful husband of nearly 15 years, whom I love deeply and share an amazing life with. I met my husband when I was 16 and was married at 23.
We have three wonderful children, a beautiful house in a fabulous part of the country . . . from the outside everything is perfect. However, all is not as it seems.
Five years ago my husband encouraged me to start sleeping with other men. He said it would ‘spice’ things up. I wasn’t sure how to handle this. I was hurt that he could so blithely share me with others — but also curious.
I met a man at one of my husband’s parties a few weeks later. He was perfect — good looking, single and unlikely to fall for me as he’d just left a messy marriage and was known to be a ‘player’. I should have walked away.
At first this affair did spice things up. Everything was wonderful. I felt alive and attractive. Stupid in retrospect. The ‘Player’ and I have developed the deepest of friendships. Over the years we’ve grown to love each other deeply and intensely.
My husband still encourages us to see one another, but has no idea of our depth of feeling towards one another.
Recently my ‘Player’ has been begging me to start a new life with him. I don’t know what to do. On the one hand I have my family and my life — which I treasure beyond compare.
On the other, I have this man who understands me completely, has never judged me or my life choices, and with whom I share a connection I thought existed only in novels and films.
I think of him every second. I know he could never offer me the lifestyle to which I am accustomed — but does that matter? I’m not so sure.
I can’t bear the thought of hurting either of them. I love them both but this situation can’t continue. I know that. I don’t know what to do.
I’m on the verge of walking away from everything or ending it all. None of my friends know of my situation, so I can’t talk to anyone about it. I’m lonely and clueless.”
This letter first appeared in the Daily Mail.
It’s hard to know where to start. So many things are striking here. I suppose the first jarring thing is the style. There is something Mills and Boon about the tone and the vocabulary. ‘The lady with everything.’ You describe yourself as a ‘lady’, but the schlock-fiction style immediately suggests something hollow and empty. It almost sounds as though you mean you have all the latest gadgets. The hyperbole suggests hollowness too – ‘wonderful’, ‘deeply’, ‘amazing’, ‘wonderful’ (again), ‘beautiful’, ‘fabulous’, ‘perfect’. That’s all in two lines. Nothing is that good.
The fact that you have been with your husband since you were a teenager is another factor that makes it unlikely that things are simply marvellous, as you try to suggest. But the truth is shocking. You’ve written it in a way that shocks the reader so that the appalled reaction is projected into us (me, in this case) and you ‘blithely’, in fact, bat away your own horror with the little line that is almost an aside – ‘but also curious.’
It is what you don’t say here that’s interesting. You don’t say whether or not your husband is or was sleeping with other women – it would be ludicrously naive, of course, to imagine that someone who suggests his wife have sex with other men is not already enthusiastically having sex with other women. But you don’t mention this, but much of the hurt, confusion and desperation you’re experiencing may well be connected with this apparently unconscious (or seen but unseen) knowledge.
The words ‘share me’ are deeply disturbing. The suggestion is that you are a possession of his and not a person in your own right.
The blindness with which you seem to have obeyed your husband is bizarre. You seem used to being treated as a commodity – you don’t mention your childhood but I worry about the neglect (or worse) you may have experienced there. You immediately located a target for sex and imagined that he (like your husband?) would treat you purely as a fairly inhuman object because he is ‘known to be a player’. The ‘spice’ the affair injected was to make you feel wonderful – in order to feel good it seems you need to be sexually desired as you perhaps feel you have little else to offer. You apparently could not imagine that a man might love or value you and were subsequently shocked to find yourself in a real relationship, one which your husband continues to encourage. Again, there is an assumption that you invite the reader to make whilst you yourself turn a blind eye to it – your husband is also in another serious relationship outside of your marriage.
As soon as you mention your husband you go into Mills and Boon language again. You have your home life which you ‘treasure beyond compare.’ Though I think you believe this sounds true, it is clearly untrue. You have expended a lot of time and effort on risking this life and bringing it to the brink – then you seem surprised that it might be at risk.
A man you claim understands you entirely says he wants to spend his life with you. You are worried that he’s not as rich as your husband (if I understand correctly) and imagine your husband will be hurt. Will he? Isn’t he the one suggested you have this affair? Isn’t he seeing someone else? Is he really as blind to reality as you are?
Then, after all this hyperbole about the wonderful life you have, you throw in a line about being suicidal. You say you are thinking of ‘ending it all’ and that you are ‘lonely and clueless.’ It would almost be possible to miss these very serious expressions of your disturbed state of mind in all the sex and chaos of the rest of the letter. It seems to me that under the manic and florid style is someone terribly confused and vulnerable, someone who is being abused by a careless (at best) husband and who is unable to accept real affection from a person whom you portray as very honest and open whilst calling him ‘a player’ in order to defend yourself from him.
The picture you hope to paint of yourself, propaganda directed at yourself, as desired by two men and unable to choose between them is an omnipotent fantasy designed to protect you from reality. The reality is that you are helpless, have no sense of autonomy at all and are, in fact, being pushed out of the marriage you have valued since you were pretty much a child.
You seem very confused as to what is love and what is cruelty. I assume this confusion originated in you childhood home. Seemingly sold on by your husband, suspicious of the new partner, the only thing you trust is perhaps the material wealth offered by the former. You say you might leave everything behind or commit suicide as though those are the only two options. In fact, you are being offered a partnership with someone you value, but you are as blind to this as you are to what is happening at home.
This ability to see and not to see things simultaneously must have enabled you to survive your early life, but it is causing you chronic confusion as an adult. Underlying the chaotic material in your letter is a despair and sense of complete worthlessness, a terribly hollow feeling that is filled by acting out sexual drama but that is evident in the language you use, the hyperbole, the mistrust and, most significantly, the admission of suicidal depression that I strongly suspect predates your affair.
You don’t really need advice on what to do here, but you do very much need help with your (probably very longstanding) sense of worthlessness and confusion.
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