Wise Counsel from Susan Quilliam: My revenge affair

Dear Susan,
I’ve been with my husband for nearly twenty years now, and he’s always been a womaniser. I’ve gradually come to accept that and we rub along, but I hate what he does and hate the fact that he expects me to accept it because he brings home the cash and stays with me and the kids.
Now I’ve fallen for someone at work. We’ve known each other for several years and I helped him through his divorce, though nothing happened between us. But I find myself getting closer and closer to him –  he’s the kindest, most thoughtful man in the world – and last week when we all went out for a drink and our colleagues had left, he said he felt the same about me. He wants nothing more than to be be with me full-time – and I’m so tempted to have an affair with him. 
I don’t understand why this is happening. I know how hurtful an affair can be because I’ve been on the sharp end. So why am I now tempted to play away myself? Is it revenge?Do I want my husband to see what I’ve been through? Or is it that I’m just longing for some happiness now the kids have left home?
I think it’s the option you last mentioned. I think that you’ve put up with your husband’s bad behaviour for two decades and now you want more than a marriage which has clearly lost all its goodwill and is dead on its feet.
Because if you’d wanted to hurt your husband but stay with him, you wouldn’t have chosen to fall for your colleague but for someone whom you could have a fling with but then leave.
But it’s really clear that what you have with this man is not like that.  What you have – and what you could have if you were together full-time – is a solid, caring relationship which has the potential to go the distance. You could make a good partnership with your colleague, and whether or not you realise it, a good partnership is what you really want after years of settling for less. As you say, the kids have left, you only have yourself to think about – and what you long for is not the ‘cash’ that your husband brings home but the emotional intimacy that your colleague offers.
I wouldn’t start an affair with this guy while you’re with your husband – because that’s just doing the same bad thing he has done, and because then things will get complicated. Instead I would start the process of leaving your husband and then – once you have left – start a relationship with your colleague
It sounds as if the two of you could make each other very happy – so go for it!

Susan Quilliam also offers email, phone and face-to-face coaching on relationship and sexuality issues. Contact her here

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