Red Responds: The Marriage is an Empty Vessel

Dear Red,

I’m sorry for not using my real name, but there
is a good reason. I hate to admit it, but I had an affair with another
married woman, Lisa (not her real name). We met over the internet
and began chatting with each other because of dissatisfaction in our current
relationships. I have been married 10+ years and have been unhappy
for a long time and have seriously doubted I ever really loved my
wife. I have wanted to leave, but I have 2 children and am worried
about the impact on them and me being away from them. Lisa has
been married a short time and has no kids. Anyway, we met had an
intense, passionate relationship, and fell in love. I had feelings
I had never felt before, it was wonderful. We talked of being
together. I started to go through marriage counseling, which was
long overdue, and intended to get a divorce, but things have been
up and down with Lisa ever since.

As of about a month ago, she
says she still has feelings for me, but wants to wait until things get
resolved with my marriage before seeing me, which I respect. She
says it’s too hard and too much hurt to continue our relationship as it is
and she either has to not get emotional about the way it is now (sneaking
around, seeing each other for a few hours here and there), or have a real
relationship with me. She even said she wasn’t sure she saw a fit
for us long term because she plans to move away at some point when she can
afford to. So, I figured things were pretty much over and told
her if she wanted to see me to let me know. She knew how I felt
and we agreed to be friends and stay in touch via IM. At that
point, I decided to tone down my contact with her and didn’t contact for like
a week, and then very sporadically after. I was trying to forget
her, but couldn’t. When we chatted recently, she said she was
upset because it seemed like I didn’t have strong feelings for her anymore
and that I was pushing her away. Which was puzzling to me because
that’s what I felt she was doing. Anyway, we’ve chatted more and I
tell her how I feel and she likes what I tell her. But, when I ask
her how she feels about me and whether there is any chance for us or if I
should just try to forget her and move on, she doesn’t answer. Am
I crazy to keep hanging on? Is there any future with
her? Should I stay put and try to work on the marriage which I’ve
done before? Will I ever find happiness and love with

Keith J. in Central New Jersey

Dear Keith,

Quite a quandary you’ve got
there. Indecision is a terrible
place to live.

Let’s start by breaking down your

Your marriage can continue on
indefinitely, if you choose to let it.
But the reality of it is, it is an empty vessel. The structure is there, but that’s
it. You know what you have, you
know how your life will be. If it
weren’t for the kids, you would have been gone long ago.

As far as your children go,
divorce is a hard and painful experience for them to go through. But so is living in a household where
both Mom and Dad aren’t happy.
Believe me, they pick up on it.
How you raise them and what you teach them is what is really
matters. Whether you’re married,
divorced, single, or involved doesn’t change that, only alters the circumstance
and methodology. Your relationship
with your kids is a completely separate entity from your relationship with your

As for your relationship with
Lisa, it is filling a void for you.
While the two of you care about each other, neither one of you is
actually head-over-heals in love with each other. While this isn’t a bad connection or
relationship, it is on “pause” until you decide what to do about your

You can’t use your relationship
with Lisa as a deciding factor in whether on not to stay married. They are separate issues, however
intertwined. While you can have a
relationship with her, I don’t see it going the distance.

Great love and happiness requires
taking great risks to obtain. So
will you ever find it? That really
depends on you. Can you have
it? Yes, but there are sacrifices
involved in order to bring it to you.
Sacrifices I don’t see you as being ready to make at this point in

Ultimately, I see that you will
eventually end your marriage, but it’s not looking like any time soon. When that time comes, I don’t see Lisa
being around. She’s not going to
wait for you.

For the time being, put your
energy into healing you. Finding
your own sense of balance and inner peace is the first step in knowing how you
really want your future to evolve, and then you will be able to make it happen;
with a clear conscience.

Best of luck to you.

Brightest Blessings,
Ext. 9226

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