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February 15, 1999   CONTINUED e-mail e-mail to a friend in need


Dear Breakup Girl,

Wow, or is it woe...have I got a story for you. I wish it was only a story, but alas, it is my life. Where to begin...hmm, how about 2 years ago as I was walking back down the aisle from my marriage ceremony. I had an epiphany moment -- I had made the wrong decision. I love my husband and have known him as a friend and lover for 10 years, but now that we have been married, and bought a house and "settled in," I feel like I have just plain settled. I feel like a heartless harpy for having these feelings, but ultimately, I feel stifled by him, nay even negated. He oppresses me with his views and his presence makes me feel shadowed and cold. He is not affectionate, though I know he does love me. He is "typical" in that he has such diffculty in expressing himself, particularly his emotions. He is a "traditional" conservative, clean-cut, beer-drinking, sports-loving American guy. He's polite and kind and good to his Mom and puppies and smart with money and all that other hooey. He mows the damn grass and gets the oli changed on the cars and brings me aspirin when I have a headache. In essence, he is considered a good husband to all observers.

But, to the wife in this little diorama of domestic tranquility...he is a stagnant known commodity. I love him and care about him in a familial way, but I have not felt any passion for him in years. I am an artist and a writer and a lover of life. I feel that, while he is a stable influence on my life, he simultaneously limits me and keeps me too grounded for the health of my free spirit.

OK, here comes the real dirt. Ouch. I feel such tremendous guilt, and yet a geyser of relief to reveal that I have been "seeing" a man I met a few months ago. He is the antithesis of my husband. He is a blue collar guy, unlike my husband, very earthy and real. More importantly, unlike my husband, he is very passionate about his own life, and about me. He is very curious and open-minded about things, and shares my joy in learning new things. He is not educated, yet he is far more intelligent than my college-educated husband. He is romantic and compassionate, achingly affectionate and generous with his thoughts and his time and resources. Yes, I am in love with him and he is bound to me with a sort of epic soul bond. He says I am the woman he always dreamed of, but never thought he desrved. He doesn't pressure me to get a divorce, because he knows I have to make the best decisions for me, yet we are in love and I cannot bear the thought of hurting any one of us involved.

I would leave my husband tomorrow if I could, but so many issues contrive to prevent that. I am an artist and so, my income is sporadic at best. I have other marketable skills, yet just having gotten my creative quest off the ground, I feel tortured at giving it up. It is my calling, if not a lucrative financial endeavor. The man I love makes a little money, but does not manage it well, and this concerns me. I grew up poor and now have a very comfortable life. Comfort isn't everything, yet I fear giving up this comfort even if I know the sacrifice will bring me to a new level of love and initmacy with this man.

Oh BG, I am torn asunder, night and day by these tortured questions that plague my waking and dreaming thoughts. So many dominoes rest on the one which I could tip one way or the other. I am not accustomed to holding so much power. I have the power to seek my own happiness, and yet to do so I feel I must cruelly crush another's happiness. Either my husband's or my lover's. To make matters even worse...(yes) my husband so desperately wants to have children. We are in our 30's and his clock is ticking, even if mine has been muted. I love children and want some of my own in the coming years, yet I feel it would be wrong to start a family when my own life is so unsettled. It is really now or never. When the clock struck 12:00 on New Year's Eve, I knew it tolled for me. I must decide.

Please advise, BG. Do you recommend professional counselling? I am quite perplexed and my normally clear view is obstructed by all the lies and clouds of complex emotions. Thank you in advance. Even to write this down was a purifying experience.


Dear L.,

If it makes you feel any better, I believe that the act of reading what you wrote down (beautifully -- you are an artist!) may have been purifying -- or at least me-too-ifying -- for many readers in the same guilty, divided, rocking boat.

That said, I will say only a couple more things, given that many of the points above apply to you and yours.

One, about the children. Dr. Glass likes to say that the best thing you can give your children is a happy marriage. Do with that what you will.

Other than that, yes, you must decide. But know that this is about choosing what you need from a man, not choosing what man you need. Good counseling (that's a yes: ANYONE would need a third -- okay, fourth, if you count me -- party in this situation ) will help you live -- and love -- with that choice. Let us know what happens.

Breakup Girl



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