Monday, June 12, 2006

Immoral, insane, or too much in need of love?

Posted by Anonymous (again, no relation to previous Anonymous posters. )

If you'd like to use this space to tell stories/secrets/confessions of your dangerous maternal mind, send me an e-mail and you too can enjoy the refuge of the Basement...

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Written by an insane (?) immoral (?) too sexy (?) wife and mother.

My story is this: I have been married to my husband for 8 years - we have two children together, and two from previous relationships. We were once madly in love. We had and still have many trials and tribulations with the two children from previous relationships, which put us to the test many a time. But we always pulled through.

Two years ago our oldest child (being ours, who is 7) was diagnosed with a fatal disease. For the sake of staying somewhat anonymous, I will not elaborate on the details. I can only say that it is degenerative and relentless in its onslaught on his little body and mind, and on mine as well. If anyone out there has ever had a very sick child or lost a child - you may begin to comprehend how I feel - to watch a child waste away day after day, month after month, year after year, with little hope for a cure or a treatment that actually doesn't harm the body...

Anyway, I digress. I am not writing about my pain about this, I am writing about me and the moral dilemma that I am now faced with. Our marriage, for obvious reasons I hope, has been torn apart and the very thing that did it – the diagnosis of the fatal illness of our son - keeps us together. I have faced this, the illness, entirely on my own, dealing with Doctors and diagnoses; my husband has buried himself away and left the burden all to me. I want to leave, but I can't leave. For the sake of this little person, who will not see a normal lifetime. He loves his Daddy, and who else will love him? Who will help him turn over in the middle of the night when he can't? And bathe him when he no longer can, and feed him and love him? Who else can I rely on? Ironic, because, because of all this, I no longer am in love with my husband, yet I believe he will never fail his child. Don't I owe staying with him to my son?

I will not get into the gory details to turn one side against the other or paint him the bad guy. If you have ever had a terminally sick child and your spouse was not there to lend support - to just let you collapse and not be there to take care of you as the vows said - then you will understand. To add to this - I have begged him to go to counselling for years, and he refuses. He cannot and will not deal with our son's illness, so now what?

I won't leave, but yet I find myself nearly in love with someone else. If my child were not ill, I would leave - but he is ill and I am exhausted in trying to carry not only my burden but my husband's too. I need someone to love me and let me just fall on them when life is too much. My husband is not that anymore, not after the diagnosis. There’s a third party, but I don't know what to do, I used to think that affairs were totally immoral, but after much discussion with loved ones - do I live a life of martyrdom for my child or do I seek some saneness and happiness in an otherwise generally fucked-up life? I decided, I think, that I would. Seek some happiness.

So we come to the third party. We share a lot of flirtatious moments. I feel like a teenager sometimes, going back and forth, never quite sure if it is real or not, am I reading more into this, like a teenager, or is there real attraction? I think there is, honestly, but I don't know if he would want to be involved with a married woman, after everything else. We have lots of good talks and I consider him a very good friend - so do I risk it by making the first move and then risk everything? Do I and can I put myself out there?

And, can I really do it? Is this the ultimate betrayal of my family?

Help! I need some advice.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh my god. Where to start?

I'm so terribly sorry about your little boy. I cannot comprehend the pain you're enduring.

I'm also sorry about how your marriage has deteriorated, just when you need that support the most.

I honestly don't know what to tell you regarding the third party. My chief concern is whether he will stand by you. More than anything else, I would hate to see you endure more pain needlessly, should he decide that the situation is too burdensome and that he needs to distance himself as well - again, just when you need the support the most.

Again, I'm sorry about all that you're handling, almost exclusively by yourself.

Anonymous said...

Hi. You've got a really tough situation there. I think you should tell your husband how you are feeling. Maybe write him a letter and tell him how burdened and unsupported you feel; that you cannot do this alone. Tell him that for your own sanity you will have to leave him if he doesn't step up to the plate.

He is going through a very tough time too. It is also his son and for a guy to show emotions is so difficult in this culture. It is so much more acceptable for a woman to break down and cry from distress. So I understand how he is having an enormously hard time. Men in this society are supposed to be perceived as strong and emotionally in control.

I know you said you were madly in love with him at one time. Can you find those wonderful qualities again? I am sure they are still there. He is still the same person. And for some reason, I think he still loves you.

However, I do not know the details of your marriage. Maybe he is just not a good person, or maybe he is verbally abusive, or whatever else. But I have been in a situation where I have been with someone for 5 years and left him for another man, someone who i found more supportive, someone who listened and seemed to care more about my feelings. But it is like that in every new relationship. It is always exciting, and the other person will always be attentive in the beginning. I destroyed the man I was with when I left him for another. I have a feeling your husband will be destroyed too, unless he also has another love interest. Perhaps he needs you just as much as you need him, but he just doesn't know how to go about it.

But do not let the guilt make your decision. If you are truly unhappy and cannot love your husband as you did before and this new man is worth it, then I say, do what you think will make you happy.

I do not think it is a sin at all to leave your man for another man (I have done it myself), but I see now that I got caught up in the excitement of someone new, with someone sexy, someone who was very attentive. But let me just tell you that I never got over the guilt. It took me 5 years to forgive myself for hurting the previous man the way I did. There will be consequences and no guarantees. But like I said, if you think you will be a lot happier, and this current marriage is killing you, do what you think is best for yourself.

However, I suggest to try patching things up with your hubby by writing a letter or something before doing anything drastic (that is, if you think you could love him again the way you once did). Good luck. My prayers are for you and your little one.

Anonymous said...

I think it's natural for you to be disappointed in your one-time love and the person who was supposed to be your helpmate and your strength in times of trouble. I also think, however, that it's not an uncommon response for someone to withdraw emotionally, physically, and mentally from a situation that is this painful. It happens.
If he won't seek counseling, there's not a whole lot you can do there. But for sure, you do need to tell him that you have lost the love you felt for him, based on his inaction and lack of support. That might open a really productive dialogue, and you two might be able to at least understand one another better before you go your separate ways.
If you feel there is a chance that you could recapture the love you once had with him, give him this last chance to try to go to counseling. But don't wait around and hope so, miss lady, because sticking it out for the kids? Is not a good option. They know anyway and are just as uncomfortable and sad as if you had left in the first place.
You should also tell him, not that you have specifically fallen for someone new, but that you are feeling like your relationship is ending and that you would rather seek the love of someone new than to be stuck in the emotional limbo you currently occupy.
Remember, you only get one life, and this is no dress rehearsal. But most important to me, and this is my devious, self-absorbed, overprotective and cynical side talking (listen to it - it's never steered me wrong): do not have an affair. End your marriage first.
One, because it could mess up any custody discussion.
Two, because it could mean the difference between leaving your marriage with your dignity intact and leaving your marriage during an ugly firefight.
And three, because even though he's been absent from your marriage, and even though he's hurt you in his method of coping with this situation, he is a human being and deserves your honesty. As a human being, that respect is not just a nice thing to do, it is required.

bubandpie said...

Let me say first that I cannot imagine the kind of pain you are dealing with every day. If I were in your situation, I know I would want to grab any life raft that happened to pass by. That said, my head is just spinning with all the ways this could backfire on you.

Your husband could find out about the affair and leave - and it will destroy you to see how that affects your son. Or your husband could find out and stay, but the animosity and tension in the relationship would increase exponentially, to the point where you couldn't disguise it from the children.

Or your husband doesn't find out, and your heart gets broken by this new love. Or your heart doesn't get broken and you live every day missing this man and longing for him and resenting your husband because he's the one standing in your way (therefore ditto the above re: animosity and tension). Or the tension of keeping up the lies wears you out and fills you with guilt. Or the affect of the affair on this new man breaks your heart.

Please don't start this affair. It will drain so much from you, and you must be running on empty already.

Be (somewhat) honest with your husband about how desperate you are feeling (I agree that you may want to omit the fact that you have a specific candidate in mind). If the marriage truly is irreparable, perhaps you could do a Prince Andrew-Fergie type arrangement, where you live together and co-parent together, but see other people openly (though this would be hard, HARD to do, I think, and hard to explain to the children). Whatever you do, do it openly, without secrecy.

And take care of yourself.

Michele said...

First let me say I am so very, very sad and sorry for what your child is going through and the terrible and unavoidable strain it has put on you and your husband. I can NOT imagine what that would be like and my heart truly goes out to your entire family.

Second, I dont think any of what you are feeling is wrong or bad. In fact I think it is very normal to feel drained by what you are going through and to want/need/crave some support and release from it. Ideally that would come from your husband. But he is so intimately involved in it and from the outside it appears that he is dealing with it in a completely different way than you are. As someone said, he appears to be shutting down while you are doing all of the "heavy lifting". I can sympathize because I am a "doer" who is married to a "withdraw-er". It is agonizingly frustrating for me to deal with him when he withdraws and I have now learned I can be equally agonizing to him with my incessant need to DO something, ANYTHING. But I have learned that while I throw all of my energy into "fixing", he is drained by the inablility to fix and he shuts down. I think maybe it is not that he doesnt WANT to support you - he CANT. I think a huge starting point would be to say to him everything you said here. Neither of you are wrong in the way you are handling it - just drastically different but you MUST find a middle ground, which will require alot of work and compromise and communication. This is all happening to him and his marriage and his son too.

Third, and this is some tough love. You can not have an affair. Can not. This is much bigger than just you and as hard as that is to accept, it is the risk we take when we marry and have kids. Too much collateral damage at risk. And lets face it, anyone would look wonderful and attractive and fun next to the wreck that your marriage is right now. I know. I have been in my own little private mess and and forced myself to make things right for the sake of my marriage and kids. I never cheated, but there was a very wonderful, funny guy who came along during a really rough period for me that made the idea appealing. Not that we ever even got close to it. It's also a hugely unfair comparison between your husband and third party at this point. And does 3rd party really want to pick up the burden that even your own husband cant carry? I think everything is easy when you are dating but you will still be you and your son will still be sick and your husband will still be withdrawn even if you arent in the marriage anymore.

Off of my soapbox. But please, please take care of you and your marriage first. Its obvious the path is not clear for you to leave or you wouldnt be here in the basement. I wish you peace and will pray for your son as I would pray for my own.

Karla said...

I'm so sorry for your boy. Thats an unimaginable feeling as a mother. I can't even begin to grasp how you must be feeling.

I know (not personally) that serious illnesses in a family can make or break a marriage. I'm not an expert by any means, but I certainly know that making an attempt at a new relationship at this point in your son's illness would not be best for anyone, especially you because you are vulnerable right now and you would be setting yourself up for losing too much at once.

I know that at times like this you need to lean on someone, and preferably it should be your spouse, but thats not always possible. Find a friend, MAKE a friend, a family member, support group, anyone, who can offer you the support you need without romantic possibilities. Your husband may come around eventually, men usually have their own ways of dealing with things. Im certainly not excusing him though. Best of luck and lots of love to you and your family

Anonymous said...

No offense to the well-meaning commenters, but sometimes a "friend" or a family member just doesn't do it. I'm not saying that you should go after the 3rd party - but just that I understand where you are coming from. I think that sometimes marriages die a slow death, and cannot be revived, and I also think that people in even halfway decent marriages can't begin to understand. Sometimes doing what's right gets really old. Sometimes we just want to live for moment and for ourselves. I get it. You have a sick child, and healthy children, to take care of. My words of wisdom are not to avoid getting involved with someone else because it's cheating on your marriage, but because you will end up engrossed and overwhelmed and end up cheating on your children. And in the end, you'll cheat yourself out of what you deserve, which is someone who can hold you and hug you and love you in public - and not in secret. But honestly, if you did get involved with 3rd party, I would totally understand. Keep posting - maybe you need a secret blog of your own. I'd read. And comment. I've been there and back.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous directly above had a good point. 'Friend' might not cut it. And if the marriage is so tattered - and/or you too exhausted to put any more work into it - but you are truly unable to leave (tho' consider what someone said above about whether that is really true - are the kids truly better off with parents who are miserabel together?) then you are kind of stuck. And if you're stuck, then I think that you *might* need to do whatever it takes to secure for yourself a little piece of happiness, even if that means doing something risky or "wrong" (by some definitions). But you should still consider what others have said here - there may be risk of hurt or heartbreak on the other side of the fence, too (the grass isn't necessarily greener, and if it is, it may be because of pesticides.)

You need to follow your heart, but you're no longer a teen. Be prudent as you follow your heart. Tread carefully.

Wishing all the best for you.

T. said...

If you don't know who I am, let me introduce myself. I had a chronically ill, extremely handicapped boy who very recently passed away after struggling to survive for five years.

Every minute was a blessing, every minute was torturous.

And now that he is gone, the pain just keeps rolling in.

So I know first hand of the pain you are experiencing, and the frustration you must feel. My heart breaks for you.

I can't offer you any advice, but it sounds like you already have gotten some good pieces from others.

I just thought I'd pop my head up and let you know that you have an ear if you need it. Because I have been there.

lildb said...

nothing to contribute other than support for your difficult situation, and the knowledge that you don't need to worry about feeling judged for whatever choice you ultimately make; anyone who has the balls to judge you isn't worthy of anything but your contempt.

hang in there, and oh how I hope for things to become bearable for you.

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine what you are going through, the intricacies of your situation. My god. You mentioned that you and your husband have kids from previous relationships so I assume you both know what it is like to end serious, committed relationships. I wouldn't blame you from trying to avoid that again, especially heaped on top of everything else you are forced to deal with daily. And I don't think anyone would fault you for wanting a soft place to land every once in a while.
Just be careful. Affairs are not known for their deep intimacy or devotion. They are a distraction - one that you are entitled to - which is something different than what've mentioned in your post. I would hate to see you suffer more heartache. Be careful and go slow.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD said...

I think what you are going through is fairly common. I work with terminally ill children and teens. One of whom I have become extremely close to is now home with hospice. Her mother is pregnant again and her parents just filed for divorce. In three years I have seen this happen a dozen times. Mother devotes life to taking care of child, husband cannot handle the illness, the fact that his wife has devoted her life to something he can't control.

I am no expert by any means and I am so sorry you are going through what you are going through. I cannot imagine the turmoil of being a mother to a terminally sick child. I only know that what is happening to you is normal and that with all you are doing for your child, you deserve to do something for yourself.

You should be able to flirt like a teenager. Your child's happiness depends on yours. I really believe that. I think sticking with a dead marriage for the sake of a child is noble but I also think its noble to take risks for your own happiness.

You more than anyone should know that life is short. Happiness can be ephemeral and a marriage does not have to be forever. You must think of yourself as well as your child.

The question comes down to how you define betrayal. In my opinion, betraying oneself is major and has more of a ripple effect than one cares to admit.

A ripple moves farther than a splash.

Anonymous said...

I have never been through your tragic circumstances, but I have felt the great impulse to an affair, and I am so glad I didn't. No one looks as good once the feverish first feelings pass, and you need something more solid and comforting than that. Giving in to the draw of an affair will only be one more hurt you have to carry. Please spare yourself that.

Anonymous said...

I am with Girls Gone Child. Your happiness is valid, and important and critical. I am so sorry for what you are going through with yoru beautiful child and having some light and happiness in your life IS important.

Do affairs and divorce hurt children? Yes of course. But is it worse for your child to see and feel you so unhappy?

I think you should ignore whatever others say or judge and go with your heart.

kittenpie said...

I am so sorry to hear about your son - this is every parent's nightmare, and it must be all-consuming for you. I am fortunate enough not to know about these exact circumstances, but I do understand that, as GGC said, it si quite common for such an event to tear apart a family. My two cents is this...

You need support, it's true. You need something for you, as well. The flirtation is nice for that, but it doesn't sound like you know if it is much more solid than a bit of fun. I don't think this flirtation is the reason to jump.

That said, I don't think you would be considering it if everythig were fine, as it obviously is not. Try to make that decision independent of your thoughts on third party guy.

I did have the same thought as bubandpie - talk to your husband. If your relationship is not fully gone, it may snap him into reality that you are considering leaving. If it is well adn truly over, her suggestion of an open marriage may be a good solution for now so that you can both be there to support your children and provide them with some stability nad normalcy, but also have something for yourself. It is something that may be seen as immoral from the outised, but this is about you, your family, and what is best for all of you.

My parents' relationship did not survive my mom's schizophrenia, but my dad stuck around as a friend/roommate for another decade to be there for my sister. I know he had some girlfriends despite his discretion, but I didn't have a problem with that because I knew and understood about the situation. Truly, I was happy for him to find someone for himself on the side, yet I am forever grateful for his selflessness in being their for my sister and to help my mom when she needed it. They remain good friends, even after their divorce.

Sorry for the novel!

kim said...

The death of our infant son was the death of our marriage as well. It was a genetic abnormality and not something we could have prevented nor planned for.
I blamed myself for both of us, he tried to be supportive at first but we both dealt with things so completely different. I was very open and honest about my grieving, he pulled away. I wanted to share my grief with the one person I felt should understand. He thought 1 month was enough and that I should stop crying and move on. I remember looking at him thru my tears and wondering who he was. Was this the man that I had loved so totally? Could he really think that it was possible for me to just suck it up and go on with life as if it had never happened? I tried to hide my grief, he became irritated when he caught me crying or even just sitting alone and not "paying attention" to him. The more he wanted and needed me as a wife, the more I pulled away. If he couldn't understand what I was feeling how could I care about what he needed? I quit trying to talk to him or tell him what I felt.
I understand, I cant tell you what is right for you to do, but i do understand
how you ache for someone to comfort you and be there for you... im sorry for your son, im sorry you all hurt so much :( *hugs*

Anonymous said...

I'm very sorry for what you're going through. I've never been the caregiver for someone who was terminally ill, but I have participated in many fundraisers for ALS (a degenerative, terminal illness) research and people always mention how essential it is for caregivers to have time to themselves, even if it means hiring a part time nurse to come in and care for their loved one while they just get out of the house for a while and have some time to take care of themselves. If you haven't already, please consider asking or hiring someone to come in and help you even if it's just one day a week.

Having an affair or leaving your husband would be major decisions with unforseen ramifications, for you, your husband and your family. I do know that the middle of emotional upheavel is NOT a good time to make decisions of that magnitude.

You've said that your husband refuses to go to counseling, but have you gone on your own? This might help you gain more perspective and maybe some insight into why your husband is reacting the way he does and the best way to communicate your needs to him.

Anyway, that's my two cents. I'll keed you and your son in my thoughts.

Gillian said...

I certainly think you need some saneness and happiness but I am so sure that this other relationship is not going to give it to you. You have a lot to work through for yourself right now. Your pain, your anger with the husband who let you down and the overwhelming experience of making it through every day in the circumstances you describe is more than anyone can do alone. You need to find a counselor or support group to help you get some solid ground to stand on. You have no resources left for building a worthwhile loving relationship with another person right now. And a relationship is not going to offer you comfort and support and happiness if you don't have any of those things to offer to the other person. Relationships are like you describe with your current husband something that may start out thrilling but they demand a lot of work to make it through the hard and tedious parts of daily living. If you have a new relationship, you need one that has a future for you and your children. Adolescent relationships are training for real adult relationships. They may be fiery and passionate at first but they don't end well and they are rife with melodrama and pain. You don't need more of that in your life.

Despite the fact that you are sure your marriage is dead and that your husband has failed in his vows to you, you still seem to see him as a loving and caring person as far as his devotion to your son is concerned. You describe him as being there to turn him, bathe him and feed him. most importantly to love him. Even though you feel angry and betrayed by your husband I think the man you describe deserves to be treated with respect. So, if you are going to leave the relationship you need to be honest with him and do that, not go behind his back. You need to make sure you will be able to have at least the ability left to co-parent your children when your marriage is over. You have a history of being able to pull through trials and tribulations. You need to use that strength to either make your marriage work or make the ending of your marriage honorable and as gentle for all of you as possible.

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Anonymous said...

Whatever you decide about your marriage and 3rd party, you need support. It's true that nobody can support you quite like a lover. That said, you might find that a support group for mothers of terminally ill children would do you wonders. Also, you might consider calling a crisis hotline such as 1 800 SUICIDE (or whichever is local to your area). These lines are not only for suicidal people, but anyone in crisis. Sometimes it's nice to have someone you can call at 3:30 AM three nights in a row without worrying about being a burden. You can also talk about having to make this decision with them, though they won't give you any advice.

My heart is with you.

Anonymous said...

Wow, hard, hard, hard...

first... there was a while when my daughter was sick and we didn't know what was wrong and i would go up to the 7th floor of kaiser where the specialists are... and just that... just those weeks of seeing her get weaker and weaker, not knowing what was wrong... told me "this is what salt tastes like."

it may have been only a teaspoon... but i got it.

salt.

(note: she is okay now. we figured it out. and that is good. and it doesn't work out that way for everyone. and i wish more people could be outloud about that. i get very tired of "everything will be all right" people. yes, in a way. of course. on a deep level. but no, not. not everyone "makes it." people get sick. people suffer. people die. it happens. make room for it. make room for them. make room for us! set a place at the table for the hard parts of life. put the salt out. it's there, anyway.)

anyway... as to the affair part...

ah... hard.

sounds like you are conflicted.

what i know is that whatever decision you determine is right for you... it will be easier to live with the consequences if you sit with it for a while before acting. if you act from a place of calm and clarity... you will be able to deal with the consequences.

cuz damn, as you know, every choice has consequences and you are in one of those place where the consequences are difficult pretty much anyway you turn.

note: i am a single mom. and i have seen that once i finally adjusted to that... it helped change my expectations about how life was sup'd to work... as in... whether or not somebody was sup'd to be there to help me.... whether that was a "dad" figure... my own mother... a friend, or whatever.

i settled in... in some wordless way... to the idea taht here i was... and i would not be able to do everything... and sometimes people will help... and sometimes they won't... and i wont' always get my needs met... and my child won't always get her needs met...

but...

i will be okay.

meaning... really...

that i learned to be okay with that.

sigh... that doesn't seem like much to share... but i share it bec. it is what comes up in me to share.

much support and love to you.

please be kind to yourself, no matter what you choose.