I'd love to get some advice on my relationship. It's complicated and I'm starting to think about ending it, despite being pretty heavily invested. This is a "do I stay or do I go?" question or a "too good to leave but too bad to stay" question. But it's complicated so be prepared to read on.
posted by runflats to human relations (50 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
We grew up together. Childhood sweethearts. Eventually I moved away. Fast forward 20 years. We're both in our mid-30s. She looks me up. We start emailing. Turns out she lives in the same city as me and only a few miles away. I kinda blow her off for a while, not taking it seriously at all. We'd been completely out of contact for many years. Eventually she wants to meet up. My curiosity eventually gives in, so I invite her over.
The picture in my mind of how I thought she had turned out (based on the place that we grew up) could not have been more wrong. She was gorgeous, classy, charming, and fun. Sparks flew right off the bat. She was vague about her relationship status up to this point, but that night she tells me she's married…but it has been on the rocks for a year and it's ending. She also has 2 kids. I'm single, no kids, never been married, a few months out of my last relationship with no good prospects for a few months.
Now, I know what you're going to say. I completely get it. I've been over it a million times. I had a perfect record of fidelity in my relationships at this time. I talked to her at length about her marriage and how if it was over then she needed to end it and do things right. I'm normally cut and dry about that sort of thing. If she wanted to start up with me, then end it with him. But, against my better judgement, I didn't stop seeing her. We were very attracted to each other. And so the affair started. She assures me that her and her husband are done. They are married on paper, but are roommates only and are only together because of the kids.
It was very casual in the beginning. I had no intentions. Fast forward 6 mos. I'm starting to have some serious feelings for her. She two steps ahead, tells me she loves me. But, I'm very frustrated at this point, telling her I'm tired of compromising my integrity by being in this sort of relationship, tired of being ashamed, etc. She listens, is compassionate, pledges to take care of it. But it's very slow going. She says she's getting her stuff in order, preparing for the divorce.
She says if it was just her, she would be gone already. But her kids complicate the situation. She doesn't have a degree. Her husband wanted her to be a stay at home mom when they got married. So, she no means to provide for herself or them. She and the kids are entirely dependent financially on him. She understands she's going to have to get a job, that she'll need to go back to school and get a degree to get that side of her life on track. You know, become a self-sufficient single parent. This is scary for her. I try to be supportive and help where I can.
I draw a line around my last bit of integrity and tell her I won't meet the kids under any circumstance until she is divorced. I've stuck to it.
Things settle into a sort of pattern. Our relationship continues to develop. I get tired of harping on her about the divorce, so I give her some space to take care of it and only bring it up occasionally. It's always a fight. We become closer, fall in love. Our relationship was going great, except for the elephant in the room. She made the relationship convenient for me. It worked well with my busy schedule, etc.
Every few months, I would run out of patience, reach the end of my rope and threaten to end things if she doesn't get things taken care of soon, etc. I told her that I was so tired of being in an "affair". That I just wanted a normal relationship, one that I didn't have to be ashamed about. On one hand, I want to tell everyone about us, because she makes me so happy. Then, I remember she's married and feel no pride in that. So, I've kept it on the DL. I implore her to make things right.
Every few months we would repeat this cycle. I have gotten to the point of ending it a few times, but it doesn't last for even a day. I love her and I know she loves me. There's no doubt of that for either of us, even though it took a long, long time for me to trust her because of her willingness to cheat w/me.
A year and a half in, her husband finally moves out. I think, "great, it's about time, finally a light at the end of the tunnel." But here we are several months later, in a holding pattern. She's scared of having to provide for herself after being out of the workforce. The husband is banking her whole operation, assuming that he's paying less now than if they were to divorce. Neither of them seem particularly motivated to end it, despite both of them moving on with other relationships. She still isn't putting much effort into finding a job or getting school figured out. Going through the motions at best.
This lack of motivation is what is really fueling my thoughts of ending it once and for all, based on rationality this time and not anger. I'm a highly motivated person. Never been married. Very into my career and being successful and being self-sufficient, productive, etc. I want to balance career and family and want a partner who will do the same. She tells me the other day that she doesn't know if she can do all that she needs to do, that I want her to, because she's "not a very motivated person". This would have been nice to know earlier. I've told her that there is no way I would have gotten involved if I thought we be where we are at in 2 years. Nevertheless, here we are. I've also told her that there's no way she's going to go from being taken care of by her husband straight into being taken care of by me.
I can see myself with her in the future. I haven't really found that before and it's really hard to walk away from. I also dread being single again and having to spend all of my free time weeding through a lot of Ms. Wrongs to find someone I could envision a future with. The thought of having to hit the bars again and play the single game is not appealing. I'll suck it up if I have to, but I won't like it.
I also know that I won't be able to find someone like her easily. She's beautiful, fit, very loving, caring, and affectionate, great in the sack, is a great mom to her kids, etc. She has a lot to offer in many ways. So here I am conflicted. I'm sick of being in a holding pattern, want to move forward somehow, with or without her I guess. When is enough enough? Should I stay or should I go?