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On Stand-by

 by: Wayne and Tamara

Direct Answers - Column for the week of April 28, 2003

My wife of 35 years has fallen in love again with her old college boyfriend. I am 61, and she is 58. We have three grown children. Her boyfriend is 59, married, with two grown children.

They had not communicated since college. A year ago they met at a class reunion. Since then, they have constantly talked on the phone. I know about their communication because my wife told me. However, last December my wife became secretive.

One night I heard her saying "I love you" to him. When I confronted my wife, she admitted she loved him but she still loves me, too. She said she's not going to leave me and break up the family. She begged me not to leave or stop loving her.

As a compromise we agreed he can call her once in awhile if he has important news about their classmates. She would not call him, as I reiterated to her that would be a violation of trust. However, a month later I overheard them talking. Again she begged me not to give up on her.

I talked to my wife's boyfriend, and he assured me he's not trying to break up our family. He can wait until she is free, meaning if I die. If that happens, then they can pursue their dreams together. If not, then it's not meant to be.

I love my wife and trust her with anything but her long distance love affair. He lives halfway across the country. They haven't had physical involvement yet, but despite its absence, I am deeply hurt. Shall I leave her, give up on her, or wait and see?


Harry, your wife has shattered your world and your relationship with her. Even if she stays, you will wonder about her reasons.

She didn't wake up the day of the reunion a different person. She was already at a point where there was room for this to occur. When your wife talks to her boyfriend, you are not there. She and her unrestrained feelings are there.

Relationships can become a habit, like putting your hat in the same place each time you come home. That does not reflect some deep emotion. It's just a habit. Habits can mask many feelings, the lack of feeling, or the longing for something else. That is why you may not feel you saw this coming, because she was maintaining most of her habits as your wife.

Love is like a race. We all want to finish first. You cannot be forced into second place and feel good about yourself. The longer you are passive, the worse you will feel because you will be letting two other people decide what your life will be.

You must decide how much contact, if any, you can accept. You must decide if certain boundaries are crossed, what you will do. You must decide for yourself what is acceptable for you, or if a boundary has already been crossed from which there is no return.


Simple Answers

I have been seeing this fellow for the past year. He says he has a love for me and feels comfortable with me.

He mentioned when he is around me he thinks of someone dear to his heart. I asked, "Who?" He said, "My mother." I asked, "Is that why you can't have sex with me, because you see your mother?" He said, "Yes." Where does that leave me?


Zora, more than a century ago William James talked about the psychologist's fallacy. What he meant was that people are inclined to view everything as some sort of psychological problem to be solved.

Things are often a lot simpler than that. He loves you like he loves his mother. You want someone who loves and desires you as a wife. Where does that leave you? In need of a cold shower.


About The Author

Authors and columnists Wayne and Tamara Mitchell can be reached at www.WayneAndTamara.com.

Send letters to: Direct Answers, PO Box 964, Springfield, MO 65801 or email: DirectAnswers@WayneAndTamara.com.


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