Adultery/affair and pregnancy
QUESTION: Hello, I have been married for 20 years and have 2 lovely girls. About a year after our 2nd, the stuttering, restarting sex life stopped. My wife said it was because she didn't feel turned on; what I heard was 'by me'. A year or so after that, I began an affair with a married colleague who had become a good friend. She has a conservation, non-European family, who insisted on and, all but, arranged the marriage. She has always said she doesn't love him, but does respect him and believes he is a good husband. She does say she loves me; as I feel I do her. Anyway, she is now pregnant. I am aware of the statistics, the lies, the excuses people make and I know so far this matches all the stories. However, despite what all will be expecting me to say: the baby is NOT mine, but her husband's. There was a short period where it "could" have been mine but it's not. My feelings were a small amount of relief but a large amount of sadness as I would love, in a different reality, to have a child with her. I do love my mistress and miss her when she's not around. When my wife is away, visiting friends, family etc, I miss chatting, but I don't ache for her. I adore my children and spend time with them as a father - although due to work commitments, less than my wife. I realise I have already done something that could hurt them, but I'm so torn.... I love my girlfriend deeply and everything she has done has been wonderful, she is caring, thoughtful, sensitive and kind. However, I can't quite get my head round the fact that she is pregnant and the affair is carrying on. I accept that I've crossed a line, put the love of my children at risk and am not a good person for what I am doing, but my girlfriend is not a bad person. For days, I expected it to end and was heartbroken about the thought; I would have happily accepted our relationship moving back towards the affectionate, friendship it was - even though this would still be deceiving my wife who doesn't know how close we were - but would struggle, and even feel a little used, if it all just completely ended. My question is how can a woman continue an affair, knowing she is pregnant with her husband? Does the overwhelming love for children come later?? After she has had the baby will the risk she is putting him/her under suddenly hit her?? I don't want to delay the pain of the break only for it to be more traumatic and complete in nine months... Should I use the next 8 months to move our relationship naturally back to a friendship (after all this is what has happened to my wife and I over the last 5 years; from passion to friendship and co-parenting) and, at the same time, try to change the relationship with my wife back to something else or can an affair last a life-time?
Q: My question is how can a woman continue an affair, knowing she is pregnant with her husband?
A: I think you are asking the wrong question as there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this. Perhaps you should be asking how can THIS woman continue an affair knowing she is pregnant with her husband's child. She is the only one who can answer that. Your unmet needs brought you to this. Her unmet needs brought her to this. She's the only one who knows what those are.
Q: Does the overwhelming love for children come later??
This is another individual question. It sounds like the two of you have different values where this is concerned.
Q: After she has had the baby will the risk she is putting him/her under suddenly hit her??
A: There is no way to know this. People are different.
Q: Should I use the next 8 months to move our relationship naturally back to a friendship
A: It sounds like this is what you want, so I'd say yes. It sounds like it is what would most reflect your values and desires.
Q: at the same time, try to change the relationship with my wife back to something else or can an affair last a life-time?
A: Yes. I think the best thing that can come from affairs is LEARNING. This affair was not inevitable. It was a choice. Ask yourself what made you choose it. It wasn't your sex life. You could have chosen to handle that with a bit more understanding and care. You didn't. Why? It has to do with YOU, not her. Not your sex life. When you are willing to look at that, you will find the way back to your wife. It sounds like you have a solid foundation upon which to build happiness.
Here's something that may also help. It takes a LOT of energy and nutrition to make a baby. When the mother doesn't have an abundance of it for whatever reason (perhaps her pregnancies were too close together?), the baby takes from her reserves leaving her depleted. Low libido is a natural consequence of that. Lack of sleep due to getting up at night to care for a baby also reduces libido. This probably has had NOTHING to do with you. If you fix her nutrition (low zinc, most likely) your wife's libido will likely be just fine. Now, that won't necessarily fix her attraction or desire to be with you given that you haven't been the most attentive husband, but it will fix the physical issues.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thanks, Laura. I rated your advice fairly quickly and, on reflection, was quiet hard. Your answers make a lot of sense to me - in particular, that I need to ask myself why THIS woman, not just generalise. I worry that wanting to move this to a friendship is just a way of saying that I'm not willing to let go; I do love her and she did - until this happened - me. I know you can't turn feelings off like a switch and that she's possibly as conflicted as I am ...but with a baby on the way... but, if we go our separate ways, I am scared of the thought of love turning to hate - I've always had issues with feeling unliked and can't handle the thought of not being missed. Ironic, when you consider how pained I feel, that I would rather she felt this, than simply moving on with her life. Where I rated you lower than you deserved was with regards to my wife as I felt your answer about exhaustion/nutrition missed the situation slightly: I we don't have a new baby, our love life fizzled when our daughter was a couple of years old and it's now been over three years since we've had any intimacy. It's now not from my wife not wanting intimacy; it's from me. She began talking about it a year ago but I lost those feelings. I admire her and love her - but in the way I love my sister and can't imagine having an intimate relationship - I would almost feel like I was cheating on my mistress; the relationship began long after my wife and I had stopped being close, although my wife and I still share a bed (along with at least 1 kid every other night)
Will I always feel empty inside if I stay with my wife? I would accept emptiness rather than the wrench of not being with my children, but it seems like a long dimly-lit tunnel. I've had days when I've done things to occupy the time just to get another day out the way and dread this being my life, counting down to the end and willing the clock to tick faster.
Why do I feel like this? Feat of rejection? Feat of change? Wanting to find love? Is it all about the sex? I am fooling myself? I know everyone is different but this isn't - reading the internet - anything like a unique situation: what are the usual answers?
Just so you know, Laura, reaching out was the best thing I have done in a long time. I have no friends not linked to my wife or work and I live far from family in another country. I want to speak to someone but I can't tell anyone these things... just hearing an answer was massively reassuring... I'm not sure if it's possible, but I'd like to change my rating from the first answers...
I am glad that you did some self-reflection and decided to ask for clarification.
Q: Will I always feel empty inside if I stay with my wife?
A: This is really up to you. The saying that life is what you make it is not just some meaningless drivel. It's TRUE. If you decide to be happy with your wife and family and see the joy that is already there, you will be happy. What you focus on increases. Happiness doesn't come from stuff, circumstances, or other people. It comes from us. In Viktor Frankl's famous book "Finding Meaning" he talks about how events have the meaning we give it. So give this situation a meaning that serves you. Perhaps you could see the pregnancy as a wake up call that shows you just what a wonderful life you already have. (Or watch the movie "It's a Wonderful Life". There are so many ways to get this wake up call and turn over a new leaf.
Q: I would accept emptiness rather than the wrench of not being with my children, but it seems like a long dimly-lit tunnel. I've had days when I've done things to occupy the time just to get another day out the way and dread this being my life, counting down to the end and willing the clock to tick faster.
A: Then change your attitude. Change your behavior. Don't do meaningless things to wile away the time. Do things that excite you. Don't feel the drudgery of being where you don't want to be. Decide to feel alive and excited that you are making choices to see your kids grow up with you.
Q: Why do I feel like this? Feat of rejection? Feat of change? Wanting to find love? Is it all about the sex? I am fooling myself? I know everyone is different but this isn't - reading the internet - anything like a unique situation: what are the usual answers?
A: The fact that your feelings are common doesn't mean that they are adaptable. People CHOOSE the feel the way they do. Maybe it's easier to go with the flow and follow the crowd. Misery IS contagious. It's rare to find the person who can be happy regardless of his circumstances, but who do you think is the happier? I'd rather put the energy into being happy than go with the miserable crowd.
Please look at whatever you can find on positive psychology. You will see that happiness really is a choice.
Please also check out http://marriagebuilders.com
. There is a lot of good information there on how to rebuild a marriage. If you are committed to being in it, you might as well be HAPPY in it. You may find that you get love by giving love. If you show your wife love and attention, you may find (eventually because it sounds like the two of you haven't given each other attention in a while) that she DOES feel aroused by you and you by her. Attraction in long term relationships isn't something that we just have. It's something we create.
I am sure what I say sounds like wishful thinking. This is what I do every day. I can tell you that most people give up on happiness because they don't know how to have it and give up before they've mastered the skills to acquire it. That's too bad because it really is possible for anyone in any situation. Just ask Viktor Frankl who survived in a concentration camp (well, you could if he were still alive) with hope and happiness.
Best of luck to you,
P.S. You mentioned that you have had feelings of not wanting to feel unliked. I think if you came to love yourself, you wouldn't need to rely on others' approval and would have a lot more freedom in your life. Freedom to love unconditionally, mainly. In any situation, we are always the problem. The good thing is, we are also the solution. Change in yourself what needs to be changed and you will find that other people and situations don't have the power you thought they did.