In Love with a Married Woman

Dear Dr. Frankie: I’m in love with a married woman.

We are both in our 50’s and during our 1 year together, she told me her marriage was awful, her husband mistreated her and soon after we started our affair, she told me her marriage was over and she was filing for divorce. The day after she filed for divorce she fell and broke her back. Shortly after her fall she severed all ties with me.

I have never been hurt like this before. In my anguish, I e-mailed her husband and I apologized to him and said I meant him no harm. But I also told him what a monster he was. I felt dead inside and wondered why this wonderful woman went back to him.

I have no answers and she never told me anything. I feel so lost now without her and sad in my heart.

Friends also tell me to give her space to figure things out, but I don’t want to die leaving this world with her hating me. Please Dr. Frankie, if you have any advice I would truly love to hear from you.

Dear Heartbroken: I’m sorry that you are experiencing so much suffering.

It sounds as if one source of your pain is your confusion why a woman who shares such a deep emotional connection with you, would choose to stay in her unhappy marriage.

As difficult as it is to believe, your girlfriend’s vanishing act is probably not an indicator that she no longer loves you.

Breaking one’s back is a debilitating, crippling, life changing experience.

An accident such as that will cause anyone to run to immediate safety, comfort and familiarity. Despite her love and feelings for you, many might say it would not be wise for her to move forward with the divorce given her immediate need to focus on her health. Your girlfriend needed to put her health first. It sounds like she needs all the support from her family that she can get, secondary to breaking her back.

A divorce is one of the most devastating and traumatic life experiences anyone can go through.

That, coupled with a broken back, is an overwhelmingly scary scenario. Your girlfriend probably made the decision to focus on her physical recovery and the comfort of family life, given her physical, emotional and probably financial dependence on her husband.

If it helps, remind yourself that your girlfriend cared for you deeply and it sounds like you shared an emotional connection that was lacking in her marriage. Unfortunately for both of you, uncontrollable circumstances developed; divorce and pursuing a deeper relationship with you was probably too overwhelming.

Your girlfriend’s decision to stay in her marriage for comfort is a common one. Many people aren’t happy in their marriages but they continue to remain in them because of fear and the terrifying unknown—even without the additional burden of a serious health condition.

You never know what the future may hold, but for now you will need to find a way to move on with your life. Though it is a cliché, it is most often true: time will eventually dull your pain.

Your decision to write a letter to your girlfriend’s husband wasn’t necessarily a terrible one. However, it may have had the opposite effect of what you were hoping for, and served only to push your girlfriend farther away from you.

Have compassion for yourself and remember that people do erratic and uncharacteristic things when emotions are involved.

My last bit of advice is something I talk about often: When you’re in the middle of heartbreak, reach out to a professional. As a psychologist, I’ve seen first hand the healing effects of how a trained therapist can help people navigate very painful and difficult life moments. Get help. Reach out. Do not make excuses like you don’t have the time or the money. There are ALWAYS solutions and there is a therapist *right now* in your neighborhood who is willing to help you.

Thank you for reaching out and I do hope you feel better and are able to get some clarify.

Take care,

Dr. Frankie

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