Q: Hi Meredith,
I am a married man in my early 30s. Been in Boston my whole life but moved to the West Coast two years ago with my wife in search of sun, beaches, and a job. I found the first two but the job is ever elusive. Found some temporary work here and there but nothing long term. During this time our relationship deteriorated and I started abusing substances. We argued constantly about our careers, finances, and how we didn't have a community of friends and family. On top of that, her family kept urging her to leave me and come back to the Bay State. Basically, we had very little support from family and friends since they were all back on the East Coast. I wanted to try some counseling, but obviously being a temporary employee you do not get any benefits so that was out of the question. We are very unhappy with each other.
Not too long ago, I started seeing this woman I met at a job. I knew it was extremely risky because I could get caught. But I found myself falling for her -- and this other woman does not know I have a wife. I'm just unsure of what to do. I know I can never get away with it, eventually someone will find out. I also run the risk of losing them both and ending up with nothing but my miserable self. Furthermore, I'm not sure how this other woman feels about me. What should I do? I've always been told I should do whatever makes me happy. I'm much happier with this other woman, but things are moving real slow. I think I'm just a "rebound" guy for her, since she just got out of a relationship. So my options are go back to an unhappy marriage and try to work it out, or pursue someone else who may or may not feel the same. Any advice?
A: "I've always been told that I should do whatever makes me happy."
Who told you that? They don't even say that to little kids on "Sesame Street." Please wipe that piece of advice from your brain. It doesn't make any sense and it's turned you into an entitled liar. Here you are, worried that you might be this new woman’s rebound guy, and you haven't even told her that you're married.
I hate oversimplifying with tough love (or as Bart Simpson calls it, "soft hate"), but with you I have no choice. You must tell this other woman that you're married and cut her out of your life. Then you must sit down with your wife and tell her you've been pretending that your marriage is already over. Maybe she feels the same way. Maybe she's been waiting for a cue from you to move back to Boston. Or maybe your news will shock her and she'll tell you that she wants more than anything to work it out. Maybe she'll tell you that she wants both of you to come home together so that you can be surrounded by the people who care about you.
The wife stuff is complicated, but it'll help if you start having honest discussions. You also need to look into subsidized therapy. It exists, especially for substance abuse. Google some local programs -- and maybe call your family for help. But before you do any of that, come clean with this other woman. Have some empathy. You are not the center of the universe.
Readers? Any hope for his marriage? Any hope for the LW and this other woman? Is his unemployment relevant? Ideas for couples therapy during unemployment? Discuss.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.