Q&A: Romantically involved with a married man

Q: Do you have any advice for a single woman who’s in love and romantically involved with a married man? I know the decision to go down this path was foolish, but there’s nothing I want more than to begin a new life with this man. He wants the same, but he’s dragging his feet and seems unable to leave his wife even though his marriage is a mess.

A: Your feelings are understandable in light of your eagerness to get started on a new life. You believe you’re in love with this man and we’d be the last person to discount your emotions. At the same time, we’d encourage you to take a step backward and try to gain some objectivity. It’s possible that your feelings are distorting your viewpoint.

Before you do anything else, stop and picture yourself looking into this situation from the outside. Put yourself in the place of your lover’s wife and children. How do you think you’d feel if you were walking in their shoes? We’d offer the strongest caution against pursuing your own happiness at the expense of their home and family. After that, try to see things from your lover’s perspective. What would you do if you were in his position? Why do you think he’s “dragging his feet”? Finally, take an honest, objective look at yourself. What’s motivating you to pursue this relationship so intently in spite of all the obstacles? What deep personal needs are you expecting to satisfy by making a new start with this man?

It looks as if this relationship is lacking something in the way of mutuality. In other words, it’s very likely that your lover’s feelings for you aren’t as strong as you suppose. By your own account, he’s proven reluctant to leave his marriage. He’s content to keep you on the sidelines instead of making a clean break. It’s plain that he doesn’t share your sense of urgency and desperation. What do you think that means?

Hard as it may be to bend your mind in this direction, you also need to give some serious consideration to the importance of commitments. We’re still a strong believer in the sacredness, inviolability, and permanence of the marital relationship. The weight a man attaches to the vows he’s made to his wife suggests something about his character. After all, would you really want to take a chance on a man who doesn’t honour his commitments? Wouldn’t you be plagued by fears that he might someday repeat the pattern by breaking his pledge to you? Past behaviour is usually the best predictor of future behaviour.

This last thought leads to another. How much do you value yourself? How healthy is your sense of personal worth? These questions are well worth asking. If in the end your lover chooses not to leave his wife, you’re going to have to decide who you really are and how you can go on living without him.

We’d encourage you to give some honest thought to this. Take some time to revisit your personal value system. Ask yourself a few probing questions about your larger framework and worldview. If you need help sorting it all out, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our Family Support Services at 03-7954 7920 or write to support@family.org.my.

© 2018 Focus on the Family.  All rights reserved.  Used by permission.

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