Married woman pines for ex

All Woman

Dear Counsellor,

I am 26 years old, married for almost nine years, with two children under five years of age. As a teenager 10 years ago I was in love with someone else, but we had a quarrel and broke up. I was not emotionally stable, and within a few months I got married to another man (family insistence on arranged marriage, and they did not know about my love life). I tried very hard to forget my ex. I even cut off ties with him, but it only worked temporarily. I missed him a lot even when I was not in contact with him.

I find it difficult to attach myself emotionally or physically to my husband because I still love my ex. I don't even know if I can get back with him after having two kids, but that is not exactly what I want. I just feel troubled all the time with the burden of caring genuinely for my husband, which he deserves, but I find it hard to love him.

I would want to separate from my husband just to be mentally free from this responsibility and the burden of cheating. But I have kids and I am not financially independent. What should I do? I am simply incapable of loving anyone but my ex.

So here you are, married to a man you never cared much about, but on the insistence of your family you went along with the programme. Now nine years and two young children later, you have not become emotionally close to your husband.

The major reason you are in this dilemma is that there was never closure on the prior relationship, and the rebound relationship no doubt compounded the issue.

It is important for you to try and let go of the past, which cannot return to what it was then. After all, in ten years your ex would have moved on and may even have a stable family life. Ask yourself the following questions: “If he is in a committed relationship, would I still want to be with him? Does he feel the same way about me as I do about him? What if I separate from my husband and it does not work out with my ex as I expected…what would I do?” You need to have a sound rationale for making such a momentous decision, which cannot be grounded on sheer emotions.

Even though you are still pining for your teenage crush and would want to pick up where you both left off, some past relationships are better off remaining as memories of “the way we were”.

You could also be right that your ex might not want to take you in along with your children, and their father might not agree to release them either.

It is interesting that you have expressed a desire to be separated from your husband so that you would not have to deal with the mental strain of infidelity. This indicates your capacity to think through the matter carefully before making a move. You also mentioned your financial challenges that would affect the decision to walk away from your marriage.

So, ask yourself this question: “Is it worth all the sacrifices and distress I would have to endure to be with my ex?” This is indeed a complex issue that you must be sure you are ready and willing to deal with.

The recommendation is that you sit with a counsellor to work through the unresolved closure issues of your past relationship and seek to channel your emotional energies to your husband and to the growth and development of your marriage and your family.

Wayne Powell is a relationship counsellor. Write to agapemft@gmail.com; check out his work overseas on www.seekingshalom.org, e-mail powellw@seekingshalom.org.

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