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Looking for Permission to Divorce
November 17, 2003 Ask Dr. Love Advice Column
I am 30 yrs old, have finally established myself professionally, have a nice house and two kids (one on the way). My wife and I married young (me 19, her 20), and had children 2 or 3 years later.
Now that my life is well established and we are living comfortably (physician assistant occupation), I regret marrying so soon, and feel I have missed out on the best years and only have a few left to experience what life really has to offer. I realize that this notion is selfish but life is too short to stay in a relationship purely for our children, and wonder if continuing in a baseless marriage will do them more harm than separating on better terms still maintaining parental roles and responsibility, but maintaining separate lives otherwise.
To be completely honest, I have recently been engaged in an affair with a nurse I used to work with, and meet her on medical conference weekends in different cities. I have had soul mate/extreme feelings for this nurse, and she seems to reciprocate, but is concerned what divorce will bring emotionally to my family (children). I am honestly ready to start a relationship with her, we are extremely compatible, and have subdued our feelings for each other for more than a year. I realize that these feelings are childish and probably not psychologically healthy, but they are strong nonetheless.
I missed the feelings I share with her (nurse) now: love, intimacy, etc. , but realize that a lot of that is dating fluff/lust. I want to experience single life as well, and know any post-divorce relationship will need time to grow to avoid making the same mistake. I have not had true feelings for my wife for the past 5-7 years, and have stayed mainly because of the children, the affair is a side issue, or so I assume.
I have been faithful for 11 years, honest. Anyone who knows me would be absolutely surprised at my behavior, even my nurse friend was when things began. But I think I have always had the desire to cheat and plenty of opportunities, just never went through with it until now. I see myself, and female friends comment that I am very desirable, and I feel I have so much more to gain emotionally and physically than I have in my current loveless marriage. My wife is not a bad person, gives me anything I want, there is just no intimacy whatsoever, and it is not fair to her to continue if I can have such strong feelings for another woman. I don't know what I want, or what to do.
I guess I am looking for someone to say that divorce is okay in this case, I don't know, my parents are/were happily married. I do not know all that divorce will bring, although I have read up on different experiences. I have no desire to seek marriage counseling, I have given it thought, but don't see any successful outcome (avoiding divorce) that I would be happy with. I need some advice, any advice you could give. Thanks in advance.
You say that you want advice, but I don't think you are seeking advice. Your marriage is dead and staying in this life makes you a walking corpse.
It is clear that you want a divorce. Your problem isn't that you are undecided; your problem is that your guilt prevents you from pursuing your happiness. My advice to you is to work on resolving the overly harsh conscience that stops you from living life as you should.
Find out why guilt rules you. Were your parents selfless to a fault? Did they allow themselves to be run by guilt and did you pattern yourself after them? Were your parents very hard on you and have you learned to treat yourself the way they did or do? Do you tend to swallow your anger? I ask this because buried anger often resurfaces in the form of guilt and self-punishing thoughts and actions that are driven by the unconscious belief that you deserve to be punished for how bad you are.
When you figure out why your conscience is so harsh, you will be on the path to healing the problem. I can tell you that divorce is acceptable, but what I say is of no consequence. It may temporarily silence the harsh voice in your head, but it won't eliminate the voice that haunts you. You need to tame that voice for yourself. Then and only then will you be able to live your life and experience the joy that is your God given right.
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