From an Unhappy Marriage to a Volatile New Relationship: From Frying Pan to Fire

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Reader’s Question

I met a girl two years ago at work. I am 36, she is 31. I was unhappily married at the time and had already planned on leaving my wife before I even attempted to date this woman. I also signed a lease at an apartment, but it wasn’t going to be ready for almost 3 weeks. Still, I began dating this woman while continuing to live with my wife. About 2 weeks before the apartment was ready, I told my wife that I was leaving and had signed a lease on a new place. She asked me to leave immediately, and I had no place to go, so I took up this girl on her invitation to stay with her until the apartment was ready. Even after the apartment was ready, I found myself staying with her most of the time, so I eventually moved in with her and her kids.

This woman has three kids from three different men. All of them are deadbeat dads. The first year, things were great — until the summer time. Then, she started having some mental problems and saw a therapist. She was also going out with guys, drinking a lot, and sending inappropriate text messages. She would leave the kids with me while doing these things. She was given medication for anxiety and depression. After getting on the meds, she was good again for awhile. During this time, I did some things I’m not proud of either. I would try to follow her, bought a key logger for the computer, and I would check her cell phone.

After awhile, she said she felt really bad about putting me through so much and said she wanted to give me a wedding. I was happy about that. She planned the whole thing out and paid for it all. But soon after the wedding, she started to hang around her sons’ baseball coach. They would text each other late at night and even go out with the kids to the movies (while I was at work). I felt like she was getting back into her old patter, but she got upset, asked me to leave, and blamed me for not trusting her.

While we were together, I begged her to go out on dates with me — just the two of us, no kids, no friends. She wouldn’t do it. We had a trip planned for Vegas, and she backed out of it the week before we left. I had to go alone. She is against marriage counseling too.

My big question is: why do I still love this woman so much? Why do I miss her and her kids? I have tried dating, and I can’t seem to find happiness.

Psychologist’s Reply

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There were some red flags that you had some issues of your own to address in therapy early on, but you didn’t pay attention to them. For starters, you hooked up with a woman who had at least three “deadbeat” guys in her past, had kids by them, and didn’t hesitate to leave them with you while she went out on you. These things should have really caught your attention then — and not so much with respect to what kind of woman you were hooking up with but what kind of issues were going on with you that would prompt you to enter and stay involved in such an unhealthy relationship.

Rather than stew about your current state of affairs, and especially before you get involved in any other relationship, it would be a good idea for you to get some counseling. Perhaps you’ll gain greater awareness about why your marriage was so unfulfilled, why you entered such a risky and unhealthy relationship after leaving your wife, and what you’ll need to do to guard against repeating past mistakes.

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