Question: Dear Luise: Wow…I went over that long list and couldn’t find my problem. My husband and I have been married for over 14 years…he is 65 and I am 49. The 16 years’ difference have not made any difference in our relationship, except we have moved into health problems for him…bad ones. He is in a nursing home because of Parkinson’s. He requires nearly “full assist”, and I cannot care for him at home. He has been there for nearly 3 years. He is an awesome man, and while I grieve for the loss of his physical abilities, he now also is developing symptoms of dementia. Not too strong yet, but enough so that we are already getting a taste of the future. While we love each other deeply, the illness is making huge changes in our marriage…physically, obviously, and now emotionally too. His thought processes are slowing…it takes longer for him to respond, whether it is in conversation or to a simple joke…paranoia and extreme agitations are developing. Here is my problem: A few months ago, through mutual friends, I met an amazing man who is 17 years younger than I am. We are very drawn to each other and many of the people around me are encouraging us. He wants a physical relationship with me. Where do I go from here? T.
Answer: Dear T. There are a million ways to justify infidelity. It isn’t unusual to rationalize the attraction as something unique and to seek validation and agreement from others…in fact it often helps a lot.
Marriages break down for just as many reasons…and there’s no question that yours has certainly been strained and tested to the limit. What you do about that is up to you. We all have a point of no return…even if we don’t know what it is. Is that where you are?
Or have you reached a place where you can’t move forward with this new person on any level because the breaking of your marriage vows would break your concept of your bond with your husband, (as well as your concept of yourself), and you find that unthinkable? Has this new friendship taken you into more chaos than you were in before you met him?
I would suggest that you step back. It has only been a few months. It looks to me like you have all you can cope with to see your husband through what he is up against. Can you find your peace there and your joy? Can you finish what you have started with integrity and fidelity and pass on anything else, no matter how attractive?
You can’t have it both ways. If you are fooling yourself into thinking you can, you have no idea, as yet, what real chaos is. To be able to do that you would have to be a different kind of person, and that kind of person never would have posed the question to me in the first place. I think you know that the only option available to you is to pass on this new guy’s offer. Isn’t that your own truth…no matter what other people tell you? Blessings, Luise