I left my husband four years ago when I met the new love of my life who I am now married to, but everyday I realize what a horrible mistake I made and I would do anything, around the clock turn back.
I’m not exactly unhappily married, but I know this is not what marriage should be and I burn with regret at leaving my ex-husband who I now know is the true love of my life was. He’s dating someone else now and my now husband would be devastated if he knew how I feel so I’m carrying this alone.
Last week my daughter asked if I thought I did the right thing in leaving Dad and I didn’t know how to answer but even she can see my pain.
Dear Jane, what should I do?
From, unfortunate in New York
Dear Jane, I left my husband four years ago when I met the new love of my life who I am now married to, but every day I realize what a terrible mistake I made
dear unfortunate ones,
First, let me say that I’m really sorry you’re in pain. As a die-hard romantic who grew up watching Hollywood movies and reading endless romance novels, your letter responds with the following response: ‘I know this is not what a marriage should be.’
I’ve been reflecting on our expectations when it comes to romance and how terribly unprepared we are for the institution of marriage.
We walk in with bright eyes and bushy tails, trapped – many of us – in a fairy tale wedding where we feel most beautiful. We assume that now we will finally get our happiness forever.
Hasn’t that been said to every woman since she was a little girl?
The way I think about marriage today is a world away from what I thought about marriage when I first set foot on the altar 24 years ago. I grew up believing in destiny and soulmates (or as they now call them, twin flames). I figured the rest was easy once you found your persona.
I never realized marriage was a roller coaster, nor how cyclical it is. That we would meet tremendous obstacles where one of us (and when I say one of us, I mean me) would lie in bed every night grinding our teeth, dreaming of a divorce, wondering what it would be like to live alone. No one would ever ask about the meal plan, make a loud phone call when trying to read, or leave a sink constantly filled with dirty dishes.
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The thing is, unfortunately, marriage loses its romance very quickly, especially when children are involved. You can get it back sometimes, but it takes dedication and work.
Marriage is a merry-go-round. There are times when you get along like a house on fire and love is everywhere. I imagine that there are probably good moments in this second marriage as well. Maybe even great.
And there are moments that are awful, which is true of most marriages.
And I understand! I never understood why people had affairs until I went through a particularly bad patch in my own marriage.
Around that time I went to a conference and met a handsome younger writer who seemed to have a bit of a crush on me.
Oh it was lovely! He sent those smart, funny emails that made me feel beautiful and alive and it’s been a very long time since I’d felt any of those things. I never thought of myself as someone who was having an affair, but with every email and text, every surge of dopamine and feel-good hormones I hadn’t felt in years, I wanted even more.
Until I realized that I was very close to a chasm that would not do my marriage any good.
This is how, I realized, affairs begin.
Not because you want to be unfaithful, but because you want to feel it alive again.
Should you jump into the affair from the abyss, justify it by convincing yourself that this is your soulmate, your twin flame.
But unfortunately, as you’ve discovered, should this hot affair fantasy develop into something long-term, it very quickly becomes…well…dinner plans and dirty dishes again.
In short, the fantasy becomes reality, which in your case makes you think that it would be better elsewhere.
But if you leave this marriage for another fantasy, thinking that this time it will be true love, I suspect you will find yourself in exactly the same situation.
My advice to you is to stop fantasizing. Instead, focus on what is working in your marriage.
Remind yourself of the things that drew you to your now-husband in the first place and (this is advice you’ll hear from me a lot) start a gratitude list.
Instead of thinking about what makes you unhappy, think about three things you appreciate about your man every morning. It can be as simple as “he hangs up his towel every day”.
Say it. “I’m thankful that my husband hangs his towel up every day.” Focus on the good and it will bring more and more good.
You can’t change the past, but you can prevent yourself from making the exact same mistake again, and I promise it will bring more happiness into your life.
A friend in her 40s has ghosted me many times, but this time it’s been a year since I last heard from her on February 23, 2022.
She replies to the Facebook posts of my kids and mutual friends – and sometimes mine too, but otherwise I haven’t been in touch for almost 12 months.
I visited her in California and we were making aspic (of all things! We had read about it!) when she left her husband; I sent her professional dresses when she got a concierge job and started her life in Galveston; I stayed with her for a week after her heart transplant; We’ve celebrated Christmas and birthdays together – up until this year – ending with the meals I took her to last year when she broke her wrist.
We’re both former high school English teachers, avid beach readers, and moms. I saw a Facebook post that leads me to believe she moved away without even saying goodbye. I am deeply hurt and sad.
From, Ghosted in Ohio
I was ghosted myself by a woman who – like you – I considered one of my closest friends, and it was one of the most brutal, heartbreaking things I’ve been through.
My heart goes out to you because until it happens to you you cannot understand the unique pain of being left without explanation.
I’ve realized that sometimes in our friendships, the small things we think we can overlook turn into very big things.
Most people are afraid of confrontation and walking away can feel easier, even though it is the most cowardly and cruel way to end a friendship.
I also ghosted someone myself. It was a woman I’ve known all my life who was indiscreet, demanding, and gossiped viciously about mutual friends whenever I saw her, which – of course – led to her gossiping viciously about me.
Dear Jane’s Sunday service
The grass is greener where you water it
It’s so much easier to focus on what’s wrong in our lives than what’s right.
We expend our energy on all the wrong things, rather than putting time, attention, and care into something that might not feel like it’s going to work, but with the right amount of care and attention, can blossom into beauty.
After understanding the brutality of not allowing a Ghostee the courtesy of explanation, I wrote to her and explained that I had loved her for many years, but was repelled by her duplicity and demands. I’m sure it was hard for her to read, but telling her why I left her was the right thing to do.
When we don’t know why we were abandoned, all the things we secretly believe to be true about ourselves—the secret shame we carry, the belief that we’re not good enough—are validated. Why else would anyone leave us?
You have to know that this is not your fault. No matter what you did or didn’t do to ghost your girlfriend, the fact that she didn’t have the guts to tell you means it’s not about you, it’s all about her.
Like all relationships, friendships require commitment and work. Small resentments can quickly become insurmountable, and if you did or said anything to upset your girlfriend, it was her job to tell you and give you the opportunity to acknowledge it, apologize, and move on.
By the way: Friendships in which honesty and communication are very important often get stronger when you stumble over a bump and can talk about it openly.
You have done many thoughtful things for your friend and I am sorry that it was rewarded with thoughtlessness. I can’t say cruelty because I don’t think that was her intention; Most people don’t understand how cruel it is to be ghosts.
I suspect your friend is in no position to tell you why she left, but now is the time for you to let her go. I would start by muting her on Facebook. Don’t block – that’s petty and passive aggressive – but if you see their posts, annoy them, mute them. You have to prevent them from having space in your life.
It’s been two years since I’ve been ghosted by my best friend. While I still miss parts of our friendship, the pain has gone and I’ve learned a lot about friendships, not least that I deserve the kind of friends who aren’t afraid to tell me when I upset them.
We all deserve the kind of friends who are honest enough to give us the opportunity to right perceived wrongs. I wish you all the best and I wish you a group of friends who are emotionally secure enough not only to accept the many gifts you bring, but also to be able to bring them to you.