DEAR HARRIETTE: I never thought this would happen to me: I am a 35-year-old married woman who is having a full-blown affair. When we got married two years ago, we were compatible and had similar interests. I was not in love with him, but we had been dating for four years, and most of my friends were getting married. So when he proposed, it seemed like the right thing to do. Immediately after the wedding, we began to fight. He goes out drinking just about every night, and I hate it. I have suggested counseling, but he won't go. We haven't been intimate in six months.
Several weeks ago, I became friendly with a man at work. My co-worker paid a lot of attention to me and built up my battered self-esteem. It didn't take long for me to start seeing him on the side. This new guy is 40 and has never been married. He says he can make me happy and feel fulfilled, and I know he is right. He has asked me to leave my husband and marry him. I love him (my co-worker), but I hesitate to throw away the history I have with my husband. Also, I don't want to admit to my parents that my marriage is a failure. What should I do? -- Torn and Trapped, Jackson, Mississippi
DEAR TORN AND TRAPPED: Deal with first things first. Stop dating your co-worker for now. If you feel there is a possibility of a life with him, ask him to wait until you handle your affairs at home. Then ask your husband for a divorce. Hire an attorney and draw up the papers. Take the time to go through the legal process and to explain to your husband that you no longer have faith in the marriage. Stay focused on uncoupling from your husband. When that is settled, you will discover if the other man remains an option. But don’t get the two confused. You don’t know what’s next until you make space for it.