[Two Pronged] Should I continue seeing my boy toy?
Rappler's Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr Margarita Holmes.
Jeremy has a master's degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives.
Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.
Dear Dr Holmes and Mr Baer,
I'm married with two kids in their teenage years. I have an OFW husband who has been working away from us for 11 years now. Just a few months ago, I learned that he has been having an affair for almost 5 years now. A month after that, I met a single guy who is 10 years younger than me. I went out with him and we became easily attracted to each other physically. We began to meet up just for sex. Never has he told me that he loves me. I'm starting to miss him if I don't see him, and I think I'm falling for this guy. But I'm confused if I should continue my illicit affair with him.
Perhaps you can tell us more – such as why you think you should continue the affair and why you think you shouldn't.
Dear Dr Holmes and Mr Baer,
Well, I think I still want to continue with the affair because I really like this guy. When I'm with him, I feel so happy. He makes me feel special and needed – something I don't feel with my husband. He is always available when I need him, unlike my husband – we are miles apart and every time he's on vacation with me I feel taken for granted.
On the other hand, I think I should end the affair with that guy because it's not just wrong – I might also get caught. My husband might leave me and I'm not ready yet financially. The guy I'm in an affair with also advised me to fix my marriage so that means he isn't serious enough to pursue me.
Thank you for your emails.
You seem to have admirably summarized the pros and cons of your situation: on the one hand, a distant and unfaithful husband (let's call him Jim) who could still make your life difficult if he finds out about your own infidelity and on the other a young, available sex partner (let's call him Bill) who makes you feel good and needed, for whom you are developing feelings but who does not reciprocate these feelings or have any interest in a long-term relationship with you.
Maybe we need to look at your situation from a number of different angles.
Let's start with the moral aspect. You describe your relationship with Bill as "illicit" and "wrong" but do not expand on this and so your true stance is unclear. Do you actually have religious scruples? Or are you merely worried about the social impact if people get to know? Or are you just worried about the consequences if Jim finds out? It certainly seems that if there were no potentially adverse effects on your bank balance, you would be happily carrying on with your boy toy rather than writing us emails. However, if morality is really a major consideration for you, then Bill probably has to go, since dalliances with boy toys are not considered an acceptable response to a philandering and uncaring absent husband under most moral codes.
Then there is the financial aspect. You say "I'm not ready yet financially." Obviously you are already contemplating the possibility of a future without Jim once you have the necessary resources so maybe to your mind it is just a matter of time before Jim is but a historical footnote in your life. If this is your major consideration, then you merely have to strike a judicious balance between enjoying Bill and avoiding discovery. Once you are independent, then you can indulge yourself with Bill without fear of financial reprisals.
What about saving your marriage? You do not say anything about opening up a dialogue with Jim or any effort at reconciliation, possibly because his attitude towards you – infidelity and indifference – has convinced you that he has no interest in such a move. Only you can know whether a final effort is worth the time and energy – or indeed necessary to ward off any residual feelings of guilt after Jim has passed his sell-by date.
Finally, there is the nature of your relationship with Bill. He has made it abundantly clear that while he likes you – not to mention the free sex without commitment – he does not want anything deep or long-term. You however are developing feelings for him that you know he is not going to reciprocate. Regardless of how you deal with Jim, you must decide whether continuing with Bill really is in your best interests. Sexual workouts are fine – much more fun than running or going to the gym, for example – but in your case almost certainly only if they are not going to impinge negatively on the rest of your life.
All the best,
Thank you very much for your letter. In my opinion, Mr Baer has listed and discussed the 4 major points that need to be considered before making a decision about your husband Jim, your boy toy Bill, and yourself.
What I would like to do is focus on your relationship with Jim, both then when love seemed at its height and now, alas, when love seems nonexistent.
My guess is that there was a time when you and Jim loved each other and sincerely felt you were in this relationship for the long haul. You loved each other enough that you both were willing to experience the bitter loneliness and uncertainty OFWs and their spouses suffer. You both embraced this lifestyle for your kids and for each other.
In my clinical experience, one common trajectory of marriages between OFWs and their spouses goes like this: solicitous of each other's needs, hungry for each other's company and bodies for the first 3 years or so, then a time when life goes on for each spouse so the other is not necessarily the no. 1 priority and both presume the other understands, and finally, a flirtation (or more) because not being no. 1 in someone's life loses its charm very quickly. This is usually when affairs happen.
In my opinion, this was the trajectory of your marriage. It is practically inevitable, unless both parties do not want their marriage to fall by the wayside and are willing to do something about it – frequent visits if possible, conversations that go beyond the superficial, and searing honesty.
You took up with Bill only when you realized that Jim had had another woman for the last 5 years.You may have been lonely and/or horny before then, yet still you did nothing abut it until you learned that Jim was not behaving the way you were: as a person committed to their spouse no matter what.
Because your dalliance with Bill happened partly as a reaction to Jim's behavior, I cannot help feeling that Jim still matters to you. Whether he does or doesn't, don't you want to see where you both really stand with one another?
Talk with him a couple of times, try to be as honest as you can be, and see if this leads to anything still worth saving between you. If you think it still does, hooray for the two of you and please feel free to write us again if you think we can help.
If, however, despite your efforts, Jim is happy to keep your marriage where it is, then do what will give you joy as long as it hurts neither you or your kids.
Good luck and all the very best.
Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with subject heading TWO PRONGED. Unfortunately the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.