Dear John: Ending An Affair Much Harder Than Starting It
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
I am in the middle of a hell of a mess (of my own making) and the facts of the matter make it impossible for me to discuss it with anyone. They are simple: I am a married man, and for over a year I have been having an affair with a woman who, together with her husband, are our closest friends. It’s the same old story – it was exciting at first, but as I was starting to think about finding a way out of it, my wife started talking about having kids, which is something I’ve wanted but she had not been ready for. (Neither couple has any kids at this point.) That really seemed to put an end to it in my mind, but when I brought up the possibility of moving on for both of us, she went nuts on me. She is now saying she wants us to both to leave our spouses to be together, but that’s out of the question as far as I’m concerned. So now she’s threatening to expose the whole affair. I honestly thought she would be as fine ending it as I was. It seemed like it had just run its course. I am sick with anxiety over the whole thing and my wife knows something is wrong (but has no idea what) just because I’ve been so upset since this blew up on me. It was such a stupid, stupid thing to do and now I don’t know how to get out of it without two marriages crashing down around us. I’m desperate.
Of course you don’t know how to get out of it without two marriages crashing down around you. That’s simply because no avenue that offers that kind of guarantee is available to you right now. There’s only one thing for you to do, but the repercussions of it are unpredictable: you have to tell your wife what you’ve done, explain that it was all a colossal and selfish mistake, ask her for forgiveness, and then give her time and space to process this news. It will undoubtedly be ugly, but, as you say, you’ve made a hell of a mess. (I should add that you owe this woman’s husband – one of your “best friends” – a similar unburdening, but right now, your priority has to be your wife and your marriage.)
Anything short of complete honesty is not sufficient. As you know, there’s an excellent chance your marriage may not survive what you’ve inflicted on it, but what little chance it has depends on your being entirely honest from here on out.
And whatever you do, please respect your wife enough to realize that how she handles this news is entirely up to her. She may ask you to move out for a while; she may want to go to couples therapy (which seems pretty much essential if there’s anything left to save); she may feel so betrayed that she wants nothing more to do with you ever. You have to understand that any of these responses is reasonable. You had control over this process up to this point, now it’s her turn.
But the bottom line is, you’ve lied enough. It’s time for the truth and for you to accept the consequences of what you’ve done.
Here’s my situation. I have been casually dating a guy and he wants it to enter the “serious” stage. I think he’s great and I’m open to that except for one thing I don’t have a lot of experience with: he is a recovering alcoholic who hasn’t had a drink in two years and I really like to drink a little now and then. A couple of glasses of wine with dinner, that type of thing. I don’t have any problem with drinking and he is not the kind of guy who’s on a mission to convince me that I do. As he puts it, I drink like a person is supposed to and he literally can’t do that, simple as that. This has been fine so far, but I feel like it might be an obstacle to taking our relationship to the next level. Is it a bad idea, asking for trouble, maybe, to take this step with a recovering alcoholic if I am not interested in giving up drinking altogether myself? Is it a better idea for him to be with someone who doesn’t drink at all for whatever reason and me to be with someone who drinks socially like I do? Other than this (major) issue, I think we’re very compatible, but I really don’t want to take this lightly. From what he’s told me, when he drank, he was nothing like the guy I know now.
Glass Half Full
Dear Glass Half Full,
I think whether this can work depends entirely on the individuals involved. Some alcoholics resent non-alcoholics’ ability to drink in moderation; others see their partners doing so and use that as an excuse to tell themselves they can do that, too, if they really try. It doesn’t sound like your boyfriend fits either of these types, but you’d know that better than I would. What do you think?
I think the best thing you could do is to talk about your concerns with him. Does he have someone he respects (another recovering alcoholic, perhaps) who has guided him through his recovery? If so, it would be helpful to get his or her perspective on this as well.
To answer your question, though, there are no rules as to whether recovering alcoholics are better off with partners who are in recovery, too. As I said, it depends entirely on the individuals involved. I would be very interested in hearing from any readers who have personal experience with a situation like this.
At our company’s holiday party, I made out with this guy I liked for a while. There was nothing wrong with it – we’re about the same age, at the same level in the company, no SOs, etc. We were both a little drunk and it was fun. Then our company was on a little holiday break and I didn’t see him for a while, and now that we’re back at work, it’s been kind of awkward. He seems like he’s avoiding me if he can, not in a hostile way, but just because he’s really shy and doesn’t know what to do now. I sure don’t want it to stay like this, so I guess it’s going to be up to me to talk to him. I do like him and I’m not sorry for what we did and I’d like to go out on a proper date with him. I’m not quite sure how to break the ice, though…what to say. To tell you the truth, I’m pretty shy myself. I think that’s what attracted me to him in the first place. So…?
Dear Second Move,
I don’t think it’s a good idea for co-workers to date, so I think you should say something like, “You seem a little uncomfortable around me now after what happened at the holiday party, but we both had a little too much to drink and it was a silly mistake. Let’s just forget about it, okay?” But if you’re intent on seeing where this goes, then you could say, “You seem a little uncomfortable around me now after what happened at the holiday party, and I know you’re a little shy, so that’s understandable. But what would you think of going out to lunch tomorrow and getting to know each other a little better so we can see if either of us wants something like that to happen again?” The important thing about these kinds of situations isn’t necessarily saying the perfect thing, it’s just saying something – anything – to, as you say, break the ice. Once you’re talking, just say what’s on your mind. I will say to you, though, that most workplace relationships end regrettably. If you pursue this one, I hope yours is the exception to the rule.
John is a middle-aged family man from Providence, Rhode Island. If you learn from your mistakes, he’s brilliant. Write to him at [email protected].
Related Slideshow: 25 Olympians from Massachusetts
Richard “Butch” Johnson
Born in Worcester, Johnson is a five-time Olympic archer who competed in every Summer Olympic Games from 1992 to 2008. He received a gold medal as a member of the U.S. team at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and a bronze at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Johnson also won a gold medal at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Johnson failed to qualify for the 2012 Olympics in London, but has not ruled out competing in the next Summer Olympics in 2016. Johnson, who currently resides in Connecticut, has accumulated 46 national championships, two IPAA World Championships, and has several world records to his credit.
Women’s Ice Hockey
At just 19-years-old, Carpenter is the youngest of Massachusetts’ 10 athletes competing at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. The daughter of former NHL player Bobby Carpenter, she currently plays forward for Boston College. In fact, Carpenter was the Turfer Athletic Hockey East scoring champion last year and finished seventh overall in the nation with 1.89 points per game.
Despite her young age, Carpenter has won a pair of gold medals so far on the international stage – one at the 2013 Women’s World Championships in Canada, and another at the 2011 IIHF World Women’s U18 Championship in Sweden.
This three-sport athlete won a silver medal as a member of the U.S. Women’s Basketball team in the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. Rojcewicz, who was born in Worcester, averaged 7.2 points, 3.8 assists and 2 rebounds per game during the ’76 Olympics.
Rojcewicz also played on 1975 World Championship team, and took home a gold medal at the 1975 Pan American Games. Rojcewicz would go on to be an assistant coach at Penn State and Stanford, as well as a head coach at the University of San Francisco. She currently coaches Farmersville High School in California.
Women’s Field Hockey
Rizzo was a member of the women’s field hockey team that finished 8th overall at the 2008 Beijing Games. A start player for Walpole High School, she became the first player in Massachusetts history to score more than 100 goals in a career. Rizzo went on to be named an All-American at the University of Maryland, helping the Terrapins win the national title in 1999.
In January 2013, was promoted to associate coach at the University of Maryland where she had been an assistant coach for three seasons.
This Newton native served as skipper of the U.S. Men’s Sailing Teams at the 2008 Olympic Games in Bejing and the 2012 Games in London. In addition to his Olympic experience, McNay and his team finished in first place in the 2009 U.S. Team Racing Championships.
McNay attended Roxbury Latin and went on to sail at Yale University, where he was a finalist for College Sailor of the Year in 2005. He was named an All-American in 2003 and 2005. McNay currently serves as an assistant coach to the Yale Bulldog women’s sailing team.
Women’s Figure Skating
Born in Woburn, Kerrigan won a silver medal at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway and a bronze at the 1992 Winter Games in France. She is also a two-time world medalist, and the 1993 U.S. Figure Skating Champion.
Despite her titles, Kerrigan will forever be remembered for 1994’s unfortunate incident known as “The Whack Heard Round the World,” when Jeff Gilolly – an ex of rival Tonya Harding – clubbed her in the right knee.
She was inducted into the United States Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2004.
This former competition swimmer represented the United States at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland finishing fifth in the women’s 100-meter backstroke. In 1955, O’Connor won a gold medal as a member of the U.S. women’s 4x100-meter medley relay team.
O’Connor, a Worcester native, taught physical education for 37 years in the Worcester Public School system and is currently a coach at the Worcester Swim Club. She is a member of the Boys & Girls Club of Worcester Alumni Hall of Fame.
Daggett, a graduate of West Springfield High School, earned a team gold medal and an individual bronze medal on the pommel horse at the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
After retiring from competition, Daggett went on to work as a television commentator, covering gymnastics, for NBC. He has covered every Summer Olympics since the ’92 Games in Barcelona for the network. In addition to his broadcasting career, Daggett is the owner of a gymnastics facility in Agawam.
Men’s Ice Hockey
As an amateur, this Auburn native played defenseman for the U.S. Men’s Hockey Team in the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria. He had two assists that year for a U.S. squad that finished 5th overall.
Lamby would go on to play 22 games in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues from 1978 to 1980. He also represented the U.S. in the 1975 and 1978 Ice Hockey World Championship tournaments.
O’Connor, who grew up in Bolton, has represented Team U.S.A. in six Olympic Games between 1988 and 2012. At the 1996 Atlanta Games she received the team silver medal riding Biko, and at the 2000 Sydney Games she took team bronze riding Prince Panache.
She has been named U.S. Female Equestrian of the Year ten times and was ranked number one in the world in 1993. She is married to David O’Connor, a decorated equestrian himself, who among other accomplishments, won individual gold in Sydney riding Custom Made with the highest Olympic score ever.
Most recently, O’Connor competed at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London riding Mr. Medicott. At the age of 54, she was the oldest athlete at the London Games.
Alexandra “Aly” Raisman
During the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, this gymnast won gold as captain of the U.S. women’s gymnastic team and individually won gold for her floor routine. Raisman also won bronze on the balance beam.
This Needham native also received a gold medal as part of the U.S. team competing at the 2011 World Championships. Most recently, Raisman, 19, appeared as a contestant on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars in 2013 where she finished in fourth place.
A two-time Olympian in 1988 and 1992, Bilodeaux originally hailed from Concord, Massachusetts and attended Columbia University. She represented America in both individual and team foil events at both Olympic Games.
She won the United States Foil Association Women’s Championship four times and the Pan-American Individual and Team championship; she is also a two-time NCAA women’s foil champion and four-time all American.
She is married to former the fencing Olympian from Canada, Jean-Marie Banos.
Despite focusing on downhill skiing in his youth, Hovey caught the rowing bug while in high school. He would go on to participate in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and the 2012 Games in London.
Manchester-By-The-Sea, he attended Salisbury School in Connecticut and went on to row for the California Golden Bears at the University of California, Berkeley. He now lives in Chula Vista, California. He is currently a member of Union Boat Club in Boston.
Note: Hovey is at the far left.
Hunter took fourth in the 100-meter freestyle at the 1960 Rome Games, missing the bronze medal by just 0.2 seconds. He nearly missed qualifying for the Olympic Games, as he placed seventh in the 100-meter semi-finals, but came back to place second in the finals to go on to compete in Rome.
In high school, Hunter was a one-man swim team for Cambridge High and Latin, and was named an All-American in the 50 and 100-yard freestyle his sophomore year. He went on to swim for Harvard, where he set NCAA records in the 50 and 100-free within his first two years.
Amazingly, for all his accomplishments in the pool, Hunter is nearly blind and had to either wear his glasses or be led to the starting block.
A native of Marblehead, Flanagan took the bronze in the women’s 10,000 meters at the 2008 Beijing Games, breaking her own U.S. record with a new time of 30:22:22 and becoming only the second U.S. woman to ever medal in the event.
After attending Marblehead High School, Flanagan competed for UNC Chapel Hill, winning national cross-country championships in 2002 and 2003.
Competing in just her second marathon ever, Flanagan set the U.S. trial record at 2:25:38 at the 2012 Olympic Team Trials to earn a trip to the London Games. Despite her impressive trials performance, she would go on to finish tenth at the Olympic Games.
With nine gold medals in her professional career, Sacramone is one of the most accomplished artistic gymnasts in U.S. history. From 2004 to 2008, she won twelve medals, including four golds on the vaults and two golds on the floor exercise.
Sacramone, a native of Winchester, was subject to intense criticism after the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where her two stumbles in the beam and floor exercises led many to hold her responsible for the U.S. team’s second place finish. A sophomore at Brown University at the time, she put the blame on herself, despite receiving ample support from her coaches and teammates.
Sacramone has appeared in multiple commercials, and appeared nude in ESPN’s 2011 “Body Issue.” She finished second on both the balance beam and vault at the 2012 Olympic Trails, but was not named to the Olympic team.
Born in Melrose, Langton finished tenth in the two-man event at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver. Langton and his team did not compete on the second day of competition due to injuries sustained in a crash. Langton is set to compete at the upcoming Olympic Games in Sochi.
Considered one of the sport’s best athletes, Langton has won 20 World Cup medals; 10 Gold, 7 Silver and 3 Bronze.
Langton graduated from Northeastern University in 2006 with a degree in Business Management and Entrepreneurship.
Born in Dover, Stives was the anchor of the U.S. eventing team that won gold at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. That year, she also became the first female U.S. equestrian to win an individual medal, taking the silver on Ben Arthur.
After retiring from competition, Stives remained active within the eventing community, becoming a judge and serving as Chief of the U.S. Equestrian Team Selection Committee for ten years. She was inducted into the U.S. Eventing Association Hall of Fame in 2006.
David “Skippy” Browning
Browning won a gold medal in springboard diving at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki. He never scored less than seven points on any of his dives in his championship performance. After his victory, he was arrested for climbing up a flagpole to steal an Olympic flag,
Born in Boston, Browning attended the University of Texas, where he won four NCAA titles between 1949 and 1956. He also won six AAU indoor and two outdoor championships.
Just two weeks before his training for the 1956 Olympics was set to begin, Browning, who was a Lieutenant in the Navy, crashed his jet in Kansas and was killed. He was 24.
Men’s Ice Hockey
Born in Worcester, Campbell played right wing for the U.S. Men’s Hockey Team at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. Campbell and his U.S. teammates did not medal that year finishing in 8th place.
In addition to his Olympic career, Campbell enjoyed a long professional career – including nine seasons in the NHL. Campbell played a total of 285 NHL teams for several teams including the Chicago Blackhawks, Montreal Canadiens, St. Louis Blues and Might Ducks of Anaheim. Campbell also played one season for his hometown AHL team the Worcester Ice Cats, which later moved to Illinois and were renamed the Peoria Rivermen.
Originally born in Moscow, this member of the 2014 U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team grew up in Sudbury. A Marketing Communication major at Emerson, Shnapir has won two U.S. national championships (2013 & 2014) with his skating partner Marissa Castelli.
Partners since 2006, the pair have won numerous accolades, including the gold at the 2012 Ice Challenge and the Grand Prix medal at the 2012 NHK Trophy international competition.
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