2 Women, Big Problems

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Dear Hoopers,
In December 2015 my wife and I decided to separate. We were having a lot of problems and it just wasn’t working out between us. We lived together for a few months after we came to that decision and one day she told me it was time for me to move out and file for divorce. So I got my things and moved out. I was at a low point in my life so a long time friend invited me out for a few drinks. One thing led to another and we ended up together. It’s been about 9 months since we got together and I’ve fallen in love with her.  Well a few months ago my wife who I still somewhat have feelings for decided to tell me that she wants to work things out. We have 3 children together. I still care about her but I’m not sure if things will ever be the same as it was before. And I’m crazy about the other woman. I want to try to work things out with my wife but then I want to see where this new road leads me. I know I can’t have both. And I can’t chose one without hurting the other. And I don’t want to hurt either one.
-2 Women, Big Problems

Dear 2 Women,
Marriage is work. And marriage is worth the work. How much work are you willing to put into trying to repair your marriage? Or are you ready to move on?

As I sit here writing this response I celebrate my 6-year anniversary with Ryan. Last week my younger sister was married and I spent time after the beautiful celebration reflecting on the glue that has held my marriage together. While different for every relationship, through thick and thin we implement love, respect and sacrifice for one another daily. If you love your wife and want to give this a chance, you have to say goodbye to the other woman. Breaking off a marriage is going to hurt worse. You can’t “see where the road leads” with this other woman, while getting back together with your wife. You know this. So it’s time to cut the strings. Hurting someone is inevitable.

How much work are you willing to put into trying to repair your marriage?


What do you need to hold your relationship together? What does your wife need to make the relationship work? What made you two fall in love? What ultimately drove you both to separate? Define these pieces of relationship together before moving back in. See a marriage counselor. Dedicate time and energy on improving communication. Keep working at it. If you give it your all and it still doesn’t work, then it’s time to contemplate next steps. It will take a lot of love, respect and sacrifice on both of your parts, but if you want to work things out with your wife, it’s worth it.

Dear 2 Women,
I think you are very right to say that someone will be hurt in the process. Whoever isn’t chosen by you will be tossed to the side, rejected. If this is your wife, she could perceive this as a second rejection. If this is your long time friend and current love interest, she may feel foolish for getting involved with someone so soon after their separation. Also, you shouldn’t underestimate the pain this decision could cause you. Your separation and discovery of new love over the past year and a half is a relationship roller coaster. I don’t blame you for feeling confused and pulled in multiple directions.

There is no easy answer here as each choice has consequences. While there are certainly concerns about a rebound relationship and how that may have affected your judgment in finding new love, I also have concerns about trying to work through things with your wife. You should make the choice that you can stand behind even if the choice goes poorly.

You should make the choice that you can stand behind even if the choice goes poorly.

-Dr. Ryan

First, how aware is your wife of your current relationship? If there was there an understanding that you may look for new love, then this shouldn’t be a problem. If this will be a surprise to her then you should tell her right away. Second, the fact that you didn’t describe a specific diagnosis of what went wrong in your marriage is a little concerning. “A lot of problems and it just wasn’t working out between us” doesn’t give much direction. That doesn’t mean that it is impossible to make your marriage work, but the amorphous description makes me think that you two aren’t sure about the problem or what to change.

Lastly, in order to do the work necessary to address your past issues that led to your separation, you will need to be desperately motivated for change. Sacrificing yourself enough to truly meet the other person in the middle is hard work. If both of you aren’t committed to that it will not work. Your children can be a part of this motivation, but know that a bad marriage can actually be worse for children than supportive but divorced parents.
-Dr. Ryan