ASK ZELDA: Our relationships expert Zelda West-Meads answers your questions
If you have a problem, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Zelda reads all your letters but regrets that she cannot answer them all personally
Can our marriage survive both our affairs?
My husband has been unfaithful at least twice during our 20-year marriage, though I suspect it could be more than that. He regularly disappears for hours without saying where he is going and I get the feeling that he prefers being out to spending time with me and our children, who are aged 16 and 18. He does, however, provide well for us financially. A while ago, he accused me of having an affair, which at the time was not true, but eventually I did embark on one with a colleague. The sex is out of this world but he is also married, though not very happily. I am now torn in two directions. Should I stay with my husband for the sake of our children or divorce him and bring them up on my own? There is so much missing from our relationship. Can a marriage survive with a complete lack of trust?
A good marriage can be rebuilt after a single affair, but multiple affairs are quite different. It sounds as if there may not be enough love left between you both. Yes, it is hard for children when parents divorce, but it can be just as bad for them to be caught between unhappy parents in a loveless marriage. So talk to your husband and have joint counselling with Relate (relate.org.uk) to help you decide what you both want to do. My book To Love, Honour & Betray: Why Affairs Happen and How to Survive Them can help you further. You need to end your affair too unless you really think that you have a future together.
Loneliness is driving me back to my ex
I’m gay and really lonely. I’ve been a chef – which can be stressful with long hours – for nearly 25 years. I live with my identical twin sister. I was bullied at school, as well as by my brother, who didn’t understand about me being gay. My dad didn’t either and wasn’t around much, though my mum has been amazing. I have suffered from OCD since school and had counselling but still get depressed. I’ve had many lesbian partners and been engaged twice, but both of those relationships broke down. My last partner stole from me and my sister. Eventually I had to break up with her as she had become abusive and made constant calls to my work. I’m so lonely that I’ve even thought about going back to her, until I remember how horrendous it was at the end. I’ve tried clubs, gyms and internet dating but haven’t met anyone. I don’t always mention my sexuality at work, as my mum and sister say I shouldn’t, but I don’t want to live a lie. What should I do?
I am sorry that you feel so lonely. Your experiences of being bullied and not understood will have had a deep impact. You probably have very low self-esteem underlying the OCD, which is perhaps why you stayed with an abusive partner for so long. I think it is important to be open about your sexuality at work – if anyone is not understanding, they are not worth bothering with anyway. You have had a lot to deal with, so return to counselling to help you become stronger and hopefully ready to find a relationship with someone who is worthy of all the love you have to give. Contact the LGBT Foundation (0345 330 3030) for support.
I’ve got a crush on a much younger woman
After a hiatus of seven years when my last long-term relationship ended, I met a woman scarcely half my age who worked in my local pub. To start with we’d just talk, but I began to develop feelings for her and thought it was better to go to other pubs for a while. Then, on a whim, I went back. She greeted me like a long-lost friend and asked why I hadn’t been in for four months. I explained and she told me not to be silly, that I wasn’t bothering her and that she liked me. She then revealed she was at university and not happy with her boyfriend because of his drinking habits. We hugged and she suggested that maybe we could go out sometime. I was still uncertain. Did she not realise that I was nearly 30 years older? Eventually, I emailed the pub, told them about it and said that it would be nice to hear from her. I got a forthright reply saying I should never email her again and she wasn’t interested. I still have feelings for her despite the ridiculous age gap.
I’m sorry to have to tell you, but I think you might have misinterpreted this girl’s intentions. She was probably just being friendly and perhaps a bit flirtatious but without really meaning it. However, even if she was interested, you need to be sensible and walk away. It wasn’t wise to email the pub; this was likely embarrassing for her and could have opened you up to ridicule. They probably saw your interest in her as inappropriate – she is barely out of her teens and you will shortly be 50, so it’s too big a gap at her age. I think one of the reasons you have developed a bit of an obsession with her is because you sound lonely and perhaps a little depressed. So please see your GP for a referral to counselling as it could help you to develop your social life and in time look for a woman nearer your age.
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