Dear Mrs. Bluth,
First let me thank you for personally involving yourself to save my life, my marriage and my sanity. I just need for you to know what a G-d-send this column is and how wonderful it is to have a place to reach out and get such sound and encouraging intervention. As you well know my story, the reason for my writing it to appear in your column is because there are others like myself who may recognize themselves and save themselves before they lose everything that is important and dear to them.
Three years ago, I took a job with a firm that offered me growth. To my surprise, there was only one other Jewish guy who worked in another department. My sector employed mostly women and my supervisor became my partner on a project our team was working on. At first it was all work and I learned a lot from working with ‘Ellen,’ although I tried to excuse myself from going out with the team for lunch or drinks after work, we often all took coffee breaks together and this, at the risk of insulting Ellen by refusing, became unavoidable.
My life at home during this pandemic year became strained with three young children running around our small apartment and my wife, seemingly, always complaining, too tired or simply distant, I began to actually look forward to going into work and having Ellen’s company. She was a breath of fresh air, vibrant and cheerful, and attentive. I began to work late along with Ellen and some other members of our team, when one of the girls whispered that Ellen had her eye on me. Of course I was flattered but brushed it off with a laugh until it was time to leave. As the room emptied out I realized we were the only ones left. I started to feel somewhat uncomfortable and reached for my coat and briefcase when Ellen made her move. I was so startled by her advances, yet made no move to back away and let things evolve as if transfixed in a dream. When things had gone so far as to nearly consummate the intimacy, I pulled away and said I was sorry but I could not betray me my wife. Ellen went into a rage and threatened to destroy me. Two days later, I was fired.
The fact that I lost my job was a relief and the guilt-ridden few days that followed the event. I couldn’t look my wife in the eye, couldn’t even touch her because I felt so dirty and confused. It was then that I recall my sister having spoken to you and got in touch with you. Your advice was for me to sit down with my wife and tell her everything. I was so terrified that she would leave me the moment I finished unburdening myself, you assured me that if it didn’t go well you would reach out and speak to her. Well, I did what you suggested telling her that this advice came from you and that you invited us both to see you. I cried throughout the telling and when it was over I noticed that my wife was crying too. She agreed to see you and we cannot thank you enough for the guidance and the ‘homework’ you gave us to help us both overcome my guilt and my wife’s mistrust and rejection.
It is now five weeks since we sat on your couch and I am happy to say that things are better, my wife and sit together each night and tell each other our feelings, what made me stray and almost fully betray my troth to her, that I love her deeply and would never ever jeopardize her trust, and she tells me of her hurt but also feels that she may have contributed to my problem by not seeing that our communication, intimacy and joy with each other had gone missing. We both understand that the road back to a carefree, unconditional love and trust is a long way off, but each night brings us a bit closer.
So there you have it. I know that if this happened to me, it may well be happening to others, be they men or women. I hope my story will open their eyes to the human weakness in all of us and the propensity for failure and loss it yields for that momentary rush. Thank you again for all you do for others with this wonderful column and all you have done for us.
I am glad you are staying on course and seeing a family therapist as well. My instant fix will serve you for the moment but your marriage will need deeper fine tuning. You need to understand why you allowed yourself to be in the position you found yourself, why you did not have the presence of mind to recognize the danger signals that were flashing bright red. Your wife, too, will need counseling to understand why this happened and that even though she may have given you a convenient reason to legitimize your actions to yourself, she is blameless in this debacle.
The biggest hurdle you will need to cross is the issue of lost trust and how to heal from it. You are correct in that it will take a long time for your wife to regain that trust in you, perhaps a lifetime. But that’s part of the penance you will have to make to her for your betrayal. Tell her you love her, show her how much you regret the pain you brought her and vow never to entertain the slightest thought of it again. And maybe, just maybe, after some time, she will begin to hope that you are telling the truth. Just to give you some added hope, I have seen it happen before.
I am glad that I was able to be of some help in this desperate situation, and that there will be many more good and happy years ahead for you and your family that will dim the memory of the heartache that you have today.