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BEL MOONEY: How can I let my cheating husband go if I still love him?

Dear Bubble,

I am 60 years old and have been married for almost 30 years.

Right now I feel like I just want to leave this world because I am so unhappy.

My husband, whom I love very much, has had an affair with a married woman for over five years. I think he would have left me long ago if she had been free.

Last year he left me for a short time, but came back because she returned to her husband.

Thought of the day

We are so often asked to choose one of the two fundamentalisms. But many of us are somewhere on the balance sheet – uncomfortable, hard to articulate but the place of integrity for us. . . think critically and try to live faithfully.

From The Splash Of Words, by Mark Oakley (1968, literary critic and dean of St John’s College Cambridge)

They rented a property and furnished it, and all the time he told me we were fine and everything was fine.

If I questioned him and asked if he saw her again, he would tell me I was paranoid and hadn’t seen her in months.

One day he told me that he was leaving, that he had to leave because he wanted a different life. He said he no longer loved me the way he should. I was absolutely heartbroken.

I felt so sick with fear and shock. A week later, he asked if he could come home.

I just felt very relieved and happy. He told me that we would make our marriage a success and that he still loved me. The hard part is that I get flashbacks and anxiety attacks when I think about how he left me.

Unfortunately I have the feeling that he sees her again.

We were happy for a while, but his old behavior has started again.

He is secretive and takes his phone everywhere, even to the bathroom. I feel that he is moving away from me – telling me there is nothing to worry about.

Now I feel like I can’t go on. I’m broken inside and so scared he’ll leave for good this time.

I know I have to let him go. I’m just afraid to be without him.

I realize that he had no feelings for me for a long time – otherwise he couldn’t get me through this.

However, I still love him. The situation makes fun of me.

I know I’m kind of pathetic and I have to let him go. Can you please advise me, call?

How do I deal with this terrible situation? How do I find the strength to continue and get better?

SOPHIA

This week, Bel advises a reader who doesn't know how to let her cheating husband go because she still loves him

This week, Bel advises a reader who doesn’t know how to let her cheating husband go because she still loves him

There is no doubt that love and suffering are all too often two sides of the same coin. An old Irish ballad contains the lines: “He is my love, O he is my love / The man who is the most to destroy me.”

A million songs, poems, novels and plays have told the same story – your story: a story of long-lasting love that screams to be heard, even if the loved one doesn’t want to listen.

It is one of the saddest sagas in human existence, one that I have encountered so many times in life and through this column. And a pain that I have experienced myself.

So what can I say to you, Sophia, except that I understand it in sisterhood? Some of us believed we were proud, strong women, but realized when we came to the point that we would bow down to hard words and crawl on the floor, instead of being left alone by the husband.

Such love is awe-inspiring and horrible at the same time. It can turn you into the weak, almost despicable victim in those broken hearted torch songs that plead, “Don’t leave me … let me be your dog’s shadow. . . ‘

Unless you get up and refuse to accept the victim more. The moment you feel that life is not worth living without your husband, but suppose I tell you that countless women have felt the same way but defied that feeling – screaming no!

At this point, you suspect he’s back with her, but you don’t know. You remember what it felt like to have your neck around the executioner’s block – and yet you’re ready to bend it again. Passively you wait for the ax, in defeated fear. You used the word ‘pathetic’ yourself.

Are you ready to let it determine who you are? The alternative is to talk to your husband. I wish you the courage to do this. Be calm, but firm and reasonable. Tell him the last time was too common and you won’t wait for it to happen again. Suppose you value your own life too much to waste time waiting to know if he sees this woman again.

Tell him there are many types of love, and while you understand the romantic passion he felt for her, there is also the love you’ve shared over the past 30 years – and it makes just as much sense.

Point out that it is clearly stronger than what they had / have – otherwise their ‘escape’ would have worked. Yet you two – husband and wife – are still together.

Tell him you love him, but refuse to live your life without knowing what’s going to happen. So what does he want to do?

The only way to ‘keep going’ is to be hard. Very difficult, I know. But essential – because it’s time.

I hate summer because I have such ugly legs

Dear Bubble,

Even though I know there is no solution to my problem, I am writing to you that it has been with me most of my adult life – and I am now 76.

But I’m not an old lady of ‘blue wash, twin set and pearls’; just someone who hates summer and warm weather. Why? My legs. Please don’t dismiss this comment as just another woman who is not satisfied with her body.

Seriously, my legs are so ugly I don’t even like to give a doctor a glimpse of them.

Not only are my calves huge (inherited from my mom – the rest of me has always been pretty slender), my legs are bent and worst of all, they show masses of blue / purple veins.

When I was young in the 1960s, I was never able to wear swimwear, shorts or mini dresses. I endured bitchy comments like, ‘You have legs like a rugby player’ etc.

They caused me so much trauma and sadness. I went on vacation when everyone was wearing shorts during the day except me. I have always longed for slender legs, which is crazy because it can never be.

I always cover them and can’t bear to see my husband. Once he struggled to put on a pair of boots for me and started saying, “You don’t have thin ankles like most …” and stopped himself.

Magazine articles on how to get ‘the perfect legs for the summer’ make me cry.

Honestly, I’ve never seen another woman with legs like mine.

I just needed a shoulder to cry on. Do you have any suggestions?

ANN

MAYBE some people say, “Why is Bel printing a letter on someone’s fat legs?” And, “There are more important things in the world, aren’t there?”

But I mentioned your email to my mom, who has had varicose veins most of her adult life. She fully understood why you are upset. And I. Physical defects can touch our hearts – and it doesn’t help when people say, “Oh, it doesn’t matter.”

We see the extremes of this in body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) – a mental illness (to quote the NHS) ‘in which a person spends a lot of time worrying about flaws in their appearance. These flaws are often imperceptible to others … Having BDD doesn’t mean you’re vain or self-obsessed. It can be very disturbing and have a big impact on your life ‘.

Many of us don’t like an aspect of our appearance. Growing up for me, it was wearing glasses. For another, it might be red hair or a big nose. You do something about it (from contact lenses to plastic surgery) or you agree with the ‘mistake’.

More from Bel Mooney for the Daily Mail …

Nowadays I think it’s harder than ever to shrug and accept because we’re so overrun with glamor. Love Island has a lot to answer for – it makes young people addicted to the show and unsure about their face and body.

You couldn’t help the legs you hate, which is why my shoulder is ready for tears – because I can imagine how hard it was when you and I were young. Age brings problems, but at least frees us from miniskirts and shorts!

Today it is possible to dress in a wide variety of styles that conceal flaws. I personally don’t think women over 70s hanging out in shorts are a good look, while wide pants or palazzo pants are just perfect. Flowing in light fabrics, heavier for cooler weather, sporty with stripes is the way forward!

Look at the websites of M&S, Zara, Boden, eBay. . . search for ‘wide leg’ and you will find some great bargains. Combine with the latest trainers (Russell & Bromley has a sale and the platform trainers go well with ‘big’ pants – just try it) and you will look very trendy. Make this your own style.

Those poor unloved legs have worn you faithfully for 76 years, so make sure to reward them with delicious body lotion every time you shower. Then hide them stylishly.

I never thought I’d make fashion references here, but I know clothes matter as statements of who we are and how we value ourselves. So no more tears, Ann.

And finally … Let’s greet the courage to continue fighting. . .

Do you feel fascinated and bewildered by events? When we reach July, I find myself struggling – and I bet many of you feel the same.

Summer is over, then ‘on’. Lockdown has ended – but then brought back in some places due to spikes in Covid-19. Oh joy.

The prime minister promises huge spending, but the economic outlook is dire and human misery will be inevitable. The weather was very hot – but now (as I write this) gray, cold and rainy.

In the meantime, the racism debate has started, images are broken down and stupidity (sometimes) turns me from a tolerant, loving person into a murderous maniac.

When I watch the news, I want to put my head in a hole because I am so tired of incomprehensible charts and models that compare mortality rates like some sort of Olympics. It is all very depressing.

Please contact Bel

Bel answers weekly readers’ questions about emotional and relationship problems.

Write to Bel Mooney, Daily Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT, or call bel.mooney@dailymail.co.uk.

If desired, a pseudonym is used.

Bel reads all letters but regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.

But shouldn’t I be gloomy? Even though I have a family problem that I (someone who is a problem solver) can’t solve, I still have to play keep-up with my own feelings. So here it goes.

Last week’s main letter from ‘Mavis’ (tormented by her bullying husband) caused a deluge of emails encouraging her all to leave him.

And as everyone told their own sad story, each person’s courage and compassion for poor Mavis was overwhelming. Thank you all for those thoughts I passed on.

Then there were warm, moving comments to my article about pet death and other emails with happy reunion stories.

We also experienced that with a delicious (socially distant) family barbecue for my husband’s birthday.

The word “heartwarming” really means something – when I think about goodness, family love, and the sheer courage that allows people to overcome their “down” moments and get on with life. Thanks for all the evidence.

.