I am married to a man who loves me very much, and I to him. I'm 51 and he's 57.
We have a good friendship, he is a good father for our grown children, and I know we seem to have an enviable marriage. I met him at 23 and we got married two years later.
But physical problems put an end to our sex life. I was not going to give up sex in my forties and it caused heartache, self-doubt and (sometimes) resentment.
Thought of the day
Sing a song of seasons!
Flowers in the summer,
Burning in the fall!
From Autumn Fires by Robert Louis Stevenson
(Scottish novelist and poet, 1850-1894)
I am in transition, have become heavier and have always struggled with self-esteem. Sometimes I feel like I can jump off a bridge, but I love it – so I would never do that.
Yet it is hard to love myself. An interesting job is my sanctuary. But last month a colleague and I crossed a line.
He kissed me gloriously – and made me feel everything I miss. He is 12 years younger, senior in work and I have a secret, long-lasting crush.
We are good friends and maybe have a drink every six months. He entrusts great things, such as when he would introduce his wife (when she became pregnant) and everything about work.
He is responsible and his wife gives him a lot of grief about his work, and he has trouble adapting to marriage and fatherhood.
We talked about our lost identity that night and we were both a bit drunk. He texted and made it clear that he had loved him more.
The next day we agreed that it should not have happened.
An interesting job is my sanctuary. But last month a colleague and I crossed a line. He kissed me gloriously – and made me feel everything I miss
So here I am, long held fantasy fulfilled, knowing it was a one-off. But I can't stop thinking how I wish there was more – an incredibly bad idea.
I should probably find another job. I tried before when this crush became unbearable, but had no joy (I'm one of those invisible middle-aged women who don't consider recruiters).
I tried to channel this aroused passion back to my husband, but unfortunately it doesn't work for him.
If I go to a job without the same professional satisfaction and stay in a marriage without sexual satisfaction, where do I find my sense of value?
How to use this unexpected boost for my ego in a positive, non-destructive way?
This is an old and not uncommon situation in many ways, isn't it? Your longer e-mail says that the two of you know that you have become a cliché: office romance.
Many people develop feelings for a colleague. The danger arises when this turns into secret behavior, such as meeting for a drink or lunch without telling your partners. That is the point where people can become "unfaithful" without actually having sex.
If you desire to get to work, fantasize, share confidentiality, etc., the attention paid to that relationship takes away the partner who is in the dark. It is dangerous terrain – as you have discovered.
Either you move (and risk getting a boring position somewhere) or you realize that you have to control your feelings. Which option is there? This man will not (and should not) leave his wife and baby (file photo)
Your situation would be upset, even if your senior colleague was not married. And of course, if your own happy marriage didn't have the sexual problem.
You have explained more about that (what I have kept private), and it sounds like there is no answer – except accepting the situation because of all the good aspects of your marriage.
Besides, the last time I said something similar on this page, a reader wrote angrily that I should be ashamed of myself. Embarrassed because he suggests that a long relationship is more than sex.
Because I believe in companionship, hugging, talking, sharing, laughter, friendship and a deep, spiritual connection between two souls. . . yes, yes, I repeat that sex cannot be the very best in life.
But each of us has different needs and weaknesses.
All I can do is ask you to consider whether you are willing to dump your husband and make the rest of the family unhappy because of the lack of sex.
Your task is the next number. Either you move (and risk getting a boring position somewhere) or you realize that you have to control your feelings.
Which option is there? This man will not and will not leave his wife and baby.
He proved that although you may feel like a middle-aged woman, you possess the kind of sympathy, intelligence, warmth and experience that transcends superficial appearances – and that affirmation (even if it is just a shattered kiss) is something to be celebrated .
Focus on that boost for your ego – a small gift that is all yours.
You have an interesting job that you enjoy, and I think you would be fooled into giving it all up because of your feelings for this man – feelings that can only end in tears, unless you stop thinking about the negative things and hard think.
My experience is that men at work often want to complain: & # 39; my wife doesn't understand me & # 39 ;.
Ask yourself if he should have betrayed her that way and if it was good for you to encourage his confidentiality because you wanted to appear essential.
Have you thought about dealing with your self-esteem? It would be good to discuss this with a professional.
How do you handle the transition? Look carefully at what you can take and what you eat. The latter is vital, just like exercise; being disciplined about both is to love yourself.
Most of us need some help to approach the next stage of life. Deciding where you are, but making changes, would be an important step to take back control.
Do I deserve this harassment about lost love?
I am 61 years old and lost five years, five months and five days ago the love of my life for cancer. We met 38 years ago on a blind date and I immediately fell in love with Ann.
Our daughter and I were effectively advised to let Ann go, to end her terrible suffering.
That's what happened. I held her hand as she slipped away and wanted to tell her that I regretted everything.
I was sometimes not so nice to her – in fact, I was a terrible husband by drink. Since then I have been overwhelmed by sorrow and guilt.
I miss her so much. She was just delicious without a bad bone in her. Is it normal to feel this? Maybe I deserve the torment.
I talk to her every day. I'm just confused and exhausted. I still love her. I don't think I'll get an answer, but I finally managed to express myself. Blimey, I didn't expect that.
People who have lost a loved one know that sadness can be like a big, gray dog: always by your side like a shadow that you never want to leave and often burden you with its needs. Beloved anyway.
Grief itself can feel essential; a permanent memorial to love. That is why so many of us feel guilty when the day finally comes when we don't even think about our lost person.
I'm happy that writing this column has given you the chance to be honest about these tumultuous thoughts.
You ask if it is normal to feel that way. The answer is yes: grief and guilt are normal, as are confusion, and these emotions are not in accordance with any pattern.
You are still "overwhelmed" five and a half years after Ann's death because of how you say you behaved when she was alive.
You know that you are blessed with a good and sweet woman. That is why you are tormented by anxious desire to have your time completely back – time in which you would be a very different kind of spouse.
Grief itself can feel essential; a permanent memorial to love. That is why so many of us feel guilty when the day finally comes when we don't even think about our lost person (file photo)
To help you understand all this, let another reader help you. Glenys wrote me this beautiful letter full of wisdom three months ago:
"It is just over two years since my husband died. We had 34 years, but for the last 20 of them, Peter was in poor health. I know people who have lost life partners in different circumstances and they all have different perspectives.
"A line of thought that helps is to put myself in the place of Peter and think about what he would want for me. It doesn't make it easier – but I honor his life by living mine.
"In the months after he died, I prayed to die, but it's not my time yet, so life must go on.
"It's all I can do for him now and when we meet again, I want to be able to look at him knowing that I've done my best – like he did in life.
"I don't always achieve it, but I take my time, pick myself up and start over, one thing at a time. . . the price of love is sadness, and I believe that the deeper the love, the deeper the sadness. & # 39;
Listen to Glenys and consider what Ann would like.
Surely she would like to ask you to live a good, happy life because of her? To talk to your daughter, watch the leaves, listen to the birds, try new things, eat good food. . . all the wonderful things that Ann cannot do.
If you still drink heavily, you should look at it for Ann's sake. You say that you talk to her every day, so promise her that you will change, your life will be in order, remember the good times you shared and try to forget the bad ones.
You are the keeper of her flame, so please keep it clear – not the risk of being extinguished by sighs and tears. What has been done is done, but love has never been done – and it is clear how you behaved, you loved your wife.
You are forgiven – and what you now earn is not & # 39; torment & # 39; but peace.
The right to see our grandchildren
In my 14 years as an advisory columnist, letters from grandparents caused the most grief, even before I became a grandmother in 2012.
I have received so many desperate letters from men and women who have not seen their beloved grandchildren due to family breaks and toxic disturbances.
Please contact Bel
Bel answers readers' questions about emotional and relationship issues every week.
Write to Bel Mooney, Daily Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you wish, a pseudonym is used.
Bel reads all letters but regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.
All too often a hurt / angry / evil daughter-in-law breaks contact with her husband's parents, and they are helpless.
Or sons and daughters argue with their own parents. It is so cruel, it affects many lives and causes unprecedented misery.
The result is that grandchildren do not have a special bond.
An estimated more than one million children in the UK do not have access to their grandparents. If you read the letters I received, you would cry.
A grandmother sent me a poem every year at Christmas to the grandchildren she was not allowed to see – and her words broke my heart.
So I was happy to discover that next Wednesday, September 4 is an action day, with a meeting at the Palace of Westminster called Broken Bonds: The Plight Of Children Estranged From their Grandparents.
The aim is to ensure that the legislation implements what the EU Court of Justice decided in May – that & # 39; grandparents have a legal right to see their grandchildren & # 39 ;.
All too often a hurt / angry / evil daughter-in-law breaks contact with her husband's parents, and they are helpless. Or sons and daughters argue with their own parents. It is so cruel, it affects many lives and causes unprecedented distress (file photo)
"The right of access also refers to. . . other persons with whom it is important that the child maintains a relationship. & # 39;
This must be implemented here, no matter what.
Lorraine Bushell, chairman of the London Grandparents & Group and organizer of the action day, tells me that it is too much registered.
But her e-mail is email@example.com and she will provide information to interested parties. You could also watch grandparentsplus.org.uk and verywellfamily.com/cope-with-losing-contact- with-grandchildren-1695992.
I hope it provides some comfort to know that you are not alone and that others work on your behalf.
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