I’m unsure whether or not to end my 10-year affair

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a homemaker in my 40s. I can’t decide whether to break off an extramarital affair that’s been continuing for a decade.

He was a friend in the beginning. Actually, he was more than a friend but less than a boyfriend. Just as I was becoming serious about going out with him, I went abroad to study a foreign language as I had previously planned.

Right before returning to Japan, I heard from a friend that he had gotten married. I thought I wouldn’t see him again, but I ran into him by chance, and that’s how our affair got started.

While continuing to sneak around, I found that I had reached prime marrying age and began to get impatient. Around that time, I met another man and married him.

I told my lover it was time to break up, and for a while we neither met nor communicated with each other. However, in the end, we went back to our old ways, and I can’t say I was surprised.

Both of us have children and good families. I’m concerned about what will happen in the future. I know we must stop meeting each other, but in reality I’m at a loss about what to do.

I’ll probably miss him if we break up, both because of our romance and because we have been friends for a long time.

C, Chiba Prefecture

Dear Ms. C:

You say you want to stop your adultery, but you can’t. Have you thought about the reason?

You have a good family, but no matter how “ideal” the husband, your needs cannot be 100 percent satisfied. You feel there is something lacking in your husband — whether it be sex, romantic passion, empathetic friendship, or whatever — and as a result you tried to find it in another man who you think of as your “boyfriend.”

It’s quick and easy to seek out a third party of the opposite sex to try to fulfill something unfulfilled in your married life. For young people, it may be the only solution that comes to mind.

On the other hand, you are already over 40 and will soon enter your 50s. You have reached a stage where you will continue to mentally mature and where I think you should find something to fill the void in your life other than adultery.

That something could be, for example, reading books or writing stories. If you repeat the process of expressing your own ideas based on your inner thoughts, it will change your mind-set toward your affair. I do hope this happens.

Junko Umihara, psychiatrist

(from Nov. 18, 2017, issue)Speech

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