I’m a man in my 70s who’s torn over ending an affair

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter

I’m a man in my 70s. I’d like your advice on an affair I had with a woman that lasted more than 10 years.

The woman is also in her 70s and from a neighboring town. She lives alone, as her husband died soon after we first met and started dating.

We spent time together doing things like dining out, viewing seasonal flowers, visiting historical sites and traveling to hot springs, and our relationship became intimate in nature.

We gave each other gifts on our birthdays and other occasions, and promised to continue dating into our as 80s as long as we enjoyed good health.

Initially, I used to pay for all of our activities. We later decided to split the bills due to the high costs and have maintained our relationship.

However, our excursions have become less frequent in recent years. She told me recently she doesn’t want to see me for a while, saying, “I don’t want to spend money on affairs.” I also want to break up with her. Nevertheless, I can’t decide what to do because our relationship has brought meaning to my life, and I don’t want to give up that feeling.

T, Ibaraki Prefecture

Dear Mr. T:

I understand you’re seeking advice on what to do because your longtime girlfriend basically asked to end your relationship. The answer to such predicaments is generally: “Do everything you can to win her back if you still really like her. Otherwise, take advantage of this opportunity to break up with her.” This approach is usually adequate for relationship issues.

But you’re seeking advice on what to do about your affair. An affair is a betrayal of one’s partner; those seeking advice on such matters usually discuss their guilt or punishment for their misdeeds. Your letter never mentions such regrets. Instead, you talk about your relationship as if it’s totally natural and never mention your wife. Your inquiry seems to be about an ordinary relationship with a woman.

With this opportunity at hand, why don’t you think about not only your relationship with your girlfriend but also your wife? The woman has already told you she wants to break up with you.

Do you still think you can actually restore your relationship with the woman? Where will you return to?

I assume you might not want to tell your wife that you were cheating on her, but you have to rethink your relationship with her with a sense of atonement for your transgressions. Isn’t that the task at hand?

Soichiro Nomura, psychiatrist

(from May 28 issue)Speech

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