Dear Captain Awkward, I am a 34 year old straight woman in an open marriage with a 39 year straight man. I have taken far more advantage of the openness of our marriage than my husband, at least until recently. I have had a string of long-term affairs and short-term flings. During the past 8 months I have basically been living with another man in a neighbouring town to the one I live in.
I am drawn to men who are starkly different than my husband, who is an intellectual, moderate in terms of his vices and has a disdain for the type of men who spend every evening in a pub. I have a drinking problem but it is not a problem I feel any need to resolve and I am drawn to men who are also drinkers like me.
I can have a glass of wine in the morning and drink until I pass out in the afternoon and wake up when my lover comes home and go to the pub with him and start drinking again.
This past Sunday my lover and I went to a country pub and I glanced in the dining room and saw my husband with a beautiful older woman, but not just any woman. It was my mother and, from the way they looked at each other and were touching, I could tell instantly that it was more than a friendly lunch; they were quite obviously in love with each other. My husband, who is also handsome and fit, looked like he was happier than I had ever seen him.
I went to the toilet and threw up and then I dragged my lover out of the pub and went straight to the off-licence where I bought a litre bottle of vodka and drank it at his house until I passed out.
My mother is the one having long talks with my husband at night, or going to a nice restaurant with him or the theatre and I am at a grubby pub every night with my alcoholic lover. I have started stalking them, sitting in the car down the street from our house, drinking vodka from the bottle, and watching them come out hand in hand to play tennis in the courts down the street or go out to dinner.
I have sneaked in the house and gone up to what used to be our bedroom and found my mother has moved all her clothes into the wardrobe and taken what I had left out and I have even seen a tube of lube on the bedside table my mother is post menopausal. Seeing that made me hate her more than you can believe. I would love to put an end to their happy little relationship.
What should I do? And your mother chooses the one man in the universe who is married to her daughter? That is some unfathomable shitheadery right there, from both of them.
These two assholes chose this. It sounds to me like you left him, slowly, on the installment plan, and then he decided to hasten the end by setting everything on fire, including the bridges. A reason like self-preservation? I have so many questions, like, do you hang out, ever? Do you talk, ever? What was the long-term plan for your marriage?
Did your husband know that plan? Did he know whether you ever wanted to come back from living with this most recent dude? When you agreed to an open marriage, did you both envision a situation where either or both of you would move out for long periods of time? Do you still love each other? Is there a compelling reason to stay married to him, beyond say, the legalities or force of habit?
This is the You-signal being flashed in the sky. Batman slapping Robin meme! We can judge them a lot. Your mom is always going to be the mom who dated your husband. Also, forgiveness is for when someone has a stopped doing the harmful thing and b apologized.
I give you permission to ignore the entire concept of forgiveness for now. Even if they agreed to end things, is there any going back to the life you thought you had, where your husband is a safe haven who will always leave the light on for you while you explore your addictions totally unproblematic day-drinking hobby?
Cool, okay, well, have a good day. Do you think things are working well between us? Did you sit around trying to come up with the most hurtful, appalling thing you could do to me? Even though they are pretty reasonable questions given the situation? Because if you actually talk about it with them, it will become real?
I say this with all the love I can muster: Your marriage is dead. Your relationship with your mom is also pretty dead. Those relationships can die but I want you to be alive. You were hiding from your own life in that pub, all those days of passing out and killing time with grubby men in grubby places. Drinking in your car and presumably driving? Something has been permanently lost or damaged, and, while I understand the fantasies, breaking these two people up will not restore whatever it is or was.
Take the kind of loving care of yourself that you wish someone else would take for you. Radically intervene in your own life to take care of yourself. And then cut him and your mom out of your life entirely. Before that talk, I think it is time to call on any and all resources you can find who are not your husband or your mother.
Other family members who you can count on. A divorce attorney solicitor where you are? A medical doctor for a complete checkup.
Also, no more hiding out, no more monitoring your husband and your mom. Drag everything into the light and deal with it. You told us your story, so tell a therapist and a friend. Start imagining yourself in a different kind of future, where you are free of them and have a fresh start. You are only 34 years old! The thing will probably perish on its own without you in the middle providing a dramatic focus. Even if they stay together forever gloriously in love mashing their perfect bodies together for the rest of time?
Lie or oog people out? Ok, finally, I think your drinking problem is an actual problem that deserves serious, thorough, compassionate, loving treatment. You have an illness that is slowly eating your life. Maybe it ate your marriage a few bites at a time. None of that makes you a terrible person who needs to hide in the bushes from the assholes in her life, it makes you human.
It makes you deserving of care and compassion and help and second chances and third chances and fresh starts. I link to poems a lot and these are the ones on my mind right now: Be well, Letter Writer. You are related to a bunch of assholes and I hope you get free very soon.
What do we lose by being constructive and kind? B I know the comments in my mod queue recommending step programs and other alcohol treatment programs are kindly meant and coming from people who have used them successfully. But until the LW asks for that kind of help, they are a distraction, and they tend to attract a lot of thread-jacking debate that I have to clean up.
C Closing comments as of 11 pm Thursday because my moderation queue and spam trap are a dumpster fire and I need to sleep sometime. Letter Writer, please get some help and take good care of yourself.