Dear Madelaine: My lover won’t leave his wife, what do I do?

All letters are anonymous and have been edited to keep the identity of the sender confidential.

Scandal, Sex and Ssssdultery

Dear Madelaine,

I know you will probably judge me for this but I don’t care. I really love this man, far more than his wife, and I don’t know what to do. We’ve worked together in the same office for about three years and he started sleeping with me last January. He’s my manager and married so we had to keep things quiet but he’d come round to mine after work to watch TV and stuff and we’d hang out most weekends because his wife works Saturdays in retail. He’s older than me (I’m 24 and he’s 56) and from a different cultural background but we really have chemistry.

He said his marriage is dead but he wants to stay with Hina* because they have a house together and he wants to do the right thing, because leaving your wife in his religion is really bad. I’ve never been the other woman before and I feel like he’s just using me for sex because he’s bored of his wife. Its really horrible when she comes to office events with him because I have to stand there like nothing has happened. I told him after the Christmas party that I couldn’t deal with it but he said Hina’s sister was ill and he couldn’t help that he needed both of us, and he wasn’t going to leave her. I told him I didn’t want to sleep with him anymore but he bought me flowers and I didn’t like being without him. It’s May now and I am really jealous and I don’t know what to do. He clearly doesn’t love her but I don’t know if he loves me either. I don’t even dislike her I just want him; the whole situation is unfair. What do I do to get him to leave her?

Ann Nomynous

  • Not her real name.

Dear Ann,

Obviously as a religiously Jewish woman I’m obliged to tell you that in my opinion adultery is wrong, but I don’t judge you at all. We can’t help who we fall for, no matter how inappropriate. Everyone, at some stage in their lives has feelings for someone they really shouldn’t, and these can be painful and often destructive. Acknowledging this is just common sense.

I’m curious; does the wife know about the affair? If he is coming home late every night and regularly talking and spending time out of the house with you, she might have noticed. I’m concerned about her feelings as well as yours in this: she clearly tries to be supportive to him and has stayed in the marriage even if it is ‘dead’ so it’s very possible that this affair is hurting her. I’m a strong believer in the sisterhood, so definitely think about how she would feel, or does feel, about her husband sleeping with another girl.

As for the next point in the triangle, your lover (and her husband), he sounds like a man torn in half. On one side there is you: younger, sexually interesting and exciting, and the other side is his wife: tradition, stability, calm and principle. Both sides of you two are parts of him, and they are impossible to reconcile. He clearly cares about his wife, and to some extent about you, and I don’t think he will leave his wife- if he is a Muslim, or Hindu, whatever, that would effectively destroy his wife’s social position and standing in many communities. Divorce is simply not an option, especially if marrying you instead would mean the scandal of his adultery.

I’m sorry, but you need to be realistic about the situation. The context of your affair mean that he is simply unable to give you what you want, and I don’t believe it would make anyone happy if he was to leave her: Do you want the man who brings you flowers, charms you and whisks you off to nice hotels, or the husband who leaves his socks lying around the house, watches golf all day and will (lets face it) get bored of you in the same way as his wife? Marriage isn’t some glossy romantic affair and you would have to seriously think about what married life with him would be like, especially as the woman he left his wife for socially. I’m pretty sure many of his friends and family who liked his wife might dislike you.

Sorry if this is blunt but I beg you to try and ground yourself in reality and empathy in this situation: I really know how agonising it can be to love someone you can never truly have but try to understand that some things are better left in fantasy.

Big hugs and a (platonic) kiss. I’m not saying this stuff out of piety but out of consideration and care for you.

Love and best wishes,




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Madelaine Lucy Hanson

Madelaine Lucy Hanson

26 year old with an awful lot to say about everything. Opinions entirely my own. Usually.