By Jody Valley
Left without a trace
Q. My partner (Bill) of 35 years recently left me for a younger man that he worked with. I had no clue as to his being unhappy. I know that is probably stupid on my part, but I really didn’t. He always worked and I never saw a change in his routine. He did not discuss with me that he was unhappy. Even looking back on the situation, I do not see any signs it was coming. The only thing I remember is he talked some about this young man and them being on the same projects, but I didn’t even know this person was gay. Bill and I certainly weren’t the romantics we were when we got together thirty-five years ago, but I thought we were happy and comfortable together. Then one day, I came home and all his personal belongings were gone. I was stunned to say the least. I couldn’t work for a week. All I did was cry. He later came back and picked up other stuff, but has been unwilling to discuss the situation with me. We have not talked since the day he left, so I am still feeling up in the air about what happened.
Now my friends imply I was stupid, and they saw it coming. I don’t know what to do. Nobody ever told me or even hinted that they saw a problem. I don’t know what to say when they say this to me. If I say I didn’t see it coming, I look stupid and not aware of what was going on around me. If I admit I did see it coming, I look stupid for not doing anything. It is painful enough without having this to deal with. What do I say to people when they say this to me?
A. First, I want to offer my condolences for you loss. I am puzzled about your friends’ reactions. I am wondering why your friends are saying things to make you feel worse during this time of grief for you. But that is not your question. What you say to your friends depends on whether or not you really want to discuss this with them. Those that you consider close and want to speak to about this situation; I would be perfectly candid about not seeing what was coming. (Some people just say they saw something coming to seem wise, or in the know.) You certainly wouldn’t be the first person that this has happened to and you don’t need to feel ashamed or stupid. If they are not in your inner circle of friends, I would let them know that I didn’t want to discuss the matter with them. It is not really their business.
Business of love
Q: I don’t know what I should be doing or who I should talk to, so I am writing you in hopes that you can advise me or at least steer me in the right direction. My husband and I belong to PFLAG, we have a gay son that we love dearly. I started getting Between The Lines after my husband and I started going to the meetings, that is where I first saw your column.
The problem I am having is not about my son, but something I just found out about my husband. I was going through my husband’s luggage after a recent “business” trip he took, and found some love notes from a man named, Mark. At first I couldn’t believe what I was reading, but then gradually it dawned on me it must be true. I started thinking about all the business trips my husband takes and how hard it is to get a hold of him. I waited and watched about a week, my husband was as loving and attentive as ever, and finally I couldn’t take it any longer so I confronted him. He broke down and started crying, saying it was all true. He has been having this affair for 5 years. He says he loves me and doesn’t want to give me up, but he loves Mark too, and doesn’t want to give him up. He says he didn’t mean for me to find out, but if that is true, why were those notes in his suitcase? I love him dearly and feel devastated and so deceived. My whole world is shaken up because I thought we had a good, loving relationship. We have been married for 27 years and I always saw him as my soul mate. I can’t imagine giving him up, and I can’t imagine staying with him the way things are. I don’t want to share him and wonder what he is doing every time he is traveling. What should I do?
A. I can understand your feeling devastated and deceived; you have been deceived for 5 years. My suggestion would be to see if your husband would be willing to go into counseling with you in order to help you both sort out what’s going on for you both. If he doesn’t want to go, go yourself. You are surely needing some time and help to work through all of this. Let me know, I care.