Don’t leap straight into another commitment, says Mariella Frostrup. Going more slowly will help you learn from past mistakes
The dilemma I’ve been in a relationship for four years. It started as a workplace affair, but we fell madly in love and knew we wanted to be together forever, which meant leaving our spouses. She went first, informing her husband their marriage was over. But she did not tell him about our affair. They agreed to separate and all was amicable. When I confessed, I was able to end my marriage, but not without difficulty and revenge acts. Neither of my children has spoken to me since, despite my efforts to reconcile. Three years later, my partner and I are still together. It’s mostly very good. My problem is that she retains a strong relationship with her ex. I understand this is good for co-parenting, but it makes me uncomfortable. She hasn’t divorced him or made any effort to – even though I made a point of getting a divorce to ensure a clean start. In contrast, my ex-wife and I have never been able to have a polite conversation. She is spiteful, vengeful and constantly asks for money. I appreciate my actions have had consequences. However, I struggle to manage my jealousy and fear my partner will return to her husband. It feels as if she is keeping her options open. Am I being irrational?
Mariella replies Just a touch. You do seem to be ignoring the obvious, which is that your partner’s approach is netting positive results while yours has created only adversity. She’s engineered a departure low in acrimony while yours is marred by misery. I’d put money on your being one of those impetuous lovers who doesn’t like to let detail get in the way of an increased pulse rate. There’s certainly romance in the notion that the right two hearts would forever beat in unison and previous commitments were merely training for this, the real thing. It’s also a pretty naive stance to take.