April 19, 1997 in Features

Fear Of Being Alone Reason To Stay

Cheryl Lavin Chicago Tribune
 

Remember Marge and Ronald? They married in the ‘50s. Ronald moved out of their bedroom in 1982. In 1987 he started an affair. Marge was suspicious and caught him in 1993 and again in 1995. She told him he could have a divorce, but she didn’t want one. He didn’t want one either. Financially she was comfortable. He and his girlfriend drifted apart. In 1996 Marge and Ronald took a dream trip to Europe. They now have a “comfortable relationship” and Marge says, “I’d rather have it this way than be alone.” Here are your reactions:

Annette: “I was a lot like Marge - excited to start a new life as a married woman. When the mental and verbal abuse started, I thought they would improve. But when the abuse was physical, I realized, it would never end. Something inside me died. It’s been 30 years now. I stay because I don’t want to be alone. I met someone years ago (he’s married) and he gives me the attention I long for. I live a double life, but at least I don’t have to wonder what a ‘real relationship’ would be like. I admire Marge for hanging on.”

Carol: “At some time in our lives, we all have to choose between striking out on an unknown adventure or staying in ‘comfortable uncomfortableness.’ The unknown can be painful, but it is always the road by which we learn.”

Trudy: “What kind of an example has Marge set for her daughter? My mother stayed with my father after he had a 10-year affair. It is now 12 years later. They have no social life, eat in separate rooms and argue constantly. I have spent time in therapy and am 1000 times more self-assured and self-confident and have 1000 times more self-respect than my mother.”

Kenneth: “Marge understands the ups and downs of marriage. Ronald’s infatuation came and went. The ramifications of divorce last forever. I divorced after 32 years, creating a dysfunctional family that can’t be fixed: I am alone. My ex-wife is alone. We could not be worse off.”

Janice: “Settling is something I know well. I don’t make waves, just so I don’t have to be alone. I wonder if it’s worth it, because at times, I am alone, even with my husband and his two children.”

Jennie: “I’m in a similar situation, except I’m the one having the affair. My husband feels like we’re roommates and that I am emotionally distant, but he doesn’t want the marriage to end. Neither do I. We’ve been married seven years and have a 2-year-old child. The man I see is also married and will not leave his wife. He is a real man and it feels so good to be with him. My husband is a child trapped in a man’s body.”

Grace: “I was married in 1958. My husband and I had four children. My husband was always moody, but everything seemed fine. Then in the early ‘80s, I suspected he was having an affair. I confronted him. He denied it but moved out of the bedroom. We once went to a priest for counseling. He would not see a therapist. Life went on for 10 years with us in separate bedrooms. Then, in 1993, his girlfriend called me because she was having trouble with him. Their affair had been going on for 15 or 20 years. I told her I would not file for divorce, but would not stand in his way.

“The following year, they broke up. I told him he could have a divorce if he wanted. He said he didn’t. I told him I was happy with my life. I love him as a human being and as the father of our children, but I have no lust for him. Financially and family-wise, we could have a good life, and maybe even become friends. I cook and maintain the house. We go to family functions together. The rest of the time we lead our own lives. I still don’t want a divorce. We are civil, but I wish we could be friends.”

xxxx


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