Knowing When It's Time to Leave

bird_njOctober 14, 2007

How do you know when it's time to leave a long-term relationship and how do you deal with heartache and bad feelings - even when you are the one who wants out?

Here are the quick facts. I am 46. My partner is 78. We have been together for 21 years and lived together for the last 7 years. We have never been married to each other. He fell and broke his arm in 1996 and lost his job. He was diagnosed with head & neck cancer in 2000. Went through surgery and radiation that left lingering serious side effects. Our sex life changed dramatically then. We went through a period of impotency but he regained enough that we could have some sort of intimacy. (Mainly my giving him oral sex.) We always hugged and kissed and spent time touching.

Last March he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and had to have radiation. Part of the treatment is getting injections of a testosterone suppressant every 3 months. This means he is having the symptoms of menopause (hot flashes, weight gain, sleeplessness) and has lost all libido. He rejected me physically and emotionally and is not concerned with my needs for sex or physical/emotional intimacy. I have tried and tried and tried to reestablish some sort of relationship. He stays in bed til 2 or 3 in the afternoon and won't go anywhere or do anything. He spends most of his time watching news on TV. We used to go to the movies and he stopped doing that even. Everything has become too difficult or too scary. He only wants "safe". I am loving and attentive and treat him very nicely but I am dying inside. I am lonely and come home from work crying almost every day because I know what I am walking into. I feel that he has nothing left to give me. That I don't count. I have lost not only my lover and my companion but my best friend.

I am not high maintenance. In fact I am so low maintenance that it's almost no maintenance. I don't want fancy jewelry or expensive trips. I just want someone to hold my hand and give me a hug. Someone talk to me and take a little walk with. Someone to get up and go to breakfast with on a Sunday morning.

I have two affairs in the past year. One he knows about and one he doesn't. (Yes, you can call me bad names.....I am not proud.) I am at the point where I want out. I feel like I want my life back. There is just too much that's passing me by. I can't live this life another year or two or five. Not this way.

So, how do you know when it's time to leave and how do you handle the heartache and sadness and disappointment and bad feelings? If I didn't care, this would be easy. But the truth is I do care very much for this man. Just not in the same way that I used to 5 or 10 years ago. There is no passion left for me. I don't think I could feel for him again what I once felt.

Sorry for the long post. I wish life were simple and everything were black and white. I wish I had magic wand to make everyone happy.

Thanks again.


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21/7 with a 32-year age difference....and you didn't know this day was coming? And now that it's here, you want out? Affairs and everything? Madame, you are despicable.

IMHO, it is simple...actually pretty much black and white based on what you described. I wish I had a magic wand to wake you up. Your man is dying. Be there or don't...but no sympathy/understanding from me if you bail. Time to buck up and do right.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2007 at 1:22PM
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If you choose to stay......

There's work to done. Given the length/depth of your relationship, I suspect you're the closest one. (you didn't say anything about family members or others) If that's what you want to be and he agrees, both of you need to acknowledge future contingencies -- the possibility of his becoming unable to handle his own affairs. If you will be handling them, you will need some legal documents. 1) Health care power of attorney. 2) Durable general power of attorney 3) Living will (and maybe DNR document 4) Will -- in which you should be a significant beneficiary. Without these, you may find yourself shut out of decision-making and even access at important times, especially in this new age of identity-protection and safeguards.

If you want out instead, please disregard.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2007 at 2:57PM
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"He stays in bed til 2 or 3 in the afternoon and won't go anywhere or do anything." --- It sounds like he could be in depression and should be evaluated. Either one, his physical problems and/or your affair could put one into a depression.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2007 at 3:31PM
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How would you feel if things were reversed, if it were you that was sick. How are you going to feel when he dies, knowing you ran out of him when he needed you the most. My husband was 10 years older than I was.... statistics showed that I would outlive him and would be taking care of them in the end. I took care of my husband for 4 years with Alzheimer's and 9 months in a care home. The 9 months were worse than the 4 years at home.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2007 at 8:17PM
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Sorry girl, I think you need to stick this one out, and be by his side. You took the good when he was younger and well, now he is 78 and ill, with no 'performance' and you don't think you can stick this out? Partly this could be the age difference, there's a big age gap here, a woman in her 70's might be more accepting of the bedroom situation. Considering he treated you well in the earlier years of your relationship, it would be selfish to ditch him now in this stage of his life.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2007 at 9:22PM
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He is elderly, you speak like he is a lot younger than he is.

You must change your thinking about this gentleman.

Be compassionate.


    Bookmark   October 15, 2007 at 3:04AM
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"21/7 with a 32-year age difference....and you didn't know this day was coming? And now that it's here, you want out? Affairs and everything? Madame, you are despicable.
IMHO, it is simple...actually pretty much black and white based on what you described. I wish I had a magic wand to wake you up. Your man is dying. Be there or don't...but no sympathy/understanding from me if you bail. Time to buck up and do right."

I second this.My grandfather just went through prostate cancer,and it is a very serious life threatning thing.The man might die,but you are only worried about yourself?
If you ever loved this man,you would stop being so selfish and see that he is SUFFERING!
You're right,I'm sure sex is the LAST THING ON HIS MIND!
Especially with someone who doesnt even care how he feels.So what if he sleeps all day? He is sick! You expect him to jump up and act like he isnt going through hell for you? Grow up!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2007 at 5:02AM
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I am glad everyone is so non-judgemental. I have stood by this man and supported him both emotionally and financially for the last 7 years. I pay all the bills, do all the housework, etc and hold down a full-time job. I stayed when a lesser woman (even an older woman) would have walked away. I give and give and give. I make sure that he wants for nothing, doesn't have to do anything. I have been his biggest supporter and have always been nothing but encouraging. I take all my books and magazines and laptop into bed on the weekends and spend the day trying to connect with him. Lack of sex isn't the issue. I'm not that immature. It's lack of intimacy or any connection on his part. I have tried and tried and tried. For 7 years I have watched him sink so low into depression and feelings of self-hatred that I can't pull him out. He has withdrawn into a shell of self-pity and retreated so far into himself that I don't know if he can find his way back. He refuses to go for help. When I get upset or sad, he tells me that I have no right, that this has nothing to do with me. I don't count. I'm not part of the relationship. I love this man dearly but I am dying inside. Right now it feels like a choice between his life or mine. If I stay I'm afraid I will grow to resent him, even hate him.

And you can call me all the names you want. Trust me, you can't make me feel any worse than I am making myself feel. I hope none of you ever have to face such a serious life-changing or heart-wrenching decision.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2007 at 8:43AM
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He's old and sick. That's how most old and sick people act. They become depressed and angry grumpy old men.

Talk to some other women with sick spouses that age. I'm sure you'll find you are not alone. You may just feel more alone (or more burdened) because of your own age. My mom is going through the same sort of thing (probably quite a bit worse), but quite honestly, she would never think of cheating or leaving. Do you really think it would be ok if she left him because she was growing to resent him and wasn't happy?

    Bookmark   October 15, 2007 at 10:27AM
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bird nj, in my opinion, you have been taken for granted by your DH long before he got ill, so taking more from you is amplified by him now that he is 'elderly and in need'.

Elderly people already have the expectation of being taken care of by loved ones, much more so an elderly man you have supported for a little short of a decade.

I am sorry but yau simply cannot expect his way of thinking to change now that he is actually taking more than you are willing to give, not being willing to even consider meeting you halfway.

I can deduce from your last post that you are making a sincere effort toward friendship, being in bed with him and doing everything you can from bedroom, so he isn't lonely once you are around.

You are in a loose loose situation, loose your life and you mind to look good and not feel guilty, or loose the ability to say "I am a faithful wife" while gaining the ability to face the days as they come with some hope that each day holds something, anything good for you. You have to make a choice, you win and loose both ways, so choose.

If i were you I would get another bf, who contributes to my everyday life, if for nothing else, just to maintain some balance to me, so I do not resent DH soo much, and don't face each day becoming bitter because I have a sense of being robbed.

I would not however alow DH to become aware of this new relationship, as he will likely be very hurt, he is after all already depressed. I would not leave DH until the day he die, I would take care of all of the legal things, money, burial plans and so on immediatley, and then continue to make his life as easy as I can given the situation.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2007 at 10:38AM
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Yup. Hard, isn't it? And it may get worse. Actually, I'd be surprised if it doesn't.

"Judgemental"? Welcome to the club. "I hope none of you ever have to face such a serious life-changing or heart-wrenching decision." She wrote, not knowing whether we've been there or not. (FWIW, I have. More than once.)

It's one of those times when you find out what kind of person you are. And everybody else does, too. You chose it a long time ago. What will you do? Who are you?

    Bookmark   October 15, 2007 at 10:46AM
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You're right, he *doesn't* have anything left to give you any more;
he needs your care.

Of course you're exhausted & depressed & you feel dull, but
you don't need sex & you don't need a boyfriend.

You need friends, you need support.

Doing everything all alone will destroy a person.

Get some connection with someone other than your patient-
find a real-life caregivers group, go to bingo on Wednesdays, do something that makes no demands on you (sex/boyfriend make for heavier demands).

I wish you both the best.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2007 at 12:44PM
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...forgot to say that Gardenweb has a Caregivers Forum.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2007 at 12:46PM
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LOL - I'm sorry, sylvia. You did give good advice. I just doubt a 46 year old is going to be all that into going to bingo on Wednesdays - LOL! Then again, I'm not quite that old yet maybe bingo is the in thing for that age... I'm really hoping not, though. ;-)

And, I'm really hoping that aisha meant best friend by her "bf" abbreviation, but sadly I think she meant boyfriend. Sorry, but that's an awful idea. It's not going to make you feel better, just guilty and more depressed. Bad, bad idea. Wow -- life really isn't always about being happy 100% of the time. It's about learning how to handle and deal with the ups and downs, not trying to make every single moment an 'up moment'; that's just pure selfishness IMHO. If you really can't deal with it, that's one thing, then leave; but please don't bring someone else into your relationship.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2007 at 2:03PM
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ceramics, scrabble club, jazzercise-

anything that's the opposite of what we do in our daily routine/grind.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2007 at 3:18PM
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With the privacy laws today his Dr's may or may not share with you -- BUT they can listen to you. Before his next appointment have a talk with his Dr and tell him how depressed he is and how low he is sinking. The Dr may be able to encourage him to try some medication for depression. It will not help the medical issue he has but it may make him brighter and able to enjoy what he has left of life.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2007 at 3:22PM
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I believe that bird nj already has someone in her life and isn't trying to start a new relationship but is moving forward with an existing one.

I also belive that she is no longer in love with this man,but is seeing him like a child sees an elderly parent they feel didn't do enough for them, "...supported him both emotionally and financially for the last 7 years. I pay all the bills, do all the housework, etc and hold down a full-time job. I stayed when a lesser woman (even an older woman) would have walked away. I give and give and give."

Sorry to say she is coming up short on the natural female maternal feelings, of wanting to carry the weak loved one, caring for them in the best way possible, and never hurtung them while they are down. She had an affair and was indiscrete enough for him to find out about it, I believe that maybe subcousiously she wanted him to know, how else would he have found out. A man in his position would never have found out unless she were careless about it.

I could only think of a way to allow her to have the life she is already trying to have while not leaving him, or wounding him further.

If she has her freindship with "benefits", and takes care of DH until he dies, everyone wins, but she will have to live with hersefl at that point.

Also I do believe in karma, i hope she is wise enough to think of her own old age, and what she will expect from her loved ones, and make a definite decision in one direction, therefore settling in one direction so there is no more of this increasing agony on her part. She is actually expressing a REAL sense of being fed up! This is real and only leads to bitterness, which will reflect in her care for him. If she is happier she will care for him better. I believe that getting him to the end without addign to his agony should be the object.

Life isn't black and white, but sometimes the compromises actually make things work better for everyone. Yes I did mean boyfriend, I posted that because i believe she already has someone in mind,because of her expressed need for intimacy, and it doesn't seem that she is trying to start a new relationship, but extending an existing one.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2007 at 9:58PM
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You could look at this from a few different perspectives. One would be to understand that when these two met, she was only 25, and he as a 57 year old man ( Um, he was almost 60 years old) he should have known better, and this man certainly could have guessed that at some point, this would become very difficult for her. Just look at the math. He was rapidly heading towards retirement, and she was just beginning her life. So I do not see this as entirely her fault. He went into this situation, and had to at least imagine that it could turn out like this, shouldn't he???

And I suppose that before you attack her, perhaps others should know more about her situation. Was bird NJ a young woman who fell in love with an older man, and loved and cared for him for years, never really understanding how much it would cost her in the end?

Or was she the 25 year old who had an affair with a much older married man, and he took care of her for the last 20 years, living well, and now that he is elderly, and ill, she wants to walk away, and has affairs behind his back? Did she cause a first wife to suffer (who was probably close to his age, in her mid to late 50's) only to be betrayed and devastated when her 57 year old husband dumped her for a 25 year old?

I suppose in part, should we not consider that he is not without consideration for the situation they both now find themselves in? Wasn't he old enough to know better, and what he was asking of her, and what this would eventually cost her? Was he being fair to her, this young girl with her whole life before her, when his was already so close to retirement? She could have been innocent, and he could have lived selfishly.

Unless she was this hussy who went after an older man (married or not) for what he could provide, only to take, and when he needs her help, to then betray him, and look for the easy exit, without looking bad? If this is the case, then some might think your judgements are justified.

I think it depends on what the truth is during the earlier years of their relationship, and what foundation it was built on.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2007 at 11:00PM
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I would bet in the early years of the relationship there was love just like in most relationships... I don't really think how they got together is all that important. If he left a wife and family for her, does she have more or less obligation to him? If he had a lot of money that she was attracted to and took advantage of over the years, should that matter any? There's always things to consider. Personally, I would wonder why they never married but are living as such. Maybe that was his way of not making her be tied down to him or maybe he doesn't want her to get a hold of his money??? There's baggage and often some sort of superficial attraction in almost every relationship. Each party took something out of it. Maybe she was pretty, maybe he was rich.... maybe vice versa.. each gave and took..and balanced each other out... like most relationships.

aisha, I understand where you are coming from but you could use that sort of logic for having affairs for almost every unperfect relationship. What about a pregnant wife who is sick and on bedrest... can her husband sneak around on her? Or, the businessman who gets lonely when he's out of town on trips. Or, the wife who likes to have it 3 times a day whose husband prefers every other week? Can she take on a lover? Or is the cheating compromise only ok if someone is dying?

Life itself, may be not be black and white but cheating, to me, is. It's wrong and is not a compromise. Compromises are really giving.. not just trying to find the best solution so you feel happy without having to hurt anyone so you don't feel bad.. that's just selfishness. I wonder if my elderly mom took on lover while my father was sick and dying would that be an ok compromise or does it only work with younger gals?

Plus, let's face it, having sex from time to time with a "benefit" friend isn't really going to solve any of her problems, is it? Life's just not that simple.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2007 at 11:56PM
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I'am sorry if you thought we were being judgemental. However,I just saw my grandfather go through the exact same thing.He also got extremely depressed. It is because they arent used to having the female hormones that make us women such a wreck!
He also probably feels like less of a man. He knows he cant satisfy you,and he probably knows you arent happy with him.he may be worrying about death.Maybe having regrets in his life.
I also agree with Carla35 and Sylviatexas that what you really need is friends and family to support you. Maybe even hobbies to get away from the situation and get a clear mind.

I just know...I could never leave my husband if he was sick.No matter how he was acting. In sickness and in health. No you arent married,but you have been with this man a very long time.
Does he not have any family or friends at all who may cheer him up or offer support? What about you?

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 2:37AM
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I think the OP just wants ways to cope with the situation.

These situations are very difficult, but there are always people out there to talk to, that can help you through, as a carer.

Life can be really hard sometimes, and its how resourceful you are in dealing with the difficulties, that makes you a better person.


    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 3:49AM
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Carla, I think your response is good. And the points would be a worthy debate in any ethics class. For those who were so hard on the poster, would it make a difference to you if she was an innocent girl of 25 and swept off her feet by an older man of 57, who was attempting to grasp his youth back, by going after a 25 year old? What if he is simply a selfish man, who takes what he wants? Would a loving partner set her free to live her life? After all, in his late 50's and throughout his 60's he was living the highlife with a 25 year old lover, not saddled inside living the life of a caretaker. In my imagination, he ditched a wife in her 50's so he was not saddled down with responsibility, and loyality, and doing the right thing. Should he expect any of those qualities, that he himself may have been unwilling to give during his good years?

Would your advice be the same or different if she was the hussy who went after a married man and broke up a family? Or if she went after him because of what he could provide, and lived well off of him for years, only to look for the escape door without guilt, when reality was not the good life she used to get from him? For some, if we knew them, I think it might make a difference in how some saw this, as to what she owed him or did not owe him in times like this.

Several people were so hard on poster, and I wanted to point out that this man certainly was not without consideration for the situation they are both in now. He had to know the outcome, or what he was asking of her, and what it would one day cost her.

For most, it seems helping her lover through the dark days is the right thing to do. But if he was a man who did not do the right things in life, and lived for fun, should he have the right to ask this of her now?

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 6:49AM
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My advice for the OP (as long as there was love at sometime, which it seems like there was, and it wasn't just a marriage of convienence) would be the same regardless of her innocence or his possible selfishness. They both made a decision as adults to get together. Again, they both had something to offer and something to take from one another. Maybe he was as mean and selfish as they come but he was a billionaire..who knows. She picked to be with him. Just because he could have been a player himself before he met her, or left his first wife on bad terms, shouldn't give the OP any right to do the same thing to him. Everyone is responsible for their own decisions and their own life:

I may have been sick in Sunday school that day, but isn't the quote "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you"...not "Do unto others as they have done unto others", right? Why would his past actions change how she 'should' treat him? And, that's even assuming this guy has always been somewhat of an a-hole which we don't really know. He could have been a very nice older gentleman who just got sick, cranky and depressed.

And, granted, I think everyone deep down knows they may be sick when they are older, but I think most people hope that they'll just die off quickly with a heartattack or in their sleep. I don't really think many people 'think' about what their health problems could do to their spouse (young or old). It's a little hard to live with "what-ifs" every moment of your life. Of course he knew he would get older quicker, but that doesn't necessarily make him selfish. Maybe he truly loved her and thought she wanted to be with him through everything. I can't begin to guess what's in the minds of people that get together with so much of an age difference.. but again, I would bet they BOTH got something out of it or else she wouldn't have gotten together with him.

I really think we are focusing too much on the age thing. Many, if not most woman, have to go through this sometimes more than once. If she wanted to get together with an old man, she should be treated as any other woman who would be with any man. Sorry, but in my opinion, her young age shouldn't necessarily reap her any extra benefits or compassion.

I do feel sorry the OP is going through such a hard time with her partner and I think syliva's advice about keeping busy may really help. Hopefully, she can find someone to help take care of him too... and some meds may really help his depression but it may take "a lot" and be quite some time before he'll agree to take any medicine for it.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 10:00AM
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Yo, bnicebkind...

OP said what she said and I and others responded to it.

If the OP wants to modify what she wrote, perhaps we'll modify our responses.

I see you're again sailing off into your typical sea of suppositions and what-ifs. The OP seems quite capable of describing/clarifying the situation if she chooses to. I don't see any need to layer over what she wrote or expand upon it unilaterally.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 10:01AM
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When I ran this by a friend, who thought you two were married, and he thought my response was wrong, (and I suppose it is) and that I was trying to justify your behavior, and desire to walk away without guilt. And he believes (like others here) that the right thing to do is to stand by your husband in the good times and the bad.

And yet, this man never married you. Why? Did you want to marry him? And if he never married you, do you still have this obligation to him? The obligation to care for one another, for better or worse? To do the right thing, in spite of how difficult it is? If it was a friend, or a sibling, or a parent, the difference would be that you could care for them and love them, and still have some kind of a life. But this is your lover of 21 years. To care for him, through the hard times, would be the right thing to do...and yet.....

To those posting, what kind of difference does it make morally for her, if she is not actually his spouse? All though after 21 years, are they not in the eyes of the law, considered common law marriage?

Since they never married, and because of such a vast age difference, and where they are each at in life due to their ages, would it be wrong to re-define this relationship, and live separately, and yet she still came by daily to make sure he is OK, and has everything he needs, for the rest of his life? Caring for him, but in a different capacity, with love and caring, but not in the role of a lover?

But please, do not listen to me!!! I am merely pondering questions and you must do what is right within your soul, and your belief about right and wrong, and loyalty, and commitment, to a man you have loved. I too, believe the affairs are wrong, and that you are betraying him, but you are betraying yourself too... who you really are, and what you stand for.

Personally, and in my opinion, this is absolutely something I would talk to clergy about. And I would go to perhaps 3 different clergy for guidance on this situation. This is a moral and spiritual matter and I think you should turn to those who are wise, and will guide you to a place where you will find peace in the decisions you are making. This is their role and this is where I imagine you will find the answers and peace you are seeking.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 10:19AM
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I do think the reasons they are not married COULD be relevant... but the fact that the OP posted this question on a marriage forum instead of a single or caregiver one says a lot to me. Marriage certificate or not, it sounds to me as they were living as married or at least in a very, very serious relationship and she should be honoring the relationship as such.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 10:53AM
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Carla, you are of course right, and your response is wise. My friend had the same response that you did to this situation, and also said this has nothing to do with her lover, but simply her. That we are each responsible for the decisions we make, and how we live out our core values and beliefs.

And it is only through the hard times when we are tested, that we learn who we really are, and what we stand for. Do unto others as you would want done unto you.

Asolo, this time I smiled as I read your response, as perhaps my mind just works differently, as I suppose I do let my thoughts wander into the "what if's" of life. No one in my life has ever actually pointed that out, but I suppose it is true. I am not sure why I think that way, I just do. Sorry.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 10:55AM
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If you think in "what ifs", I would just think it means you are open minded and are able to view things from different perspectives. I would take asolo's comment as a compliment regardless of how he meant it ;-). There are so many people that really can't see two sides to a situation or expand their minds to think there could be reasons and possiblities to make opinions change or to take a differing viewpoint. Never let go of your "what ifs"...

I just personally don't think the "what if's" matter all that much in this particular case.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 11:20AM
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Gosh, I'm confused.

How they got together at this point is irrelevant, we have to attack the situation at hand, which is, her DH or BF is dying after them beign together for 21 yrs, and her making mention that she has supported him financialy while fulfilling house obligations for 7 yrs, which suggests that she may have had great fulfillment for 1st 14yrs but declining (sex and social) over the last seven.

Now there is a (78 - 46) 32 yrs difference, and while he COULD have seen it coming, I am sure that he DOESN'T EXPECT to be dumped, she IS expressing a real need to leave.

I know there is no excuse for cheating, but if it is already in play lets make it work for us, LOL ( don't believe i wrote that).

And no carla35, I don't think that cheating in this instance is like in a marriage because he will not be livign with the hurt (like in divorce or an affair) after he dies. If she is wise he will never know her source of support, and die with a happy woman by his side.

His increasing depression could also be caused by the reality of growing old and no longer being able to keep up with her, and then having to look at her grow impatient with his declining contributions to their once good relationship.

Like a very wise man once said, using the analogy of a man who has been shot with an arrow; If before extracting the arrow and tending to his wound, the man insists on knowing the name, family, village, and race of the archer, and what the arrow is made of, how effective is he in dealing with his wound?

What needs immediate attention is the situation created by the arrow. You attend as best you can to the immediate situation that is challenging you.

I don't want her to leave, and don't want them bitter in the end, but want him to seem easier to deal with for her, therefore all will be happy. SHE HAS REAL NEEDS and they are getting LOUDER 4 her. He has real needs that CANNOT BE COVERED OR DENIED, we simply have to compromise.

I wish the OP would update us

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 9:28PM
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"If she is wise he will never know her source of support, and die with a happy woman by his side".

I don't know but if my lover was by my side when I died and he was happy, I'd be pissed. I think there are some periods in life that just aren't meant to be happy. Why does everything seem to center around having to be happy for some people. That's not what life is about. I think people who spend their lives trying to focus on being on happy, just end up more miserable.

And, I ask you again, is it ok for my mom to cheat on my dying dad (if it makes her happy and he never finds out)?

Sorry, but no one ever NEEDS to take on lover. Have you thought about what problems may arise from starting a sexual affair with someone else without being able to connect with them on the level they should be entitled to. What if they fall in love; what if she grows even more resentful because of it; what if her lover tells the old man; what if the old man just won't die?

You surely aren't suggesting she just go boink every Tom, Dick and Harry she can meet at a bar without having the real relationship that she craves. Love relationships are meant for 2, not 3 people... doesn't matter who knows, problems will usually arise nonetheless. And respectable happiness doesn't include the word deceit... deep down people know that and their true happiness or unhappiness will be effected by it.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 11:10PM
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What makes you all so sure this is a hetero-sexual relationship? If you knew it was not would that change your views?
Just pointing out what seems obvious to me.
Linda C

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 11:28PM
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It wouldn't change my views or opinions on what the poster should and/or shouldn't do; why would it really matter?

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 11:56PM
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"I stayed when a lesser woman (even an older woman) would have walked away."

One clue.

But what does hetero/homo have to do with anything?

This thread has really run off the road.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 1:58AM
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aisha...If we go back to the golden rule "Do unto others as you would want done unto you" I ask you, Aisha, that if you were the one struggling with a long term illness, where you felt awful, and were grumpy because you felt yucky, would you want your spouse, or lover happy as a clam because he had another woman on the side, so that his needs were taken care of????? Because after all, you wouldn't want him to grow to resent you, would you? Do you really believe he would still not resent you, because he has this fun, happy lover on the side, and your relationship becomes reduced to an "obligation" and with the fun new lover on the side, I would imagine his time at home, as a caretaker, would become less, and less. And you truly would be OK with that if it was "your" husband having fun on the side, so he wouldn't resent you? You don't think you would be living with the hurt, if you were feeling awful and sick, and stuck inside, and your darling husband seems to be having an lot of fun, and is smiling and whistling when he walks in the door to check on you? I would think it would make you feel more isolated, and lonely, and desperately trapped.

Carla is right, there are times when life is not fun, and we struggle through them together, but we are present, trusted, loyal, and suffer and cry with them.

Which role would you want "your" husband to live, if you were the one with the long term illness? If your husband was getting down in the dumps, would you want to know that he has the character to take a breather like going for a long drive in the country, or a swim, or a dinner laughing with friends, etc. or would you actually be OK that he had a lover on the side to renew him, and the two of them were having a great time together.

And oh yea, it getting late, he feels obligated to stop home and check on you.

When you look at it from the perspective that it is your husband with the new, fun, lover, do you honestly believe it is the right think to do?

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 6:48AM
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Bird NJ, I know that what has been posted is not what you wanted to hear. I would encourage you to go to a church, and talk to the minister, priest, rabbi, or some spiritual leaders and ask for their guidance, counsel, etc. (I personally would talk to more than one, perhaps 3-4). I still think that this is a moral/spiritual matter of the heart, and this situation is unique, only because of the vast differences in your ages, and where you are each at now in your life. I hear you grieving over what has been lost, in a man you love and care about, and who he is now. I hear you struggling, and trying to do the right thing, in spite of how hard it has been, because you love and care for this man, yet no longer in the same way. I hear you grasping at life, as you are immersed in a home where there is illness, depression?, discouragement or hopelessness.

You need more guidance than we are able to give you. Turn to those who can truly help you, and who will listen to you, and may you find understanding, and peace.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 9:05AM
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I think the fact that they never married and the reasons behind it are relevent:

- If for years, SHE wanted to get married and HE was unwilling to commit, then I think he doesn't really have the same right to expect her to stick with him to the end that he would reasonably have if they were married.

- If on the other hand, HE wanted to get married all along and SHE didn't, then not committing now is really an extension of, not a reversal of, a long-standing pattern. Again, it shouldn't come as a total surprise to him if she cheats or walks.

- If neither one of them wanted to marry, then the only 'strings' are of conscience and character, and IMO, those strings shouldn't be taken lightly. They're what life is all about.

- I feel a bit queasy even bringing financial matters into this discussion, but I also feel that if he has treated her like a wife in his will, that this imposes some duty to care for him unless she is willing to relinquish claim to those assets when she walks.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 11:24AM
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sweeby, I do agree that the "Never Married" status COULD be relevant...heck, for all we know he is married to someone else and leaving all his money to her and his kids. But, without knowing the answers, and since the poster didn't seem concerned enough about it to mention specifics, I take it was probably a mutual agreement... or possibly linked to lindac's observation. I agree with you about the will/finance thing which I think asolo touched on early on in the thread.

Robin, I do wish would check in with us. Although our judgements may sound harsh and may not always be want you want to hear, I do think most, if not all, of us do wish the best for you and your circumstances. How are things going?

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 11:52AM
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Thank you for all your comments. I didn't come here so I could hear only what I wanted to hear. Yes, some of the comments are harsh (and some of those I deserve) and yet others are very, very kind and compassionate. I am far, far from cold and heartless without emotions or caring. Marriage was never in the cards for us. For one, he has a huge fear of commitment and I just never wanted it. It didn't matter. I loved him. I wasn't after his money. He has none. He has never provided for me financially in any way. I pay my own way and some of his (gladly, too).

I am not stupid or unaware either. I knew from the beginning what the age difference would mean and that I would be a caregiver once again. I took care of my mother for 10 years. I've been there. Caring is very much a part of me. Being ignored and neglected and not having anything to look forward to or any happiness (no matter how small and insignificant)to hold onto is not.

I'm not justifying having an affair with someone else. Nothing justifies that. I am a big girl. I made that decision with eyes wide open. No one twisted my arm. And it wasn't the sex I was after. I am quite capable of handling that with a "toy" and a couple of batteries. I am sorry for the pain it is causing but truth be told this crossroads was coming - one way or another - with or without someone else being involved.

I have been growing increasingly unhappy and frustrated for the past 18 months. I have lowered my expectations to almost none, changed my expectations, found friends (female) from work to do things with, taken up a couple of hobbies, stayed busy with work, immersed myself in other activities and still the resentment grows.

Is it better for me to stay and be unhappy and resentful and bitter for the next 10 years? Some of you say yes. Sometimes that's what I want too. I have always put other people's happiness before my own. And in this case I would gladly stay and be the best caregiver I could but there's part of my life that I need back. And if that sounds harsh and immature and selfish then maybe it is. Yes, he is dying but only in the sense that all of us are dying. If he re-engaged in life he could be a happy vital man. He is kind and funny and sweet and we have never had a single argument. I have no hatred for him. And it takes all of my courage to say I can't live this way anymore. I am not throwing him out onto the street and he does have two grown children who are quite capable of helping him. They have been grateful for all I have done and all the years I have been here and truth be told, they were thankful that they didn't have to do it themselves.

We had a long talk (and even longer tears) this morning and he reaches down into his well of pity and self-despair and starts talking about how badly his parents and his family treated him when he was a kid. He is wallowing in 60+ years of self-pity and self-loathing. I can't make that all better for him. He has to do it for himself. And maybe it's too late. He admitted to me today that perhaps he has never been capable of having an emotionally involved relationship. And I think that part is true.

Life isn't always easy. And sometimes we walk a fine rope. There as no guarantees. Nothing lasts forever. And this whole situation could just as easily be happening if there were no age difference. I just know that we all have to decide for ourselves and then have the courage to live with those decisions. And if this break is going to happen (which it probably will) then I am determined to do it with all the love and kindess that I can muster.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 4:25PM
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"...he does have two grown children who are quite capable of helping him."

That's where I'd start. Have you discussed the situation -- present and future -- with them? You appear to be experienced and to recognize your limits -- along with the fact that you've nearly reached them. I would expect their acknowledgement and sympathy -- hopefully followed by willingness.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 5:02PM
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It is good he has his children.I was under the impression he was all alone.
Not to bring up the hormone thing again,but men dont handle estrogen well.Men usually arent quite as emotional as women are,and maybe the hormones are making him emotional now (talking about his childhood,etc) My grandfather had serious crying jags while on estrogen.
How long is he going to be on the treatment for his prostate cancer?
Is there any way you could at least wait until he is done treatment? It may change how he is feeling significantly.
Or,are you just saying you just dont feel in love with him at anymore?
Either way,he may be better of emotionally if you waited until his treatment is over.For my grandfather it was several months.Now he is doing alot better being off the hormones.
If he finishes treatment and is still this depressed and wont get help,then I guess there isnt much you can do for him.
Since you arent married,legally you cant MAKE him get help either.Maybe his children could.
Sorry I was so harsh.I wish you well,doesnt sound like an easy situation for all involved.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 8:33PM
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What is the status of the relationship with his children? They weren't mentioned at all, if he was usually a depressed guy does he have a good relationship with them?

Maybe at this time, they could really take some of this load off of you, and give the needed companionship and people to identify with in dealing with this situation, It really isn;t healthy that you do it alone.

As controvercial as my views for this situation have been received, I know that I certainly couldn't do it alone, I would be scared, plain and simple. Watching my loved one's life steadily decline, how do you deal with that, and not decline as well.

GET HELP, there is no need to be stronger than you should, and there is also no need to weight your life against his, no one has to be sacrificed, you do not have to spend the next 10 yrs getting more bitter, so when he dies you will then have to find the you you lost 10 years before.

Be wise, think of him, and also your future after him.


And she will choose her help, i am no longer talking about another bf. just saying...

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 10:57PM
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At the later years of our lives, its normal to go over the earlier years and dredge up all the sad bits. I think your role, OP, is to just sit and listen. Not much else you can do, don't have long discussions about what he says, its no use. Just listen, and show sympathy. That's all he needs at this stage.

Enlist his children to help our, to come and stay and give you a break from the drudgery. Everyone needs a break, and you certainly need a few days away.

Whilst on your break, you can think, be objective, and see your situation with clarity. Only then should you decide what your plan of action is.

You sound like you are very fond of this gentleman.

I wish you well.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 4:05AM
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What a sad situation for both of you, and for his kids. I thought differently yesterday, but after seeing your new post, maybe leaving him would be best for you. I'm glad you've talked to him. Maybe he is trying to get you to leave so you don't have to stick around and nurse him.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 12:27PM
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It sounds like this man has no interest in fixing the situation or seeking help. It doesn't take much to hold your hand or even express affection through words. Don't waste the good years you still have being miserable. You made no vows. Don't let self-righteous posters try to tell you that playing the martyr makes you a better person. Good luck.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 3:17PM
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I was going through major burn out just before my husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. It wasn't my husband's fault, I was just tired of being married and putting everyone else in my life first. I never seem to get to do what I want without censorship. But I stuck it out. He has passed away I am happy knowing I did stand by him and I don't feel guilty, He wouldn't have done the same for me.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 4:54PM
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You came here, you asked for advice, and I think you took most of it graciously. Only you know how bad your situation actually is and what you are capable of living with.

I think there's a big difference between people who just want to be happy (a reason I think many people selfishly leave marriages for) and those that truly just can't take being utterly miserable for a long time. Only you know how bad it really is and if it is simply about not being happy or being positively miserable and in a relationship that is just unbearable.

Most people in healthy relationships would "want" to be with their dying loved one, no matter how bad the situation was. If you really don't want to be with him at all, only you can know and understand the real reasons.

It seems like you have at least been open to thinking things through and are not making any rash decisions. Good luck to you and all involve no matter what you end up doing.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2007 at 11:21AM
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In my life time I have seen men do much the same as her. He should of expected all this to one day happen to him with his age gap that was this great and discusting!!!! She is the age of a possible granddaughter WTF. Girl, do you and don't worry about him. Be there as a friend would be. Did he marry you to make a honest woman out of you? Or were you just his toy? You are not getting any younger and you have wasted alot of time with no future. Find happiness! It is time!

    Bookmark   January 6, 2011 at 2:52PM
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Dead with a stake in the heart and bettyboop hopes for life after more than three years. What a waste of attempted English.

Apparently the forum is drying up.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2011 at 9:31PM
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