DEAR DEIDRE: MY wife has discovered my long-term affair and is now making all sorts of disturbing threats.
I’m 37 and she is 35. We’ve been married for nine years, and for five of them I’ve been seeing another woman who I truly love.
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But it’s not the way it sounds. I’m not a love cheat — my marriage has never been happy.
I don’t love my wife, and she doesn’t love me. Our marriage has been sexless for many years.
We’re not even friends — we argue all the time and have little in common.
If she hadn’t unexpectedly got pregnant seven years ago, we’d almost certainly have split up.
My daughter was born with cerebral palsy, which causes her a lot of problems, and means she needs regular medical treatment and specialist support.
I felt I had to stay in the marriage because I love my daughter and because my wife — who doesn’t work — is financially dependent on me.
I met my girlfriend at work and we quickly realised we were soul mates.
She is 32 and was also married but has since divorced her husband.
We kept our relationship secret for a long time, but last year she started putting pressure on me to leave my wife, so we could be together properly.
She became careless with calls and messages, and last week my wife found one of them.
While I expected her to be upset, I didn’t anticipate her true reaction. She became hysterical and started hitting herself and tearing at her clothes.
She swore if I left, she would kill herself and our daughter. I don’t know what to do.
I want to be with my girlfriend but I am terrified of what my wife might do.
My daughter means more to me than anything in the world.
I couldn’t live with myself if anything happened to her, or if my wife took her own life.
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DEIDRE SAYS: Your wife is deeply and understandably upset, but she is emotionally blackmailing you, and that’s not right or fair.
Please try talking to her calmly about your feelings and suggest you have counselling together.
This can help a couple to split in a more amicable way and would help her prepare for the future.
You can find support at tavistock-relationships.org (020 7380 1960), which offers online help. My support pack on Counselling has more.
She may just have been trying to scare you, but if she continues to express suicidal feelings you need to get her mental health support.
The charity Mind (mind.org.uk) can help you. If you feel your child’s life is in danger, contact the police.
You have a right to be happy, and it’s better for your daughter to have two happy parents.
You can still be a good dad and support her financially, even apart from her mum.