Sunday, 10 June 2012

Sometimes it’s OK to have an affair….

The last week has been manic.  Having been busy over the four days of the Jubilee (which I thoroughly enjoyed, despite the terrible weather), I then had two sick kids, followed by a sick me!  Not what you need during the half term!

However, in the middle of all this frenetic activity, I was thrilled to see a text message ping through from my great friend @AHLondon_Tex, telling me that she had arrived in the UK for a visit with the kids. 

Having not seen her since Christmas time, we had plenty of catching up to do.  And we were joined by another friend of hers, that I had not met before.  As the conversation progressed, I learnt that this other woman is possibly in the most difficult situation of any woman I know.  And it has called into question the whole case of whether it’s OK to have an affair when you’re married.

In brief, this woman’s husband left her and their children, to live abroad.  He supports her and their children financially, but it is very controlled.  There is no joint bank account.  He has no assets in this country and is living a whole other life abroad.  He visits the children on a regular, but infrequent basis.

This woman came into the country as the spouse of someone who was working here.  She does not work herself and to my knowledge, does not have a work permit – besides which, she is the full time carer for her children. 

Her husband does not want and will not grant her a divorce.  He is effectively keeping her a ‘prisoner’ in her marriage.  If she goes to divorce lawyers, she has no way of paying them.  She is not familiar with English matrimonial law and knows that if she does try and divorce her husband, it will be outright warfare.

She has, on one level, resigned herself to the impossibility of the situation.  But she is a young, beautiful woman.  She has every right to find happiness and another relationship.  Nevertheless, she is also a married woman and she fears that in her circumstances, no one would be interested in her. 

I felt quite flummoxed when she explained her situation.  I do not know anything about international law – so I was completely unable to help on that front.  But I have no doubt in my mind, given her circumstances, that she should be allowed to have another relationship, married or not. 

Clearly, she too feels that having been ‘left’ and knowing her husband has created a whole new life for himself, she should be allowed to ‘find someone’.  But she seemed to feel paralysed by the thought that any ‘decent’ man would not want to get involved.

And on this point, I really sympathise.  Do decent men engage in relationships with married women?  Do they take the circumstances into consideration and treat each case on its merits?

What’s the answer to this conundrum? 

Well, I realise that there will be men out there who just wouldn’t want to get involved in what they might regard as a very complicated situation.  And I believe in honesty being the foundation stone of any relationship - so there has to be full disclosure at some point. 

But maybe that’s just the thing….  It’s all in the timing and being clear in her own head about how she presents her situation to a potential boyfriend. 

I realise that this situation is more complicated than the norm.  However, for anyone embarking on a relationship, following a marriage breakdown, we all have ‘stuff’ which needs to be disclosed at some time, but maybe not on day one. 

I do have a terrible habit of saying too much.  It stems from a deeply rooted need to be open and honest…  But I have had to learn that sometimes, at the very early stage of a relationship, when you’re just trying to find out whether you like someone, there are things that can wait to be said.

I would never normally encourage someone to get involved in a relationship when they are still married.  But in this case, I really hope she does.  She is a beautiful young woman who has every right to find happiness.  


  1. Actually, I have talked extensively with her about all of this. She's not interested in an affair--she is a bit off on men at the moment--and I think having one would further complicate an already horrible situation. Companionship, however, is something else. She's lonely. It helped when her youngest started school. I notice that she talks about a few more people. Her English is improving rapidly, so now she can more easily chat with people, so that helps too. Things are slowing getting a little better, but he really left her stranded and isolated. Mostly she needs friends.
    I resist the urge to punch him when I see him.

  2. It can really get nasty too from a visa point as well. I have a friend who came into the country on a marriage visa but left her husband because he became very unreasonably jealous of her son and once got violent. She didn't go to the police so there is no record of his behaviour and now he has cancelled her visa so she through no fault of her own is now illegally in this country. Her son is in the middle of his GCSEs so both their futures are ruined.

  3. I would advise her to go and see a good lawyer, she will get legal aid as she is not working. Depending on how long she has been in the country she may be able to apply for humanitarian leave given that she has a child in school. Once she gets her visa sorted she can apply for divorce on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour.


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