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Struggling to know if I am bad or not

(104 Posts)
dementiawidow Thu 26-May-16 22:19:13

I've name changed for this because my posting history is very identifiable and I don't know if my daughters are on here.
Married for 16 years to a great DH who I have loved very much and been loved by. It's been a great relationship, happy, faithful, fulfilling. There is a 20 year age difference between us.
For the several years he's been going steadily downhill healthwise and we now know he has early onset dementia. Well, I know it; he is so far gone he doesn't know it. I have gone from being a friend, companion, lover to being a carer and basically just babysitting a shell of a man. It is completely heartbreaking and I feel really isolated and lonely in my marriage. It doesn't feel like a marriage anymore but I have promised to love and care for this person, who I have loved.
So anyway, I'm trying my hardest to take care of him as best I can. But I've recently met someone with my work who I feel attracted to and who is making me feel like an actual person again.
I wouldn't be unfaithful to my husband as long as he is alive, but I feel really guilty. I can't seem to get a grip on my moral compass at all here. Is it terrible of me to enjoy the companionship of this male friend? I'm not going to lie, if I was single there would be more to it. But am I being disloyal and unfaithful just by having this friendship?
To be clear my DH is not even capable of knowing any of this, most days he hardly knows who I am and often does not recognise me. But I still feel terrible. I want a life and fun and friendship and love, but I can't have it anymore with the man I have loved.
Am I being immoral? If he was still "with it" in his head he would be devastated by this. But he isn't even there anymore. He has left the building. But does that make it any less wrong? I really don't know what to think or how to cope anymore with all this. I am 48 by the way.

AnyFucker Thu 26-May-16 22:21:56

Your husband might not be "with it" but you are and his family is

Step hack from the brink of an affair

You knew the risks when you hooked up with someone two decades older than you

Have the decency to wait until he is dead

AnyFucker Thu 26-May-16 22:22:25


Dakin1 Thu 26-May-16 22:27:50

You are not bad, you are human. If this new man is a good person he will understand your situation and wait for you. 48 is very young to resign yourself to a life of being your husband's carer.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying friendship in the mean time but it would be wise not to take it further.
I am so sorry about your husband 's dementia flowers

tribpot Thu 26-May-16 22:28:51

I take a different view from AF. What would you think was reasonable if you were the one with dementia? Would you want him to be able to take comfort in a loving friendship once you were effectively no longer there? To have a refuge from the daily misery of being a carer? I think you might.

As to the fact that he's older, unfortunately any of us can find ourselves having to care for a spouse who is no longer the person he or she was.

That said, what about the feelings of the male friend? Would he want more if you were single, or have you perhaps made more out of his friendship than is really there? It could be hurtful if he decides to pull away.

hownottofuckup Thu 26-May-16 22:28:54

Hmm tricky. Having witnessed the effects of dementia I have a lot of sympathy for you and your family.
I think the real concern here is for you and your daughters, your DH needs caring for properly but I understand what you mean by 'left the building'. Knowing what you are going through what would he want for you?
How old are you daughters? Are they old enough to talk to about it?

Heebiejeebie Thu 26-May-16 22:29:10

Jesus, AF, has someone hacked your account? What does 'an affair' mean in a situation where one partner doesn't have any knowledge of the relationship?

You knew what you were letting yourself in for? What claptrap

AnyFucker Thu 26-May-16 22:35:10

Nobody has hacked my account.

Op married someone old enough to be her father with all the attendant risks of ending up being his carer. Yes, that could happen to anyone but the chances are multiplied with such a large age gap. I expect she dismissed any thoughts of that when he was still hale and hearty, though.

Now she is setting herself up for an emotional affair with OM.

If this was an ill wife with her husband sniffing around OW, what do we think the reaction might be ?

Op didn't post because she fancies the odd coffee during working hours with the fanciable colleague. She knows she is wrong, and I for one will not validate her.

ScarletForYa Thu 26-May-16 22:35:14

I'm older than my DP. If I get dementia he's then a free agent. Life is short and there's no point in missing out on opportunities needlessly.

I'd crack on OP. Be sensitive and discreet obviously!

HappyJanuary Thu 26-May-16 22:36:11

Wrong to embark on an affair IMO, unless it was discussed and agreed while your DH was still able to give consent.

I imagine the wider family, including your daughters, are finding his decline hard enough without potentially finding out about an affair.

If you are struggling with the caring responsibilities then that's a separate issue (what happens while you're at work?) and the solution isn't another relationship.

Joysmum Thu 26-May-16 22:38:05

I couldn't disagree with AF more strongly.

I've nursed my FIL through dementia and then had to give up as his needs became too great.

I saw him go from a gentle church goer who never swore to being aggressive, swearing and a appropriate with nurses.

We lost his mind and then his body went. He wasn't the man he was.

DH and I have both been horrified at the disease and reiterated to friends and family that if either one of us were to lose our sense of self, we would fully expect them to support the other in finding love elsewhere.

I would not subject my DH to s life chained to the husk of what was me. All I've ever wanted is for my DH to be happy. If I make him happy then all's well and good, if I'm not able to then he should seek out a person who does and I'd forever be thankful to her for giving him a second chance at the precious gift of love.

dementiawidow Thu 26-May-16 22:38:40

AF I am not here to look for permission to have an affair. I think you are being very harsh. I said clearly that I am looking after the man I have loved in a respectful and loving way to the best of my abilities.
Thank you to the others for your kind and thoughtful responses, they are helpful.

Joysmum Thu 26-May-16 22:39:50

I'm older than my DP. If I get dementia he's then a free agent. Life is short and there's no point in missing out on opportunities needlessly

Well said.

If we truly love our partners, why wouldn't we want them to be happy? That's just selfish. We get one life only.

AnyFucker Thu 26-May-16 22:40:13

You asked for opinions.

I think your relationship with your colleague is inappropriate and you know it.

dementiawidow Thu 26-May-16 22:45:32

And AF I just read your second post. Your remarks about marrying someone old enough to be my father are very hurtful. I was not an OW, I was not a gold-digger. I married someone I loved very much and have had a successful and happy relationship with that person for a long time. Of course I had the intelligence to realise that at some point in the future the age gap might start to tell. Unfortunately the way things are now are beyond anything I ever imagined.
To say it again, I am NOT planning on having an affair with this person. I couldn't be unfaithful to DH while he is alive. I pretty much am just having the odd cup of coffee and chat with this person. But I'm trying to be honest and recognise that it is not the same as having a cup of coffee and chat with a girlfriend. There is a spark. I am not acting on it. But what I am questioning in my heart is even if just spending a bit of friendly time together is alright. I feel guilty because I know it would have hurt the man I had, not the person I have now.

AnyFucker Thu 26-May-16 22:46:28

If I became ill would I be OK with my husband developing romantic relationships with other women ?


InaMay Thu 26-May-16 22:48:32

This is a very hard situation, you have my sympathy. A couple of things struck me. You say you would not be unfaithful to your husband, so how do you see your relationship with this man develop? Would you be satisfied to continue as friends only? Would he? I imagine this would be difficult as time and feelings develop between you. I think you need to be realistic with what it is you want from this man and what continuing this friendship will ultimately become.

I will not judge you. I don't believe you are bad. I can't even imagine how difficult it is for you. The fact remains though that you are on very dangerous territory here, OP. If you continue with this 'friendship', I predict it is only a matter of time before the line is crossed. Again, I won't judge that. However, there would be huge implications for your daughters and beyond. Realistically, you would have to sneak around as much as any other common or garden affair couple, regardless of your circumstances. Can you see yourself doing this? Can your friend? Or could you see yourself coming clean and going public, preparing yourself to face those who support and those who vilify? Again, I know you say you won't go there, but trust me when I say; it will happen.

How long has your DH been 'absent' so to speak? Do you feel you have allowed sufficient time to grieve the relationship you had? Do you really feel ready to move on? While you may feel you have grieved your DH, I would be concerned that when the time comes, when all of him goes, you might find yourself grieving all over again; something it would be very difficult and a potentially huge source of conflict to do while in another relationship.

Tread carefully, OP. I feel for you, I really do.

JanetinJeans40 Thu 26-May-16 22:50:18

I really do sympathise with your situation, OP, but I think it's morally wrong to follow this up with other man. You know he's not just a friend and that you're attracted to him. I would certainly feel I had an obligation not to have an EA with this other man. Even if your partner has 'left the building' still feels wrong imo.

Offred Thu 26-May-16 22:51:23

I have to say I agree with AF.

A friend of my dad's had dementia, her husband moved on very quickly with someone else while she was still alive but declining for years.

I very much disagreed with the whole happy clappy part time pretending he was doing with his wife whilst tripping off on holidays with his girlfriend.

I can't imagine ever feeling comfortable enough to begin a new relationship while a much loved spouse was suffering a long drawn out death TBH. Especially if there are children.

I know lots of people disagree but it made me sick when my parents used to have the husband and gf then the husband and wife round for visits on different weeks. Felt humiliating towards a vulnerable person.

Canyouforgiveher Thu 26-May-16 22:56:49

Startlingly unkind posts from Any Fucker and lacking any actual understanding of the devastation that is dementia.

it isn't "ill" it is a complete theft of the personality and character and essence of the person you loved. He is 68. he could live for another 20 years or more, unable to relate in any significant way to the OP. By which time she will be 68 herself. but "she made her bed and she should lie in it" seems to be the only response.

OP, I think you should go easy on yourself. if I were you I wouldn't rush into any form of relationship until you had really come to terms with your husband's illness, his prognosis, and what that means for your life. if after all that, you think you can include a relationship with someone else, then i for one would not blame you.

And on the other side, it is actually common enough that demented patients in care homes form sexual relationships with other patients. It happened with Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O Connor's husband. She didn't blame him. I suspect if she had found love or sex herself in their current horrible circumstances her husband, if he could have understood their situation wouldn't have blamed her either.

1ofthosedays Thu 26-May-16 22:59:24

My granddad has severe dementia. It has been a very slow process but my nan is now in a place where she talks as if she's in mourning over the man she loved. She constantly tells stories about things he used to do and often reminisces about the things that she lived about him but she is right to mourn him, he may be there but the man she loved has gone.
I would fully support her if she decided to seek friendship with a man, maybe even encourage. I think that all of my family would. To see what she goes through on a daily basis is so upsetting and if she could have something like what you have I would feel so relieved that she has an outlet.
I think you should speak to your daughters and see what they say? It may still be a bit early for them but in time they will understand and I'm sure he would too if he was in your situation

InaMay Thu 26-May-16 23:00:10

There are other threads running at the minute that talk about marriages that aren't bad, but perhaps not good enough to stay. Others talk about those living within celibate relationships. All fine and dandy when it's a consensual arrangement. But when one of the partners are unhappy, unfulfilled, they are encourages to leave; life's too short etc, etc.

The position the OP finds herself in is so much worse. Her DH has effectively gone. Yet she continues to look after his body. It's as commendable as it is self sacrificing. Some may fully believe 'in sickness and in health', and that's absolutely fine; if you believe it, live it. Others might feel that yes, that's great if we're chatting a broken leg or whatever, but at the point when your partner has effectively left you, what or who are you remaining faithful to?

Oh, I don't know if I'm making sense here. All I'm saying is, if it were me that had dementia, I would want my partner to move on. I really would. It would be enough that they were looking after my body. My mind would not be an issue any longer.

Of course, the OP says she will not have an affair and while I would love to give her the benefit of the doubt on that, I really don't think that is realistic in these circumstances.

AnyFucker Thu 26-May-16 23:00:33

Having dementia does not change you into a person no longer deserving of common human kindness and decency

Developing romantic relationships whilst still married to that person is wrong, for all the same reasons that having affairs at all is wrong. If you wouldn't do it to them when they are in full possession of their faculties, why contemplate doing it under any circumstances ?

If you want love and romance with someone else, don't keep up a sham of marriage and try to fool others you have stayed faithful when you are not. That is the coward's way, no matter which way you cut it.

BatLetRat Thu 26-May-16 23:04:30

Of course you're not bad or immoral! I wish you all the best in this horrendous situation.

AF - more awful posts from you where you insist on commenting on threads that you have no experience of. I see you derailing threads on the sex topic which feature, shock horror, the subject of sex. Please can you just stop? An awful lot of posters might be grateful for a little less of your 'wisdom'

Canyouforgiveher Thu 26-May-16 23:05:47

So your solution, Anyfucker, is that she should divorce her husband, leave him off to someone else (who? her children? the state?) to mind and then she can morally pursue another relationship.

how about she continues minding her husband as best she can considering how his disease has affected him - with common human kindness, decency and even love.

and how about she also gets to have some sort of life for herself including maybe, eventually, forming a relationship with someone else that gives her some kind of support.

given that her husband will not understand if she tells him that she is having sex with someone else. that in fact her husband may not even know who she is anymore.

I know which scenario I think is more morally decent.

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