Ask Dr. Gilda-Torn Between Two Women

One man can’t decide between pursuing his new love & returning to his ex-wife. An expert weighs in.

By Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D.

ear Dr. Gilda,
I was married for nine years and have three wonderful kids. I got another job, which required training, and I left home for a couple of months. I met someone during that time who was the perfect woman I had always wished to meet. She made me feel young again, like I was the center of her world. Things progressed between us and I started to feel put out by my wife.

I returned home thinking I found that special someone, why not act on it and make a new life with her? Well, I did. I got divorced. She hasn’t left
In the end, cheaters only cheat themselves.
her husband and keeps telling me to give her more time—that he knows everything but isn’t letting her go. She says she wants to let him down easy. I have come to acknowledge that she hasn’t been completely honest. I’ve caught her in some lies. I do wish to somehow turn back time, and not get involved with this woman, but still there’s something that attracts me to her. I’m confused about what I want.

I miss my family, kids, and my wife who now I feel wasn’t as bad as I made her seem. My lifestyle back then was tranquil, and I had what I needed. Yet I feel this pull towards this woman. What should I do? Should I keep fighting for the love of this woman, or should I try to mend things with my family? Or should I just let both go, let them live their lives and move on?
– Torn in Two

Dear Torn in Two,
What did you really expect? As my Gilda-Gram says, “In the end, cheaters only cheat themselves.” You say you’ve caught the woman you left your wife for “in some lies.” Hey, guy, your romance was built on lies. You were both cheating on your spouses. And you stupidly and selfishly allowed yourself to be swept up in the moment, without considering what that would do to your wife and family. If you were passing an expensive shop and you liked something inside that you couldn’t
You were acting out a fantasy, and your sand castle is now mud.
afford, would you go in and steal it? Essentially, that’s what you did. A grownup recognizes that just because he is attracted to someone, it does not mean he should begin an affair with her.

Of course this woman still draws you in. You sacrificed your entire life for her, so you now need to tell yourself “rational lies” about how worth it this all was. Your mind is deceiving you, and your hormones are following suit. Grabbing for something just because you want it is impulsive. When you’re mature, your conscience slaps your impulses down and you observe disciplined boundaries.

Of course you’re confused now. You thought you could fly out of your commitments to an address at Never-Never Land. Hey, buddy, you’re not Peter Pan—and it’s time to grow up! This is what I suggest you do now:
  1. You need to dump your mattress mate immediately. You were acting out a fantasy, and your sand castle is now mud.
  2. If you are thinking of going back to your ex-wife, and she lets you in, have her contact me at once! This is not the right move now!
  3. You need to be alone now and discover life as a single man. Learn to do your own laundry and provide your own meals. No one will make you the “center of her world”—as you perform these routine tasks that bored you in your marriage.
  4. See a counselor to lessen your confusion and plot your goals. You need to learn where you want to go before you invite another person to join you.
Of course, you will always have to be in touch with your ex-wife because you have children in common. After you’ve matured, maybe then the two of you could consider reconciliation. But for now, your self-growth must become the center of your NEW world.

Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D., has a private practice and is an associate professor at Mercy College in New York. Her best-selling books include Don’t Bet on the Prince!, 99 Prescriptions for Fidelity and How to Win When Your Mate Cheats. Please visit her website ( and send her your relationship questions.
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