'My partner is married, will he ever be all mine?'

My partner is married but I’m told they haven’t been intimate for years and although his wife doesn’t know about me, she did agree to ‘open’ their marriage.

We’ve been together for two years and I missed him incredibly during the peak of coronavirus. I’ve since told him that I don’t want to be alone.

I’m 35 and I want to live with my partner and have a family. He told me that he can’t leave right now because their business is only just surviving and his wife is suffering because of it.

I feel hurt and quite angry. What’s your advice?

You say their marriage is open but we’re not entirely convinced it is.

‘There’s a thing I have called straydar,’ says James McConnachie.

‘Actually, I’ve just invented it but, whatever. It tells me when someone is lying in a relationship — and, wow, my imaginary screen has just lit up with all kinds of warnings.’

Is it possible that his wife still considers their marriage exclusive and you’re choosing to ignore this painful truth?

‘Never mind his words, his actions speak much louder,’ McConnachie continues. ‘He has not left her in two years. He has not even made a plan to leave her.’

Does that seem like a man who is committed to a life with you?

He has the best of both

‘In my experience, few men will settle for a marriage of companionship and convenience,’ says Dr Angharad Rudkin.

‘While they may have a business together, I imagine it’s something more than that. He has the security of a marriage and the novelty of a mistress.’

Lockdown revealed the cracks in many relationships and the strength and fortitude in others, so we’re not surprised that you’re now finally feeling the frustration and loneliness that has been simmering in the shadows.

Always second-best

‘But why have you settled for so long?’ Rupert Smith asks.

‘You’ve put yourself in a situation where you’re always going to be second-best, overlooked, ignored and basically treated with contempt.

‘There must be a reason for this and you’ll find it in your childhood.

‘Were you always having to compete for a parent’s attention? Were you made to feel inferior?

‘If this message gets across strongly enough, we’ll spend the rest of our lives living up to it,’ says Smith, who suggests therapy to track your relationship issues back to the source.

‘Then you can construct more helpful ways of doing things in future,’ he adds.

Approach things differently

As for your lover, instead of discussing timings, you could try a different approach. You could ask him if his marriage is really open.

‘You could ask him what the reality of him leaving her would be and what a relationship means to him,’ says Rudkin.

Or, with courage, you could cut him off and find an honest partner who will give you a real commitment and the family you desire.

The experts

  • Dr Angharad Rudkin is a clinical psychologist
  • James McConnachie is the author of Sex (Rough Guides)
  • Rupert Smith is the author of Interlude (Turnaround)

Got a sex and relationship dilemma? Email it to [email protected]

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