Thursday 18 July 2019

Dear Mary: I feel so happy when I'm with this wonderful woman I met at work

(stock photo)
(stock photo)

Mary O’Conor

I am not even 50 but have led a life so full of mind-blowing highs and lows that I sometimes think I am blessed and cursed at the same time. I've been married twice and have three grown-up children from my first marriage who love me dearly and who I love with all my being.

I remarried in 2013 to a lovely woman with three children, also grown-up, two of whom live with us and whom I also love dearly. It should be perfect.

My second wife is an alcoholic and I knew this when we met, but because she is very high functioning and can go without drink for weeks and months at a time, I hoped that things would get better. They didn't, and for the last number of years I've been so depressed and unhappy in the marriage.

There is no physical contact any more and when she takes a notion for the booze, that seems to be the only time she's interested in me, which I do not want.

Recently I changed jobs and I get on well with all the girls in the office, but one in particular I seemed to have a good connection with. She is happily married with a young child. We used to joke about office affairs and laugh them off as a bit of harmless flirting until I began to have feelings for this woman. We are similar in age.

One day we were alone and I just blurted it out that I fancied her. We have talked before about my home situation. She said she was flattered but was very honest and said nothing could happen, which I accepted and respected. It was never mentioned again, but she would still ask about home life and say she cared about me being unhappy.

At our Christmas do, she had a few drinks but I was driving and not staying for long. She told me that she felt something for me and was confused as she loves her husband and child and things are really good at home.

Later that night, I got a flirty text which I found really flattering along the lines of "if only you could have stayed a bit longer I think something might have happened". I put it down to her having a few drinks.

She texted the following day to apologise and say she felt very confused about her feelings. All over Christmas we were texting every day. I knew that it was wrong but it felt so good. I had a miserable Christmas because my wife was drinking again. The texts got more frequent and more flirty, but we both agreed that nothing physical could happen between us.

The flirting continued especially if we were alone in the office. Last week we had a great chat about life in general and we hugged for a really long time. Then I kissed her and she responded. It was so exciting but we stopped, and agreed it couldn't happen again.

Trouble is I can't stop thinking about her and we are still texting. I feel so guilty and don't know what to do. The only time I'm happy is when we're together in work or texting which is night and day.

Please help, Mary.

A The big difference between you and your co-worker is that you were depressed and unhappy in your marriage, whereas everything was fine in hers.

Because of this you were very vulnerable and I can see why you would find this woman so attractive. She joked and flirted with you, listened to you when you explained that you were very unhappy at home, and then sent the 'if only' text to you. She even allowed you to kiss her, although she agreed afterwards that this should not happen again.

Anybody who has had an affair at work will admit that it adds a certain frisson of excitement to going into work each day. People say that they take extra care with their appearance, they enjoy the fact that nobody else in the office knows what is going on - although they generally do - and there are none of the humdrum household tasks to get in the way of the fun. It is a somewhat unreal life but the adrenalin rush is huge, and you are no doubt looking forward to every ping of your phone in the hope that it is another text from her.

However, and it is a very big however, you stand to get incredibly hurt in all of this.

This woman is, by her own admission, very happy at home, and while she is no doubt enjoying the flirtation and genuinely likes you I am very sure that if it came down to it she would not leave her family in order to be with you. So the longer you continue to text and chat and hope that somehow things might work out, the more you are likely to be disappointed. And if you take it to the next level you risk being even more hurt because you will have further to fall.

Does your wife know how unhappy you are regarding her only wanting to be intimate when she has been drinking?

Does she know that you are also unhappy in the relationship?

Has she sought help with her drinking through AA?

All of these things need to be addressed with her and this is the road to travel to begin with. If you ultimately decide to leave the marriage then it should be because you find it unbearable, and not because you fancy somebody else.

I'm sorry to be so brutally honest but it needs to be said.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting or email her at or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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