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Dear Curator,

My ex-wife of three years dumped me for another woman. My life fell apart when she walked out on me. Later, I learnt that she moved in with another woman and that they are in a relationship. Did she lie to me all these years of our marriage? Or was this something she discovered recently? I am both in shock and blaming myself for this. Was it my fault?

There is a great sense of loss when relationships end. There is also a feeling of abandonment when we are not the first ones to have moved on. Often our abandoning partners drop hints instead of addressing the emotional distance: petty fights, empty spaces of silence, indifference. All the cues are in front of us but we fail to see them. Sometimes we are too afraid of the consequences and other times we are too engrossed in how we feel about them to notice how they feel. If we start relationship counselling before anything hits the fan there is hope, but most of the time we don’t. We skip relationship counselling when it is already too late and most of the relationship demolishing has been done.

You could have the most loving feelings for someone but if you don’t ask about how they feel towards you, consider the relationship non-existent. Maybe you could have communicated more with your wife and ended the relationship earlier. Because it was going to end anyways. I completely understand you are in shock about this but blaming yourself for not being a woman might not be useful right now.

Your wife was probably not lying to you but to herself. It is difficult to accept a non-conforming sexual orientation, especially when one is in a socialised relationship based on heteronormativity. The decision to leave must have been difficult for her too. While you guys were ‘happily’ married she was going through a turbulent understanding and acceptance of her sexual identity. That can be a very lonely and a scary journey full of shame and self-blame. The process is very personal and can occur in different ways and at different speeds.

Connect authentically with her by asking about this journey, you will also get answers to your questions. Perhaps polyamory is where she is at and something you could also explore. If you still have feelings for her notwithstanding your heartbreak, why not try just an open relationship? Maybe if she had been given the option of having you both she would have stayed. How would this option make you feel? The relationship could also be asexual, it could be a loving and caring one where you and your wife hold what you have built in these three years. Looking at multiple options will rebuild the connection you had with her.

When we open up we tune into our curiosity and the creative energies that come with it. What would it look like if you three lived together? Maybe you could have a child and build a loving family with your wife and her partner? These are experiences people are opening up to across the world and redefining the meaning of family and relationships.


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