So much has happened in the less than a month since I last wrote… [The full letter in Last Week’s Column.]
Lesa, during the Second World War the Allied military faced a big problem. Bombers were getting shot down right and left. Of the ones that returned, many had bullet holes in the fuselage and wings. The question many in the military asked was, how can we better protect those areas of the planes?
But a mathematician named Abraham Wald realized they were asking the wrong question. The bullet holes in the returning planes, he reasoned, showed where a bomber could take damage and keep flying. The real question was, how to protect areas of the planes like the engines where bullets were bringing planes down?
Asking the wrong question is one of the most common problems in life. That’s also the problem in your two letters.
Your first letter outlined a problem. You married a man 10 years older who couldn’t support himself. He was a nice guy, but you had only a tepid sexual connection. You were together four years, married less than a year, you were the breadwinner, and he couldn’t even afford to get his car fixed to go to a part-time job. You were fed up.
So you got involved with another man. You called it cheating, but it was no more than a kiss. Then, out of guilt, you told your husband. He said he might be able to forgive you, but that didn’t make you feel better. Why? Because the whole point of your dalliance was to end the marriage.
Your second letter presented a different problem. Having devastated your husband, you embarrassed yourself by chasing the other man so hard he blocked you. Now you wrote asking if you should have played it cool instead. And you mentioned you might stay with your husband because you were afraid to start dating again and “be alone out there.”
That’s the essence of the problem. This isn’t about trying to latch on to a man. It’s about having the confidence in yourself to wait for the right man.
As with everything in life, we are looking for the one that fits. The right shoes, the right place to live, the right job, the right hair stylist. The right man. That’s not a chore. That’s the adventure.
You wrote for a quick fix. “Wayne and Tamara, please tell me how to get a new man.” But your deep self knew that was not the issue. The part of you that you’ve been squashing is trying to put you on the right path, and it will never be denied until you are on the right path.
So you might as well give in.
You clawed at one man so he wouldn’t get away from you. How is that different from marrying an older man who can’t hold up his end of the marriage? And why would clawing back at your husband be the answer to anything?
Many people who desperately want to change are hemmed in by circumstance. You are not.
You have a job. You are self-supporting. You have no children depending on you. You have the means to make it on your own. You are in the perfect position to stop making this mess worse, figure it out, and go on to your new life.
That means being alone for a while. It probably means getting individual counseling so you can confidently stand on your own two feet. It definitely means, as Abraham Wald might have said, asking and answering the right question.
~ Wayne & Tamara
Direct Answers Column for the week of November 13, 2017
Send Letters to: Dire[email protected]
Wayne & Tamara answer as many letters as they possibly can.