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“When it's over”

It is hard to articulate how I'm feeling. I've scoured the internet for answers, but I feel it's all wrong. Why is it that marriage is the only thing we are expected to commit to in life that is forever, even if we change so much during the course of a lifetime? I am not the same person now in my late 40s as I was in my 20s, and neither is my spouse. We're not bad people, and we've got a good life together. We're not abusive towards one another, but I had no idea what was missing in my life until I met another man three years ago. I tried for a whole year to convince myself it was just a crush. But then we finally admitted to each other that we had mutual feelings, and we embarked upon an emotional affair that lasted for two years.

We connected on every level in ways I'd never connected with anyone else in my life (we've only kissed three times, and it was the best kissing I have ever had). but because we're both married with kids we're supposed to ignore these feelings. His wife found out (she doesn't know it's me) about a month ago, and he had to abruptly end it as he is unemployed and she gave him an ultimatum to see a marriage counselor. It kills me to think that when two people, who are both in committed relationships, but unhappy, are treated as if they've committed a crime or are suffering from some illness that needs to be treated with therapy.

We love each other, but are miserable in our respective existences. So many times over the years have I heard "in another life, I'd do XYZ...". Well, we only have one life to live. So while it may hurt those we love temporarily to tell them that we love each other and want to be together, it seems far worse to martyr oneself for the next 30+ years and stay, just because you made the commitment once. Nothing, nothing else in life requires a lifetime commitment - not a job, not a house, not living in the same town, nothing! But marry someone and you will forever be treated as a villain and looked down upon if you dare to meet someone who you fall in love with after you've already committed to someone else. It seems so unrealistic.

If we are truly honest with ourselves, who can remain happy with the same person for 50+ years of their life? I will never stop loving him, and I believe with every fiber of my being that we should be together, allowing our respective spouses to find someone else as well. I feel like I have died inside since he's been gone.

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