Dear Karma Cleanser:
I've been in a tumultuous marriage for 10 years. We have a 6-year-old daughter. In many ways, my wife and I are still a great match. People who know us always talk about what a great couple we are, blah blah blah. When we're around others, everything is all hunky-dory. And we're good coparents, very much on the same wavelength on our daughter's upbringing.
But (and there's always a "but," isn't there?) over the years, some fundamental differences have grown and festered to the point where we're both depressed and very unhappy. Attempts have been made to deal with these issues, but nothing sticks and we're back where we started, only ever more bleak. There is festering anger and resentment that threatens to consume the marriage eventually.
So I guess I was ripe for what happened. I have fallen in love with another woman, and now I'm ready to leave my wife. I feel like I have to for my own mental health. And for her mental health, too, though that won't be apparent when I break the news to her. It is my intention to take an apartment in my current neighborhood and to stay actively involved in raising my daughter. And it's my intention to fork over whatever money I can possibly afford each month to make sure my wife doesn't take too much of a financial hit.
But it will break her heart, at least initially. And I can't help but wonder if I am I setting myself up for some serious karmic retribution. I'm doing everything I can think of to minimize the blow (and she doesn't know about the other woman, nor will she until long after the sting has passed).
– -- All Mixed Up
We're taking a break from our normal two-letter format to give your predicament the proper amount of breathing room. And what a quandary it is, so familiar yet also unique in its Tolstoyian unhappiness. The short, easy answer is: Leave. If the dynamic with your spouse has deteriorated as much as you say, then that toxic air will contaminate the whole household, if it already hasn't. Yes, there will be karma on both sides of the equation -- how could there not be? -- but now that you've decided to go, leave before you doubt your gut.
The longer, harder answer, and the one you won't want to hear, is to also break it off with the new woman. Not forever, but at least for now. You're going to have enough knives in the air these next few months to also juggle a fire baton, and that's what this new relationship will be -- ripe with passion, but also danger. Sit it aside while you sort out the situation at home. Seriously.
Remember what we said earlier about breathing room? For the sake of karma -- and the kid, and your wife -- give that gift to yourself.
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