Dear Alma, My husband and I are university professors of music. Now he is leaving me

Norman Lebrecht

December 30, 2023

From our agony aunt:

Dear Alma,

My husband and I are university music teachers, fortunately both working at the same school. We were looking for the next step up, applied for the last years and my husband was in a new (better) school for a year while I kept my old job and put the house up for sale. I got a husband and joined him this fall in the new position.

Here is the question. It slowly became clear that my husband had started a relationship with someone in our department while I was still living in our old home, and when I confronted him, he said he was leaving me. It’s like a dagger in my heart. We already sold the old house and I quit my old job.

I am so angry and trapped. I have to go to meetings with them every week and we all teach in the same hall. Feeling like I can barely make it through the day, I often throw up in the bathroom during the day. I have absolutely no choice but to stay here and feel crushed by their obvious (and incredibly callous) public happiness.

To top it all off they are pregnant, something we have been trying to do for 5 years.

There are no options

Dear No Options,

I’ll say what we’re all thinking. What a vile, disgusting excuse for a person. Disgusting, soulless, self-obsessed without thinking about the person who shared his life, who trusted him and moved to a new city to continue their life together. As an outcast, your sense of self-worth, confidence, and yes, even your identity feel pulverized under the weight of this (public) rejection.

You may feel powerless. From your housing to your new, fragile job, to the lack of local support, the land has been stolen from you. And the cherry on top of the fetid pile of poop, the pregnancy you worked so desperately for was taken and gifted to this new, evil couple.

You can do this. You are a logical, smart person. You can recover from it and move on. I know you can. I hope you realize how amazing and strong you are. you’ll be fine Let’s do it.

No options: Do these steps.

Hire a Divorce Attorney:

This scumbag has known his plans for quite some time. He is way ahead of you and you need to catch up quickly. Get a lawyer and file for divorce. In the meantime, gather any documentation about the situation to ensure the best possible financial future for yourself. Consider a divorce counselor.

Find a new place to live:

Get out of your shared living space. You need a fresh place to start fresh. Get rid of all the clutter that reminds you of that pig – the pictures on your phone, the triggers.

Join a divorce support group (or more than one):

You need support. You need to know what the options are. You need strength and people to talk to. Call a good friend or family member. They will help and possibly come to help you find a new place and stay with you for a short time.

Keep this off social media and away from work:

We’d love nothing more than to row, tug and drag this snoring snake over the coals (preferably still smoking), but you’ve got to take the high road. Anyone can see what a fool this guy is, you don’t need to condescend to point it out.


You need to be in the best possible place—physically and emotionally—to tackle this next step. Exercise, good food and regular sleep. Show yourself some serious self-love.

Decide to stay or leave:

Start thinking about where you want to be. You can contact your previous employer to see if there is any return option. Or settle into your new job and explore your new city. Or continue to apply for more positions. But don’t sit still.

Questions for Alma? Please post them in the comments section or send to [email protected]

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