He Doesn't Want to Cheat, BUT...
Q: I'm in my early 30s, married for six years and raising two preschoolers, and I'm feeling that I'm in a marriage solely for the sake of my children. We get along fairly well, but we aren't in love with each other. And I really want to be in love again. I wanna feel all those feelings that come along with love: the tummy butterflies, the nervousness you feel around that person, the emotional pain you feel when you have to leave for the night, the way your thoughts are consumed by the person that you are in love with, and most importantly I wanna be loved back.
I have met someone that has very much piqued my interest but NOTHING outside of a few conversations has happened between her and me, directly because I am married. I'll leave before I'll cheat. So do I stay in a marriage with someone I truly love dearly but am not in love with for the sake of raising my children while sacrificing my own happiness or do I make myself happy at the risk of screwing up the childhoods of my children? I'm not even talking about leaving my wife to be with this other person. I'm not ready for things to get that complicated and I don't know how the other woman feels about all this. The big picture is that I'm simply not happy and torn between the emptiness I feel inside or what's right for my children who are the most important things in my life. -- Dick
Dr. Susan: A little knowledge about the realities of love and lust might be really useful to you. Cupid sprays his arrows pretty randomly, so that almost any two people in proximity might fall "in love," and thereafter risk what they have for what they think they MUST have. Sure, those butterflies and passion and obsessive thinking about a loved one are fun and compelling, and it's great when a long-term relationship begins that way. But all good relationships evolve beyond the purely hormonal, which is what you're feeling for this other woman. It wouldn't last with her either! My best advice is to tell your wife you're missing something and you want to make your marriage more exciting for both of you. It can be done. It's done all the time. Most of the very happy couples I interviewed for my book "Loving in Flow" found themselves in the doldrums when their kids were young, but they all found their way beyond that period to something much more satisfying, and even exciting. It's not a matter of choosing your kids' security over a life filled with passion. Passion comes and goes. And some variation of it can come back again with your wife. Don't throw away what you have, but don't settle for the status quo. Make what you have better, and meanwhile stay away from intimate conversations with this other woman. If your wife is a good person whom you do truly love, give both of you another shot at lasting happiness.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.