What Do "Feelings" Mean?
Q: I am married for a year, but I've been with him for four years, and we have a toddler. I cheated on my husband once, when we were married a month. Now I'm starting to have "feelings" for a co-worker. My husband is 28. The guy at work is 25, and is married with a toddler also. We are getting closer as friends, and I know he wants to "be" with me. He doesn't want to be with his wife but doesn't want to not be able to see his boy every day. Same here except I love my husband. What do I do? -- Sally, 22
Dr. Susan: Marriage isn't only about "feelings." If everyone who felt annoyed with their mate left them, no one would ever be married more than a month (probably not even a week, or a day). If everyone who felt an attraction toward someone else acted on it, all families would fly apart at the seams very quickly. Half of them do already, which is extremely hard on all those kids. Marriage is a decision to commit to someone, not just to "like" them at every moment. This guy doesn't want to NOT see his kid daily, and that's exactly what will happen if the two of you pursue this. If you love your husband, beware.
Consider that maybe you need to do some deep reflecting about what you want out of life. It sounds like you're somewhat addicted to the excitement of having some guy find you alluring. In Is It Love Or Is It Addiction? Brenda Schaeffer writes, "Addictive love is a reliance on someone or something external to the self in an attempt to get unmet needs fulfilled, avoid fear or emotional pain, re-enact trauma, solve problems, and maintain balance. The paradox is that addictive love is an attempt to gain control of our lives, and in so doing, we go out of control by giving personal power to someone or something other than ourselves." Really beware.
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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.