What Should Marriage Be Like?

Q: Do you think it's possible to love two men at the same time? I've been married for a lot of years and I feel comfortable with my husband; however, I don't love him like I should. He had an affair a few years ago, and since then I have not been able to trust him or forgive him. I feel like he might be seeing someone else again. On the other hand, I have a man who is crazy in love with me. I have young children with my husband, and I want to do what is best for them. But I'm unhappy in my marriage and don't feel that I'm showing my children what a marriage should be like. I am at the end of my rope and don't know which way to go from here. -- Mary, 45

Dr. Susan: I think it's probably possible to love far more than two partners at one time. After all, we love more than one of our children, and that seems natural enough. But in our society, we really need to choose and commit to one man and try to help make him, ourselves and our children reasonably happy. It's too bad you haven't yet managed to work through his affair, together. If you feel he's betraying you again, you need to let him know of your unhappiness and give him a chance to make things right. You say you're comfortable with him, but I suspect you're actually seething with resentment, which has made it much easier for you to rationalize your own current affair. Marriage, in fact, isn't SUPPOSED to be any particular way. I assume you mean you no longer have the hots for your husband as you used to. That does change. But starting up with someone new every time the infatuation fades is not much of a way to teach your kids anything positive about marriage, resilience, creatively adapting to life's changes and so on. Final word: Stop your affair until you deal directly with your husband. If you're both cheating, maybe divorce is the way to go. But don't go sneaking around and say it's in the interest of your children. It isn't!

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