He's Tempted -- Help!
Q: I am 26 have been married for seven years and we went out for three years before that. We have been having problems and I just found out that a woman were I work is interested in me. I have to admit that she caught my eye the first time I saw her. Now I am really confused and don't know what to do. I don't want to leave my kids but don't want to wonder if I am missing out on something that could be great. HELP. -- Jack
Dr. Susan: Jack, every choice we make in life means there are other things we're going to miss out on. But in this kind of situation, what you're mainly going to miss out on is a LOT of misery. By that I mean, if you act on this impulse with this attractive co-worker, you're going to break your wife's heart, start on the road to divorce, betray your kids and deeply affect their future -- and all for nothing. Most office romances lead nowhere but still cause immense hurt. And a year or two down the line you'll be so so sorry you didn't appreciate your cozy family more.
Imagine giving a red lollipop to a preschooler. The kid is delighted. Then wave a grape lollipop in his face and say, "Nyah, nyah, this one is better and you can't have it." Would any kid tell you, "That's okay, I'm happy with what I have"? Not likely. That's human nature, but it's to be hoped we gain a little wisdom over the years. The problem I see here is that you've been with your wife since you were VERY young, like about 16. Of course you're wondering what experiences you've missed by settling down so early with one person. Especially sexual experiences. That's such a common feeling. Those who've had one lover wish they'd had three. Those with five wonder what those with ten got to experience that they didn't. There's no end to it.
Let's get back to your marriage for a moment. You're having problems? Who isn't? Do you think it would be any different with this woman at work? Hardly! You can make things much better at home, I promise you. One way is to deepen your level of intimacy with your wife. Tell each other some stuff you've never shared before. Above all, don't start talking about the problems in your marriage with this woman who's caught your eye. It will give you a very false sense of closeness, when all that's really there is lust, plain and simple.
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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.