Help! I’m Married And Obsessed With Another Man
Reader Obsessed writes:
I’ve developed an obsession with a man other than my husband. I have been married 10 years, and we have children. I have been fighting to keep this obsession at bay for over a year. It started as a result of a family tragedy in which a loved one was lost in a traumatic way. Law enforcement was involved in the incident and this man served as a liaison/support to my family during this time. Over time my gratitude and appreciation for him as a result of the way he responded to the tragedy has grown into intense emotional and physical desire.
We have had very minimal face to face contact- I think only 3 times over the past 1.5 years. But we have had much more contact via social media/text/etc. At one point I confessed to him that I wanted him (and he reinforced this by acknowledging his own desire for me) but I was clear that I could not/would not act on this because I do not wish to risk my blessed life with my husband/child.
I am just feeling less and less confident about this statement all the time and have recently even started considering a very specific plan to meet up with him. I know I have already crossed a line in terms of fidelity (and feel self-loathing) and I am scared that I might take it further and risk the destruction of my marriage/life as I know it.
I have never been in a position like this before. Sure, during the course of 10 years of marriage I have noticed other men or found them attractive, but nothing I was ever tempted to act on. Not even close! However, as you can imagine, actual desire is at a low after a decade of marriage and so this attention has me reeling. I am consistently caught off guard by the depth of my feelings and attraction to this man, and the fact that I have gone so far as to communicate this to him is completely uncharacteristic of me.
I realize that a large component of our connection has to do with the circumstances under which we met, but I also believe we are two people who simply have a very strong attraction to each other. I never thought I’d be in this position. I hold my morality in high esteem I want to continue to do so, but I cannot shake this obsession. I feel powerless over this situation. Help!
I understand that your feelings are very intense, but you are correct in your estimation that this whole situation was exacerbated by the circumstances under which you met. You have only seen this man three times. He seems like a savior, and you met him literally in that exact role, so you’re less able to see that he’s just a regular guy. He seems especially exciting compared to your husband, since you are in the “monotogamous” phase of marriage and your husband likely has lost a lot of his appeal.
I discuss here how to stop flirting with a coworker and here how to reconnect after infidelity. Take parts from both of these posts, particularly where I discuss trying to visualize your “obsession” as a regular guy with faults (one glaring one is flirting with a married mother) and try to see your husband through the lens that made you initially fall in love with him. You also may want to find a therapist to discuss why you’re so attracted to this man, and how your own family of origin issues are contributing to your desire to be unfaithful/have more excitement/”obsess” over this man/self-sabotage/et cetera.
If you try all of this, and you still really want to be with this other man, you owe it to your husband and child to be open and honest, and own this. Certainly, cheating on your husband is going to be a bad scene for all involved, especially if he discovers it. And you don’t really know what life would be like with this new man. Your contact with him is mostly online; you have no idea how he would be as a life partner or if he wants this.
There are numerous possibilities here:
1. You take the depth of your feelings for this man as a wakeup call to work on your marriage. Go to couples counseling, admit you’ve been attracted to others, and work hard to rekindle your marriage.
2. If your marriage is entirely dead, which I doubt since you say it’s blessed, then you must tell your husband you want to be with this other man, apologize a great deal, and leave.
3. You can also discuss the idea of open marriage with your husband. Many people don’t consider this option but different ways of conceptualizing marriage are becoming more and more common. Read Marriage Confidential: Love in the Post-Romantic Age for more on this idea. Note: if thinking about your husband having sex with another woman makes you angry or sick feeling, go with #1 instead.
Consider the consequences of losing your husband and child’s trust in you in order to have this fling. It may be better, although more difficult initially, to take one of the more honest and ethical solutions presented above. Good luck and certainly keep me updated. Till we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist Who Says Ethical Non-Monogamy Is A Possibility For More Couples Than Think Of It Initially.
Order Dr. Rodman’s newest book, 52 Emails to Transform Your Marriage and order her first book: How to Talk to Your Kids about Your Divorce: Healthy, Effective Communication Techniques for Your Changing Family
This blog is not intended as medical advice or diagnosis and should in no way replace consultation with a medical professional. If you try this advice and it does not work for you, you cannot sue me. This is only my opinion, based on my background, training, and experience as a therapist and person