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Married but toying with fantasy of affair with colleague

Tagged as: Marriage problems<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (23 October 2009) 8 Answers - (Newest, 3 July 2010)
A male Ireland age 51-59, *eachwalker writes:

Wife and Work Colleague

Hello everybody. I'm new around here and I need some non judgemental advice from you. (I posted this last night but in the wrong place, I think). I've been married for 15 years and we have two children. Our sex life has never been fantastic. Even in the early days, my wife didn't have a huge sex drive and things haven't got much better as time went by. About ten years ago, she was diagnosed with depression. She takes medication daily and no one else knows about this, such is the normal front we present to the world at large.

Her going on medication was a great success for us all as she became a much calmer and more rational person afterwards. Our sex life improved a little initially but sliped back again gradually. She's always felt guilty about this and a side effect of her medication is a further reduction in her sex drive.

About 5 years ago, she had an emotional affair. She was texting this guy who she'd texted initially by accident (wrong number) and it started from there. It was a classic one. She changed her attitude towards me. Everything I did and said was wrong and she had no real time for me. I opened a text message that she received one afternoon while she was in the shower and all hell broke loose over the next few days. There were the initial denials etc. and the gradual full emergence of the truth. She never met him (I know this for certain) though he did ask to meet her. I'm presuming that they would have met up with each other in time and who knows after that. I sent him a nasty text and told him I never wanted to hear about him again and told him to get lost. (I used my wife's phone to do so). Probably not a smart move on my part and one that upset my wife greatly. She wanted to be able to be the one to tell him and finish with him.

She said that she'd never sought an emotional affair but that she'd felt unappreciated etc. by me (fair comment) and that he was interestd in her just for her. She said that she finished it all up but, with trust damaged majorly, I've always wondered if she hasn't another phone in her office at work which she continues to text him from.

Bit by bit, it became less of an issue for me but I've spent a lot of time lately on online forums like DearCupid, reading about emotional affairs, the damage caused by them etc. and, to be honest, that brought back a lot of my negative thoughts and feelings about the whole affair and probably, in hindsight, was a mistake for me to do so.

Over the last few weeks I've cut myself off emotionally from my wife. I blame some of this on what I've outlined here, but it's only part of the reason.

The other part of the story is the feelings I have for a work colleague. We're about the same age (mid forties), she's married with two kids also and is the rock of sense in our office. We've always been close (working together for ten years) and I flirt a lot with her. She flirts with me also but it's about 80/20% from my side. On work nights out, we usually sit near each other and enjoy each others company etc. To complicate matters slightly, I'm quite friendly with her husband and play golf with him a few times every year.

I've always had feelings towards her but, over the past year or so, I've started to wonder if I'm in love with her. I think I am. My feelings for her have been quite intense over the last few months. And I'm not sure that it's a sexual thing only. I love spending time with her and sometimes I just want to reach out and hold her hand. (And yes, I'd like to have sex with her but my feelings run much deeper than that). I've never felt like this about anyone before, including my wife. Never!

I never set out wanting to feel the way I do. At times, I'm ashamed of how I feel about my wife and my work colleague.

My wife is quite upset at my shutting her out and has asked for an explanation. I've told her that I don't want to talk about it. This has made things worse and she's concerned because I won't open up to her. She even asked me if I thought that she's been having an affair of some kind. I said I didn't but that I wasn't sure if I'd ever properly come to terms with or dealt with her emotional affair. She seemed to back off in the days after I said that to her.

I know that there is no future for my colleague and myself but deep down I know that I'm hoping against hope that we'll have some kind of a fling at some stage. And I know that by having such thoughts, that I've already cheated on my wife.

But after that, my thoughts are clouded in fantasy, embarrassment and confusion. I feel foolish at times but my feelings outweigh everything.

I really could do with a bit of advice......

Thanks.

View related questions: affair, at work, cheated on my wife, flirt, move on, sex drive, sex life, text

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A female reader, Tisha-1 United States + , writes (3 July 2010):

Tisha-1 agony auntDid you ever actually work on your marriage, or did you just kind of hope things would get better?

I think you missed an opportunity to make things really good with your wife, but then, it's not my marriage. I mean, if you'd gone and got professional help together, you'd be nearly 10 months along with that. You'd be proactive, instead of merely reacting to someone else's seemingly random choices. Ah well. Life is always easier to understand when you look at it in the rearview mirror.

Best wishes.

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A male reader, Beachwalker Ireland +, writes (3 July 2010):

Beachwalker is verified as being by the original poster of the question

Yes I had a lucky escape. And I still feel very foolish, especially given everything that happened. She and her neighbour have moved away and she has cut all contact with all of us. And none of her work colleagues ever want to see her again anyway.

Things are quite good for me at the moment. I'm looking forward, not backwards and I'm hoping that everything stays that way. My wife and I are getting on pretty well and we moved house last month though we stayed in the same town. Thanks again for your replies.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (30 April 2010):

boy you had a lucky escape ,didn't you. your fantasy woman was the very unfaithful type. i cannot imagine what her hb is going through. i hope this has made you realise how lucky you are to still have your wife. work on your marriage, start respecting her, start loving her. i think this is an eye opener to say, the grass isn't alway greener on the other side.

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A male reader, Beachwalker Ireland +, writes (29 April 2010):

Beachwalker is verified as being by the original poster of the question

Just a brief update on my situation. My work colleague and her husband separated a few months ago because she was having an affair with a neighbour of hers. She's also taken time off work. I was amazed when the news broke. And quite confused! She and her neighbour have moved in together and her children spend most of their time with their father.

Do I feel like a complete idiot? What do you think.......?

Thank you all for your replies. Much of the advice was hard to take at the time but deep down I knew that the opinions being expressed were correct........... You've all helped me be a slightly better person. Long way to go still but, here's hoping!

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (26 October 2009):

the aunts have given you excellent advice.

tisha, as always , valuable insight.

just to add my little bit- don't you think you are a tad bit selfish. you put a stop to your wifes emotional aupport system yet you continue on the sly. you connivingly "blame" your wife for your coldness and you shut out your poor long suffering wife and you use her relationship as an excuse. kudos to you!!!!!!!!! if your wife is not enough for you, then release her. allow her to get the emotional support, the love and committment that you have not provided her. allow her to feel real love and honour with another man instead of this shallowness from you. you are a selfish sod who doesn't deserve his wife. you are a manipualtor and a cheat yet you are a wolf merely disguised as an innocent sheep.

you want some advice- how about trying to be a real man. how about trying to put a stop TO YOUR CHEATING. how about you investing in your own marriage instead of running around like a puppy dog for this other married woman. i have no respect for cheating husbands, whether sexual or emotional. i think you have f*cked up your marriage for too long.for 10 years you have flirted with this other woman. for 10 years you have stolen from your wife. either be man enough to rectify or release your wife. you are NOT the good decent hb you perceive yourself to be. you are actually very very false.

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A female reader, Tisha-1 United States + , writes (23 October 2009):

Tisha-1 agony auntHi, you have managed to get yourself into a very dark place in your marriage, haven't you? Look, I think you need to face the fact that having an affair (yours or hers) has done and will do nothing to fix the fundamental problem: you and your wife have an abysmal marital relationship at the moment. I expect years of building resentment, a desire to keep up appearances rather than face ugliness and conflict, and no idea how to tackle these things has set you into this awful position.

I don't have the perfect marriage. No one has the perfect marriage. My observation about the people who have marriages that work is that they are willing to talk about really sensitive and po,tentially hurtful things in a way that is most constructive. Having fights and yelling won't solve the issue--it may make people feel better to vent, but it doesn't change the fundamental problem.

So first, your approach. Both of you need to agree that there is a problem, and both of you need to decide that you want to work on it. Without that first agreement, you're not going to get anywhere.

By the way, let's just put this love/lust thing for your colleague on the side for now, she's a symptom, NOT the solution, okay? Getting with her is NOT going to fix anything, it's only going to cloud the issue, as it is already. It's taken your focus off the real problem. It's much more fun to fantasize about a fun sexual encounter and dream crushy dreams about a relative stranger than to put on your work boots and work through the Stygian-stable amount of horsemanure and muck your marriage has accumulated. So work colleague, off the list for now.

You both need to agree you have a problem. You both need to agree that there's enough blame to go around for both of you, so there's no need to assign relative amounts of guilt to either of you. "Well she had an emotional affair with a guy she didn't even know!" "Well he's been neglecting me and doesn't realize that I don't want sex because he completely ignores my emotional intimacy needs." Yeah yeah yeah, you're both wrong, you're both awful, you're at fault. That helps nothing.

So you both want to be thinking, "right, things are a mess, and I want to do EVERYTHING I can to work to set it right. I don't need to blame him/her, that's not going to help. I do need to acknowledge my own culpability in this mess and I have to work toward forgiveness of both her/him and myself."

You as a man and she as a woman have gender-influenced modes of coping with conflict, approaching sex (or love-making, isn't that such a woman's term?), decision-making, all those things. There is no innate superiority to either style. I'll say that again; there is not a better way to handle things. The man's way isn't necessarily the right way, nor is it the wrong way. It just is what it is, and a humble acceptance of that fact will serve you well as you go through this with your wife. She has to have that feeling too. She cannot just assume that she's right.

I can't tell you the steps you're going to need to go through to fix this marriage. I can only tell you that you need to decide to face the arduous task with a humble, non-judgemental, respectful, realistic and patient demeanor. You both have legitimate complaints and you both have contributed to the near demise of this marriage.

Why did you marry her? What was your attitude going in? Did you receive any pre-marital counseling? Did you go in with eyes wide open, or did you close your eyes, cross your fingers, and hope for the best?

I see women I know get angry with their husbands. They get so caught up in being right that they don't seem to be able to see things from his perspective. I feel sorry for some of these guys. I know, they are contributing to the discord and strife in the marriage, but any attempts at fixing it are doomed by the basic attitude the wife has adopted. "I'm right, he's wrong and he's a jerk."

I see some of that in you. "I'm fed up with her, she's done this and this and that and this wrong and I so deserve some happiness that I am justified in considering an affair." EEEENNNNNNKKKK. Wrong. That attitude with get you nowhere but divorce court.

You admit that you're reading about the damage an emotional affair can produce. You're looking for things to back you up and make you "right" in this. You need to stop that.

I would LOVE to hear you try to write this question from the perspective of your wife. Write it as though it is her telling us what is wrong with you. Why is it that she felt compelled to start an emotional affair with a stranger? (God, how weird is that? An affair with a random textee? Very nutty. But that attitude isn't helpful, is it? It doesn't help you understand her?) The point is that you are going to find it very uncomfortable to do this, because it's going to paint you in a bad light. Of course it will! You're not the perfect husband. There is no such thing as a perfect husband. The closest you can get to it is that you get a guy who is at least willing to try.

How's that for a start? Consider your approach, how will you have this conversation with your wife? Maybe you'll need some outside help, a counselor, a mediator, an arbitrator? Decide who might be suitable. A pastor? A professional?

Maybe making a plan will help you? Tackle it as a work project, become the project manager. "We are here, we want to be there. How do we get there? What are the resources at hand? What's the timetable? What are the obstacles?"

Good luck!

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A male reader, called Steve United Kingdom +, writes (23 October 2009):

called Steve agony auntWow... you're grasp of English is good!

Ok - to start the ball rolling... I'm no expert on this though I do have some very good experience on this matter in particular. Your life reflects my own pretty much but I dont have anyone in mind to stroke my ego... which to cut your long story short is what you want.

You know your wife is sorry for what she has done no doubt but you dont get what you ultimately want from your relationship with her. No little "love taps" or those intimate touches we all desire from time to time.

You know that by going down the route with your co-worker that it will all end in tears and potentially wreck your marriage. However, the way you feel right now you're maybe thinking that it's a risk you are prepared to take - "What have I got to lose?" type of attitude.

So - the resolution (which I dare say you will have already made some progress on) is to be very open with your wife about your feelings... how dire they are, whether you actually see yourself together in the next 5 years.

Leaving your little temptress aside for a moment - look at your life right now... are you happy? (No) are you unhappy? (No) so you're in limbo? (Yes) You're likely in that stage of your life where money is not so much a problem, your health is maybe starting to depreciate, you're loosing your hair or going grey, your bones are aching a bit in the morning...

You need a pick-me-up, which you are seeing as the co-worker as she makes you happy... for now! If things go wrong (which lets face is they often do) and she makes you unhappy, will the burning desire still be there?

Your decision is quite simple - either put up with the status quo or move out of the relationship. Sure the choices are hard, but does your wife deserve you cheating on her for your own self-gratification when all you want is a little self worth/belief that you are desired, wanted and valued..?

Your choice - but think very carefully about cheating... speak to someone professional (councillor) about your feelings and they should be able to patch something together for you - it seems common for guys of our age to feel like we're no longer desired, its commonly known as a middle aged crisis... welcome to the club! LOL

Steve

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A female reader, Accountable United Kingdom +, writes (23 October 2009):

Accountable agony auntI think you're being a bit idealistic by believing that you will get entirely non-judgemental responses. When alls said and done, your wife is at a low point, suffering with depression, and you are just about ready to break apart your home for a 'fling', confirming in her mind all of her insecurities and destroying your marriage. Clearly the blame isnt entirely on you, it takes two (or in this case three..) to cause a situation like this and i can certainly understand how you could have been damaged by her emotional affair, but don't tell me you're seriously considering having sex with this other woman whilst still married? How would you feel if you knew that your wife was not only having an emotional affair (as you are having right now) but had let another man sleep with her, open her eyes to pleasure she may never have experienced with you? That is exactly what you will be doing to her, and you get no sympathy from me for that.

If the other woman was single and you were telling the truth when you say that you are having genuinely deep feelings for her, my advice would be to move on from your marriage (after some careful consideration), and wait until after you were divorced to pursue this woman, out of respect for your wife. But as she is married things are more complex even than that. All i can suggest is that if you're serious about this other woman, you divorce your wife first and then approach her about it. Why should your wife have to settle for being second-best while you fantasize about this other woman? Its unfair for her to be trapped in a marriage where the husband only sticks around because he doesn't think he can get the woman he really wants. If you want to pursue this woman, free your wife first, so she can find happiness with another man while you test the waters with this woman.

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