Q. I just listen to Midday Connection program on Moody Radio where you were speaking about infidelity. I have a question. How do you break from the memory of your “puppy love”? I am currently unhappily married. And still dream, and think of my boyfriend from where I was 12. It was a sweet time no sex involved. I am always thinking that I probably would have been happier if he was the one I was married to. But know that it is not necessarily truth. I am 44, Married for 22, (wanted to leave since I was married a year). Mother of a 17 year-old girl, and 13 year-old boy.
Close call for an affair six years ago. (Nothing happened Thanks God!!) but often thinking about him.
A. I am going to share some responses to your situation and I welcome any feedback you might have. Having said that I can’t engage in a long series of email conversations. I just don’t have the time.
First, your feelings from adolescent “puppy love” are very normal. One never forgets a “first love” experience, it all seems so innocent, pure, has lots of infatuation, generates all kinds of new, emotional reactions, has no obligations, etc. So, the fact that you remember it is normal. The fact that you are cultivating it is dangerous. You are turning to it to make yourself feel better and in a certain sense, it has become your drug of choice. You can always go to it when things aren’t right and the memories deliver the distraction and the mood elevation you are looking for. You have idealized this experience and this individual beyond what reality would suggest. Since of course your husband can’t or doesn’t make you feel like that, your boyfriend is all “good” and your husband is all “bad”.
Here are some suggestions: First, do the Dangerous Partner Profile on this old flame (Close Calls, chapter 4) and see if some of what makes him so attractive to you is found in that “template” of yours (in other words any guy matching a number of your vulnerable areas will generate these same kinds of feelings. It is not him, it is what he represents). Secondly, talk to a mature girlfriend about these feelings and insights for verification purposes. Lastly, approach your husband with this information about your old boyfriend. He already is aware of how you feel about him, even if you have never been specific about your thoughts or have even lied to cover up your “true” feelings. This honesty will provide the two of you with a new opportunity to grow your relationship and it will disarm the power of your secret romance with your old boyfriend. Besides, an unloved spouse (your husband in this case) always has thoughts of being with someone else. He knows exactly how you feel. No one is happy when they know that their spouse is unhappy with them. In preparation for bringing this up with your husband, look thru the content in the Close Call Contract (back of the book).
Start by saying I want to talk about the secret in our marriage, the elephant in our bedroom, etc., but I need to know that we can both agree on the ground rules for this conversation, then read the rules of the Contract. Reassure him at the beginning that you have not had an affair, but that you don’t want to live the rest of your life with him as you have lived the first 17 years or so. It needs to be different and you know he has not been happy in this relationship either. You both have cooperated in teaching your children how marriage creates a very unhappy relationship. Your children will do like so many other young adults are doing these days-postponing marriage because they have come to believe that it really is difficult to be happy while married. BUT, the two of you have 3-4 years to change that.
There are many supports that will help the two of you, ranging from no costs (Marriage Encounter & Retrouvaille) to Marital Intensives (4 to 8 day programs that will revolutionize the way you interact with each other). There are DVD sets that will help the two of you “see” yourselves in new and different ways (see the resource list at the back of Close Calls). There is help in changing this and I hope you will dive in-you have nothing to lose.
Hope this is helpful. Dave
NOTE: For more information about Dave’s practice, please visit Torn Asunder.