Counselling Infidelity Marriage

How much is too much?

Counselling Matters: How much is too much?

Experienced family counselors answer your questions on relationships, marriage and family.

Q: My wife and I have been married for 11 years. We have two kids. I have always been faithful to my wife and although we have had some ups and downs in the marriage, we have always resolved them and have been good friends. Couple of months ago, I got to reconnect with my ex-girlfriend, and we had a nice time catching up. The meeting was different and very refreshing and since then we have been talking on the phone. My wife does not seem to have a problem with this, but somehow I feel that I shouldn’t be chatting too much. I just want to know, how much is too much?

It’s good to hear that you have a good marriage and a partner who trusts you. You have been able to win your wife’s confidence in an important area, and you need to protect that trust that she has in you and your marriage. The fact that you are checking on whether maintaining a friendship with your ex is okay or not, indicates that you are feeling some uneasiness about the time invested in this friendship.

I would urge you to pay attention to the uneasiness that you are feeling. Identify emotions and thoughts behind your conversations, your discussion patterns and the time that you spend talking. Consider if there is anything in the conversation that would make your wife agitated or uncomfortable. Think about whether you would be comfortable showing your messages to your wife or talk in front of her.

If your wife feels bad, upset and irate or if you find yourself unable to converse unreservedly in front of your spouse, even a little, may indicate what is ‘too much’ as you have asked. I am not implying it is okay or not okay to talk with your ex here or offering an immaculate measure to gauge what is little or too much for you.

However, I am suggesting that you be cautious and consider the consequences of your actions. A little chatting or talking with your ex may not hurt your wife or you, but infidelity will. Most importantly, remember to guard your heart because it is the wellspring of life and I would imagine that you certainly would like to live without regrets so that you can honor your wife and your marriage with all your heart and mind!

Q: My husband and I have been happily married for 7 years and we have two boys. Although I love my husband and enjoy his company, I feel more connected to one of my colleagues at work. He has been a friend since I joined the company and I am afraid about the possibility that I am physically attracted to him. He is very caring, appreciative and I feel that I can really connect emotionally and intellectually with him. He has also expressed his attraction to me and I know that he is waiting for my consent for a physical relationship. I don’t want to jeopardize my marriage, but I feel very strongly about this friend. I am confused if I should fight this feeling or give in.

I appreciate your courage to speak transparently about this temptation that you are battling with. Most often people run with their emotions and later regret their choices, but you are brave to straightforwardly discuss and seek help with this. I can gauge from your writing that you are in a predicament and it is taking a toll on you.

Studies actually show that women get into affairs when they connect and associate emotionally with another person. From what you have written, the reason for your inclination also seems to be originating from the emotional interface you feel with your colleague. So far, you have been able to fight this feeling and have been mindful not to cross boundaries.

There are a few things to consider here, most importantly, your marriage relationship that you would prefer not to risk. At this moment, since you feel that your association with your colleague could lead into something more than friendship and jeopardize your marriage, my recommendation to you would be to consider the consequences of such an entanglement.

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Consider that the enthralling moments of an affair will last only momentarily, leaving you with an inconsolable spouse, an overwhelming dose of emotional turbulence, and diversion on various levels influencing wellbeing, family, and work place. While it may not be so easy to distance from this guy after long years of friendship, you can train your mind to build more boundaries.

Plan your time at the office and at home somewhat better so that you are not occupied with wandering thoughts about this colleague. This is going to take a great deal of strength and focus, particularly when the attraction is so strong, yet a bit of training and preparing of the mind will go a long way and prompt a happy life.

Ensure that your entertainment does not depend on this guy friend. Any time you feel enticed to run into him or visit with him, redirect your mind and thoughts to productive things and will be able to successfully battle this allurement and rise above it. Check your inclination towards infidelity, which indicates that there is something that you need to work out in your marriage.

Try focusing on making your marriage exciting. You could even talk to your husband to see if he is feeling disconnected with you and what can be done about it. Take some time out from your regular routine to do something different to reconnect with your spouse.

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