Adultery on My Mind

Learning to manage your guilt and 'live erotically' within your marriage.

Dear Thomas,

I have been married to a fantastic man for 15 years--a faithful and kind husband, and a great Dad to our children. But I am always thinking of having sexual relationships with other men. I have not done it, but it's bugging me all the time. I am afraid that because my desires are pretty strong, I will succumb to them one day even though I know how desruptive an affair can be. I do not know why I have such intentions when I am happily married, and when I am very sure that I love my husband deeply. Please advise.


Dear Guilty,

Your situation is very common. In my practice I have worked with many people, men and women, who love their spouses and are concerned for their children and yet harbor secret passions for a third party. The confusing emotions often generate a dilemma: should I protect my marriage and family or should I honor my passion? Some people try to suppress the problem altogether through their beliefs or guilt, but over time that solution only causes more problems.


If it's clear that the attraction doesn't come from a lack of love at home or from sexual dissatisfaction--sometimes illicit desire makes conscious conflicts that have been ignored--then maybe the desire is bigger than you think. Maybe it isn't another person you need but another life. This is not a far-fetched idea. Sexual desire often represents something bigger than itself. Especially if you have been a loving wife and attentive mother, the limitations of that role may finally start to make themselves felt. I would suggest looking at the whole of your life. Is there room for expansion? Consider your time of life. Have you gone through changes? Are your children entering new phases that affect your sense of yourself and your own goals in life?

You sign yourself "Guilty." That's a clue that you haven't explored your situation broadly enough. Guilt is a kind of protection. Sometimes people feel guilty when they don't allow themselves to be guilty. I'm not suggesting that you go ahead and have an affair. I mean guilt about being yourself and paying attention to your own needs and desires. Sexual fantasy is often more about deep and broad desire than about having sex with another person.

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Thomas Moore
Related Topics: Love Family, Relationships
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