Dear Amy: Over the last few years, my marriage has felt stagnant and unfulfilling.
About a year ago, I grew close to a friend and colleague (he is single), slowly at first, but then becoming more and more intimate. There is mutual sexual attraction and we share many of the same intellectual and cultural interests.
We both knew I was in no position to divorce, as maintaining a stable environment for my young family is my priority. We tried to keep the intensity level low, which we did at times, but then the intensity kept returning. We shared a brief and limited physical element.
Eventually, I realized I was not at peace. I ended contact with him. I realized I needed to put the energy I was putting into my emotional relationship back into my marriage. Things are better and I am glad I am working on the marriage. But I know (actually I knew for years) that my husband and I are not really soul mates and that we are a cultural and intellectual mismatch – the elements that draw me to my friend in the first place.
I still have lingering, and often very strong feelings. I keep wondering if these feelings are preventing me from further improving my marriage. My friend has been fully understanding about why it is probably best for us not to have contact.
During one of our last conversations, he said his concern was that we might end up over-romanticizing or over-idealizing each other in our memories.
As emotional (and lightly physical) partners, we did not have to deal with the day-to-day issues of a “real” relationship, and could focus more on the intellectual and cultural connection.
He suggested I consider an occasional “normalizing” meeting: a coffee or lunch in which we remind ourselves that our relationship at its most intense was meaningful but not really realistic.
I am torn. I think I am over-romanticizing. But I am not sure if a “normalizing” meeting would bring my feelings down to earth – or simply re-spark the attraction.
What should I do?
Dear Torn: I think that occasional “normalizing” meetings where you and your friend remind yourselves of the intensity of your romance as a way to move on from it, are the perfect trigger to rekindling the romance.
You (and he) seem to have already processed this relationship. You claim to already know what you need to know – that your marriage is important to you, that you are committed to it and that this other relationship interfered with your marriage. Why, then, would you need yet more evidence that this extramarital relationship was not good for you?
In this case, “normalizing” sounds like an intellectually framed rationalization to see one another. I vote no.
I’d be interested in hearing from other readers regarding how they’ve recovered from intense emotional affairs.
Dear Amy: A very good friend of mine was to get married. Again – for (about) the third time. She has called off each wedding with various excuses. The most recent wedding was one I was to be in.
A week before the wedding, she called this one off with the excuse that he was not good looking.
She said, “Can you imagine waking up to him for the rest of your life?!” What upset me was she never called me to let me know the wedding was called off. I was very mad that she did not call me to let me know, and I told her that it upset me. She said, “You’ll get over it.”
My question is, should I hang on to this so-called friendship, or let it go?
Dear Wondering: You should treat this relationship as sensitively as your friend regards her various engagements. Drop the friendship, and assure her that she is right in this regard: You will definitely “get over it.”
Dear Amy: Oh boy, the question from “Broken Family” really hit home. An alcoholic family member would get drunk and fire off offensive emails late at night.
I used to have a drinking problem, and also considered it a great idea to have three or four drinks and then fire off some toxic emails.
When someone gets a DUI, they will be ordered to get an ignition interlock device, requiring them to blow into a breathalyzer.
How about installing a breathalyzer interlock device on laptops?
That would have saved me, several times.
Happily, I’m now sober.
Dear Celebrating: I love your idea. Let’s share the patent.
Email Amy at email@example.com.