Relationships are a minefield and we all need a little help from time to time. One reader wrote in to seek advice as she was on the brink of having an affair and so we asked trained counsellor, Fiona Caine, to advise her on what to do. Fiona suggests that maybe her marriage needs a reboot…
“I am happily married and have been for 22 years. I love my husband and certainly don’t want to leave him, he’s a good man and he and our children don’t deserve that, so why am I even thinking about having an affair? A man started working at my company three months ago and I am really attracted to him – so much so that when he talks to me, which is often, I find it hard to concentrate on anything.
“He must know how I feel because he invited me out for a drink at lunchtime last week. I went along thinking it was a general office get-together but, when I got there, I realize that we were alone. At that point, I should have made an excuse and gone back to the office, but I didn’t. I stayed, and we had a bit too much to drink.
“He was good company and we laughed a lot and, after lunch as we got up to leave, he kissed me on the cheek and asked if I’d like to go out for dinner with him soon.
“Here, again, I should have said no and told him that I am already married, but I didn’t. Now I am in a complete state – what do I do? I really do still love my husband and we have a great marriage, so why am I behaving like this?”
“I suspect you are finding all this attention rather exciting and new. And what’s not to like about having fun with someone who is charming and whose sole focus for a while seems to be you? The only problem is, you’re married and already love another man. But, when was the last time you felt this excited about your marriage or your husband?
“Is it possible that, after 22 years together, the demands of family life and work has meant things have become a little dull or routine-bound? Might you also have started to take each other for granted?
“Try to give each other compliments more often and, if you love each other, say so occasionally.”
“If you think this is the case and you genuinely want to stay happily married, you are going to have to put some distance between you and this new man. You’re also going to need to work hard at putting some of the spark back into the relationship with your husband.
“To avoid becoming stale, all relationships need care, attention and an occasional reboot, so consider putting a little romance and excitement back into yours. You could start by dating your husband again – re-explore things you probably did more of when you first got together, and I don’t just mean sex, though this is important.
“Make time to go out to dinner, see a play, go dancing or spend a romantic weekend away – and if you can make some dates a spontaneous surprise for each other, so much the better. Then look for ways to simply talk to each other more – turning off the TV occasionally will help.
“I know it can be very companionable to sit and watch a good programme with a loved-one but, unless you are careful, this can become a dull routine in which very little gets said. Finally, try to give each other compliments more often and, if you love each other, say so occasionally.
“Some of this might seem a little obvious but you’d be surprised how often people neglect this simple relationship maintenance. In time, this new man’s charms should seem a lot less appealing.
“If you find yourself still struggling to keep him at arms-length though, I suggest you share you concerns with a Relate counsellor (relate.org.uk). You may need a bit more help to rekindle things with your husband and make you realize what you stand to lose – which is where counselling can help.”
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