I’m in my mid-40s, and have met a younger man at work. He’s 30, and he has always dreamed of being a father. I’m past the age of wanting kids (biological or adopted), and I wonder if this is going to be an issue down the road. He says he just wants to be with me, but that means giving up his dream. Is this relationship doomed?
Doomed seems like a strong word to use so early in this relationship. Why are you pushing the fast-forward button? A lot can happen in the next couple of months, let alone the next few years. Given the fact that this fellow’s biological clock has a little longer to tick than yours, what have you got to lose by taking his advice and letting him just be with you as he suggested? “I could lose a lot!” you might say. “What if I fall for this guy and he decides he does want children and I’m left with a broken heart?” Fact is, there are no guarantees in love, because thousands of variables can make or break a relationship on the way to a permanent commitment. The only way you get a guarantee is if you commit to staying out of all relationships — that way you are guaranteed loneliness.
I suggest you slow down and enjoy one another’s company while you collect more information. Spend time together, share activities, have those long conversations that come so easily in new relationships. In other words: date, don’t mate. You don’t have to commit for life at this point. Centuries ago, dating was adopted as a ritual for the express purpose of spending time with an individual to check out the potential for partnership. Dating gives you an opportunity to get to know someone intimately and to discover characteristics about one another that may be unknown except in relationship. If you limit your company to only those men who fit your exact job description of a partner, you may very well miss a lot of fun — and a very special relationship.
My jealousy wrecked my marriage, and I want to keep it from ruining my current relationship. But I can’t seem to help myself: it drives me crazy when I see my boyfriend talking to another woman. I’ve tried swallowing it, but it always comes up later. How do I overcome it?
Jealousy has four main sources. In a healthy situation, it can be your intuition telling you that there is someone in your space or in your place. If your boyfriend is flirting with other women, or giving them more attention than he gives you, then jealousy is an appropriate response; you should take it as a signal to have a conversation about the expectations that you both have for your relationship, as well as your commitment to one another.
The second source of jealousy is low self-esteem. If you feel insecure about your own attractiveness, anyone or anything that gets your boyfriend’s attention will threaten you. Low self-esteem would make it difficult for you to feel 100% certain of his love at any time. Jealousy can also be a symptom of anxiety. If you are nervous, fearful, or worry a lot, this may be just one additional sign of a personal characteristic you need to address. If you believe you do have low self-esteem or anxiety, you might need to seek support or counseling to separate your personal issues from the relationship issues.
Finally, it may be that because of your history and prior experience, you tend to be attracted to unavailable men. If this is the case, you are in for a long haul of jealousy and roller-coaster relationships. Although they are very exciting and attractive, distant men (and women) create a lot of tension in relationships. Given that this seems to be a pattern with you, it is wise to investigate your role in re-creating this nightmare. I recommend you read Romantic Jealousy: Causes, Symptoms, Cures by Ayala Pines. This book will help you slay the green-eyed monster.
My wife is a nice person, and she’s very good to me, but sex with her has never been great. I recently started an affair, and the sex is absolutely amazing. In fact, our relationship consists entirely of sex — we really don’t do anything else together. Am I falling in love with her? Should I try to move the relationship out of the bedroom and see what happens? Or should I play it safe and stick with my wife?
There are three major components to a happy, stable relationship: chemistry, compatibility, and commitment. Sounds like you have chemistry with your lover and compatibility and commitment (at least on your wife’s part) in your marriage. Many people expect all three in one relationship; the problem is that these three goals have different requirements, which means obtaining all three takes a lot of maturity and skill. Compatibility and commitment first require a strong friendship, then consistency, trust, and reliability. The confidence that comes with knowing what to expect from one another day after day enables you to relax and focus on other aspects of life. Living with a trustworthy person allows you to create a calm, stable lifestyle. Compatibility and commitment provide the strong sense of security that is needed to sustain a relationship over time. Chemistry, on the other hand, requires mystery, surprise, spontaneity, and risk: the exact opposite of compatibility and commitment. The novelty that comes with a new partner makes chemistry flow naturally in the beginning of a relationship, but once the high of infatuation wears off, then maturity and skill are required to keep it going.
It’s interesting that you describe sticking with your wife as “playing it safe.” From another point of view, having an affair is playing it safe. Being erotic with a stranger with whom you have natural chemistry is literally a no-brainer: it takes no thought, skill, or knowledge. Creating sexual passion with a nice person who’s very good to you requires courage because there’s a lot more to lose. Falling in love/lust is easy — we did it as adolescents, so how hard could it be? Staying in love is for grown-ups. All this to say, “You might as well dance with the one that brung you,” meaning, “stick with your wife.” Take the time to learn how to be a great friend as well as lover; you won’t be sorry.
While I was away on business last summer, my wife had an affair with my best friend. Our marriage had been going through a rough patch, but we were both committed to working things out. As if this weren’t enough to deal with, she’s pregnant, and either of us could be the father. I’m struggling to forgive both of them, but what if he’s the father? He says he wants to be involved if that’s the case, but how can I get over their betrayal if it’s literally in my face every day?
The first step in getting over betrayal is to know that the infidelity has stopped and that you and your wife are committed to making the marriage work. I suggest you get professional help with this; a specialist in marital therapy can greatly expedite this process and give you the clarity you need right now. Thousands of couples make it through rough times like this — even with complicated issues like you have.
Even though the paternity of the child is in question, the maternity is not. As the biological mother, your wife is in a position to make decisions that will protect your marriage. If the goal is to mend the marriage, the two of you should proceed as a team, addressing each issue together. Solving complicated problems — even if they are emotionally taxing — can bring the two of you closer. If your marriage gets stronger, this will also send an important message to the other man.
If it turns out that you are the father of the baby, the parenting issues are simplified; if you are not the father, however, it doesn’t have to mean the marriage is doomed. It is possible to separate the baby from the event that occurred between your wife and friend. If you go through the pregnancy with your wife, attend to her, pay attention to the baby in utero, talk to the baby, relate to the baby, this baby will be part of you. In fact, given what we know from neuroscience, the people who raise a child literally shape his/her personality, which leaves a physical impression — whether or not they are biological parents. Besides, babies have their own special way of capturing our hearts; once you hold the child in your arms and begin to give care, you can and will love this child — if you let yourself.
How you and your wife manage the next few months will give you a lot of information about your ability to handle tough situations. If she is truly remorseful about the affair and is no longer involved with the other man, and you are able to eventually move on from the betrayal, this bodes well for the future of your marriage. With a strong marriage, the two of you can manage the parenting of the child effectively, no matter how many parents are involved; after all, millions of stepfamilies do this every day.