Does my boredom with my life and my interest in a co-worker mean my marriage is in trouble?
I’ve been married for 12 years to a great guy. We have a lovely home. We both have satisfying careers and our two little daughters are healthy, sweet and happy. To everyone looking at our life, things look perfect. The problem is that I’m bored with this all settled existence. I daydream about adventures and excitement. The spark in our relationship is gone and if feels like all my big life choices have already been made. I’m sad at the thought that the rest of my life will be about moving forward on the same predictable and unexciting path.
I recently found myself flirting with a male co-worker. I’ve been trying not be overt about it but when I’m around him I feel energized and excited. His attention makes me feel seen as smart, beautiful and sexy. He complements my contributions in meetings and I feel alive and valued. Does my boredom with my life and my husband mean my marriage is doomed?
Tanya, Oak Park
Experts who study romantic relationships and marriage suggest that the idyllic “in love” phase lasts about 2 years. After that, the spark of passion and excitement dulls a bit and sustaining connection and attachment requires some effort and commitment. The demands of two careers, running a home and parenting two little girls can all get in the way of putting in the work needed to keep a relationship exciting. What you’re experiencing is not at all unusual and your attraction to a co-worker doesn’t mean your marriage is doomed. The question is, what will you do about your feelings and how will you and your husband attend to your marriage so that you can get some of what you long for in your marriage not outside of it? You might want to do some work on your own with a therapist or you might talk to your husband about meeting with a therapist together to explore how you might re-fuel the spark that brought you together.
I’d suggest checking out two resources that might inspire some thought and conversation with your husband. Alain DuButton, wrote a New York Times article entitled Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person and he has some interesting U-Tubes about the challenges of staying in love. Another resource is Esther Perel who has written 2 books, Mating in Captivity and The State of Affairs—both of these books explore the reasons feelings of desire diminish when people have been together for a long time. Both books offer some guidance on understanding the temptations of the seduction of someone new that can lead to infidelity.
You’ve identified concerns that the attraction to your co-worker has the potential to inspire you to move in a direction that could put at risk much of what you value in your life. Probably would be a good idea to talk to your husband and find a therapist you could work with either on your own or with your husband. If you’d like some help, you can reach me by phone or email and we can schedule a first appointment.