Extramarital attraction comes in a variety of flavors, ranging from a quick look at a gorgeous person on the street to a sustained feeling of falling in love with someone other than your spouse. As a result, some attractions may be harmless or even amusing to your partner, while others could spell the end of the marriage. Keep the following advice in mind if you want to learn how to navigate your own extramarital pangs.
1. Take a critical look at the sources of your attraction
If you see a beautiful person on the street and admire their body or careful attention to personal grooming, this attraction is pretty self-explanatory. However, more potent or long-lasting attractions warrant careful thought. Many times, we are attracted to people who represent something that we are missing, whether in our marriages or in our past. As a result, you might find yourself turned on by someone free-spirited and a little bit wild if your spouse has become increasingly conservative, or you may feel infatuated with someone who offers you a type of attention that you yearned to experience when you were growing up. Any time you feel a strong extramarital pull, a little self-exploration can tell you a lot about where its origins, demystifying the experience and providing valuable information about areas of your marriage that may need work.
2. Be realistic
In addition, make sure that avoid deifying the object of an extramarital attraction. In other words, don’t let your need for sexual, intellectual or emotional stimulation twist your perception of reality. If someone offers you a sympathetic ear when your spouse is too stressed to help you with your troubles, this doesn’t mean that the new person would have been the perfect person to marry. Likewise, seeing a stunning person dressed up for a formal event allows you to conveniently forget that no one wakes up looking like a model. There is no such thing as a perfect partner, but it’s all too easy to forget this fact when you are only seeing the best of someone. In sum, you need to conduct a thorough reality check when you start swooning over an extramarital attraction.
3. Put personal boundaries in place
A key element of protecting your marriage is being able to identify genuine threats, and the threshold is different for every monogamous couple. For example, you might know that flirting with a hot staff member at a local restaurant just makes you feel good about yourself, but be well aware that the situation is very different if you find yourself wanting to confide in a gorgeous work colleague rather than talk to your spouse. If you want to sustain your marriage and commit to working on any problems, it is vital to cut off contact with genuine threats. While you may not be able to avoid certain people (such as the aforementioned coworker), you can make sure that your interactions are brief and impersonal. Although taking this action can cause fresh feelings of yearning at first, if you are able to sense the danger before you actually fall in love then you will eventually find yourself thinking of the other person less and less.
4. Know the nature of your marital boundaries
It’s extremely important to know what is acceptable within your marriage. For some couples, it’s fine to enjoy any extramarital attraction that doesn’t involve sexual contact or an emotional connection, while other couples have a strict idea of monogamy that has no room for even the slightest mental dalliance. Whatever your views, make sure you have a frank discussion that establishes your rules, as this helps to eliminate misplaced jealousies on either side and also reduces the likelihood of needless guilt. Crucially, knowing the boundaries of your marriage will make sure that alarm bells ring when you are doing something that your spouse would find disrespectful or worrying.
5. Don’t be afraid to consider counseling
If, despite your best efforts, an extramarital attraction starts to dominate your thoughts and undermine your ability to conduct yourself appropriately in your marriage, it’s time to seek help. Keeping the problem to yourself tends to magnify the lust, excitement and conflict that you feel, making you feel like the star of your own private novel. In contrast, talking to a therapist will help you to delve into the reasons why this problem has occurred at this point in your marriage. Whether you go to counseling alone or take the brave step and ask your spouse to accompany you, you will be provided with a safe space to explore ways to tackle your internal conflict.