Seeking Love Elsewhere

Q. I have been married for 10 years. My wife and I were quite happy in the beginning, but in the last few years we’ve been having a lot of problems. We fight over most things and the connection and joy between us has vanished. In the last two years I have had a couple of affairs. I am feeling the urge to go out and meet another woman again. Yet, I feel this is wrong and immoral. But I cannot seem to help myself.

A. This is a good juncture to reflect on what you are seeking or avoiding through another affair. Of course, the first clue is that you are not happy in your marriage. It doesn’t sound like you have done much work to have a better relationship with your wife. Here is an opportunity to begin seriously looking at your issues and see if it is possible to resolve matters. You may need to see a marriage counselor if you are not able to communicate honestly and productively.

People have affairs for various reasons: unhappy marriages, dissatisfactory sex life with their primary partner, sexual addiction, avoiding other challenges in their relationship, seeking freedom and some prefer a non-monogamous lifestyle. What is your need in desiring another woman? It’s usually not just about sex.

The betrayal of an affair can profoundly rupture the trust between partners. The more honestly you understand yourself and your marriage, the greater is the possibility of your working out the problems you face with your wife.

Q. My parents arranged for me to be mar-ried in about a year. I am a 25-year-old woman. I consented, thinking it was best for me, and I like my marriage partner. As we are all talking about the arrangements, I am having mixed feelings. I am actually wondering whether I actually want to be with a man. I have always had erotic feelings for women, but never knew what to do about them.

A. Living in a world where heterosexuality is considered the norm and homosexuality deviant, it’s hard to know what to do with our homosexual feelings. The spectrum of sexual desire isn’t as narrow as most people are taught. Many people can have erotic feelings towards both sexes. Our desires also change and grow as we mature.

Imagine what it would be like for you to get married to a man and have him as your sexual and life partner. Is the commitment of marriage scary for you? Could you be happy with that lifestyle? Will you want to still be with a woman? If so, then you need to see if you want to explore that side of your life. Your parents and extended family may be shocked, ashamed, and even outraged at this idea. Learn more about your own desires first and get appropriate support and help before sharing this with family. Then you’ll feel more secure dealing with it. Right now, you need some time to re-think and not be pushed into a marriage that will ultimately make you and your husband unhappy.

Alzak Amlani, Ph.D. is a counseling psychologist in Palo Alto and San Francisco. He can be reached at (650) 325-8393 or www.wholenesstherapy.com

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