My husband and I were sitting side by side on the brown microfiber futon in the living room of our apartment. I remember starting the conversation, but not the exact words. I told him I was attracted to another man and he was attracted to me. I told him I thought about this man a lot. I even shared his name with my husband.
When we were engaged, my husband and I had talked about how real love is shown in choosing to remain faithful, not in never being tempted to be with another. But that conversation was hypothetical. Now it was real.
I nervously awaited my husband’s response.
“Yeah,” he finally said, “I’ve been feeling attracted to someone too. I’ve wondered how things would be if I were with her instead, but I guess I always come to the conclusion that I am who I am because of you, and I wouldn’t be the person I am now if I were with anyone else.”
I was relieved. We could talk about this together and he understood. My husband’s openness about his own attractions and his willingness to discuss mine showed me that we could work through this together. Just because you find someone else attractive doesn’t mean your relationship is over. Getting married doesn’t mean that every other man or woman becomes unattractive. It is what we do with those feelings of attraction that really matters.
But I had to ask myself: Why was this other man in so many of my thoughts? I wasn’t unhappy in my marriage. I didn’t have any major complaints about our life together. I was still in love with my husband. So what was the problem?
When I looked at the situation honestly, I knew I really wasn’t attracted to this other man. I felt self-centered to admit it, but I was really infatuated with someone else being infatuated with me again.
Even though I loved my husband, we weren’t newlyweds anymore. “I know infatuation doesn’t last,” I said to my husband. “And that real, deep, faithful love is so much better than any temporary crush, but I can’t help it. I miss someone feeling so excited about me.”
My husband reached over and pulled me close to him. He assured me that he was still completely in love with me, but we agreed that love changes over time. This infatuation may have felt like a tidal wave, but my relationship with my husband didn’t break. Like the ocean, the waves are mostly in the shallows. It can be exciting but tumultuous. Our mature love is like the deeper parts of the sea, calmer but rich with life.
In the end, that difficult conversation brought us closer. It was another opportunity to share our inner worlds with each other. I think sometimes we can feel tempted to keep our feelings inside because we are afraid of being misunderstood or judged. But if we keep things to ourselves, we end up isolated. We are social creatures. We not only need human interaction, we need real and deep intimacy. Nothing else will do and I’m glad I have that with my husband.
The thrill of novelty can be tempting from time to time. But faithful, self-sacrificing love satisfies the soul so much more than any fling.
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