handy girl

Changing tires, changing diapers and changing minds all over town...


when the sweetheart you love is true, are you?

Dear HandyGirl,
Okay. Here's one for you. A casual friendship with a woman at work has turned into a problem for me. I have become very attracted to her and there is a compulsion to take it further. This will not happen in the foreseeable future. Why? She is happily married and I'm friends with her husband who works there also. I too am happily married. My wife works there as well. We are all friends who work together and are in the same social circles. So we see each other a lot. Sometimes I try to avoid her or eye contact with her to the point of possible rudeness. Other times I just have to go talk to her. Nothing seems right. It's like I am a pubescent boy again. Then I would have just went for it, probably making a fool of myself, but then it would be over. Painful, but over. I don't have that option now. There are 3 others who I care about and don't want to hurt. Once in the past I confided in my wife that I was attracted to another. It didn't go over well at all. I promised myself I would never do that to her again. That situation was remedied when the other women moved from the area. I have never cheated on my wife and never well. I believe in our marriage, but never expected I'd have a stupid problem like this. It's not like I can just stop feeling as I do. Can you imagine a solution that will not hurt anyone?

dear hopin’,
i’ll begin by saying that your problem is not uncommon. we are human beings with feelings and desires, and it is normal, at some point on the timeline of life, to be attracted to other people, even when we are in a committed relationship. what really matters is how we deal with it.

take vegetarianism, for example. if a person chooses to be a vegetarian because they believe eating animals is wrong, and that animals have the right to fulfill their destiny as animals, then they are making a moral decision. even if they are wholeheartedly committed to this lifestyle, it doesn’t mean they might not drool when the aromatic reality of sizzling bacon fills the air they breathe while walking past the local breakfast hotspot.

revealing the sinful salivations to a fellow vegetarian may open the person up to critical discourse, but acting on the desire by chowing down on a blt is much more than breaking a code of conduct; it’s messing with core values and it carries karmic consequences. the ‘vegetarians’ who sometimes eat chicken are actually chick-etarians. in vegetarian circles, that’s a reputation breaking no-no, that smells foul.

what we have here is a question of morality. people are very different when it comes to how they choose to define and exercise morality in their lives. i had a friend once, who wanted me to commit fraud to help her to be approved for a mortgage. another person i was acquainted with, thought there was nothing wrong with pelting the sausage down the hallway with another woman’s husband.

when i finally realized that i was cut from a different moral fibre than these ladies, it was easy to see that i didn’t need to exert any more energy trying to work things out. our fundamental beliefs about life and the universe were too divergent for us to pursue truly healthy, trusting friendships. this isn’t about judgement; it’s about recognition of basic differences in core values. it takes all kinds of people to make up the world, and when the time comes for a morality check, our distinctiveness can strengthen our resolve.

you mentioned you would have behaved differently when you were younger, that in spite of the pain, at least it would be over with. some say we grow our moral backbone in childhood. then, during our teenage and young adult years, we take it for a test drive, we rebel against it, and we push it to the limits. it sounds like you were a normal teenager, fumbling through the uncharted waters of romantic love, living the scenarios that would reinforce your core values.

you say this has happened before, and the problem went away when the woman moved away. until we learn from our experiences, we will keep reliving them. we will attract what we need in our lives in order to learn. the problem has not gone away; it’s back three-fold and it’s closer than before. some people need a few kicks at the can, and the universe is giving you another shot. being attracted to someone is one thing, obsessing about it or acting on it is another. maybe it’s time for you to pick up the can and recycle it.
you’re a big boy now, yes, you’re a grown up man. your past experiences, and your desires for the future have led you to choose a wife in the present. how lucky you are that she said yes. you both have jobs, friends and a commitment to each other. break out the champagne and shower your beautiful wife with adoration, respect, neck-rubs, flowers and chocolates.

relationships change over time, because people do. as long as you and your wife share the same fundamental beliefs and stay honest, you will likely grow old together. maybe something happened in your wife’s past that made her particularly sensitive to the thought of infidelity. maybe she has attracted a husband like you, to help her work through her fears, to protect her, honour her and respect her til death do you part. to find security in her role as wife, she needs to know that your heart is hers, and hers alone. if you really want this marriage to work, you must give it to her.

you are attracted to another woman, but you don’t say whether the other woman knows this, or even feels the same way. if this is a two-sided attraction, then it will be twice as hard to resist. if you fantasize in solitude, then for all you know, she could think you’re a knight in shining armour, or a smarmy oaf. in either case, the dilemma is yours to own, and you sound like you don’t want to hurt anyone or mess anything up. your moral compass is not broken, it’s just dusty.

assuming you truly want to be in an honourable marriage, here is my handy advice: recollect all the wonderful things about your wife, that propelled you to fall in love with her, and then nourish them. spring is on the way, so plant new seeds of love in her name. every day, think of five good things about her, and tell them to her. count your blessings. recognize that your attraction to other women is a tender issue in the emotional body of that amazing woman you married, and never, ever act on it. strive to be the poster boy for that new fair trade, organic cereal, the one that’s high in moral fibre. do what you will, and harm none.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks. That's a lot to think about. Love is a lot more complicated than black or white. Or one heart over another. I know the higher ground respects all. Thanks for the reminder.


10:57 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great answer, Handy Girl,
My situation is similar to Hopin' except I know my wife is not the one for me. We got together when I was going through a bad break-up, and deep down I knew it was a mistake to marry her. I care about her and respect her, and I would never cheat, but lately I have been very attracted to a woman at work. Our chemistry is like nothing I've felt before, and I know she feels the same way about me. I have no children, but I would really like to one day, but I don’t feel any desire to have children with my wife. Should I stay in a relationship that I know is wrong, or should I end it? I don't want to hurt anyone but I also can't spend my life pretending anymore. Please help me.

3:44 p.m.  

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