Dear Mort,
About a year ago, I met a woman in the office who knocked my socks off (literally). I was raised a good Catholic and I wasn’t looking for any extramarital activity. This whole thing really took me by surprise and it was out of character for me to cheat on my wife.

In the middle of having this affair, I began to question myself and wonder what I was doing with my life. That’s when I found you.

I signed up for your emails, read Marriage Fitness, did the boot camp, and now I’m in the plugged-in program. It ‘worked,’ sort of, because I ended my affair, sought forgiveness from my wife, and restored my marriage. Things with my wife now are better than ever, but nothing like they were with the other woman and I don’t think they ever could be. And that’s my problem. That’s my question.

With Margie (the woman I met in the office) things were amazing. Everything was amazing. We had great sex. We had hilarious fun together. We liked to do the same things. We had deep talks about life. We were completely comfortable with each other. I’ve never experienced anything like it before with anyone else and now, especially after improving my marriage so much, I don’t think I could ever have with my wife what I had with Margie.

It’s ironic, but now after saving my marriage and improving my relationship with my wife, more than ever I’m wondering if I should be with Margie. I just don’t think the relationship with my wife will ever compare. Now what?

Thanks for your input.

Rick S. Houston, TX

Rick is asking a GREAT question.

Basically, what he’s saying is, ‘Hey, I could be happier with Margie. Why shouldn’t I be as happy as possible?’

Rick’s question is even more compelling because he didn’t run from his marriage. He owned his mistake, sought forgiveness from his wife, and put a lot of time and energy into his marriage. And it worked! His wife took him back and his marriage is better than ever.
The problem, from Rick’s perspective, is that his marriage is still a compromise compared to what he could have with Margie.

I understand Rick’s dilemma.

Before I get into the heart of Rick’s question, I want to make 2 parenthetical points.
First, it’s worth noting that Rick wouldn’t be in this quandary if he had ‘saved himself’ (week 6 in boot camp and Chapter 7 in Marriage Fitness). In other words, if he was cognizant about protecting himself from intimacy in other relationships, he wouldn’t be facing this crisis in his life. The question of Margie would have never come to bear.

I just want to take this opportunity to remind you of how important it is to protect yourself from inappropriate closeness with other people. And Rick’s story is another example of why ‘saving yourself’ is such an important relationship habit.

Once you let yourself get involved with someone else, you never know where it will lead and how it might complicate your life.

There was a couple in a recent boot camp who were trying to recover from the fact that she had an affair. In the middle of the boot camp they discovered that she was pregnant and that it could only be the child of this other man. Their religious beliefs were such that an abortion was not an option. Talk about complicated!

Second, it’s clear that Rick THINKS he would be happier with Margie than with his wife. But how does he know for sure? His question assumes that it’s a given. But in my experience, it’s not.
An affair is an easy relationship in many regards. There’s lots of romance, mystery, and naughtiness. And there are no chores, kids, or bills to pay. Some woman make a great mistress (if there is such a thing), but a horrible wife.

You never know what someone is going to be like once you live with them and commit to life together. Rick’s question assumes that Margie is a sure thing. But, in fact, the ‘trade’ he’s considering is a high risk move.

I bet Rick thought that his wife was a sure thing when he fell in love with her. He was wrong then and it’s possible that he’ll be wrong with Margie too.

As I said, both those points are parenthetical. Let’s now assume for discussion purposes that Rick is correct and that he could be ‘happier’ with Margie. What should he do?

I’m not going to tell Rick what to do. What I am going to do, however, is give Rick something VERY significant to consider that I think he’s missing. And of course, I think there’s a lot you can learn from what I’m about to share.

What is happiness?

Rick says that he would be ‘happier’ with Margie. What does he mean?

It appears that he means that he’d be more fulfilled in his life; better sex, more fun, spend more time together in shared interests, deeper and more meaningful discussions, etc. And all this is meaningful. It certainly is part of the recipe for happiness. But happiness includes other things as well. (Part II continues next issue.)



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About the Author

Mort Fertel

Mort Fertel is a world authority on the psychology of relationships and has an international reputation for saving marriages. In addition to working with couples, he teaches individuals how to single-handedly transform their marital situation.
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