When you pick one path, it's natural to wonder about the others, especially if the path you've chosen gets rocky. In marriage, maybes and what-ifs are most dangerous when your commitment to your marriage is lagging and the person you're thinking of is available (that is, single or in the process of divorce).
Cindy and Martin — and Frank
Cindy and Martin had been married for 12 years. They had three children between the ages of five and nine. Like most couples, they'd had their ups and downs, but basically their marriage was good.
Then Martin, a salesman, was made a district manager and had to start traveling more. The new work left him tired and less available to the family. This caused Cindy to be stressed and unhappy. And because both she and Martin were busier than ever, they stopped going out together and became increasingly irritable with each other.
During this period Cindy, a pharmacist, began to talk more and more with her coworker Frank. She and Frank, who was attractive and divorced, had been working together for five years and had grown to appreciate each other as friends. As Cindy became more unhappy at home, she became increasingly happy to share her thoughts and feelings at work with Frank. Frank really listened to her and understood the stress she was under.
Cindy soon realized that her attraction to Frank was growing beyond mere friendship. She liked feeling what she felt, but it also scared her. After all, I'm married to Martin, not to Frank, she reflected. But Frank seemed very interested in her. She wondered if they would date if she left Frank, and started to play various scenarios over and over in her mind.
Like Cindy, you have the choice either to dwell on the what-ifs or to put that energy into nurturing your marriage and making it as rich as possible. The remaining parts of this article cover specific strategies for protecting your marriage from attractive alternatives.