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I'd like to forget about the man with whom I had a brief affair, but I'm finding it extremely difficult.

heart to heart About the Questioner
Philosophy: Ex-Catholic. I believe in God and pray on a pretty regular basis.
Hopes and aspirations: To have peace in my life and not be co-dependent. I want to be my true self.
I've known my husband since 1989 and married him in 1995. We both came from abusive backgrounds (alcohol and physical abuse). There has been physically/emotionally abuse in our relationship, but we have been going through counseling for several years and there hasn't been any physical abuse since 1993. We understand that we suffer from co-dependency and work on that, but it's been difficult for me to forgive him for the physical abuse and emotional blackmail. I feel like my husband is just my friend and I'm no longer attracted to him.

I felt lonely and slept with one of my friends two years ago. We both said it was a mistake but the passion we experienced was like nothing either of us have experienced before. He is also married and doesn't want to get a divorce so he won't commit to having a relationship with me. But he has contacted me a few times after the brief affair so I feel some hope there, but now I'm being realistic and will not respond to him. I'd like to forget about this man and move on, but I'm finding it extremely difficult. Every time I have sex with my husband I think of the other man. I also have very vivid dreams about being with this man and others I find attractive.

This is driving me crazy. I stay with my husband because I don't want to be alone (we have 3 children too). I know it's unfair to my husband but I'm hanging on because I feel obligated. My two oldest children are almost out of the house (one in college and one is a senior in high school). Then our little one is 7 years old and it would break his heart if my husband and I split up. I feel trapped, alone, and afraid. I'd like to forget about other men and focus on my husband and try to keep my marriage going. What should I do to get these thoughts of other men out of my head?

Reply by Coach Doris Jeanette Doris Jeanette
My intimate relationships have brought me great joy and great sorrow. I have spent 34 years of my professional life consciously observing my own interpersonal relationships and studying the relationships of others. One of the major things that I have learned is that I expected much more out of my intimate relationships than is helpful.

For example, I expected my parents to be perfect. I expected my husband to be perfect. I expected my lover to be perfect. Finally when my lover broke my heart, I realized I expected myself to be perfect.

Expectations are deathly; they kill relationships because people can never live up to our expectations. Expectations are based on judgments we make about others and ourselves. Expectations are not based on reality; they are based on what we want to be true.

Wanting others to be perfect is a waste of energy because it will always result in disappointment. Trying to be perfect yourself is a waste of time because you will always be disappointed in yourself. In reality, you are not perfect; therefore, your relationships cannot be perfect. Real relationships are not perfect, they are messy, uplifting, difficult, inspiring, rewarding and challenging.

Since you and your husband both have abuse in your learning history these issues are sure to surface so that you can heal them. There is no way to heal your abuse issues until they show up in boldface colors in your relationships. To me, this is the true purpose of relationships---to help you heal your emotional wounds and grow toward your purpose in life. Congratulations on the therapy you have done that has helped stop the physical abuse. Now you need to take the next step.

To help you get started on a new and different path toward healthy relationships answer these questions...

  • What is the true purpose of your relationships?
  • What do you expect out of your relationships?
  • What do you put into your relationships?
  • Who do you really love?
  • How much do you really love yourself?
  • Are you fulfilled and satisfied when you are not in a special, sexual relationship?

When you answer these questions you will have a better understanding of how unrealistic you are about your current relationship with your husband. Then you can begin learning how to create healthy relationships by giving up your expectations and judgments. To succeed you need to embrace a new model for healthy relationships. After all the models you inherited from your parents and the models the media offer you do not create healthy relationships. The goal is to think and see things in a new and different way.

The foundation of the new, holistic psychology relationship model is to always assume that the answers to your problems are inside of you, not outside of you. The problem is not your husband or your lover. The problem is your relationship to yourself.

The relationship you have with yourself is the most important relationship in the whole world. In addition, this is the only relationship that you can master and execute the way that you want! You cannot control others. However, you completely determine the outcome and results you get in your relationship to yourself.

For example, you tell us that you "Feel trapped, alone, and afraid." This is the place I would suggest you begin to work on yourself by looking inward for your answers. You need to open your heart and feel your authentic emotions. Currently, you do not relate to yourself in a way that helps you feel free, safe and secure. You do not feel genuinely close to others because you are not genuinely close to yourself. When you change how you relate to yourself, the whole world changes.

How do you improve your relationship to yourself?

First you need to find your emotional self and make contact with the part of you that was abused in the past and is still being abused. This is the part of you that is trapped, alone and afraid. Until you help this part of you feel free, connected to others and safe, you will continue to attract the same sort of men that you have now in your life. Nothing will change. The men may change but the emotional energy dynamics will remain the same. What this means is that your emotional pain will remain the same until you heal the abused part of you.

To heal your emotional pain you need to reduce the judgmental energy you have in your mind, body and energy field. Judgments create expectations, disappointment and frustrations. For example, you could stop judging yourself for fantasizing about another man when you are making love to your husband. Fantasy is a universal, effective way many people use to get excited and aroused. Fantasy can keep lovemaking fresh and alive. Your husband is probably fantasizing about the sensual, younger woman he saw walking down the street! Your lover is probably fantasizing about the woman he saw swimming in the water. Sexual fantasies exist in reality and you don't have to make them wrong or bad. Just notice them as they pass through and bring your awareness back to the moment in the flesh with your husband.

As far as I am concerned the place beyond judgment is the only place anyone can live a quality life. Read Rumi, the delightful Persian poet, if you want encouragement to reach the place beyond judgment. Also read the few remaining fragments of Sappho, the "sweet honey smelling" poet of fame from Lesbos. They both write of the beloved in a way that touches the heart and reveals the true nature of divine love and physical love.

Since your goal is, "To have peace in my life and not be co-dependent. I want to be my true self," you need to set in motion behaviors and actions which will take you toward your goals. Right now you are stuck in anxiety, guilt, obsessive thoughts and behaviors that make you feel worse about yourself instead of better about yourself.

When you stop judging yourself or others, your anxiety will lower, your guilt will disappear and your obsessive thinking will lessen. When you are relaxed, guilt free and able to feel compassion in your heart--you may or may not want to leave your husband. Once you are emotionally strong, you will make life choices that are in your best interest.

Visit here if you want to read more about my broken heart and how I discovered my expectations and found my authentic emotional self.

If you would like help eliminating your judgments so you can find inner peace study the audio, "Find Peace Beyond Guilt and Judgment."

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