Home About Dr Gayle Counseling Services Speaking Services Online Seminars Articles Press Room Books Contact

Ask Dr. Gayle

Boring Marriage: Should I Have an Affair?

QUESTION: I have been married to my second husband for four years. I love him and he is good to me and our children. I don't want out of my marriage, but I am incredibly bored! I don't have any sexual desire for my husband. There is another man that I daydream about constantly. It is only a matter of time until I have the opportunity to fulfill my fantasy. I don't want to hurt my husband, but I want to feel desired again. Should I have an affair?

ANSWER: You may compartmentalize sex and love separately. The answer to this dilemma lies in developing greater intimacy in your marriage, rather than having an affair. Reach out to your husband: Don't pull away.

It is possible that you are running away from something other than your marriage. Is your marriage really the cause of your boredom? Or are you lacking excitement in your life and pinning it entirely on your relationship? Could it be that you are looking for sex to titillate you out of a much deeper depression?

Boredom is often a symptom of depression caused by a lack of personal development. Are you creating challenges in other areas of your life, such as work or friendships? It is possible that you are putting all of your needs for excitement into the sexual basket and avoiding challenges in other significant areas of your personal life that need change. You may also legitimately crave love and feel a strong need to be special to your spouse. If so, your husband needs to hear from you. Your marriage deserves the opportunity to be enlivened by the needs you each have of the other, rather than deadened by withdrawal.

Your daydreaming is draining the energy from your relationship with your husband and getting you nowhere. Begin by bringing your needs to your spouse. Let him know that you need more excitement in your marriage. Be willing to talk about sex, but do not stop there. Explore what your fantasy represents. What is the emotional meaning of having sex with this other man? Do you feel you will finally be loved and cherished? Does he symbolize something that is missing in your marriage? Use this knowledge to address and revitalize the relationship with your husband.

You love your husband, and you see him as a good father, too. Perhaps you have kept your sexuality apart from qualities of nurturing in your relationships. This can sometimes occur when very early needs for nurturing were not met in childhood. The child part of us wants nurturing, but this part may not be integrated with mature sexual expression. We feel we cannot have both in one relationship. You say you want to be desired again, but it is you who have withdrawn your sexuality from your spouse.

The fact that you find him so utterly unattractive at this time is suspicious by itself. And your fantasizing is definitely an escape from dealing with reality!

If you experienced retaliation when you expressed your needs as a child, or did not get your needs for love answered, you may be projecting this outcome onto your marriage. Open dialogue with your husband about your unhappiness. Consider individual counseling to help you get to the roots of your feelings rather than allow your passions to destroy your relationships. If your husband is unresponsive to your needs, seek couples' counseling to help the two of you define what you want in your marriage and evaluate whether you can get it from each other, before sabotaging your family relationships.

This is your second marriage. Perhaps your first was exciting, but abusive. If so, it is not unusual for the next relationship to appear dull without all of the high drama. Regardless, there is something much deeper going on here. Find out what it is before your daydreams turn into one big nightmare.


Gayle Peterson, MSSW, LCSW, PhD is a family therapist specializing in prenatal and family development. She trains professionals in her prenatal counseling model and is the author of An Easier Childbirth, Birthing Normally and her latest book, Making Healthy Families. Her articles on family relationships appear in professional journals and she is an oft-quoted expert in popular magazines such as Woman's Day, Mothering and Parenting. . She also serves on the advisory board for Fit Pregnancy Magazine.

Dr. Gayle Peterson has written family columns for ParentsPlace.com, igrandparents.com, the Bay Area's Parents Press newspaper and the Sierra Foothill's Family Post. She has also hosted a live radio show, "Ask Dr. Gayle" on www.ivillage.com, answering questions on family relationships and parenting. Dr. Peterson has appeared on numerous radio and television interviews including Canadian broadcast as a family and communications expert in the twelve part documentary "Baby's Best Chance". She is former clinical director of the Holistic Health Program at John F. Kennedy University in Northern California and adjunct faculty at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. A national public speaker on women's issues and family development, Gayle Peterson practices psychotherapy in Oakland, California and Nevada City, California. She also offers an online certification training program in Prenatal Counseling and Birth Hypnosis. Gayle and is a wife, mother of two adult children and a proud grandmother of three lively boys and one sparkling granddaughter.

Return to Dr. Gayle Peterson's Home Page

Copyright 1996-2003.  Gayle Peterson All rights reserved.

Send Comments and Inquiries to Dr. Gayle Peterson at gp@askdrgayle.com