Your Chance to Help a Reader Out
When I asked about your most vexing marital problems, one reader wrote this:
“I cannot seem to stay focused on my marriage. I keep drifting away. And I’m kind of having an emotional relationship with another man. And I feel so guilty for doing it. I am forcing myself to stop. But I have all this guilt pent up inside of me…and I sometimes feel like I would rather be with this other man. I don’t know what to do. I want this marriage to work. But I want my husband to be like this other man. That is so wrong. I feel so ashamed…”
There are many different conventional ways to deal with this situation and I’m hoping the readers here will suggest them all to you. As for my advice, I’d like to tell you about several Buddhist meditation techniques that I’ve found quite helpful. It’s possible they might help you. It’s possible they won’t. Just keep an open mind, try them and see what happens.
1. Turn your shame into action. Your shame serves no one. It doesn’t serve you, and it doesn’t serve your spouse, either. So use that sense of shame to create a healthy and strong feeling of renunciation. Renunciation is the feeling that says, “I’m done with this. I do not want to do this anymore. I want this problem out of my life and I am going to do whatever it takes to ensure I overcome this problem.” Then whenever you feel ashamed–for backsliding, for indulging in a fantasy, for turning to your emotional confidant instead of your spouse–remind yourself of your pledge. Say, “Enough already! Enough!”
2. Offer your emotional attachment to a higher power. Think of the person you are attracted to and then imagine yourself giving that person as a gift to Buddha, Jesus, Mohammad or some living being that you greatly admire and respect. Say, “Please hold onto this person for me for a while. Care for this person with love.” Do this visualization every day, and especially do it when you find yourself obsessing about that person.
3. Redirect your attention and love. Visualize your spouse clearly. Take the same love and passion you felt for the other person and now imagine yourself feeling it just as strongly for your spouse. Do this over and over again. It might help to imagine your love in the form of light. See that light leaving your heart and enveloping your spouse.
4. Meditate on your spouse’s kindness. Take note of all of the wonderful things your spouse does for you day in and day out. Try not to harp on the negative. Accentuate the positive. Even write it all down in a gratitude journal that you read often to remind yourself that your spouse rocks.
5. Be patient. Your feelings won’t change overnight, but they will change. If you don’t believe me, think back to a crush you had years ago, perhaps in high school. Remember how strongly you felt and how absolutely sure you were of your love? If someone had told you back then that you would eventually get over that guy, would you have believed it? Probably not. It’s the same now. Eventually this emotional affair will weaken and end.
Readers: What is your advice? What do you think this reader should do? How can this reader move past this emotional affair and embrace her husband again?
Note: I’ve noticed that the number of comments have been dwindling. It’s possible that’s because I’m writing boring content that no one is reading. If so, no worries. If, however, the comments are dropping because of some technical issue, please make me aware of it: alisa (at) alisabowman (dot) com.
A professional journalist, Alisa Bowman is the author of Project: Happily Ever After, a memoir of how she saved her marriage, and coauthor of Pitch Perfect, a must-read if you've ever had a sense of dread tie up your insides before a speech, presentation, or conversation. If you enjoyed this post, you will no doubt love her updates on Facebook and Twitter.