For better or much, much better
I'm 39, and married four years to a woman I dated for two. She's the mother of my two stepchildren, 13 and 16. The problem is, I may be in love with a girl from high school, the most beautiful woman I've ever seen. I've always felt she was the one I was meant to be with. She was popular, and, well, I was not. Still, I can't honestly say that if I'd asked her out, she'd have said no. I wrote her love letters and sent roses on her birthday, which she called to thank me for. Over the years, I haven't stopped thinking about her, and dream about her frequently. At my high school reunion, I heard she's single. She's my Facebook friend, and I wanted to say hi, but she's never on. Yesterday, my dream about her was so emotional that I nearly woke up in tears. I love my wife, but she's more like my best friend. Should I let this affect my marriage? Could I, should I, pursue the woman of my dreams? — Pining
You're seriously wondering whether you should let this "affect" your marriage? Right. "Hey, Honey, it's been real, but I heard from this drunk guy at my reunion that my high school crush is single and hot as ever. No, no ... I haven't slept with her. Or seen her. Or spoken with her for 20 years. But, I friended her on Facebook, and I just can't keep denying she's my soulmate after learning she 'had a great workout and is headed out for some yummies and cocktails!!!'"
You aren't in love with her; you're in love with being the kind of guy who gets a girl like her. You'll do anything to pretend this could be a reality, like telling yourself you can't honestly say the hot popular girl wouldn't have gone out with you, if only you'd asked. Sure. Just as you can't honestly say your dog won't wake up tomorrow and speak Greek, or that you won't win enough in the lottery this weekend to be able to buy Cuba.
Boo hoo, are you not completely fulfilled? I'm reminded of a woman — the mother of four young children — who read Eat, Pray, Love and informed her husband that she, too, needed to "find herself" (translation: travel to Italy and find herself a hot young Latin lover). Um, wrong. What Married Mommylady needs to find is a better preschool for her 3-year-old. Sorry, but once you have kids, by birth or by marriage, you can't just jump ship because you spotted something glittery in the water.
Of course Crushgirl's more appealing than your wife — or any real woman. As a creation of your as-of-yet unmatriculated high school imagination, she never gets her period or PMS. She never wants you to turn off the game or stop bugging her for sex or take out the garbage or shut the hell up already.
And, yoohoo, remember those vows you took? I'm guessing they weren't "Do you take this placeholder until the girl you really love Facebooks you back?" This is the life you've chosen, and you can keep clocking out of it or take pride in making it the best you can. Whenever you feel like taking a toke off the high school hottie pipe, go find your wife, brush a little piece of hair from her face, and tell her she's beautiful and how much she means to you.
Try that on your crush, and you're effectively confessing, "For 23 years, I've been stalking you in my head." But, hey, with any luck, you can get your divorce decree on the same day as the restraining order.
Tying the not
For two years, I wanted to marry the woman I was dating. She wants to be married but said she'd never have strong enough feelings for me. I guess I assumed she'd never "waste" years with me unless she secretly thought I might be Mr. Right. — Frustrated
If you say to a woman, "I wonder what our kids will look like," it's kind of a bad sign if she says, "Yeah, me too, and if your kids will end up playing with my kids." Unlike all the people who string romantic partners along, this woman did right by you — giving you the gift of no hope. As for her "wasting" time, maybe she wants to marry but is content for now with the extended-stay one-night stand.
When somebody tells you you'll never get what you want, you have a choice: stick around and continue never getting it, or make tracks and seek it somewhere else. Sometimes, leaving can help your partner see a gaping hole in his or her life (and here's hoping it isn't because you tripped on the power cord to the media center when you stormed out).