Dear Annie: I am a 47-year-old married woman with two teenagers. I have a good marriage, although my husband is a difficult person to live with. He has mild OCD, is moody and has a temper. He is driven at work and, though respected in our community, is never romantic or thoughtful. He would never cheat on me, but he takes me for granted.
I have tried to talk to him, but he refuses to see a therapist. So, I have gone myself. This has been helpful, and, to his credit, with prompting from me - as advised by my therapist — he has made some positive strides, particularly with his temper.
Also, I have found fulfillment in a small business I founded and run, which keeps me busy. Overall, I am reasonably happy today, apart from when he is in a bad mood. I intend to stay in this marriage because we have kids and because I made a vow, and, ultimately, I love him.
The problem is that I have secretly developed a crush on a male friend, who is married with kids as well. He and I have been friends via mainly our church for many years, though we also chat at community events. Nothing inappropriate has happened between us, but he often texts me during the workday, or at night, cute links or jokes - nothing inappropriate and usually very humorous, about things we have discussed or topics in which he knows I'm interested. I welcome the attention and look forward to his messages. This has been going on for several years. I believe he has a stable marriage, but his wife has mental health issues, such as depression, agoraphobia and mild alcoholism. I know these weigh on him, though he never discusses it with me. I suspect he enjoys my "company" also as an escape, though he is ultimately devoted to his wife. Still, I sometimes find myself daydreaming, "What if?"
My question is whether I should force myself to end the friendship and stop the texting. On the one hand, I feel guilty, enjoying the virtual company of a man who is not my husband, and a married man at that. But on the other, his warmth and friendship are very valuable to me and bring me needed joy, especially on tough days. I would feel great sadness to end things, particularly not being able to explain to him why. — Torn in Ontario
Dear Torn in Ontario: It is OK to have a friend of the opposite gender who makes you laugh and brings you joy. You both sound like you are devoted to your spouses, so there is nothing wrong with having friends. However, your recent development of a crush on him likely has more to do with your current marriage than with your friend.
Don't take a dramatic stance and run away from your friend because you have feelings for him, but rather run to a good marriage counselor and try and fall back in love with your husband. Marriage is work, and we get out of it what we put into it. The therapy you underwent gave you the tools to find acceptance and fulfillment, and your husband started to work on his temper. Continuing therapy could offer you more tools to not feel guilty for finding joy in friends. Having a happy wife might let your husband loosen up a little and begin to laugh with you. Finding joy in life is so valuable. Sometimes, you just have to work on finding — and keeping — it.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]