Dear Tzippora,

My husband and I are friendly with another couple, and we frequently get together socially. We have been doing this for years, and all enjoy each other's company. Yet, lately, I feel I am developing a crush on my friend's husband. Sometimes I find myself fantasizing about what life would be like if I was married to him instead of my own husband. While I love my husband, and would never act on my feelings, I am starting to feel embarrassed and uncomfortable around this couple. I find myself avoiding opportunities to socialize with them. How should I handle this?

Suddenly Shy

Dear Suddenly Shy,

It is natural for all marriages to have phases of intense closeness followed by spells of less intense intimacy, distance, and even ambivalence. There are even times when a good marriage may feel like a partnership, or a domestic living arrangement. However, wise couples understand this cycle, and protect the integrity of their relationship even during its dry spells. I suspect that it is precisely during this phase in your marriage that your fantasy took root.

Fantasies are not innocent and can be dangerous for long-term relationships. Left unchecked, a fantasy can breed widespread dissatisfaction, and eat away at the roots of your relationship. Therefore, it is important to recognize and respect your instinct to avoid interacting with this couple. This is a vulnerable time for you, and your shyness is a natural instinct urging you towards self-protection. It is necessary to be especially careful right now, in order preserve the sanctity and longevity of your own marriage.

While you say that you trust yourself, and would never act on your feelings, the Jewish Sages taught: "Do not trust yourself until the day you die." This teaches us that each of us is fallible, and we can't pretend otherwise. There is no such thing as a relationship that is affair-proof.

Modern society has broken down many social conventions which inherently supported and protected marriages. In the absence of these external societal constraints, one must be especially vigilant about developing an internal protective stance. This stance includes distancing oneself from unnecessary friendships and interactions with members of the opposite sex.

Explain to your friend gently that while you treasure her company and enjoyed your joint evenings in the past, right now you are finding it challenging enough to find time to spend together with your husband, and a foursome is a thing of the past. If your friend has a healthy marriage, she will be able to respect this.

Otherwise it may be necessary to find another friend in order to protect your marriage.

Best of luck,

Tzippora Price, M.Sc.