My wife is a very nice person, and we are basically happy together. Yet even after five years of marriage, I still find myself thinking about my old girlfriend, wondering where she is today, and what life would have been like had I married her instead. When I think about my girlfriend, I feel that maybe we would have had a much more passionate connection than my wife and I share, and that maybe somehow, I missed out, and married the wrong person. I want to be loyal to my wife, but this feeling that I might be married to the wrong woman is tearing me apart.


Dear Confused,

It must have taken a lot of courage to write this letter, and admit these feelings even to yourself. I respect that decision, because it is important to confront this issue, and not let it fester in the recesses of your heart. In my work as a marital therapist, I frequently hear both men and women voice this type of concern. How do we know that the person we married is truly the right person for us?

My advice is to respect yourself, respect the thought and consideration you put into the decision of who to marry. Respect the relationship that you have built together, which has stood the test of time. It sounds like your relationship with your wife is a successful one, and your attraction to your old girlfriend is a fantasy.

Married life requires a lot of maturity and commitment, and sometimes, a part of us wishes to escape from that reality. At this time, we escape into fantasy. Yet it is important to realize that a fantasy is just a fantasy, and not a window into an alternative and possible reality. Furthermore, if your fantasy is causing you to doubt the worth of your relationship with your wife, it is a dangerous fantasy.

How can you cure yourself of this fantasy? Tell yourself that the girlfriend you remember was not a wife. The excitement that a couple experiences while dating is different than the daily familiarity of marriage.

Then ask yourself, is your fantasy covering up a real issue that needs to be addressed? Is there an area of your marriage that needs to be developed? Is there an area of your personal or professional life that is not living up to your expectations? Where can you find more satisfaction and fulfillment in your real life so you won't need to rely on a fantasy?

The basis of a good marriage is friendship and respect. It sounds like you already share that with your wife. Try to plan some special times together to reconnect, and enjoy each other's company. It's up to you to make sure you don't let a fantasy eat away at your real relationship.