I am 23. I’m married and have two kids. I didn’t plan my life to be so full, so soon. But, I am devoted to making all concerned as happy as possible … which means, I’m taking a utilitarian standpoint. I’m not getting much of what I wanted. I’m happy because I’m making them happy. I think I can live with this choice … but, I have trouble from time to time – overwhelming urges to be totally selfish, haunting thoughts of an old flame (who still has feelings for me, after five years), etc. I’m currently having trouble, NOT because I plan to act on my feelings, MORE SO BECAUSE I can’t stop these feelings of love for this other man. What do I do? Please, please, help. I don’t want to disrespect my husband, family, or myself. But, I want so much of what is forbidden, and I can’t stop thinking about it.
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First of all, I commend you for resisting your temptation, and encourage you to stick to your convictions. Having an affair would only serve to complicate your life. While it is commendable to work to make your family happy and to feel good when you do it, no one can deny themselves their wants forever (as you have already discovered). Doing so will only make you resent the work you have put in for your family, and could very well cause you to resent your husband and children for the lost opportunities they represent. Don’t let this happen! Talk to your husband. Let him know that you are feeling restricted by your current lifestyle, and that you need to occasionally take time out for yourself. Is there something specific that you feel you are missing out on because of your full lifestyle? Discuss this with him. Even if you have to cut back on some other part of your life, consider doing it. Even if you decide that it isn’t possible right now at least it will be clear to the two of you that your current pattern of work is an exception rather than the rule. Even if you don’t make any drastic life changes right now, it is still possible to allow yourself small pleasures. Take an afternoon off and have lunch with friends. Leave the kids with your parents for a weekend, and go away with your husband (or just stay home and enjoy the quiet). Your happiness is as important as anyone else’s in your family; take care of it. Let your family remain a joy, rather than becoming a burden. Best of luck to you, – Anne