Lately I've been kissing women I'm not married to

I did it again just last week. What's wrong with me?

Published September 5, 2007 10:37AM (EDT)

Dear Cary,

I am confused. I have been in a happy marriage for many years (more than 15, less than 20), with children, and yet twice during my married life I have "made out" with women not my wife, the most recent being this past week, when I was out of town for work. As this last incident was happening, I was simultaneously enjoying myself but knowing full well that I was being a bad husband and partner. The "incident" this past week ended as we knew it had to. Just a few minutes of lusty kissing and nothing more. We talked of sex, but both agreed to stop. She knows I am married.

My situation is this: I think of myself as happily married. My wife and I have a good relationship. Our sex life is just fine. Why have I done this? My recurring fantasy is going out with a woman from work and we end up at her place after drinks, fooling around. Pretty vanilla, I know. But that's me! The situation this week followed my fantasy to a T, which I clearly found exciting. But my fantasy always goes further than what actually happened this week. I/we stopped it in its tracks because I/we knew it was wrong. But why wasn't I smart enough to stop it earlier, when we were having drinks and were both giving clear signals to each other?

I would understand if I was unhappy in my marriage. That is why I find my behavior so stupid.

What is my problem?

Serial Kisser

Dear Serial Kisser,

What is your problem? Your problem is that if you continue to kiss women you are not married to, soon you will no longer be married. That is the usual outcome with the kissing of attractive women you are not married to. You are evidently aware of this in some dim way. That would be why this hobby of yours is not bringing you unalloyed pleasure but instead a pleasure tinged with a dollop of piquant dread.

The reason you weren't smart enough to stop it earlier is because you did not admit to yourself in a concrete and definite way how a few innocent drinks with an attractive woman can lead to the potentially heartbreaking scene of unexpected adultery. I suggest you just admit that to yourself. It's inescapable: If you want to stop doing this and save your marriage, you have to stop way before that delicious moment when you're thinking how splendid an idea it would be to take off all your clothes. You do not want to get to that point. You want to stop way before you find yourself thinking, hmmm, maybe better not, because I'm married, but wow, it sure would be nice, but no, I'm married, but just this once maybe, oh, what the heck. You've been lucky so far but you can't count on luck. That's why they call it luck. If it were a sure thing they'd call it something else, like "Lady Sure Thing" or "Lady Certainty."

The point is that by the time you are having drinks and giving clear signals to each other, you are already doing this thing that is going to eventually end your marriage. You are already fooling around, albeit like a ninth grader.

So I'd recommend you completely cut out the drinks with attractive women in strange towns. Stay out of attractive women's hotel rooms and do not ride in the back seats of big black cars with attractive women after you've had a few drinks. That is where the kissing can begin, in the back seats of big black cars and in hotel rooms with mini bars, and many other places as well. You know now that you are the kind of guy who occasionally kisses women he is not married to. So don't get yourself in those situations. Just make some rules for yourself. Do not drink with attractive women when your wife is not around.

I mean, it's understandable what's been happening. Get a few drinks in you and you want to kiss people. It's natural. Nothing wrong with that per se, except you're married. You know the rules. You knew the rules when you signed up. Nobody forced you to sign up. You signed up on your own. There are a lot of people you don't get to kiss now. It's tough, I know. But those are the rules.

Don't look so sad. Consider the benefits!

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