Q: I am a 40-year-old woman who has been with only two men. I have been married to my husband for 19 years but find myself bored and just not interested anymore. We have two children, 18 and 12.
I recently have been with another man (for a total of three men I have made love to) and found it quite nice. Also, I enjoy when my husband is out of town; sometimes I find myself thinking how great it would be to be on my own, even though I have never been on my own. Can you provide me with some insight?
A: I detect a good deal of whining on your part. Do a lot of women feel bored and uninterested after two decades of marriage? Yes. Does that mean they go out and cheat? No.
If you are bored, the first thing you need to do is look at yourself. Any relationship, no matter how great, can turn boring if it isn’t nurtured. If you want your marriage to be of high quality, you have to contribute high quality on your end.
Sleeping with a new guy is an immature way to try to invigorate your life. Once the new guy is no longer new, he will almost certainly be as boring as your husband. Then what will you do? Go off in search of yet another new guy?
What you need is to reinvigorate the marriage and the sex life you already have. Inject some play and renewed intimacy; talk to your husband, go traveling, go dancing, work on a project together. Stop your affair immediately. Invest your emotional energy in your husband, not in somebody else.
And you should try to do this as a team — making this a success should not rest entirely on your shoulders. Chances are that if you are bored, your husband is as well, and that he would welcome the opportunity to put some spark back into your relationship.
You mentioned your limited sexual experience a couple of times. If you were unmarried, I would say that it’s up to you how to conduct your sex life. But you have invested many years of your life, your husband’s life and your children’s lives, in the family you have.
So if you regret your lack of experience — well, that’s too bad, but that ship has already sailed. Regretting that you didn’t sleep with enough men before you got married is not a reason for sleeping with them now.
When you make any choice, you are giving up something else. By marrying this husband, you gave up the potential to have a different one. If you want more varied sexual experiences, the man to get them from is your husband.
With the kids growing up, it’s possible you are less focused on them, which gives you time to detect the gaping hole that has grown between you and your husband.
What’s more, you are at the milestone age of 40, which often sparks a reevaluation of your life and choices. I understand that you are trying to figure out your feelings, but to do so by sleeping with somebody not your husband is not the appropriate route to take.
In addition, the fantasy of being on your own sounds like more whining. You don’t have to be unmarried in order to feel a sense of completeness and individuality. That fulfillment is something you must create for yourself. Do you have a career, a hobby, good friends? If not, it’s your task to get them, and you can get them while married.
Many people would envy what you have — a long-lasting marriage and two children. That history is not to be treated lightly. First, make a concerted effort to improve matters and if you then decide your marriage is not worth continuing, do the mature thing and get out before getting involved with somebody else.
Dr. Gail’s Bottom Line: The way to revive a boring marriage is to invest energy and interest in one another, not in a different partner.
PLEASE NOTE: The information in this column should not be construed as providing specific medical or psychological advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand their lives and health. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician, psychiatrist or psychotherapist. Copyright ©2005 Dr. Gail Saltz. All rights reserved.