What if you dream about someone other than your spouse?
On Fridays I like to highlight some comments that came in over the week and carry on the discussion, because what I’ve found over the last little while is that sometimes the best material ends up in the comments section, and then not everybody sees it!
So today I wanted to pick up from a discussion that started yesterday on the podcast. On this week’s episode, I answered 7 reader questions, and two in particular caught on in the comments. One was about persistent UTIs after sex (some great advice in the comments–take ONE antibiotic after sex, and talk to your doctor about this dose; or make sure you’re not allergic to the soap your husband uses); but many jumped on the question from a woman saying she’s attracted to a married man at her church, and she keeps dreaming about him.
So I wanted to highlight some of those comments. But first I’d like to share a story.
When I was on holiday last month, I woke up one morning in a cold sweat, completely despondent. I had dreamt that Keith had left me. In the dream, I asked him why, and he looked at me with disdain and said, “Sheila, you know.”
But I didn’t. So I ran after him, sure it was a joke. “Come on, this is us,” I said. “Talk to me. We always talk!”
But he said nothing and walked away.
So then, in my dream, I called my daughters, and wanted to know if they knew what was going on. And they said, “Seriously, mom, it’s obvious.” And then they wouldn’t talk to me, either.
It took a good two days to get over that dream. I told Keith, and he was laughing at first, but then he just hugged me because he saw I was really upset.
I know dreams don’t have to have any reflection in reality, but the emotions were real. But Keith and I hadn’t had a fight. There was nothing wrong. It was just a silly dream. But it felt terrible.
Sometimes I wake up after having a romantic dream about some guy, and I’ll be like, “Ewww…. Keith, kiss me quick because I just had a ridiculous dream I need to get out of my head.”
You really aren’t responsible for your dreams–EXCEPT we are more likely to dream about things that we have thought about recently.
But sometimes random things just creep into our dreams, and it has nothing to do with anything.
So let’s look at what some of our readers said. They all had very similar perspectives, which was that we need to not freak out if we’re attracted to someone else, and we need to put it in its proper perspective. Doug summed up my feelings pretty well with this:
I think the first thing everyone should remember, is that being attracted to someone is not an emotional affair. An emotional affair is when one or both parties share an intimate part of themselves with the other. Even that by itself, however, does not define an emotional affair. That could describe nothing more than a good, healthy friendship, tho if it is with a member of the opposite sex, it probably gets very close to crossing some lines. I have two such opposite sex friends that I correspond with regularly, and there is no blurring or crossing of the lines. I don’t want to say that they are necessary to me, or to them, but they are beneficial to me in the sense that our friendships are built around our marriages, and supporting each other in our individual marriages. I can honestly say that I have never had a romantic or sexual thought towards either one of them, and I can also say that because of the nature of our friendships, The reverse is also true. They are family, and in a very real sense, they are the sisters I never had.
During some of the worst seasons of my marriage, I did have an affair, and it started out as an emotional affair. I know only too well what that is, and where it is borne. The first danger sign is to want something other than what you already have, and the best way to combat that is to seek contentment where you are, and to go to outright war with discontent, whether that means adjusting expectations, or tackling obstacles in your marriage head on. I have done a great deal of, and I credit a lot of that to the two friends I mentioned. Their wisdom and insight has been a huge part of that.
I do feel bad for the Pastors wife who is struggling, but I would counsel her that being attracted to someone or something is not a sin, and it is certainly not an affair. I would counsel her tho, that entertaining thoughts of that attraction and fantasizing about the man starts running headlong into what Jesus taught in Matthew 5:28.
I agree–having a crush is not an emotional affair. And I like his definition–wanting something other than what you already have. Emmy suggested thinking of the other guy like your brother. You can think your brother is good looking, and a great catch, but you certainly don’t want him for YOU. She explains:
Would it help you to think about this other man as your very own brother? If he is a Christian, he actually is your brother. And if he is not, he might become one.
This did help me a lot when I was in a somewhat similar situation. It has helped me ever since. I’m not afraid any more to realize if a guy is a nice person or good looking or attractive. My brother is a very cool person and nice to look at and very attractive too, and I very much like being around him. I certainly can say love him, only not “that way” but in a totally different way. I trust that all who have siblings that are dear to them understand what I mean. A brother or a sister is a very special person and you may feel connected to them like to no one else. Still you would not call it a “crush”.
Also, liking someone does not mean you need to “have” him! Just like when you see a beautiful house or a beautiful horse or a very nice car or a lovely garden and you realize it is lovely, that does not mean you are “lusting” to have it. Really, about 50 percent of the people on Earth are of the opposite sex, and many of them are attractive. They are beautiful people God has made. One of them is made especially for you. The others are for someone else. That does not mean it is wrong to appreciate them in their own right and realize they are attractive. You can love them as much as you like as long as you love them as your brother, or your sister.
Blessed Wife chimed in with this:
I think a first step, (which she’s probably already taken) is to increase engagement with her own husband and family, focusing especially on the positives. In other words, look in the direction you want to grow and go.
I might mention to my husband that I felt “distancing” and wanted to pull closer to him, but I don’t think I would go further than that. At least, it would be, for me, an absolute last resort. I can see a whole lot of potential problems with telling a husband who is also pastor of a church any version of, “Honey, I really love you and want us to stay married, but I’ve had a huge attraction for Steve for the last five years.”
Step 2 would be, engage with “Steve” only (ONLY) in the context of his family. It surrounds both of you with natural safeguards and chaperons. Also, it frames Steve as a real person in the context of his real life, not a hot fantasy you can take in isolation and obsess over. It will show him as either a happily married man devoted to his own family (if he’s an innocent man unaware of your feelings), or a liar and two-faced manipulator that you really don’t want to be with (if he’s flirting with you and trying to encourage you to stray).
If you have prayerfully been doing the above for 5 years and nothing has changed, that is one heck of a thorn in the flesh! So I encourage you to remember that God’s grace is sufficient for you! He loves you, and is glorified every time you choose right over wrong, faithfulness over unfaithfulness, His Word over what your heart (deceitful above all things!) tells you it wants. Look to God, then to your husband and how they delight you, and I truly believe you will lose sight of the deferred hopes, guilt and shame of “Steve”. I will pray for you!
And one man confirms what many of us were thinking–if it’s not necessary, he’d rather not know if his wife was attracted to someone else:
I also would die if I knew my wife has a crush. My anxiety would take over and it would spiral. So I honestly don’t want to know if my wife has a crush. I prefer that she shows me love and deal with it. I mean of course if boundaries are being crossed. And I think that’s important with this question. To not cross boundaries. Not talk to much. Never be alone and never talk about intimate stuff. I am thankful for my coworker because she keeps everything professional. I don’t think I have ever had a conversation that is not work related with her. And that’s good. And that’s how I want to keep it. So as long as my wife doesn’t cross lines, know that it’s wrong and actively tries to stop it and continues to show me love, then I don’t want to know. It would crush me.
I want to add one more thought that I alluded to in the comments, but that I shared in greater detail in my big post from last year on how to prevent an emotional affair:
Just because you are attracted to someone else DOES NOT mean that there is something wrong with your marriage.
Did you hear that? Let that sink in. I think we sometimes believe that attraction can only happen if we are unhappy, or lacking something. But you are not DEAD. You are simply married. And sometimes we meet someone who pushes all the right buttons….
As soon as we’re tempted, and feel attracted to someone else, we often start to look at our marriage and figure there’s something horribly wrong. There’s some unmet need, and my subconscious is trying to point it out to me.
That could be true, but from the women I’ve spoken with I’d say that’s not necessarily true at all. Your marriage very well could be fine. It may not be, of course; but being tempted does not mean that something IS wrong with your marriage.
When we are attracted to someone else, the worst thing we can do is to then assume that we are unhappy with our marriage. That makes us start to doubt our marriage even more, or even look for things that are wrong with our marriage that explain why we’re feeling that attraction. “I must find my husband lacking if I’m attracted to this guy.” No, that’s not true. You just may very well fit with that other guy as well.
I am not one of those “there is only one person out there in the world meant for you” kind of person. I believe that God lets us choose our spouse, and that it is then up to us to become the best spouse we can be. Perhaps it’s because my grandfather was married three times to three wonderful but very different women (they all kept dying of cancer on him). Were those last two marriages substandard because the first was the love of his life? No, I don’t think so. He was happy in all three marriages, because he decided to love those women and be the best husband he could for each of them.
So the fact that you are attracted to someone else may simply be because there are many different people you could have potentially worked with.
Now, perhaps there is something wrong with your marriage. Hopefully this, then, will be the nudge to start addressing that problem by going to a counselor, talking to your husband about it, or doing something to change the dynamic. But it does not necessarily mean something is wrong, and assuming your marriage is on the skids is the worst thing you could do at a time like this.
So when you think of him, turn it into a prayer of blessing on his marriage or a prayer of thanksgiving for your husband. Try not to be alone with him. And do tons of fun things with your husband! I hope that helps.
Any more thoughts about dealing with being attracted to someone else? Let’s talk in the comments!