I’m tempted to have an affair with one of my wife’s friends | Ask Philippa

The question I’ve been married for around eight years now and I have a beautiful daughter and love my wife, but the passion has completely gone and I’m no longer sexually attracted to her, which has led to an issue.

I have found myself, over the last year, being attracted to other women and strongly attracted to one of her best friends in particular. At first, I didn’t think anything about any of the interactions we had, but when I look back over the past year or so, little things – holding hands or a hug on a night out – have played on my mind. This all culminated in the two of us kissing each other around two weeks back after a very drunken night out and now I don’t know what to do.

I don’t want to lose the loving relationships that I have with my wife, our family and her family, but I also want to explore this new one to see if it does lead to anything more. As it currently stands, I get the impression that my wife’s friend wants to ignore the kiss and just carry on as normal in order to preserve her friendship with my wife, but I really don’t know what to do. Does she also have feelings for me? I am assuming she does due to the kiss. Are they worth exploring? Does she not want the same as me? How do I approach this?

Philippa’s answer First, please take the hint from your wife’s friend that she wants this to go no further. And I hope when you think about the potential this situation has for upsetting many people, including your daughter, that you realise taking the relationship any further would lead to more regrets than the possible fleeting satisfaction it might afford you.

Sure, you may have fantasies of what being with your wife’s friend might be like, but don’t press stop after orgasm, keep the fantasy going: think about how your daughter’s heart will break and leave her with a legacy of finding it difficult to trust her romantic partners, think of the woman you love sobbing her heart out, because of what you are putting her and your daughter through, think of her loneliness and then think of yours when the wife’s friend has dumped you and your wife has found a new man, who is probably making your daughter miserable, because he is not you. Oh, won’t that all be great fun – not.

When we’ve been married to someone for a long time, it’s rare to look at them and think “Phwoar!” Familiarity can lead to a lessening of lust. It’s normal for the concept of sex with a spouse to lose some of its excitement over the years, whereas the concept of sex with a different body may have the appeal of novelty. But, although the idea of sex with a spouse may not be as exciting as with someone new, when you actually get going by deciding to be sexual with your partner, deciding to woo, to start foreplay and get into it, perhaps using fantasy as well as what it feels like, you may find that the actual sex with your actual spouse can get better and better.

Here is an eight-week course to help you and your spouse to get back on track sexually: agree not to touch each other for a fortnight, no hugs, pats, pecks nor hand holding. In week three, schedule an appointment to take turns to massage the other how they want to be massaged, but erogenous zones are out of bounds. For week four, re-allow nonsexual touching. In week five, take turns to massage the other how they want to be massaged and allow erogenous zones. In weeks six and seven, you can re-allow all touching and kissing, but no sexual intercourse. I’ll leave week eight up to your imagination.

Remember, decide to be sexual with each other rather than waiting to feel aroused, when you get into foreplay, you will re-find the passion, but it’s after you’ve got started, rather than before you get going. Use fantasy about other people, perhaps even share your fantasies, but stick to your wife in real life. Don’t throw a good relationship away. Don’t cause trauma to two families.

Couples counselling might be a good idea to unpick what happened and how to stop it happening again. It could be that you or your wife have stored up little resentments against the other that need airing, because this might be a factor that has led to sex falling off. Or maybe you have become too familiar with each other. To counter this I recommend partners visit each other at their workplaces, so you see your spouse as a capable, separate person again, rather than just your other half.

There are always other people outside a marriage that we will fancy. That’s why marriage was invented. Marriage needs commitment to make it work. Rediscover your commitment. Love isn’t something you just fall into. It is a verb, it is something you do. Don’t just “fall” as though you haven’t any agency over your actions, steer your life by working on your marriage.

Recommended reading Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence by Esther Perel.

Philippa Perry’s The Book You Want Everyone You Love* To Read *(and maybe a few you don’t) is published by Cornerstone at £18.99. Buy it for £16.14 at guardianbookshop.com

Every week Philippa Perry addresses a personal problem sent in by a reader. If you would like advice from Philippa, please send your problem to askphilippa@guardian.co.uk. Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions

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