Q: My wife is 4 1/2 months pregnant. For the past year or so I've had an office girlfriend — a single woman at my office who is fun to flirt and eat lunch with, but nothing more. I'm definitely attracted, but I have kept myself under control.
In a couple of weeks, my wife is taking part in a pregnancy-related drug study that will keep her in the hospital for three weeks or more. I think this is a stupid (and probably dangerous) idea, and I don't want the baby to be part of it, but I let her follow through with it because subconsciously I wanted to be alone to explore possibilities with office girlfriend. Ever since I realized that's what I was thinking, I have been horrified, and I'm worried about what will happen when my wife leaves.
What can I do to make sure I don't cheat?
A: I'm going to pretend you said, "and now I'm worried about what will happen to my wife and baby in this study."
Because you know the answer to the other question. Don't cheat.
Yeah. A bit obvious. But I'm worried this isn't obvious enough: Most people are horrified by their own behavior after they have done something horrible, something that can't be undone. That is, when they have sufficient conscience in place to register horror.
You . . . might. And, aside from the way-over-the-line flirting, none of your bad judgment has been irreversible. A little green shoot of decency broke (partway) through just in time.
So, now, nurture it. Make one, small, better decision. Then, follow it up with another. And so on.
Given the time issue, make airing your objections to the drug study your first good decision.
Depending on how well the conversation is going, how well you and your wife communicate, how enlightened she is, or maybe just how forgiving she is, you can go on to air some other things you've kept from her for the past year or so. Often, this is the beginning of a far stronger marriage. Often, too, it's the beginning of a dissolved marriage. That's why you have to weigh how much to air, and why I won't do it for you.
The study may be under way by the time you read this, making it too late to veto. Either way, though, here's the next good decision in line: extracting yourself from your ridiculous, self-indulgent office no-mance.
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