Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Falling for co-worker won't fix an unhappy marriage
Help: I am in 100 percent love with a co-worker. Butterflies and daydreaming and wanting-to-throw-my-arms-around-and-kiss in love. It is destroying my marriage and I don't seem to care. I know I need to stop or leave my job or confess to my spouse but I can't do any of those. What do I do?
Carolyn: That's not love, that's hormones — or at least an adrenaline rush after you've gone a very long time without one.
Hold on as tightly as you can to your rational self and put your energy into not doing permanent harm. When you're feeling steadier, you can work on underlying problems that left you vulnerable to such a crush. Butterflies pass; betrayal is forever.
Help Again: It's not hormones. We connect on EVERYthing and I have felt this way for a long time. I have children and a clueless spouse and feel trapped and suffocated. I know this person would be the best thing but I can't make that step.
Carolyn: Then it's the trapped and suffocated talking, the sense that you're getting oxygen after not having any for so long. Please get thee to counseling, solo, to deal with your soul death from the unhappy marriage. The colleague feels like the answer, but no new person can be the cure when your current condition is sick. Daydreaming and butterflies are the giveaway — they're screaming, "Don't trust me."
I'm going to change my metaphor from suffocation to thirst. You're in the desert, and you think you're seeing water. The co-worker is a mirage.
Parents' marital strains have nothing to do with daughter
Washington: How does a 30-something woman react when her father tells her she is the reason her parents' marriage is strained?
My dad has never forgiven me for moving out of state and not calling every day or visiting more than three or four times a year. My mom, while disappointed, tries to talk my dad into opening the lines of communication.
So I see that his relationship with me is what's straining their marriage, but I don't blame myself for their issues. However, when I talk to him I get an earful. What's the proper way to react?
Carolyn: Your father is insecure/controlling/something in that family of difficulties, just based on his refusal to recognize your autonomy; your mother is enabling him, by indulging his fits of pique whenever she tries to reason him out of them — i.e., by treating them as reasonable and therefore acceptable, which they're not.
Any problems in their marriage (and beyond) are about this dynamic, not about you.
When you get an earful, calmly remind your father that this is your life, you've made your decision and the issue is closed — and if he chooses to pursue the topic, you'll have to hang up and call back another time. If he pursues it, you say, "Goodbye, Dad," hang up and call back another time.
It's really hard. But be gentle to inoculate yourself against guilt, be firm to inoculate yourself against getting sucked in, and you'll come out of it as well as possible.