Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: I thought I had the perfect marriage until I met “Brian” about three years ago. I instantly felt a connection and attraction to him. I try my hardest not to feel this way. I don’t see him very often (we work together), but I can’t shake these feelings. We have spoken about the mutual attraction between us and have kissed once. He doesn’t do anything to encourage a relationship between us, and neither do I. He is in the process of getting divorced and I know he doesn’t want to come between my husband and me. I just can’t stop thinking about him — even if I don’t see him for months at a time. I’m becoming numb and depressed at home and I don’t know how to change these feelings. I can’t talk to anyone about this. I feel ashamed, guilty and embarrassed. I’ve been married for 26 years and have never looked at or thought about another man before. How can I stop these feelings?

Sad

DEAR SAD: You say that you and “Brian” have not done anything to encourage a relationship, b-u-u-u-t ... sharing intimacies, complaining about your marriage and — hello — kissing are all choices that foster an intimate relationship between two people, while also interfering with your respective marriages.

Your reaction now — feeling depressed, numb and ashamed about your work relationship — will also interfere with your marriage.

You are having an emotional affair, and it doesn’t matter how often you actually see this other person because your emotions are running the show.

If you want to save your marriage, then you will have to re-engage with your husband and be very intentional about trying to repair and recommit to him. You cannot do that and have any contact with this other person, because the contact (in person or textual), triggers the cycle.

The best way to deal with this is to invite your husband to strategize about how to improve your marriage. Counseling can help.

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DEAR AMY: I recently planned a three-day driving trip for four other couples to a remote location in another country. All the arrangements were made based on my experience traveling there many times for almost 20 years, but I made it clear that I was not the “guide” and was doing this as a courtesy. I wired the hotel deposit, emailed information and paperwork to everyone, and even had a get-together in my home the week before the trip so everyone could meet. Two of the couples were old friends, but I knew the wife of another (“Brenda”) very slightly. Prior to the trip, Brenda sent me numerous emails challenging and questioning every part of the plan. At the destination, she complained about the parking, didn’t like the food or the amenities and took advantage of the kindness of a friend of ours who lives there. These negative comments were voiced to me on a daily basis, and it affected my enjoyment of the trip. On the other hand, when we got home, she sent me a lovely thank you. There seems to be a big disconnect between her actions and her perception of the effect of her behavior. So, what do I do when (or if) she calls and wants to get together? Do I lie and say that I’m busy, or do I just tell her that I don’t see our friendship moving forward?

Wanting to be an “Ex”

DEAR EX: Because this person was polite enough to thank you for allowing her to ruin your vacation, you seem to think she will want to engage in an ongoing friendship with you. I doubt this, but if she makes an overture you can very easily say, “No thank you. I’m still trying to get over our vacation.”

DEAR AMY: I’m responding to “Desperate Parent,” who wanted to control her daughter’s major in college. We supported our daughter through college — both emotionally and financially. We never criticized her choices. They belonged to her and to her only. One year out of college, with a year of full-time work under her belt (she was offered two jobs the first week after graduation), she is off to nursing school at an Ivy League college. She did this all entirely by herself. She owns this. Are we proud? You bet. To the worried mother I say: let her go!

Proud Mom

DEAR MOM: If the student is doing well, I agree that parents should suggest but not dictate academic choices.