Falling in love in inappropriate places

Okay, so you have this female friend who’s having an extramarital affair. The thing is, it’s not just a lust thing. And she’s isn’t having some kind of crazy mid-life crisis. In fact, she has a decent marriage. She just seem to need…something more. And maybe that “something more” gives their life just enough spice and meaning to keep her marriage intact. Rather than driving her crazy, the affair makes her a nicer, calmer, more patient person.

Unlikely? It’s apparently happening all over. So says Iris Krasnow in her book The Secret Lives of Wives: Women Share What It Really Takes to Stay Married. As reported in Maclean’s Magazine, women do all sorts of things to stay happily married. Having long-term, secret affairs is one of a number of popular techniques that help a woman create an identity for herself that’s not totally wrapped up in her husband’s.

Well…yeah. So would taking a job as a foreign war correspondent, or camping out in a protest to occupy Wall Street (Yeah!), or starting a stamp collection, for Pete’s sake. Why stick a knife straight into the heart of your marriage by cheating on your husband, whether he quickly notices that knife is in there or not?

I have another explanation: Love (and lust) happen at inappropriate times and places. Think about it. Have you ever in your life been attracted to someone you know it could simply never work with? Maybe they were unrealistically too old, too young, too different, living too far away, living a life too out-of-synch with your own.

Usually when that happens, we shrug and dream about it, or maybe pursue it a little, accepting it as a short-term fling, but we don’t usually let ourselves get wrapped up in knots of fantasy and regret. Unless we’re…oh, I don’t know…seventeen? Then that Faerie prince looks pretty hot. Who cares that he regularly kills people as part of his position? Better than that vampire dude from last night who was about two hundred years old and sucking out the blood of deer and rabbits so that he didn’t suck mine.

Or maybe when we’re a stuck in a marriage that’s gone a little flat, just needs a little danger to juice it up?

Come on! Get real, girls! Attraction happens. Whether you let it go beyond attraction to become something more is never forced on you. This is why God gave us brains, not just hormones. We can look at the guy who’s zinging our pleasure receptors and ask a few pertinent questions like: Is he worth it? Is the downside something I can handle? Do I really want to wake up beside this guy in the morning if it goes that far?

And you know what? Sometimes the answer is yes, yes, oh my good lord, YES! Most of my stories are about exactly that. (The Interview, pictured above and left is actually about finding that possibility while you’re trying to get a job.)

But not when you’re married, please. In my books that’s not inappropriate, it’s inconsiderate, often cruel, usually shortsighted, and usually just plain dumb. Even Ms. Krasnow, for all her reporting of modern women’s extramarital hijinks, would seem to agree, advocating you “ride that hormonal surge straight to your own bedroom and initiate great sex with your spouse.” And she goes on at length about the advantages of marriages that last, pointing out that even if a marriage has even just a spark of love left in it, it can often be saved.

So if you’re not married yet, girls, follow your heart, but let your brain hang around to help you know whether to move from lust to love.

And if you’re married already, read lots of romances and let your fantasies soar, then direct them to that real-life vampire/faerie prince/firefighter/alpha male you married in whatever guise he may be wearing now. Who knows, maybe he’ll become more than you ever dreamed was possible.

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