Dreams of His Mom-in-Law
Q: My wife and I have been married for two years and together for five. We've had ups and downs like anyone, but lately I've been having a hard time making a decision about the future. My father-in-law is a moderately decent human being except when he drinks, which is 80% of the time, in which case he turns into an abusive control freak. His current wife, whom he met two years after I started dating his daughter, was, at the time, a complete *expletive* but has since changed.
The long and the short of it is that I am finding myself more and more attracted to her every time I see her which is at least once a week. Not that it has much to do with it, but my wife and I have an "alternative" marriage and she (my wife) knows that I've had dreams about her stepmom. But I'm having trouble deciding whether or not to make a move mainly because I don't know if these feelings are coming from the fact that my marriage is lacking something, or because I'm attracted to older women, or due to my chivalrous complex of "rescuing" women in distress. I don't know if the feelings are entirely mutual, although I guess if you want something bad enough you can make yourself believe anything. I just need an outside perspective I guess. -- Nick, 22
Dr. Susan: Hoo-boy! You're going out of your way to look for trouble. So let's first get rid of the irrelevant bits of your story. Your father-in-law's behavior is not your business. It's not your job to rescue his wife, plus you wouldn't be rescuing her by having an affair with her. In fact, you'd be complicating her life even further. She should leave the abusive alcoholic, not start up with her son-in-law. But, as I said, stay out of it. Also, it's normal and natural to have dreams about other women, but you do not have to take them seriously and act them out.
I don't know exactly what you mean by "alternative marriage," other than that you and your wife have agreed it's okay to sleep with other partners. In reality, that usually doesn't work out too well, but that's for you to figure out. Anyway, I bet it doesn't mean messing around within the family. That's just stupid and messy, and possibly even dangerous (remember the abusive drunk you'd be betraying).
All marriages lack something, but I would be mightily surprised if you could rightfully blame your wife for your attraction to this other woman (the forbidden former *expletive*). You and your wife need to get out more, and maybe you need to open up to her (she's pretty understanding, right?), and suggest you hold off on seeing her family for a while. Hey, don't let yourself fall into being an *expletive" yourself.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.