Savvy Minds: Ask Dr. V ~ The Kiss of Death

Dear Dr V ~

I feel like I’m in some real trouble here. My fiancé and I are supposed to be married next year (we got engaged a few months ago). Finances were already tough for us and with the additional emotional and financial stress of planning the wedding I’d definitely say our happiness quotient is getting low – we’re crabby and snapping at each other a lot. At the same time, I’ve been confiding a lot in this guy at work that I’ve had kind of a schoolgirl crush on. (I think you can see where this is going). Long story short, after spending a lot of time alone together at work… we kissed. It wasn’t like some long drawn out make-out session but it was definitely the kind of kiss I should only share with my fiancé. What do I do? I don’t want to leave my fiancé, and I’ve distanced myself from this guy at work. I want to crawl under a rock, I’m so ashamed. I don’t know what to do. Should I tell him?


Dear Jenny,

Wow. That’s quite a lot you’ve packed in to just one question. I’ll try to hit all the notes for you. Off the top let me say that while you did use some poor judgment here, I don’t think we’re necessarily at a point of no return. Don’t beat yourself up too much, it’s a waste of energy and you’re going to need all you can muster to resolve this issue.

Let’s start on the surface and work our way deeper: The Kiss. OK. You obviously know this was a poor choice of action to make, so I won’t belabor the point. However, I think it’s important to examine why this happened. To me, it’s rather apparent. The stress in your relationship has choked out the comfort and passion you should be deriving from it. So, consciously or not, you looked elsewhere to satisfy those needs. I think once your fantasy was realized with this guy at work, you became painfully aware not just of the actual repercussions of being unfaithful to your fiancé, but that ultimately being with this other guy is not what you want. I assume this is the case because you said you’ve distanced yourself from him now and want to remain with your fiancé. So it’s important to resurrect those feelings of compassion, love and passion in your relationship so that your partner is meeting those emotional needs.

Which leads us to the next aspect of your situation, perhaps the one you’re most anxious about: do you tell him? Like most of the important questions in life, only you can answer this for yourself. On the one hand, I think that honesty is one of the most important foundations for a healthy marriage: it is next to impossible for a couple to truly thrive together if they can’t trust one another completely. If your fiancé never found out about this indiscretion he very well could still have an unshakeable trust in you, but this trust would be built on a false assumption, that you had always remained faithful to him. More importantly, you would know this, and chances are this knowledge could impact the way you relate to your fiancé. For example, it’s not uncommon for an unfaithful spouse to project their own behavior onto their partner and accuse them of “cheating.” You seem a bit too self-aware to engage in such behavior, but if holding on to this secret is upsetting you enough to write in to me asking for advice, I think it could have adverse effects, if not on your relationship with your fiancé, then certainly on your relationship with yourself. I suppose the question is are you ready to spend the rest of your life hiding this? Worrying your fiancé may find out about it somehow? Can you truly be at peace keeping this from him for years if you’re this troubled by it already?

As I said, the root of this problem is not that you kissed another man, that is a symptom. The true problem is that your relationship is suffering and turning sour under the stress brought on by planning the wedding. It might seem paradoxical to think of it like this, but you may want to consider what’s more important to both of you at this point: being together or getting married. Notice I did not say being married. Rather, I’m talking about the stress you must both feel at the prospect of planning the wedding. What kind of pressures are you under from your families, your friends, even yourselves? Well-planned and executed wedding celebrations can be fabulous events that are always remembered fondly by all who attend. Yet I’ve been to my share of weddings where either the bride, groom or both are so stressed out that they can’t enjoy a day that’s costing thousands of dollars and purportedly in their honor because they’re caught up in worrying that everything’s happening perfectly (which, unless you’re God is a hard thing to pull off). So look at the items on the wedding “to-do” list that are causing the most stress and ask “Is this for us or someone else? Do we really need this? If we eliminated this item, would it free us up to do such-and-such elsewhere?” At the end of the day, your wedding is supposed to bring you both closer together, not drive you apart (I know that sounds like a “duh” statement, but it bears saying, especially since the situation you two find yourselves in is hardly uncommon).

I’m sorry I can’t provide you with a magic bullet to solve your conundrum. It’s a complex situation that will require some effort from you to resolve. I think the best suggestion I can provide to you is to be mindful and honest in your thoughts and actions from here on out to avoid making these same mistakes again. As I said, I don’t believe this is a point of no return, but it is your responsibility to change the direction things are heading in before you get to one.

With Love and Light,

Dr. V

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