“Ask a Priest: What If I Am Attracted to Someone Who Is Not My Spouse?”

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Q: I have been married for 40 years. I am very attracted to another man. I have no intention of ever sleeping with this man. But I like him very much. He feels the same way about me. We see each other. He is also married. We do not see each other very often. I really like this man. My relationship with my husband has never been a good one. I am confused about the way I feel. I would like to keep this relationship, I feel so happy with him. I know we could never marry. -R.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: First, it is good to remember that feelings are not sinful. We can’t control feelings of attraction — they come and go, and what matters is how we respond to them. Do we accept them, but exercise virtue in order to keep them in their proper place, or do we let them rule our lives? That is the question.

Second, people need friendships outside of their spousal relationship. We all need friendships. When a friendship springs up with someone of the opposite sex, however, we need to be very honest with ourselves about how healthy the friendship really is. If it makes me a better spouse, a better Christian, then it is a healthy friendship. But if it makes me more self-centered and less responsible and faith-filled in my daily life, then it is a dangerous friendship and needs to have some clear boundaries established around it.

That said, it sounds as if temptation can be lurking at your door. This is normal, this is human. It is also something you need to recognize for what it is, and to be on guard.

From what you describe, this relationship could pose a danger to your marriage. It is notable that you use phrases such as “very attracted to another man,” “I like him very much,” “I really like this man.”

Even if your marriage hasn’t been a happy one, your fidelity and your husband’s fidelity still give glory to God. The witness of your marriage reflects something of inner, unbreakable love of the Trinity. That is something you don’t want to put at risk.

You made it 40 years being married to the same man. That is pretty extraordinary, all things considered. The world needs the witness of a long-lasting marriage.

It would be good to recommit yourself to your spouse, be very prudent with this other man, and intensify your prayer life and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. And count on being included in one of my Mass intentions.

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