Dear Stock Doc, I'm in the financial profession and I am very successful for my age. I am in my thirties and have attained most of my dreams and goals. However, my success comes at a cost in how I've "coped" with my stress. Some people drink or do drugs ... I've strayed from my marriage. I have a loving wonderful family but somehow I can't resist going outside my marriage. I've rationalized it as my way of dealing with the extreme stresses that I'm subjected to on a daily basis, and that it's just my "vice" or early mid-life crisis. I do not want to destroy my family and I feel guilty about acting on my impulses. It just gets easier each time that I get away with it and it seems to resolve some of the frustration and tensions in my marriage. I'm wondering if I'll ever grow out of it?Sincerely,DanDear Dan, I'm glad that the column impacted you the way it did. I will not morally judge your actions, as it sounds like you are feeling guilty and confused about why you did what you did already.
I recently received a response to a column I wrote a few weeks ago from a reader dealing with a common problem on Wall Street: adultery. The column, titled "
Your Early Midlife Crisis," focused on a trend that I have noticed in my private practice: Men have been displaying earlier signs of disillusionment, apathy and confusion about their lives than in previous years. The manifestation of a premature or early midlife crisis for men typically involves an abrupt change in lifestyle or behavior that appears to others as excessively indulgent, immature and irresponsible. Many of these behaviors serve as a means for the individual to ignore or pacify their painful feelings of sadness, frustration and worry, stemming from a lost sense of purpose and regret about what they may have missed out on or goals that they have not yet accomplished in their lives. The column resonated with this reader, whom we'll call "Dan." He was kind enough to approve of me sharing his concerns with my audience for the purpose of helping others who may be experiencing a similar quandary:
I've heard your story countless times in my practice and more times than not, it is because there is something missing from your marriage that you feel uncomfortable talking about or asking for from your spouse. There is likely a communication breakdown between you and your spouse and it is likely that one or both of you are not getting your needs met. Cheating on your partner should never be the solution to managing your needs deficit. Each time you do it, you will erode the foundation of what you worked so hard to build with your wife. It is likely that you will not grow out of this behavior unless you work hard to change your current relationship. If it is worth saving, you will likely have to put in as many hours with your wife as you do with your colleagues at work. Solid relationships do take a great deal of work. If you are straying outside the marriage for sex, it is obvious that your sex life at home is probably not adequate enough for you or that you are feeling underappreciated by your spouse. The topic of sex tends to create a great deal of stress in a marriage when one partner begins to feel neglected or unsatisfied. When an individual is not getting his or her sexual needs met or is rejected by a partner repeatedly when asking for sexual intimacy, the rejected partner usually feels frustrated, resentful and powerless over changing the situation. I have worked with many individuals who would rather not speak up about their wish to have more sexual intimacy with their spouses for fear of being rejected again. Consequently, they repress their feelings and even start to feel inadequate and asexual. This situation becomes paradoxical in that these very powerful and dominant individuals start to feel unattractive, unappealing and powerless to change their situation. In essence, some clients turn to alcohol and drugs to manage their anger and frustration, while others turn to looking for romance outside of their marriages. Men and women, especially successful ones, need to feel at times like they are sexual beings and that they are sought after for this quality rather than for their brains, money or power alone. Additionally, I have noticed that in long-term loving relationships, women and men both forget to remind each other of these qualities on a regular basis.
There are many normal and appropriate variables that can distract a partner from focusing on the marriage, such as newborn children, stress at work and physical illness. These variables tend to shift the focus away from the couples' "alone time," and the situation usually negatively impacts one partner more than the other. This inequality tends to elicit the passive-aggressive actions, such as looking outside the marriage for sex, for the purpose of helping the individual feel more in control and more attractive again.
Stock Doc with your trading, emotional or investing dilemmas. Dr. Cass always welcomes comments and stories, for which he'll try to offer solutions in later columns .