NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Q: I'm a married man, 15 years come this December. For the last four months, I've been working on a project with a younger female colleague. She is a wonderful, brilliant, gorgeous woman to whom I'm feeling ridiculously attracted. Deeply upsetting to me is the knowledge that it would take very little encouragement from her to cheat on my lovely wife. Things are imperfect in my marriage, but far from terrible. I need help to somehow anchor myself, as I do not want to cheat.A: Don't be that guy! Don't be the guy who cheats because he wants to avoid his reality. The difference in how you've described this co-worker versus your wife strikes me as highly telling. Apparently your colleague is "wonderful, brilliant and gorgeous." While your wife is "lovely" and your marriage is "imperfect, but far from terrible." It's more than obvious in your wording that the issues surrounding your relationship and your feelings about your wife are at the heart of your conflict. Your desire here to cheat is symptomatic; glossing over the real issues that threaten the fabric of your marriage. You said, it "would take very little encouragement" from your gorgeous young colleague to start an affair. You then clearly state that you don't want to cheat. I don't believe a little encouragement would cause you to cheat -- if this were the case, it probably would have happened already. Even if you did, it would be very difficult to enjoy the affair with all of your current conflicted emotions. Everyone gets crushes, and physical attractions don't end at marriage. This does not make you an immoral person. It is whether you act on those feelings that ultimately matters. After 15 years of a marriage that clearly encompasses some unresolved issues, cheating won't sharpen your knowledge of what isn't working in your relationship. Perhaps this is what is really "deeply upsetting" to you. It is easier to place focus on this work colleague and an affair that may or may not happen, than it is to admit to being one half of an equation that has gone array.
Spending 15 years in an "imperfect, but far from terrible" marriage, isn't meeting your needs or making you happy. This is what needs addressing, not the potential affair. In resisting your urge to cheat and writing this question, you're actively acknowledging your dissatisfaction. Bring the conversation to your "lovely wife." You're entirely lucky to feel she is lovely after 15 years of marriage, many people do not even have that advantage, my friend. Begin the conversation by figuring out where the source of your marital strain lies. That is what needs to be the focus of further discussions. Perhaps seeking the counsel of a professional therapist would help to serve you best as you and your wife explore the missing elements needed to repair your marriage. In closing, a simple but key point; kindly and gently avoid this work colleague as much as possible right now. There's no reason to bring great temptation to your doorstep! You don't need to have lunch, drinks or dinners with her. Try spending only necessary "work" time with her, as you go through this troubling period with your wife. If your colleague begins a too-personal line of questioning as to why she sees you less, or as to why you're being less social, you may choose not to answer her at all. She will get your message very clearly and quickly!. This could help to improve some of your environmental stressors/conditions immediately. Thanks for reaching out and keep me apprised of your "repair work!" Please send all questions to ASK NOAH at firstname.lastname@example.org Have a profitable and peaceful week, Noah