Question:

My wife is 41/2 months pregnant. For the past year or so, I've had an "office girlfriend" - a single woman at my office who is fun to flirt and eat lunch with, but nothing more. I'm definitely attracted to Office GF, but I have kept myself under control.

In a couple of weeks, my wife is taking part in a pregnancy-related drug study that will keep her in the hospital for three weeks or more. I think this is a stupid (and probably dangerous) idea, and I don't want my baby to be part of it, but I let her follow through with it because subconsciously I wanted to be alone to explore possibilities with Office GF.

Ever since I realized that's what I was thinking, I have been horrified, and now I'm worried about what will happen when my wife leaves. What can I do to make sure I don't cheat?

Answer:

I'm going to pretend you said, "and now I'm worried about what will happen to my wife and baby in this study."

Because you know the answer to the other question: Don't cheat.

Aside from the way-over-the-line flirting, none of your bad judgment has been irreversible. A little green shoot of decency broke (part-way) through just in time.

So, now, nurture it. Make one, small, better decision. Then follow it up with another. Then another. It's the way out of messes at all stages; it's just easier in the "before" stage.

Given the time issue, make airing your objections to the drug study your first good decision. (To your wife - in case of confusion.) Explain that you weren't thinking, that you're afraid it's a dangerous idea, that you want to get more information on the risks, if not pull out of the study outright.

The study may be under way by the time you read this, making it too late to veto. Either way, though, here's the next good decision in line: extracting yourself from your ridiculous, self-indulgent office no-mance. It's torture for you, a dead-end for the woman - assuming she's even interested beyond lunch - and a slap in your wife's face against which she can't even defend herself.

You're not just her husband, but a father now. (By the way, you said "my" baby. A word to get used to:

our

.) The time to entertain doubts was when your wife wasn't pregnant yet. People who make babies surrender their right to behave like them.

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