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Answers and Advice for Wayward Partners

NEW QUESTIONS ANSWERED WEEKLY

I can’t seem to get over the other man, I am dying inside

Question

I am 28 years old and have known my husband since I was 13. We’ve been married for 7 years and have 2 kids ages 9 and 7. I met a man who showed interest in me in Jan of 2007. One day, I reconnected with this man and gave him my number. It was an overwhelming feeling, like I couldn’t stop myself. The next day, he called. We started out just getting to know one another. I couldn’t wait to see him or talk to him. I started to fall in love with this man, knowing it was wrong. He’s in a very similar situation to mine. Been with his wife since they were very young and married 14 years now. We both tried to stop but neither one of us could stand to be apart. In April of 2007, this became sexual. It felt so natural and comfortable to be with him. Just to be around him made me tingle. I’ve never had this feeling before, not even with my husband. The next day, I called him crying saying I couldn’t do this, mostly because I was afraid to get caught, but we continued. Then he would try to end it saying he didn’t want to hurt his wife, and I truly believe he didn’t want to hurt her. The day he told me he was in love with me, I was ecstatic because I loved him too, or I think I do, more than I had ever loved. Then we would go through our cycles of “no, can’t do this.” Six weeks ago, things went bad. His wife found out. He called me at 6 in the morning and said she knows. He said he needs time to figure things out. I was so confused, but told him whatever it took, I would be there for him. He tells me thank you for giving him time to figure himself out. That was 6 weeks ago. He hasn’t called or sent a text or even emailed me since that day. I just want to talk to him. To see if he’s really happy. I feel so guilty because my husband is a good man and dad and provider. I truly think if I would have never met this other man I would have never second-guessed my marriage. But now I do. This is affecting every aspect of my life — work, home, friends, family, and my marriage. I just have been going through the motions of life. Everyday, I think of him. I even dream of him. I have begged God to take him out of my head so that I can get my feelings back for my husband. But it just hasn’t happened. And I don’t know if it will. Please help! Please help, I am dying inside. I am consumed by this.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve. After reading your email, I felt so much compassion for where you are right now. It’s like being stuck between a rock and a hard place. It’s not a fun place to be. But I also must compliment you. Rather than just sitting passively and hurting, you’re actively seeking help, and now you are being helped, because for every broken heart, there’s an angel, assigned to healing it.

Let’s answer your questions one at a time:

You wrote: “This is affecting every aspect of my life. Work, home, friends, family, and my marriage. I just have been going through the motions of life.”

My comments:

Winston Churchill once said, when you’re going through hell, keep going. Going through the motions, faking it until you make it, smiling on the outside even when your heart is breaking on the inside, are all signs of a survivor. In other words, you’re doing exactly what you need to do.

It’s like pushing a megaton dump truck up a steep hill — you must keep pushing even though the weight is against you, because the alternative is unthinkable.

About what you’re experiencing:

It’s the equivalent of an “internal civil war” (like the war between the north and the south), except in your case, the war’s between your head and your heart. The “head” (logical, analytical and practical) knows your affections should be directed towards your husband. It knows the feelings you feel are inappropriate, selfish, and unfair to the man at home. It knows all this.

But the heart “knows” none of this. The heart is a magical place, and it loves like a child — without rules, judgment, or regard to consequences. The heart wants what it wants. It doesn’t “think”, it “feels”. And it never questions what it feels.

Now, you can see how this can tear a person apart.

On one hand, you want to be a good wife. And that would mean loving your husband with the same intensity as you love this other man. But on the other hand, you want to feel good, and to be with the one who makes you feel this good.

Who’s right? Your heart or your head? Before you decide, let’s take a deeper look.

You wrote: “Everyday I think of him. I even dream of him. I have begged God to take him out of my head so that I can get my feelings back for my husband. But it just hasn’t happened. And I don’t know if it will.”

These words bring up a red flag. Here’s why: There’s a difference between “romantic love” and “true love”. The emotions of true love are like the sun (they shine eternally), while the “feelings” of romantic love are more like a fire (intense, fickle, and dies out quickly).

Romantic Love vs. True Love

About this emotional high we call “romantic love”:

Romantic love is what keeps the record industry, the romance novel industry, the movie industry and the greeting card industry in business. It’s an intense state of attraction and affection — so consuming, we all love to love it.

Romantic love is like a hunger that obeys no appetite but its own. The feeling is intense. Like a fire, it’s consuming, exciting, and electrifying. Being with the object of your desire thrills you like nothing else can. When you’re apart from the one you desire, it feels cold and dark.

Look at these quotes:

“I can’t live without him. I cant stop thinking about him. He’s taken over my thoughts, feelings and emotions. I can’t stop thinking about him. I feel like I’m nothing without him. As long as I have him, I know I can handle anything. He’s the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing I think about at night. I’ve lost my family friends and job because of him, but I don’t care. I would do whatever it takes to have him. It’s like I’m living in hell without him.”

Sounds like love, doesn’t it?

But actually, these are quotes from drug addicts going through rehab. What I’ve done is change the “it” to “him”.  Didn’t you notice echoes of your own thoughts, feelings and emotions in these quotes?

This indicates that you’re caught up in the “emotional high” of romantic love. Believe me, I’ve been there, and I agree with you — no other feeling in the world even compares. You walk around, dazed and filled with longing and fantasies of “what if”. Marriage counselors have nicknamed this the “emotional fog”.

What’s the “emotional fog”? It’s the “emotional high” brought on by romantic love. It looks a lot like a grown-up version of a teenager’s crush. It’s infatuation on steroids, and it acts on your nervous system, just like a drug.

When you’re in the emotional fog…

Your head is in the clouds. This means your emotions are clouding your judgment, suppressing your logical mind, and shrouding you in a trance. In other words, you’re not thinking clearly. When you’re in an “emotional fog,” you lose control of your “rational mind.”  You’re so certain that your feelings will last, that no one (especially strangers like me) can tell you otherwise.

And here’s some more bad news. When you’re in an emotional fog…

You can’t tell the difference between the “highest” good, and the immediate “feel-good.”
You’re more likely to sacrifice long-term happiness for short-term pleasure.
You’re not likely to make your best decisions.

The good news?

An emotional fog doesn’t last (it’s why it’s referred to as a “fog”). Eventually, it passes, but the first step to overcoming it is to first see it for what it is. So, back to the question: When is it more than a feeling? When is it true love? That’s a great question for you to ponder.

Here are some insights to help:

  • True love is MORE than a feeling. True love is a decision, you decide for it or against it.
  • True love isn’t possessive or controlling, and it has nothing to prove.
  • True love is known by its qualities: forgiveness, acceptance, and kindness.
  • True love lasts. It endures. It survives betrayal, mistrust, and rejection. It embraces pain and burns it as fuel.
  • True love is a constant state. It never changes. It doesn’t fluctuate. If it’s true love, then it’s as real NOW as it ever was, or ever will be.
  • True love is attracted to love. When you truly love another, it’s the LOVE in them that you love — not the body, actions, thoughts or behavior of that person.
  • You know it’s true love when you want them to be happy even if their happiness means that you’re not part of it. And…
  • True love is an experience created not in your mind or body — but within a relationship.

Read that again: True Love is an “experience” created not in your mind or body — but within a relationship. That’s why marriage provides the most powerful opportunity to find true love.

Another thing about true love:

Rather than tearing you apart — dividing your head and heart — when you decide to truly love, it unites your head and heart. It empowers you. It gives you purpose and self-respect. This means if you ever loved your husband, you can know that feeling again. You can reawaken the passion, romance, playfulness, and sincerity of heart within your marriage. But you can’t do that IF you’re being distracted by this other emotional entanglement.

It helps to remember that true love is a decision — not a feeling that overwhelms you. True love comes out of relationship built on trust, honesty, respect and acceptance. When both people have opened their hearts, minds and souls to each other, what they discover reflected in there… is true love.

Keeping all this in mind…

Here are 3 recommendations I have for you:

Recommendation #1: Gracefully exit.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Your first step is to make a simple yet powerful decision — decide to exit that extra-marital relationship gracefully. Decide you will not cling, stalk, email, beg, or bargain your way out. But rather, you will simply get up and close that door.

On making graceful exits:

  • Extramarital relationships are like glass. It’s better to leave them broken than to hurt yourself (and others) by putting them back together.
  • To gracefully “exit” an extramarital affair is no disgrace. It takes great strength to walk away with dignity — not feeling like a loser, but rather, like a survivor.
  • A graceful exit is made from a place of power (not powerlessness). It’s the decision to withdraw your emotional energy from outside of your marriage, and reinvest it within your marriage.
  • To gracefully exit, you must close ALL doors, burn all ships, end all contact, and leave all memories in the past (where they belong).

Recommendation #2: Practice letting go.

Letting go is a process. It’s not an event. There are always going to be things that we don’t want to happen but have to accept, things we don’t want to know but have to learn, and people we can’t live without but have to let go.

This takes practice.

You must rehearse letting go over and over, until suddenly, it’s no longer there. You must practice day by day, minute by minute, the letting go of the dreams, thoughts, fantasies, wishes, and yearning for the other man.

Some tips:

  • Don’t indulge ANY fantasy. They’re like termites — let one in, and before you know it, hundreds follow.
  • Visualize a STOP sign. Do this whenever you think about him or the times you had together to interrupt your daydreaming, pining, reminiscing, etc.
  • Wish him the best. Wish him to move on. Wish him peace. Wish him well. But DON’T wish for him.
  • Write the ultimate “goodbye/I will always love you” letter if you must, but don’t send it to him. Instead, throw it into the sea, or burn it. Set it free.

Recommendation #3: Make an emotional transference.

This means, transfer ALL your energy, attention and affection to your husband! At first, it will be an effort, but do it because you’re going to learn something fascinating about the nature of love — it endures faithfully. Like a child’s favorite toy, it might be temporarily put aside while the child is distracted by the shiny allure of a new toy. But love is patient. And when the child comes back, he or she experiences the thrill of rediscovering the love which was always there.

You wouldn’t be the first wayward wife who turns her attention back home, only to discover the love she was looking for was right there waiting all time.

Some to-dos:

1. Ask yourself “What if?”

  • What if this man, my husband, were the one who makes me feel tingles, thrills and excitement… what would I want to do with him right now? (Be honest, then do it.)
  • What if this man, my husband, were my true love… how would I want to treat him?
  • What if I could have everything I want right here… what would that mean to me?

2. Ask yourself  “How?”

  • How would I respond to my husband if this were our first date together?
  • How could I show true love right now?
  • How could we awaken more love, passion and romance with each other?

3. Ask yourself “What?”

  • What have I taken for granted about this man?
  • What would another woman find fascinating about him?
  • What would I wear to bed tonight if it were our first time together?

4. Ask yourself “What else?”

  • What else do I still have to learn about marriage?
  • What else do I still have to learn about true love?
  • What else do I still have to learn about this man?
  • What else do I want to teach him about me?
  • What else can we try that we haven’t tried before?
  • What else can we discover about each other?

I have faith you will take these steps sooner than later.