You might not have been searching for a lover but now you feel like you want to leave your marriage.
You probably never meant for it to happen. It’s not as if you went looking for a lover.
However, once you fell in love with another person than your spouse, things got rather intense. You’re already in what some refer to as an emotional affair. Perhaps you’ve gone further and the relationship has turned physical.
HOW DID IT HAPPEN?
It may be difficult for you to know exactly how you got into this situation. Some are honest enough with themselves that they know step-by-step how everything came to be as it is now. Others have more difficulty, their mind confused because what they are doing is so contrary to what they believe and value. Some feel that God sent them their soul mate. Others blame it on the way their spouse’s actions or lack of actions.
Underlying vulnerabilities very likely made the new relationship possible. Highly revered marriage researcher John Gottman writes in his book The Marriage Clinic:
"…many clinicians…have been quick to point out that ‘affairs involve sex, but sex is usually not the purpose of the affair’…In fact, most clinicians who have written in this area report that affairs are usually about seeking friendship, support, understanding, and validation…they are about getting the acceptance that is missing in the marriage."
My work with thousands of couples in crisis indicates that this is exactly the case. Relationship affairs - as opposed to the one-night-stand type affairs that are wholly about sex and not at all about relationship - usually find root in a person’s feeling unloved, unaccepted, disliked, or disrespected. That doesn’t mean that the person necessarily went looking for affirmation and validation from someone else. However, when it came, it captured their heart.
Maybe you describe this new relationship similar to the way others I’ve worked with:
- I’ve never been loved like this.
- No one understands me as well as he/she does.
- This is the person I was meant to be with.
- I can’t explain how this feels because I don’t think anyone else can understand it. It’s intense. Amazing. Wonderful.
Most likely your desire is not to hurt the person you’re married to, but rather to live in this new level of love that you never knew existed. You don’t mean to harm family, friends, coworkers, church buddies, or anyone else. Your desire is to have, not to hurt. (There may be an exception to that if you feel that your spouse has been unkind or hurtful. If so, that degree of negativity toward your spouse probably increased its intensity after your affair began.)
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
You have four potential paths before you. Either you stay in your marriage while continuing a relationship with your lover, leave your marriage for your lover, end the affair yourself, or your lover ends it.
Each possibility carries consequences. Short-term consequences and long-term consequences. If you choose short-term, you may decide to end your marriage for your lover. The intensity of your present emotions may make that the choice that seems most likely to make you happy. However, there are long-term consequences that will come with that choice. Consequences involving your family, your children, your friends, your religion, your personal beliefs and values, and your spouse. If you think that being with your lover more than makes up for any difficulties in these areas, you aren’t alone. Nearly everyone who makes that decision figures that because of the deep love they now feel, everything balances out in the end.
Unfortunately, it rarely, if ever, turns out that way.
Your emotions are intense now, but they won’t be forever. Within a couple years, if not before, you’ll discover that the Cinderella or Price Charming you’re in love with isn’t quite as wonderful as you think. In the ecstasy of new love people overlook flaws, quirks, and problems in the other. When that emotions evolves, as it must and will, you’ll start to be bothered by things that never bothered you before. You will discover that Cinderella and Prince Charming exist only in fairytales. All the rest of us are flawed and at time hard to live with.
Repeatedly those who left their spouses for a remarkable love come to me after a few years and say they wish they could do it all over again. This time they wouldn’t abandon their marriage but would figure a way to work out their problems. They wouldn’t expect their children NOT to be negatively affected by the divorce. They would look deeper into their hearts to see that their beliefs and values are part of their very identity and realize that to live in contradiction to them would lead them to become someone quite different than they were. They would admit that there is never a "happily ever after" and that leaving one relationship for another is trading one set of problems for another.
In short, they would have stayed in the first marriage and done all they could to make it work.
MAKE THE RIGHT DECISION
Though logic doesn’t reign for you at the moment, take one quick moment to see past the feelings into your future. What do you honestly, at the deepest level of your being, expect it to be ten years from now if you abandon your marriage, maybe destroy another in the process (if your lover is married), and violate your core beliefs?
Not likely. Happiness comes from doing the right thing; not the selfish thing.
If you wish to learn how to overcome the deep emotion you currently feel for your lover and find the way to have a fulfilling marriage with the person your mate, I can help. While I cannot guarantee success, my percentage over the last decade is more than 75%. We’ll do all we can to help you have the best future, full of love…not regret.