Love, Heartbreak

How To Save Your Marriage When You're In Love With Another Man

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Can I Save My Marriage When I'm In Love With The Other Man?

OK, you cheated on your husband. Your infidelity is out in the open. But, you’ve decided to stay and work on your marriage

BUT now you're trying to figure out what do you do with the heartache, the aching reminder that you're still in love with the other man?

In our society, it’s easy to point fingers at people who stray, to slather shame on them and really make "cheaters" feel like sh*t.

But you know what — society is full of hypocrites! 

How many times in the last week have you seen images depicting animalistic sexual passion between a couple as an ideal? Or liked some random meme on Facebook about: "Life is short, just do what makes you happy"?

So you took a step toward your own happiness. You, like so many women, went searching for an emotional connection, a reassurance that you're still desirable. You wanted to feel alive again. 

What you didn’t expect was to fall in love with the other man. Real love. The kind of love that leaves you feeling crazy inside until you can see him again.

And you did feel alive and so happy ... until the other shoe dropped. 

When your spouse found out about the affair, you decided to stay in your marriage — but it’s not working. 

You’re utterly destroyed by the loss of your lover. You can’t focus, you barely eat, you obsess about the situation knowing what you did was "wrong," but secretly not feeling guilty for your transgression.

BUT, you can’t tell anyone that, because they need you to feel sorry and remorseful for what you did. You need to count your blessings that your spouse gave you this second chance to re-enter a place you tried to escape.

You’ve made the choice to stay, even though your heart is with another. As a result, you feel more isolated and alone than you did before you cheated.

Here's the thing — what feels like the truth right now is not necessarily true. 

First, ask yourself why you chose to stay in your marriage. Did you feel pressure from outside scrutiny, the children, or, deep down do you truly believe that your spouse (and marriage) deserve a second chance?

Let’s say it’s the latter. You still love your spouse and feel there’s a chance you two can rebuild a better marriage. The next question is: How do you stop your heart from aching for the other man?

The answer: Understanding what infidelity is and is not can set you free. Here are five truths about cheating that should help bring you back to reality: 

  1. Only three to  five percent of couples that start out as an affair make it long-term. Let that statistic sink in. You want to believe that you two are different, but the truth is, you’re not. Out of the clients I've helped after infidelity, every single one believed that they were the exception, yet none were.
  2. The other person is radically different in the real world versus the fantasy world you two occupied. 
  3. "Affair fog" is real. And, you experienced this same intoxicating fog when you first fell in love with your spouse. You simply don’t remember.
  4. If you were to put the same amount of focused energy into your marriage as you did your affair, you'd have the dream relationship you desire.
  5. Infidelity doesn't have to define your entire marriage. Yes, it is part of your story now, but it's up to you whether it's only one chapter or "the end." 

As for your heart...

Your partner and everyone around you will want you instantly "over" the man you cheated with. But, in reality, you need time to grieve this significant loss. To you this lover, that experience, and that "relationship" was real, and that’s why it’s excruciatingly painful to let go.

Be kind to yourself. Find a counselor who can help you process what you’re going through. The affair ending feels much like a death and you should mourn it like any other great loss.

In time, you’ll let go of the other man and re-attach to your spouse.

It just takes time. 

Jessica is the author of Back 2 Love and How to Start a Mental Health Private Practice. She owns a private practice in Minnesota where she lives with her husband and two kids. Join the conversation on Facebook.