This question came via email:

“I have been married to a man for 20 years (2 children later) that I do not and have never loved like I feel I should. I married in a rush and BECAUSE I felt like that’s what God wanted for me at the time. I almost left him at the altar. I have been loving and caring, and submissive. I have prayed for all these years for God to give me the love I need. Well, recently I have fallen ‘madly in love’ with a person that I have a work relationship with. There is no sex involved. I have been faithful. I have never had these feelings for anybody in my LIFE. My question is what do I do with this? It absolutely breaks my heart that I have never had this kind of love feeling in my life ever and now I do. I felt like in my prayer time in May, God told me to hold on, be faithful, and trust him and my passion and desire would come. Well, it did, for a different person. And I am still doing what God said. This other person has asked me would I consider marrying him if the circumstances were different. Any advice?”

I wish I could label this an atypical question, but unfortunately, I get this more than any other. Many people – including Christian men and women – find themselves madly in love with someone other than their spouses. Therefore, rather than answering it for one person, I hope to answer it for thousands. While I address it specifically to the woman who sent the email, the application is to all who find themselves in this situation.

My Reply

The best word to describe your feelings for the “other man” is limerence. Limerence is a feeling of being madly in love with someone. Among its many characteristics are obsessive thinking about that person, changing things about yourself to please that person, and perceiving anyone who stands between you and that person as an enemy. It is a euphoric sensation that has no comparison. Those in limerence generally feel that no one else possibly can understand what it feels like because there is nothing else close to it in our emotional experiences. “I’ve never felt this way before,” or “You cannot possibly comprehend,” are oft-used phrases by those in limerence. The person making those statements believes them absolutely to be true.

However, that usually is incorrect.

It feels that way because such feelings of closeness and desire almost always rewrite history. That means that the person in limerence usually cannot remember feeling anything similar to this before, yet there may be objective evidence that s/he actually has.

Allow me to explain.

One man I know said almost verbatim the statements you made in your question. “I do not and have never loved [my wife] like I feel I should. I married in a rush and BECAUSE I felt like that’s what God wanted for me at the time. I almost left [her] at the altar.” He, too, had prayed for years “God…give me the love I need.” He made those statements to a marriage counselor he and his wife were seeing. He had not gone to save the marriage but to salve his conscience. At the beginning of the next session, the counselor asked the wife to produce the love letters her husband had written to her when they were courting years before. The things he wrote in those letters disproved what he now believed about how he felt then. They showed that he did love her. As he read his own words, written in his own hand, he denied them. No, he had never felt that way toward his wife. He claimed that the feelings he had for the new woman in his life had never before occurred for him. Yet, the proof was right there in his own handwriting. We call it rewriting history. That means our minds change our memories so that we are justified in what we currently feel or do. That is why he could so vividly remember his wedding day case of fear and doubt but could not remember the intense positive emotions he held for his bride.

Can I say for certainty that you have rewritten history? No. However, I am very likely correct. It would be interesting to find the love letters you wrote back then, or scan the things you scribbled in notebooks or elsewhere. If we could catch a time machine, it would be fascinating to see how you acted.

No matter what you felt back then, you do not say that you do NOT love your husband. Instead, you state that you “do not and have never loved like I feel I should.” That statement speaks more to a desire for the intensity of new romance than the deep love that develops over time. You wanted more emotionally, prayed for it, and now have it with another man. But what you are describing is the intensity of newness. Even if you married the new man, with time that intensity would diminish and you would have a love – if you still loved him at all – that is not always exciting and fulfilling on every given day. Intense romantic love feels great, but it was never intended to be the norm over a lifetime. Security, safety, understanding, acceptance, caring, and a host of other emotions better describe what makes a long-term relationship work. Those emotions are deeper but not ecstatic like new love is.

Unfortunately, we live in a society which touts romantic love as the “be all end all” on TV, in movies, in magazine articles, in novels, and so forth. Yet the people who produce those things will not have that level of intense romance for a lifetime, either. As the work of Helen Fisher, PhD, has proven, that kind of intensity is meant to bring us together, not keep us together. It has to fade with time so that our lives can be balanced and not obsessively focused on one person. That is why limerence rarely lasts as long as three years.

You feel heartbroken now because you long for the intensity you currently feel, but know that to pursue it is to sin. If you were to leave your husband for this man, you would violate your marriage covenant. Would the “feeling” be worth it? You might think it is in the short-term, but when the limerence began to fade – as it must – you would have to face the fact that you sought temporary ecstasy over long-term good. You would be looking to God to make things right knowing that He had always looked to you to do things right.

Do the following things so that you may stay faithful.

  1. Do NOT think about a possible future with this man. You write, “This other person has asked me would I consider marrying him if the circumstances were different.” Not only must you NOT answer that question, do NOT allow yourself to think about that question. As Michael Johnson, PhD, has shown in his study about commitment, even thinking about an alternative to your spouse will weaken your commitment to him. Whenever you find yourself daydreaming about what life would be like with the new man, immediately ask God to take that thought away from you and to lead you into the thoughts and actions of a Godly woman.
  2. End all contact with the new man. You said that your contact with him is through a work relationship. End that relationship now. As long as you are in contact with him either face-to-face, by writing, by phone, or in any other way, the intense emotions you feel may remain strong long enough for them to destroy your marriage. Even if it costs your losing a great income, great insurance, or a great workplace, do NOT allow yourself to stay in a situation of temptation. When Jesus taught us to pray, “Lead me not into temptation” He did not expect us to stay in the face of the temptation. As we ask God to do His part to deliver us, we, too, must do our part to avoid the temptation.
  3. Listen to God. You wrote, “I felt like in my prayer time in May, God told me to hold on, be faithful, and trust him and my passion and desire would come.” I am happy for you that you feel He told you to be faithful. Read it in Hebrews 13:4, “Have respect for marriage. Always be faithful to your partner, because God will punish anyone who is immoral or unfaithful in marriage.” (Contemporary English Version) Be assured of this, God did NOT send you another man to fall in love with so that you would leave your husband. He does NOT violate His law. We should not either.
  4. Seek help. The emotions you feel may grow stronger. As most of us have learned in life, when emotions and logic battle each other, emotion often wins. If you feel that you are strong enough to handle this by yourself, you are in danger. Find a Godly woman or a shepherd in the kingdom that you trust. Ask for their understanding, help, and accountability.
  5. Work on your marriage. Come to our workshop or find yourself a great Christian marriage counselor. The love you wish to feel can occur with your husband, even if it is not there right now. It will not be the intensity of limerence, but it can be much deeper and much more fulfilling.

If your marriage is in danger of separation or divorce, call us at (866) 903-0990 to speak with someone or use the form below to request more information about our Marriage Helper 911 workshop for troubled marriages. We can help you save your marriage even in cases of infidelity, loss of trust, anger, sexual problems, and other issues. (If you’re thinking your spouse would never come, contact us by phone or the form below and we’ll tell you what others who felt the same way did to get their spouses there.) We will keep everything you tell us completely confidential. Our motivation is to help you determine if this workshop is right for you and your particular situation.

If you and your spouse cannot attend a Marriage Helper 911 weekend or your spouse refuses to get any marriage help, there is still hope. Check out our Save My Marriage Course – where you’ll learn how to bring your spouse back to the marriage. Click the banner below to find out more about it.

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16 thoughts on “I’m In Love With Another Man: A.K.A. Limerence

  • December 6, 2014 at 9:42 am
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    I am struggling in staying focus on doing the right thing, I married a friend, because I no longer wanted to wait 6 more year for my ex – boyfriend to get out of prison. I thought since I moved on and had no contact with him in prison while I was married that I had moved on. Many nights I thought about him, my wedding day I cried as I walked down the aisle thinking of him. He has been released and every feeling I thought was gone rushed back with vengeance. There is constant communication and extreme intimacy. Just like it was before, mentally. Now there is a child involved and now I’m….

    Will you please help me!! I need help! !!!

    Reply
    • April 25, 2015 at 12:19 pm
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      I am going through the same thing! He wasn’t in jail…lol, but away in the military. He was a younger and in a turmoil relationship with marriage he was separated at the time. I didn’t really know he wasn’t divorced until recent conversations. He sought me out after I helped he with some financial issues on the Job. I told him I didn’t want to get involved because he was leaving in a month or two, but we had sex and the romance began with me shortly after.

      He was great, kind, attentive, caring and called! Soon after he was stationed overseas, I missed him terribly and I told him I loved him…smh. He didnt really reciprocate the same response, but told me he cared for me. Overtime the up and down of this so called Limerence. I had to make a decision to let him ago after about 5 months in the deployment. Later, I met a young man who was interested in me, I was scared but I ask him up front how he felt about me to to see if it was mutual because me feeling that way is NO GOOD.

      I was in my early 30’s and I couldn’t keep dating without knowing how someone feels about me and where the relationship was going, but he said he felt the same. We got married but I never felt this intense emotional roller coaster like I did with this other man. I was calm and more practical I loved at his family and his character …it felt safe…until I had an affair. The affair was about lust but it brought out that intensity heat aggression that I longed for.

      I end it because it didn’t feel safe secure loving beyond the pursuit of sex. I was nervous and the sex was not great to me because I was anxious about the whole thing and felt I loved…really love my husband. Now, I former lover (military) man calls out the blue stating I regrets not being with me because his fiance cheated on him. We have been having an off and on affair emotionally at first but have recently had sex and I don’t know what to do… this is killing me because I keep feeling like we should have been together, but even now it doesn’t feel safe.

      Reply
  • December 19, 2014 at 5:55 am
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    First off, that is called an emotional affair! That is not being faithful simply because you did not get physical. That is cheating on your spouse. Second, is that it is true about every new relationship is that every hot dish cools off.It may be true you married in a rush, but you made a commitment and you have been together for so long. I advice you date your spouse and really try to connect again and reignite the flame. Stay away from the other person as difficult as this is. It may be the hardest thing you have ever done. Pray pray pray and pray together. Seek council at church. Talk about what works in your relationship instead of what doesn’t. Focus on the positives and go on exciting dates not lame ones like the movies and dinner. Do new things together something adventurous that will bring learning and excitement and new memories and memorable experiences you will never forget. Travel somewhere new like hawaii if you haven’t done that, or maybe dancing lessons, (skydiving j/k!) Something new to the both of you. Wish you the best.

    Reply
  • December 19, 2014 at 6:08 am
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    One more thing, NEVER discuss any gripes about your relationship with the opposite sex. Never. Even if it is just “innocent” conversation. It is something that is private between you and your spouse. It is unfaithful to do so because that should be reserved for your spouse. Conversation can turn I think it is ok to talk to your friends in confidence but avoid bashing spouse and maybe try to get advice if you do not have anyone else to talk with.

    Reply
    • December 27, 2014 at 2:08 pm
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      So true, Millie! Spouse bashing is a HUGE no-no!

      Reply
  • December 29, 2014 at 7:01 pm
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    My wife is involved in an affair since 2012 and even now she feels she cannot break away from the affair without destroying herself. However this will destroy our marriage if there is nothing that can be done toward a resolution.
    Can you help or change anything in a situation like this?
    Thanks
    Terry

    Reply
    • December 29, 2014 at 8:58 pm
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      Terry,

      Yes. A situation like this can definitely be helped. In fact, since the affair has been going on for so long, that could be to your advantage since affairs typically have a lifespan from 3 months to 36 months (or 3 years). For immediate help, we have an online video series called Marriage Recovery. For a deeper, intensive help, we offer an awesome 3 day workshop. For more information on either, Johnny would love to help you out. You can reach him at 615-636-8086.

      Reply
  • January 11, 2015 at 7:35 am
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    This was helpful, especially the part about God wouldn’t bring this someone into your life….for as long as I’ve known the person I have been falling for I have wondered why he entered my life. I’m married. He’s married. All I do is think about him. Today has been really hard bc my husband has been distant all day bc he has a headache. It’s just left me to think of the other man.

    I’m glad to know there’s a term for what I’ve been feeling for at least a year now. The other man is my supervisor at work…makes it even more difficult. I have been trying to leave my job for months now. I pray a new job will come.

    Reply
    • January 12, 2015 at 2:55 am
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      Riley, I pray a new job will come too. The most vital thing you can do for you and your marriage right now is get away from the limerent object. While it may seem bad now, it will get so much worse if you do not stop it before it gets worse. We can help, if you need us.

      Reply
  • February 23, 2015 at 8:11 pm
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    Dear all,

    Im jayson have been married for almost 5 years and had kids. because of financial reason have decided to work abroad. My wife work in a pharmacy in my home country and met a man who have given her a flower at the shop. The man said that he likes my wife even she is married and have kids.

    I appreciate the honesty of my wife to open this issue and later she ends up asking she wants to allow the man to love her. i know that my wife started to fall on him because of our distance. Seems my wife is no longer interested on me

    Im so confused right now i dont know what to do?

    I love her so much and i keep on praying to God to save our marriage

    Thank you in advance

    Jayson

    Reply
  • June 14, 2016 at 9:24 pm
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    Is it still limerence if it’s been 5 years, no physical relationship, and no actual declaration of love from either party? I want to fall back in love with my husband whom I admire and respect a great deal, I just don’t know how. A couples seminar is not an option, because I don’t want to hurt my husband by letting him know how I feel. I have no intention of leaving him, but I’ve been feeling quite down on myself for being in love with someone else. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • July 6, 2016 at 7:24 pm
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      Would our online course be something you could do???

      Reply
  • December 25, 2016 at 7:55 pm
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    My husband just recently started sleeping with and living with a friend of 5 years. He wanted to separate so he could find himself. He says it wasn’t suppose to happen. He went out to Texas to stay with her so he could work and work on himself. He was sleeping on the couch and then she said he couldn’t because he was ruining her couch so then he started sleeping on the floor and and then somehow she got him to start sleeping in the bed. But the thing is within a week of each other my husband lost two of his best friends and she was there to comfort I guess and that’s when they started sleeping together. Now he tells me he still loves me but just isn’t ready to work on our marriage. But he also says he feels obligated to sleep with her because he’s scared that she will throw him out and take all of his stuff. She knew that he was married and has known from the start of their friendship. I called and told her that we were still sleeping together and that I was moving out to Texas at tax time so my kids could be closer to their father and so that way him and I could gradually work on our marriage. She buys him shoes, clothes and tries to make it out like I don’t do anything. But I was present when my husband told her that he didn’t want a relationship or anything and that he didn’t feel comfortable staying with another woman and that if he did stay with her she would have to get a two bedroom which she lied and said she did. I just feel that she planned this

    Reply
    • December 27, 2016 at 4:50 pm
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      I am so sorry to hear this.. My heart goes out to your entire family.

      Please, please, please talk to your husband about both of you coming to our 3 Day Workshop.. This could save and restore your marriage..

      Call us if you would like more information. 615-472-1161

      Reply
  • October 30, 2017 at 6:29 pm
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    Couple months ago i had an abortion behind my husband back. That hurt him to the point that i didn’t want to be with me. He left and started dating his best frind. When he told me that he didn’t want to be with me and wanted her, i got angry and told him to leave but i didn’t want him to leave for good. My husband recently told me that he changed his mind about not wanting to be with me anymore, but the girl he is involved with is unloved with him and he doesn’t want to break her heart. He wants to wait until something happened. I want my husband back but i don’t know what to do. He has a very strong mind, he will not listen to me his family, the paster or anyone. I love my husband, this situation is killing.

    Reply

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