“I’ve never loved anyone the way I love her. I never knew I could feel like this. So deep. Fulfilling. Amazing. I can tell her anything; my dreams, my fears, my strengths, my flaws.”

John spoke slowly but fervently as he explained his relationship with Sheila . It was not his idea to visit with me; he had come because another friend asked him to do so.

“I trust her with my secrets. She understands me more than anyone. And I know everything about her. She’s told me everything.” He looked away, apparently visualizing Sheila. “She’s even more beautiful on the inside than she is on the outside. I’d die for her and she would do the same for me. I don’t know why God didn’t send her into my life until now, but He did. We were meant to be together.”

A few days before our conversation, John’s pastor had confronted him about Sheila. John admitted his feelings for her and his intention to divorce his wife and marry her. The pastor lectured John that what he felt was not love, but an unhealthy lust that would destroy him and his family.

love“So, do you believe I love Sheila, or do you, too, think that I’m deluded?” he asked.

“I believe you love her,” I replied.

He seemed surprised, though pleasantly so. He figured I would take the same approach as his pastor and others who defined love in a way that denied the authenticity of his intense emotions. I had no doubt that John deeply loved Sheila with a kind of love that involves a concentration of feelings most types of love cannot touch.

“Love exists in many forms, John. For example, your pastor knows that in his Bible the kind of love called agape differs from liking or friendship love. What you feel is a measurable and identifiable kind of love. It’s an intense love we call limerence. So, yes, I believe you.”

He visibly relaxed.

I gently told him that before he made himself too comfortable, he needed to hear the rest of what I wished to share. He had been talking for nearly a half-hour; now it was my turn.

“John, the thing to consider isn’t whether you love Sheila. The most important thing to think about is what you do next and how that will affect the rest of your life. Not just your life, but Sheila’s as well. Also the lives of your wife, children, parents, friends, and even your church. I don’t doubt you love her, John, but I urge you to think about where that love leads.”

The Beginning

Before leading John through considering his future, I guided him through his recent past, starting before he and Sheila connected emotionally. I did not ask him to tell me about his past. Instead, I told it to him, though I had not heard it from anyone. It was not an effort to impress him, but to demonstrate to him how deeply I understood him.

“I’ll just hit the high points without a lot of explanation, John. Correct me if I get something wrong.

“Though you found Sheila attractive, you initially had no intention of anything other than friendship. At first, your conversations were nothing special, just friends talking about mostly inconsequential matters. However, as you enjoyed being around each other, you became more open and transparent. Gradually, you evolved to discussing personal matters, trusting each other, and liking the attention and validation. Somewhere along the line, one of you began to slip in words of affection, cautiously at first, and then openly. Well before either of you openly professed love for the other, you both knew what the other felt.

“As your relationship deepened, you began to hide the amount of time you spent together, the increasing numbers calls or texts, and the escalating emotions you felt for each other. Neither of you considered the possibility that you violated boundaries as friends, co-workers, or Christians, though both of you were still actively involved in your churches. Nor did either of you entertain the idea that by your deepening desire to be with each other you violated your marriage vows to Melinda. You each believed strongly that both of you were good people who had no wish to do anything wrong.

“With time, talking led to handholding. That eventually led to warm, clinging embraces. Next came kissing which finally progressed to full physical expression of your emotions.

“Guilt followed your first lingering kiss. It reached its peak when you became sexually intimate. Before you left each other after that first time, you wept and prayed together, asking God to forgive you and help you not sin again.

“Soon the prayers ceased.

“Now neither you nor Sheila feels a need to ask God to forgive. Instead, you thank Him for bringing you together.”

The Present

He stared at me for several minutes before speaking.

“Yes, that’s pretty much the way our love developed. So what does that have to do with anything?” John asked warily.

“I walked you through that very brief history for two reasons, John. First, it’s significant that I told your story to you, not you to me. I probably missed something here or there, but I got the main parts right, didn’t I? Why is that important? Because it means you aren’t unique. What you have isn’t magic or extraordinary. I’ve heard the story so many times in my work with marriages in trouble – sometimes from the guy’s perspective, sometimes the gal’s – that I know it well.

“Second, John, because I know how you got to where you are, you need to realize that I can tell you where you’re headed. How? Same reason. I’ve heard the stories.

Hundreds of them. Sure, I might miss something here or there because every situation is a little different, but I’ll get most of it right.”

He was not enthusiastic about hearing my predictions, but realized it would be irrational to refuse.

“John, if you divorce Melinda and marry Sheila, the odds are better than 8 out of 10 that you and Sheila will divorce. Even if you stay together, which is not likely, you will have difficulties in that marriage because of the way it started. I know that you believe I’m wrong. Even when I tell you I’ve seen the same thing repeatedly over the last twenty years, you think that you will be the exception. Everybody thinks that. Nobody is. Allow me to explain what you have before I predict where you will wind up.

“John, you love Sheila so intensely that you think no one else could possibly understand what you feel. It’s so deep that you don’t know how to find words to describe those feelings adequately. Because your emotions exist at a level beyond anything you’ve previously experienced, you believe them to be extraordinary – nearly magical. You cherish those feelings so dearly that you want to do whatever it takes to maintain them.

“I understand that. Really. And I don’t blame you for not wanting to let them go. However, no matter what you do, what you feel now isn’t going to last. We know from science and from our own experience with thousands of people that limerence lasts somewhere between three months to three years and then it begins to fade away.

How long have you felt this way about Sheila, John?”

John angrily replied, “About nine months. But you’re wrong, Joe. It won’t go away. This is real. Very real. It’s not some infatuation that flashes and dies. I’m not drugged. I’m in love.”

I reassured him, “I have no doubt it’s real, John. However, though you don’t want to hear it, you are intoxicated. Your brain makes the chemicals driving these amazing emotions. I’ve felt it. I know what it’s like. The reason it has to fade, John, is that the emotional state you’re in now would destroy your life and livelihood if it lasted a lifetime. Admit it; you spend a lot of time thinking about Sheila. So much that some things in your life don’t get the attention they need.”

He began to debate, “No. Not a thing. You’re wrong about that.”

“John, think about your children. Honestly, do you spend as much time with them as you used to? You still love them, but if you are honest with yourself, you know that you will miss events with them if Sheila wants you with her. Same with your parents and your close friends. Spend much time with any of them lately, John?

“And what about work? You’re not a guy who does some rote work for 8 hours a day and goes home. Your job requires you to think, be creative, and plan. Isn’t it true that some days when you feel euphoric about Sheila, you find yourself amazingly productive for a few hours, but gradually lose the productivity because you become so focused on thinking about her? And what about the days you get very little done because you find yourself obsessing about whether she’s happy with you? Isn’t it true that if she isn’t having a good day, you worry and find yourself ineffective at everything you do? Yeah, John, I’ve been there. I know all about that.

“Long-term relationships aren’t based on euphoria. They especially cannot ride that emotional rollercoaster you find yourself on because you are so finely attuned to Sheila’s emotions that you react to nearly everything.

“As I mentioned, John, the love you feel is called limerence. That is an identifiable and measurable kind of love. It may be more intense than any other form of love. Dorothy Tennov, PhD, named it limerence in 1977 to describe what people feel when they are madly in love with another person. Helen Fisher, PhD, and her associates now do most of the research concerning it. We know from their research that powerful brain chemicals are associated with limerence and, as a result, a person in limerence behaves differently than he did before, and differently than he will after limerence fades. And it will fade, John. It always does. It does not last.

“I’ll run through some characteristics of people in limerence, John. I’ll describe them as if they represent what you feel about Sheila. Stop me whenever I list one that isn’t correct.

“You see no flaws or faults in Sheila. In fact, you cherish and adore letters, words, and events associated with her. Those things are special to you.

“Your life has become crazy both physically and emotionally. For example, you experience some of these – euphoria, energy surges, insomnia, lost appetite, abrupt mood swings, or rapid heartbeat. You may even occasionally feel anxiety and panic.

“When your pastor told you that you were not in love with Sheila and should end things with her, you felt even stronger emotions for her and wanted to go to her immediately.

“You’ve exhibited signs of emotional dependency on your relationship with Sheila, like being possessive, becoming jealous, fearing rejection from her, and feeling anxiety when separated from her.

“You crave emotional union with her. You feel a sense of understanding for her and connection to the point that you’re willing to sacrifice for Sheila. If it means ending your marriage, losing your job, or even giving up your religion, you’ll do what it takes to please her and to be with her.

“You’ve already reordered some of your priorities for her. For example, to please her have you changed the way you dress, your mannerisms, or maybe even some of your habits?

“Beyond that, you’ve changed some of your beliefs so that you can be with her. Did you once believe that adultery was a violation of the Ten Commandments, but now believe that God sent you the woman with whom you commit adultery? You used to go to church, but now you’re looking for a different kind of church – one that you never would have considered before – a church that will accept you and Sheila though you left your wife for her.

“You love making love to Sheila, but sex isn’t the core of your relationship. You want the emotional union much more deeply that you desire the sexual union with her.

“I didn’t list everything, John, but that’s enough to get the picture. You are in limerence with Sheila, John, aren’t you?”

He tried to look smug, but could not pull it off. Instead, he demonstrated a mixture of anger, frustration, and anxiety. “Okay, mostly you described what I have with Sheila, but not exactly. Besides, when a person is in love, he feels those things. You described true love, nothing more, and I already told you that I truly love Sheila.”

The Future

“John, those things describe a particular type of love called limerence. Limerence isn’t always a bad thing. When two single people fall into limerence, nobody worries about them. But one reason we don’t worry, John, is because we know that their limerence is going to grow to a different kind of love. No one expects them to be in that euphoric romantic stage for the rest of their lives. If we did, we would worry, because we know that life cannot be lived that way for long. It is too exclusive, too selfish, and too unproductive for them as individuals, a couple, and for society as a whole. We expect them to develop a more mature and broader level of love that is not as intense but is much more fulfilling; a love based on giving as well as taking, a love that is much more secure and less driven by moods, a love that is stable rather than reactive.

“If you think that is what you will develop with Sheila and that will fulfill you as limerence subsides, you’re wrong for several reasons.

“The first is that the best person with whom to have the stable, long-lived kind of love is Melinda, your wife, the mother of your children.

“The second is that when the limerence subsides you will have lost your wife, your children, many of your friends, your church, and probably your own view of yourself. You’re trading all of that for the intense emotions that you feel today. How do you think you’re going to feel when that intense emotion no longer exists as it does now? We know from our work with thousands of marriages in crisis that you have a great likelihood of resenting Sheila. The object of your love probably will become the object of your resentment. While you’re in limerence, you won’t see her flaws. When limerence fades and you comprehend the costs of all you sacrificed for her, it is extremely likely that your mind will exacerbate her flaws. You’ll wonder how you were so blinded and you’ll resent what your relationship with her cost you. We see it every day. Nearly every person we work with who leaves his or her spouse for someone they love with limerence, and then marries that person, winds up divorced eventually.

“The third is how your relationship with your children will change. Same with dear friends, and people you love that you went to church with, but let’s concentrate on the kids. Sheila may love them, but she’ll never be their mother, even if Melinda were to die prematurely. Most kids resent the person their Dad left their Mom for, or that Mom left Dad for. They may treat her kindly, callously, or indifferently, based on how angry they are with you and whether or not they want to keep emotional connection with you. It’s terribly unfair to them, and ignoring reality, to expect them to love and cherish the person they’ll view as the destroyer of their family. If you delude yourself into thinking that they’ll get over it, or that they’re old enough to understand, your delusion won’t last long. Your kids will rupture that fantasy.

“Add to that the emotional logistics concerning who spends holidays and vacations where, what roles people play and who sits in what pew when your kids’ weddings occur, and how people interact when someone passes on.

“Finally, consider God’s view of all this. I bring that up because you mentioned your pastor and your past church involvement. The Bible you once believed says that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:10), and that adulterers will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). If you are honest with yourself, you know that you quit believing those because they contradict what you want to have with Sheila. However, as you abandon those beliefs for her, what changes inside of you? You see, part of your identity is your belief and value system. When you change that, you change you. That’s the principle behind conversion. When a person becomes a Christian, she becomes a different person because she changed her beliefs and values. It works in reverse as well, John. As you change your beliefs and values, you become a different person. Right now, in the depth of limerence, you probably don’t see it. If you do, you may not care. Believe me; you will see it in years to come if you pursue this course. If then you don’t care, it will be because of who you have become. Think you want to be that person, John?

“Your future will be determined by whether you choose to continue with the divorce and pursue Sheila, or to end things with Sheila and work out your marriage. I know that you feel that your marriage is hopeless, but that’s part of being in limerence. I’m fairly sure, John, that if I had met you before you developed relationship with Sheila, you might not have categorized your marriage as great, but you would not have listed any major problems, either. However, I’m just as sure that you now have a list of frustrations and disappointments with Melinda and your marriage. We call it rewriting history. That means that your mind actually focuses on any bad thing that happened with Melinda and makes it worse. Because of the intense emotions for Sheila, your own conscience had to justify your leaving Melinda. If you want to tell me all the terrible things about her, I’ll listen, but what you feel and believe about her now is tainted. Your memory is real, but it isn’t valid. Whether you meant to or not, you’ve changed things in your memory to make what you want to do acceptable.

“In short, John, unlike your pastor, I believe you love Sheila. I also know where this love leads. If you were both single, I’d congratulate you. But you are married. Divorcing your wife to be with Sheila creates negative consequences for you, Sheila, Melinda, your children, parents, friends, and the kingdom of God.

“You may justify it in your mind and proceed. It may even seem good for a while. Nevertheless, the limerence will fade. When it does, you will come face-to-face with the consequences for you and all those others I mentioned.

“We will help you then or we can help you now. If you let us help you now, there will be far fewer awful consequences. Do the right thing, John, and good things happen. They will not be as exhilarating as limerence, but they are much deeper and more fulfilling.”

His eyes indicated our conversation was over; he barricaded his mind and heart from me. I had anticipated that and had come on as strongly as I did because I feared I would have no second chance. Therefore, I had tried to plant as many seeds as possible.

The Decision

That conversation occurred a few years ago.

Though hardly anyone believed it could happen, John decided to end his relationship with Sheila and try to restore his marriage. About a year after he made his decision, he explained it to me, “I hated you for saying it, but you were right. I’d become someone else because I had let go of what and who I am. After a lot of soul-searching, I realized I wanted to be me again. I loved Sheila, but finally accepted that the future I desired for us could never equal the fantasy I’d built in my mind. I wanted to be with her – there are days when I miss her intensely – but deep inside I wanted peace with myself, with my God, and with my children. At first, I didn’t really care about making peace or reconnecting with Melinda, but with time that worked out as well. I love her…guess in a way I always did. She’s a good woman and we have a good life. Not only did she forgive me, she stood up for me to her family, our friends, and our church when she took me back.

“It feels good to know I did what was right. Always will.”

John and Melinda worked on healing their marriage. They allowed me to help them understand how he had fallen into limerence, how to heal their marriage, and how to learn to love each again. Actually, they learned how to love each other more than they ever had before.

It was not easy for John or Melinda. His deep emotions for Sheila did not end immediately. They had taken time to develop and, therefore, they took time to reside. During the process, John went through a grief process similar to those experienced by people who lose loved ones to death. However, he worked through it.

Admirably, Melinda understood and coped with amazing strength. She forgave John. She forgave Sheila, though for obvious reasons she maintained no contact with her. Neither did John, though when he ended his relationship with Sheila, he worried about her future. Sheila reacted badly initially, but eventually she, too, healed her heart and moved on. She fell in love with a good man. Wisely, she told him her experience and they sought counsel before they married. They, too, have a good marriage.

The story of John, Melinda, and Sheila is neither unique nor rare. Sometimes the husband falls into limerence with another. Other times the wife. While the dynamics change slightly, the same principles apply. With the right help, their marriage can be saved and they can love each other more deeply than before.

We see it every day and we can help your marriage just as we have thousands of others – no matter what you feel right now.

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 workshop for troubled marriages. Our success rate over the last decade is saving 75% of marriages that come to our workshop, even when adultery, porn, anger, or other things have deeply hurt the relationship! (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 your particular situation. We also offer solutions for couples who can’t attend the workshop.

43 thoughts on “Choosing Between Lover or Spouse

  • October 6, 2014 at 4:14 am

    I believe some is true of this story I want my marriage back sobad I wwould doanything to have it all back the way it was I feel like a failure and so low and lost I hurt the people that have always been there for me it’s been almost a year now that I haven’t been with my wife and kids we talk now and go out but it’s not all the same I want for everything to go back the way it was I desperately need help I’m willing to do anything to hold them in my arms again and be able to tell them let’s go home I can’t live without them in my life this is my last chance any advise would be very appreciated thank you

    • September 9, 2015 at 5:11 pm

      Joseph, my husband who has recently had an affair wants to hear your story and to know it is true. We are trying to heal our marriage and I’m so sorry that you lost so much. If you are willing to share, let me know and I will give you his email address.

      • September 11, 2015 at 11:31 pm

        Kim, Joe’s story is very true and he shares it openly in different areas of our organization. We receive thousands of people contacting us every month, so Joe does not have the time for personal emails. I would encourage you to have your husband look at the articles on the website as well as the video of Joe on the marriage seminar pages.

  • February 6, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    What about a 7year affair? How do you end it or know if you should? I know its a sin. I am in a sexless marriage which makes it hard to choose…I love my husband and I’m not sure I want to end it and I care for my bf and its hard not to see him…I’m asking for help…

    • February 9, 2015 at 3:19 pm

      Katie, if your affair has been going on that long, then you are very deeply involved in the affair. I can’t provide you the kind of help that you truly need to help your situation over a comment – and you wouldn’t want me to. There are a lot of different things contributing to what is going on. I highly, highly encourage you to contact our Marriage Helper representative. His name is Johnny. He will not be able to solve your issues, but he can explain to you the different things we have that CAN help you. His number is 615.636.8086. His email is johnny.cardwell@marriagehelper.com.

    • November 19, 2016 at 7:51 am

      Katie, what did you end up doing? Your situation sounds like mine except I met my lover when I was 13 and he was almost 17. I fell head over heels in love with him but he wouldn’t even kiss me until I was almost 16. We never had sex as we were both holding out until marriage. But then when I was 18 and he was almost 22 he thought I had “been” with another man (I hadn’t) and a few months later he married a friend. Five years later I married my present husband but I never forgot the love of my life. In 1995, after 21 years of a mostly sexless marriage, my husband and I became completely celibate. I had tried years earlier to get him to counseling but he wouldn’t go. Our marriage became like mother/son. Then six years ago my first love called after 41 years of no contact. Wild horses couldn’t have kept me from seeing him even though I knew it was wrong. And now here we are, two middle-aged adulterers getting together every week but financially unable to leave our marriages. I know this can’t continue but like Katie I don’t know what to do. I love my husband like a son, but I’m in love with my lover. I pray everyday that God will forgive me.

  • February 24, 2015 at 2:50 am

    Im in a 8 year affair it started when we met whenn my then boyfriend left me ww dated for a bout three months and as soon as my bf came backaand decided it was time for us to marry I left him …but the truth is after all thistime all the hurt and pain I have eendured in my marriage I always felt I choose the wrong man …..now he is fed up wants to move to the next stage he wants to marry my husband and I have been separate for 1 1/2 now I still feel guilty my bf is a good man why do I still feel so torn…..

  • August 26, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    This is so hard…I am married and have two children with my husband I left him while he went to prison for 5yrs ,I got into a reliship with my bf who I love, I love them both, my husband is out of prison and wants me back and forgives me for everything I have done to him…. and my husband and my boyfriend know about each other, there making me choice, they both love me, they both want to hurt each other, when I’m with my bf he treats me good I get this high off of life it’s unexplaineable, he is my best friend he knows everything about me, my husband is controlling but he has changed since he got out if prison and said he is willing to do anything, but if I make the wrong choice I will pay for it and he will make my life a living he’ll,, and I want my family back but I’m not in love with my husband, I care and have love for him, I’m confused, and I have been with them both, my husband to get me jealous started dating other women around me to get a rise outta me it worked I become angry, and threthen me with my kids, I k is the safe choice is with my husband but will I be happy??? I don’t know what to do, I need help my mind I can’t hear what it’s saying my heart won’t answer me, I feel like I’m going to break…

    • September 11, 2015 at 11:40 pm

      We understand how you feel, Ashley. We really do. As long as you are safe, you need to try and make your marriage work. If you aren’t safe, then that still does not mean it is a good idea to be with the boyfriend.

  • September 9, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    Does limerance last longer if a person is involved in a long distance relationship?

    • September 11, 2015 at 11:31 pm

      Yes, if the two people in limerence are distant from each other (proximity wise) it draws out the limerence.

      • May 23, 2016 at 3:08 pm

        My husband has been having an affair for about a month with someone. He is is another state for work & she works at the hotel he is staying. I was hoping that when he comes home in July, them being apart would make him realize he really loves his family. You are saying this will get worse when he gets home?

        • May 23, 2016 at 6:14 pm

          Hey Jamie-

          Each situation is different. We don’t know yours so we can’t say.

          Please feel free to join our Facebook group page. “Save My Marriage” is the name of the group.

          We hope to see you on there!

          • April 1, 2017 at 6:00 am

            Hey I just tried to join the Facebook group. I’ve always gotten into affairs since my 5th year of marriage, realized I’m always seeking the “Limerence” stage. The latest affair started in August 2016 and now we are in the verge of breaking up as my wife found out about it.
            It’s painful and I’m aware of the Limerence stage and will avoid it all costs in the future.
            Time will heal all pain

  • September 15, 2015 at 10:15 pm

    I found this article an eye opener especially when mentioned that when there is a distance between two people that it draws out the limerence. May I ask how so? I felt more secure knowing that my Husband’s emotional affair with the other woman of three years had moved to the lower United States as we live in Canada.

  • February 19, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    My husband left a few years ago and married the woman he’d been cheating with–and she’d left her own husband. They’ve been married for two years so far and from what I can tell all is not well in paradise.

    I do want my husband back. I said my wedding vows unconditionally–not “until divorce do us part.” The Bible calls their marriage adultery.

    I’ve been keeping busy, I’m very active in my church and everything. Our teenaged son still wants his dad home–and so do I.

    John’s story sounds quite a lot like my husband’s.

    I don’t interfere, for the record. I simply packed up our son and moved across the county, so it’s only like a 20-minute drive for visitation.

    So…any advice? I know my husband still has love for me…the OW keeps doing what she can to kill it, though.

    • February 22, 2016 at 6:25 pm

      If possible give us a call & let’s see what course we have that would benefit your situation the most! (615) 472- 1161.

  • May 4, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    Hi. The story Joe describes I think is pretty much what my husband felt when he left us a year and a half ago. He has not returned home but for what he tells me I think its what happened.
    He still with her, and in the past 6 months he has break up with her at least 4 times, he gets close to the kids and me and then returns again with her.
    I have a big question, in your experience, how long do you think this coming back and return to the OW will last. I am getting kind of tired but since I have endure so long, sometimes I think it just a matter of time for it to dissolve. In the meantime I’m working on my PIES.


    • May 4, 2016 at 3:58 pm

      Hi Alex,

      Thank you for sharing with us. We can’t tell you an exact amount of time as it is different for every person.

      Keep working on your PIES and following your heart.

      Please look online at marriageradio.com to listen to our podcast that deal with this exact issue! It’s free!

  • May 23, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    My husband is in another state for work and is in love with someone there. This has been going on for about a month and he is due to come back home in another month. I was hoping once he gets back to our home and around his family that he may see that he needs to do the right thing and work things out. But, if distance draws it out, I could be very wrong. Right now, he stays at the hotel she works at (or her house) and there is no trace of us there. Do you think it will be different when he gets back to his home? We have been together since I was 15 & he 17. We had never been with anyone else until he cheated.

  • June 8, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    im not married, but i i have a one year old, and we lived together for a year. i bought a house for us.. it was kinda of a marriage you can say.. but during that year i went out with someone…. this person haa been waiting for me for over. year… my excuse is my son.. but honestly i dont want my son to grow without me or his mom… bit things between me and his mom are not that great… we are not married but i feel like in a way we are.

  • July 2, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    Hi I read your story. How does a woman move on after a 26 years of marriage How does someone start over ? How do you stop loving the other person?

  • August 8, 2016 at 1:40 am

    Married to wife 7 years but totally committed for 23 total consecutive years…..after kids got to college her feelings seemed to change and she had affair….wont stop contacting the OM and cant make her mind up about moving out or staying….if under the influence of said limerence how long must a person linger holding out olive branch for the spouse to come to their senses?

      • May 15, 2017 at 9:58 am


        Would you recommend asking your spouse to read this article if they are set on leaving you and their children for the OW (who lives on the other side of the world)?


  • November 13, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    Hopefully someone can help.
    My husband been having a affair since last year. In februrary he left to move in a flat with his 17 years old son. Saying he need time apart to think. His OW moved in with him too unknow to me. She also apparently tjought i knew. Well he lived a double life for 6 months untill i pull the plug and contacted the OW. All his lies came up. But they decided to give a go.
    Unknow to her he still texts me and call me. Also call me his best friend and soulmate. That he will fight for our friendship . We also have a 9 years old daughter.
    He says he keeping those texts and calls a secret as she is not ready to accept our friendshio but once she is secure in their relationship he will tell her???
    He also said she lied to me and agree those lies where nasty. Really why do u want to stay with someone nasty???
    I could have been nasty to her but i choose not to. I am better than that.
    Its like he doesnt want to let me go.
    Also if he loves her why does he portrait her as nasty selfish and so on to me?? I would have thought he would portrait her as nice and understanding not the opposite???
    He also admitted that him moving together with her straight away was more convenience at the time to do with finances. And if to do it again he wouldnt??? What does that mean???
    I said to him that what he saying come across as he is trying to make out the best out of a wrong situation. He said yeah maybe but that is my mistake to make and to deal with.
    So why all this?? Why keep hugging me kiss on cheek?? Why calling me is best friend and soulmate?? Why saying he will fight for friendship?? Why believe she will accept it?? I know she wont. Dont think any woman would as she doent trust him and wont trust fully ever again.
    Why saying if she doesnt accept it well tuff on her or she accept or she can leave???? Really??? Who would say that??? Or are those just words?? And why saying that to me???
    I just dont know what to do. Sometimes i do see his old self. Sometimes i see who he is with her and that is not a nice person. He is totally different when she is around. Even let her call him by his full name wich after 14 years together i never used as he always hated it but he let her?? Even so he told her he doesnt like being call that she still does which tell me she doesnt really care about his like and dislike?? Could be because his full name sound posher!!As she loves branded stuff and is all about apparences. Branded stuff he use to hate as to much look at me but wear now because she has been bying him all his clothes like what he had before is not good enough and lets erase it. Or erase who you were before.
    I dont know what to think and what to do.

    • November 14, 2016 at 9:14 pm

      Good afternoon,

      I am so sorry you are going through this..

      My heart goes out to you..

      Are you a member of our Save My Marriage Facebook Group??

      We have a wonderful support system on there and we would be able to help guide you.

  • November 21, 2016 at 8:44 pm

    Thank you for sharing this story.

    It is crazy to think that I am not alone in this. I am currently married (going on 4 years) and currently seeing another guy.

    Our relationship started just talking through social media, and then we started going on bike trail rides and running errands with each other. He has a girlfriend. We hit it off right away, our personalities meshed, neither of us really had to try. we have been seeing each other for 2 months now. He says he can see a future with me, but still wants to get to know me. Which is completely understandable, as I don’t plan on rushing into anything.

    Soon it moved into texting, calling, and trying to see each other whenever we can. He plans for future activities and wants me to meet his work friends. The thing is, I don’t feel guilty. I actually feel really sad that I need to choose between him and my husband. Me and my husband have a 3 year old son. We got married at 19, and it was a wedding because I was pregnant (granted– we got engaged 2 months prior to finding out). Everything was just hard from the beginning. I come from a loud family who likes to have parties with family friends and drink. He doesn’t think that is really acceptable and I always have felt like he was trying to mold me into some person (even though he claims he wasn’t). My husband wants this life on the water, with a ton of money, not needing to work, etc. While all that sounds nice, I could care less if I have to work the rest of my life. I actually enjoy working. My boyfriend is just like my parents, he likes to have fun, they haven’t met but I feel like they would just get along so well. My mom and sister never really liked my husband, and they told me to not rush into marriage (which of course I didn’t listen — wish I had now).

    My husband wants to move 2 hours away, and I am back and forth on the idea of moving. Part of me thinks maybe we can start fresh, and the other part of me wants to stay and start fresh with my boyfriend. It’s very stressful because people tell me to do what I want, and what will make me happy, but I don’t even know. After reading this story it just hits so close to home, but I still have that overwhelming sense of doubt and unsure-ness, with the whole situation.

    Still trying to make pros and cons lists of moving, as well as staying in the relationship to see if feelings grow back for my husband, and subside from my boyfriend. I just don’t want to miss out on something that was supposed to happen all along with my boyfriend. I have never fallen for someone like I did with him. It took me months to even consider dating my husband, and I haven’t been faithful to him in the past ( a few times) and I have never felt like this with the other people I have seen. I know I am the problem, but it helps to read this story and try and consider everything.

  • April 1, 2017 at 6:03 am

    A very helpful article and it applies to my current situation very much. I’ve also gained a clearer mind after digesting this article.
    I’ve always gotten into affairs since my 5th year of marriage, realized I’m always seeking the “Limerence” stage. I was married at the age of 23 and now it’s my 9th year of marriage.
    The latest affair started in August 2016 and now we are in the verge of breaking up as my wife found out about it.
    It’s painful and I’m aware of the Limerence stage and will avoid it all costs in the future.
    Time will heal all pain

  • April 5, 2017 at 5:53 am

    Hi I have been reading a ton on limerance and think Im a victim of a wayward spouse who is, and has been currently in it for about 9 months . Im wondering what can (if anything) be done to save my soon to be ex husband from his obvious limerance. He left me to pursue a waitress and college student he met at a resort that we stay at closer to our home every summer and since he met her 10 months ago, and decided to call it total quits with me because of his “love at first sight” with her, hes developed an infatuation that he has changed his (all while destroying ours) life, to keep involved with. Its been 9 months since HE RUSHED me and our teenage daughter out of the home we shared (he bought it 6 months prior to our relationship -when he moved back from graduating college 16 years ago) and we’ve been married 14 years, and livig in the home up until he met her and threw US out at the end of the summer of 2016. He has gone SO far with this, he drew up the divorce papers and sent them to me shortly after going completely public with his limerant relationship to the girl he left for the past fall of 16-who I should add- is half his age ( she is freshly 20, we are both 41) and does NOT have a good track record for a girl so young, already having lived with 2 older men prior to meeting my Husband- and SO YOUNG!. He has even spoke of MOVING HER INTO OUR HOME already when she gets done with her SECOND YEAR OF COLLEGE 4 hours away from us that she is attending and living at. He spends ALL his time there during the week, and she comes home to stay with him on weekends EVERY weekend since theave met AMD Ive been gone from our home, so- 9 months. I haven’t even gotten mine and my daughters stuff out of there because he is AFRAID his new limerant 20 year old will find out that- god forbid-he let me BACK INTO THE HOME WE SHARED for 14 yrs to simply get all our things, and up and leave as she in the beggining was terrified of him wanting me back which he has proved he does NOT anymore. He has reached out to me a few times over the past 9 months…at first for sex and love, then totally broke it off for her about 3 mo after I left while she moved out and transitioned from her last bboyfriend, to my H. and Ive done everything to try to keep my composure and NOT freak because all the websites I read say to just be short, direct, honest, and MYSELF. He is a classic case other than there is ZERO decision left on his part in his mind. He wants HER and nobody else and I AM OFFICIALLY TOTALLY a “friend” only.. (after about 5 months he called and begged for friendship with me) and has even already asked ME TO MEET HER and tell her that I don’t dislike her, and accept her, so she can begin forming a FRIENDSHIP with my daughter . which was our last conversation and I said NO WAY and he hasn’t coNTACTED ME SINCE, as he was supposed to also borrow my daughter money for the prom (she’s 17) and has reneged on that promise (among MILLIONS) of others like being in her life, namely, since he kicked us out . at first he was in her life, but has now officially abandoned her for the new girl too, and has taken her on lavish vacations around the world and on vacations I ALWAYS wanted to go on…all while being a new person doing things with her he claimed he would NEVER GET CAUGHT DEAD doing before — and absolutely LOATHED while we were together the Last 14 years.
    I am scared he will get this young girl pregnant, then she will leave him, and I will be raising a child of his who isn’t mine because he will suddenly be left alone and without someone to baby him and take care of A BABY. I knew he wasnt father material when we married, and was happy with my one daughter from a previous relationship years prior to getting into a relationship with my H. That’s why we never had kids because he did what he wanted –and I thought he never wanted kids– nor would he have been a star parent.
    He actually told me he can see himself have. A WHOLE FAMILY of kids with this 20 year old because she is his soul mate. Others who know him say he has gone off the deep end and currently living both a delusion AND fantasy…going to stay with her all week while she goes to college – and her coming to stay with him on weekends because we live in her hometown’–until summer when she can move in with him and they can be together every day without having to travel. They havrnt spent more than one night apart since meeting this summer, and periodically on some nights they WERE apart, he called to say he still missed me and our daughter, BUT….. Said even tho he misses us, OUR marriage is ovEr because of his dream girl who is moving with him in the summer of 2017. He is NOT himself and Im not the only one who sees and when he reaches out to me, he acts as though he has completely let go of us– yet—there’s still a part he cannot totally let go…but its all lies lies he tells about wanting to try to be a part of my daughters life… Borrow her money for prom…etc. Then he even wanted to sneak and met me during January. ..but I SAID NO
    NOW ITS strictly platonic “acquaintance- ship” between us because I simply don’t call nor bug him — we only talk when he reaches out to me as a friend once or twice a month since about October of last year. He seems to for some reason want to talk about how he feels guilty that OUR marriage fell apart- but how it was “meant to be” so he could find her. And only talks about the bad times…which honestly only occurred since he met her and began an affair behind my back for a total of a month before kicking us out and totally pursuing HER.
    I KNOW Im probably barking up the wrong tree trying to delay divorce and save my marriage…but something tells me when this relationship dissolves with the little girl, he will need me again- even if I do sign the papers and go thru with the divorce he wants. He says NO NO and woNT DO counseling he said he met his soul mate and its over. Except for i know because we live in a small town that things ARE starting to fall apart between them and their coming out with the relationship to the public has been a big stress on him…but his family who still loves me dearly, is sadly starting. To accept her and him together. What do i do? He doesn’t want me at all only on his terms and as a friend. Counseling chances are long out the window I feel he is never turning back untill SHE leaves HIM. BUT HE IS WEALTHY and takes her places and buys her stuff none of her exes ever had the money to do for her. Until then I don’t have a chance do I.
    What can I even SAY to him when he wants to tell me all the time ONLY how he will be with her forever or a very long tine like he always says and how “everyone needs to accept it and get over it already” because they LOVE each other.help!

  • April 14, 2017 at 6:34 am

    I have been married 10 years and we have 2 young daughters (under 7). In the beginning stages with my husband I had come out of an abusive marriage about 2 years before I met him. He was a breath of fresh air.. hard worker, loyal, strong, good personality. I fell for him instantly, knowing I would marry this man. 2 years later we got married and had our first child in 2010.

    Even during the early parts of our marriage I felt isolated, stuck, and disconnected from him. He didn’t do anything in particular wrong, besides working too much and not being present. He spent 80 hour weeks building a business so I could stay home and raise our children. Emotionally we didn’t connect well. Things in bed were terrible too, and always have been. I assumed that was the way it was supposed to be, and it was still much better than my previous abusive marriage.

    I couldt help but reach out to other men emotionally. Mostly texts, and I chose men that lived very far away because I know I wouldn’t be in danger of physically cheating if there was no way to see them. I would chat and text day and night, and sext, send pics and I loved the attention. I “fell in love” several times over the course of years with different me .

    Last year I started chatting with a man that was closer. He was single and I was always alone so we met for a drink. Things progressed quickly and it became a year long affair. I fell in love with him. I think about him constantly and he does too. He is willing to wait for me, support me, build a life with me, and help me move forward in life. No one has ever made me feel as wanted and loved and understood. No one has ever put in effort with me this way before. Even as I play with my kids or argue with my husband I’m thinking of him and waiting and planning the next time I could see my lover. As my husband grew suspicious we started going to counseling. The guilt was eating me up. I confessed to my husband and told him the affair was over, that I will no longer contact the lover and he wants to work out our marriage.

    I don’t want to work it out. I feel despair and trapped when I think of continuing life with my husband. I had a taste of happiness and freedom with my lover that I can’t even look my husband in the eyes. I recoil from his touch, I cringe when he kisses me, and even though I love him and care for him, I do not love him romantically, and I haven’t long before the affair started.
    I’ve secretly still been contacting my lover even though my husband knows about the affair, and I want so badly to run to my lover and leave my marriage. I feel I have to choose between my happiness, my needs and feelings and those of my husband and children. I’ve always done what was right, done for others and put myself last.. but I’m terrified at the thought of never being able to be fulfilled, emotionally and sexually with my husband, and I cannot give up my lover. I love them both and I’m destroying my family for my selfishness but the need is so great I’m lost.

    • September 21, 2017 at 2:50 am

      Wow Jane! Your story sounds exactly like my life! I have been married now for over 20 years. We have 2 children 11 &9 yrs old. I started an affair with him in 2010. Carried on for 1 year. Then lost contact for a bit. We reunited in 2014 and going very strong since.
      My husband is a very good man. He is loyal ,honest, hard working, social etc. I too like u, came from an abusive relationship before I met my husband. So when I met him, I knew he’d be a great husband and father.
      He is, but lacks affection and a connection to me. I thought I was just too needy and tried to accept it being that he is a good man.
      But then when I started seeing my bf, he has all the qualities my husband was lacking. I have fallen so in love with him. He too feels the same for me. That we are soulmates. He is willing to wait for me.
      I worry about making the best decision. I want to be with my bf but am afraid of regret for my kids and I.
      So many years are going by and I just can’t seem to make a choice.
      I desperately need guidance and help!!!

      • September 26, 2017 at 3:43 pm

        Please call us at 615-472-1161, so we can help. Thanks!

      • January 20, 2018 at 8:05 pm

        I have read the whole article and all the comments.

        These two comments really struck a chord with me. I am female and in a long term relationship with the father of my children (8&9). He has been unsupportive from the word go, but I admit I never really noticed before we had children as I possibly enjoyed mothering him. However once we had children all this changed, I felt alone and isolated and unsupported. Over the years I have had what I can now only describe as a number of “emotional affairs” (a few very select and very deep kind of friendships with both men and women), just because I was looking support and appreciation. I never really realised that until somebody pointed it out.

        At some stage I asks my partner to go to marriage counselling, but he refused and told me that there was nothing wrong with him and if I had a problem I need to sort myself out.

        Fast forward to the here and now, I have an extremely strong emotional affair with a man, a man I can imagine starting a new life with, but I am worried about my children. I love my children more than anything else in the world and I can not bare the thought of them having to come from a broken home. Then again I hate the idea of letting them watch me suffer and accept a loveless relationship.

        And now to top it all my partner has engaged in sexual acts with another man. I found out and he has admitted it is true and that he very much regrets his actions.

        Anyway, I am pretty sure I should run, but I feel trapped. Any kind words would be very much appreciated. 🙁

  • July 7, 2017 at 11:49 pm

    I’m in a similar situation. I’ve been with my wife for 10 years and we have two beautiful children. We lost our spark about two years ago and we both were just living around each other. It was a real rough patch. I went out side our marriage and had an affair that is still going on. I feel very much in love with my new girlfriend. I love my wife and my children with all my heart, but I also love my new lover. Not only do I feel she may be my soul mate and have dreams of marriage with her, I also have a 3 month old child that Is a product of my affair. My situation of a little different than the story above. Please help me..

  • August 5, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    I am the other guy. I met my married girlfriend approximately five years ago. We started out talking about things and it eventually progressed into a physical relationship. I have known her husband and knew of him for numerous years prior. This man does not have very many friends as he has no social skills he is very controlling and mentally abusive toward his wife. My girlfriend and her husband have three beautiful children and she’s a great mom. Her husband has recently found out about our long affair and wants her to choose between him or me. I love this woman with my whole heart and she loves me she has made it very plain that if she does divorce she has no intentions of moving in with me but rather being on her own. She states that she needs to find out what it’s like to run a household and do things for herself. She is very torn as she says that her husband still loves her but she is not in love with him she has further stated that she’s not 100% sure that even her and I would be together in the future. We love each other very much I guess my question is I have offered to step back and let her work on her marriage and have no contact with her whatsoever during this process but that I would wait for her if a time comes when she would want to pursue a relationship with me. because of his abusiveness in the past she can’t forgive him but not forget about it. Do you think they can restore their marriage if I step out of the picture. I am so confused as what to do here as we are both Catholic and know that what we have been doing is wrong in the eyes of God. I can honestly say that I totally love this woman and that she totally loves me I don’t believe that I’m fooling myself as we have known each other for approximately 30 years total. Please help me do what’s best for everyone involved

  • April 6, 2018 at 1:24 pm

    I have been married to my husband for 4 years but met a woman, CD. She is a lesbian and as I have many gay friends and even family members it didnt bother me when we started chatting on facebook. I fell inlove with her and we have been in a relationship for more than a month now. I broke it off about a week ago. My husband found out and we want to work on our marriage. We went to see our pastor and I confessed everything and told my husband I wanted to work on our marriage. However, I cant seem to forget about her. I constantly think about her and miss her. I want to make plans to see her without my husband knowing then stop myself. I dont want to feel this way about her but cant seem to stop. Im still inlove with her eventhough I don’t want to be but i cant seem to help it. I’m not even sure why I want to work things out with my husband as I cant stop thinking about her.
    Need some advice please!

    • April 10, 2018 at 6:35 pm

      Hi, please call us at 615-472-1161 so we can tell you about our resources and how we can help!

  • August 6, 2018 at 4:12 pm

    This article seems to fit my situation. We have had typical issues in our marriage for a couple of years but never to the point i thought he wanted to separate. Had a gut feeling last year he and his co-worker (much younger) were involved. When he asked for separation last year i eventually found about them. Since last july, he has been going back and forth between me and the other woman. He has done it again about two weeks ago. He said he needs to let her in his life versus keeping her at arms distance to really know if somwthing is there versus just a fun time. He is unable to reconnect with me because she is in his head. I dont know what to think anymore, how to handle the situation, what to do, etc… in a way it makes sense what hes doing but i feel i am loosing him to her. Yes i dont either want to be with him if hes not fully commited to me. We have been together for about 10 years and married about 5 years. One child. At the moment, i have taken a step back, accepting their rekindled relationship and him letting her in his life. He wont close the book with me, he still has feelings but he cant fully commit to me because of his feelings for other woman. I just hope that one day he will wake up from this fog. Is this typical this situation?

  • August 15, 2018 at 1:49 am

    I’ve been married for 33 years. My husband is a wonderful
    Man. He has suffered through some family and family business issues. He drinks too much, smokes too much and I feel on a path to destruction.
    He is in massive depression. He just wants to lay in bed, read all day and then drink until he falls asleep. I’ve begged and pleaded with him to love me, love us. Please come back to me.
    We haven’t been intimate in over 4 yrs. we don’t sleep in same bed. And haven’t for 4 yrs.
    It never was spectacular but we gave been a strong partnership and had 28 good out of 33 years.

    I met a man 2 1/2 yrs ago yhay I have fallen completely in love with. We love to hike, cook together, be healthy… Laugh and be Silly. We explore new things. We are part of an animal rescue organization together. He isn’t a big drinker, but enjoyes exploring and learning about new wines. He takes care of me. We have a great and loving sex life together.
    My husband recently found out about this and forced me to choose.
    I chose my husband. He’s been a good man to me for 33 years. Planned for our future. And been there for 28 out of our 33 years together before he gave up on life. Still good to me after everything that’s happened. Just on a path of destruction. He willl die of alcohol or tobacco abuse. He can barely walk.

    I am mourning, missing and heartbroken over this other man. I am so not sure I made the right choice. I have found absolutely so much happiness with this other man. A love that I never knew existed. Never thought possible.
    I am so happy and love who I am when I am with him. I miss being the person I was with him, healthy, happy and so much in love.

    But I know if I left my husband… I would be miserable worrying about him every day. What would happen to him?
    He has been good to me. We are best friends
    We have been through a lot in 33 years..
    Just not the passion, love laughter, and enjoyment that I’ve learned really does exist on this world

    Am I making the right decision, staying with this marriage that is basically a friendship?


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