When a married person with strong values winds up in a limerent relationship with another person, it leads to cognitive dissonance. In that state, the person is emotionally and mentally miserable because their actions are in disharmony with their beliefs and values. There are only two ways to resolve cognitive dissonance:

1.) Stop the behavior that is contradictory to one’s beliefs

OR

2.) Modify one’s beliefs to make that behavior acceptable

Those who stop the behavior, leave the limerent relationship relatively early and quite often ask for forgiveness and reconciliation. They want to be the person they were and to live by the beliefs and values they previously held.

Modifying Beliefs and Values

Those who modify their beliefs and values to make the limerent relationship acceptable find a type of peace within because the cognitive dissonance weakens dramatically or even ends. My experience (and similar experiences shared with me by many) is that the peace isn’t complete. It’s enough to justify the new lifestyle but it feels down deep as if something is missing.

Modifying former beliefs and values to make one’s actions acceptable to self means changing beliefs, at least to a degree. Some dismiss God and find justification in either no religion or one that is very different from what they were before. Others continue to believe God exists but they change churches to find one that accepts their new lifestyle as okay with God. Yes, there are many churches like this. Some because they think they are practicing grace when in reality they are enabling rebellious sin. That’s not new; it happened in the first century.

1 Corinthians 5:1-5 shows us this when the apostle Paul writes, “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this? For my part, even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this. So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.” (NIV).

As you can see, they were apparently proud of their tolerance but Paul blasted them for what they were doing. Others have so watered down the Bible that they are for whatever people claim they do in “love” even if that is destructive to the families they are leaving.

So What Happens When the Limerence Finally Fades?

Does the person automatically revert to his/her former beliefs and values when they no longer feel in love with someone else? Typically, no. It does happen, I’ve witnessed it many times, but my experience is that more often they continue on the path they’ve set for themselves by modifying their previous beliefs and values. Therefore, rather than trying to reconcile their marriages, they drift…at least for a while.

Why don’t they revert immediately to their former beliefs and values? There are different reasons. Some do not return to their beliefs and values because of shame and guilt. Some think that their new beliefs and values offers them more freedom to do what they wish without restrictions. Others like the lack of responsibility. And some have so vilified their former spouse, their church, their religion, or even God himself that they are convinced that they should not return to any of those former things. Unfortunately, some have experienced so much unkindness and meanness from their spouses, family, in-laws, friends, even the church that they feel that they have irrefutable proof that they shouldn’t return to their former life.

Does that mean that there is no hope for those people ever coming back to their marriages? No, it doesn’t mean that. However, it does mean that the path likely won’t be straight or short.

A guy I know left his wife because of a limerent relationship with another person. He modified his belief and value system. When finally the limerent relationship ended, he did not return to his wife. He liked the freedom. He had been treated very cruel by many who had been his church family. All but two of his friends had deserted him completely. He heard the nasty things people had said about him, the things they had done behind his back to hurt him, and the cruel joy that some experienced at his fall. While it wasn’t his wife who had done those things, he had no intention of returning to her because those were the people in her world. Additionally, he had so vilified her to justify his departure that he viewed her in a very negative way. He didn’t want back into that.

You may recall that I often teach that people don’t leave what they have unless they believe what they are going to is better. He had left his wife because he believed being with the LO (Limerent Object) was better. He didn’t return to his wife  when the relationship with the LO ended because for all the reasons listed above–I felt being alone was better than being with her. It was over the next couple of years that he began to view his wife differently because of her own growth, her strength, and the way she was moving on with her life. Even then, he had to reach a point in his life where he wanted to return to his original belief and value system. Another way to say that is that he reached a point where he wanted to be himself again…the man he was before.

Be the “Better”

We teach that if you wish to reconcile your marriage, you become the “better” than what your spouse has now. That’s done by being a safe place, by being strong and not a doormat, by developing yourself into even a better you, and by trying not to react to every dumb thing your spouse says or does. As I often say… Be calm. Be strong. Be gentle.

Sometimes it even means moving on with your life so that your spouse doesn’t perceive you as being a surefire fallback in case other plans don’t work as they expect. Now, NOT moving on to manipulate but truly making a new life for yourself, yet with the willingness to consider reconciliation if your straying spouse wants to try to put things back together. And definitely NOT just saying, “come on back” but with a plan for reconciliation that solves old problems and creates a new and better life together.

A tough balancing act? Yes. Sometimes confusing as to how to handle a specific thing? Yes. Frustrating? Yes. However, we’ve witnessed it working thousands of times. Therefore, we know it can be done. We regularly suggest that the couple attend our Marriage Helper 911 Workshop even when the straying spouse isn’t willing to work on the marriage, because in the workshop, we are very often able to speed the process by helping both of you understand some crucial things about how you got to where you are, where current behaviors are leading (for both of you), and how you can put it back together if both of you choose to do so.

When limerence is fading or gone, that’s a good thing. A very good thing. But remember that it is only one step on the path to making your marriage good again. If your spouse was in limerenceended it, and came asking for reconciliation, wonderful. If your spouse was in limerence, ended it, but is still straying, don’t panic. It is still possible to reconcile the marriage. Not a guarantee, you understand, but very possible if you understand how to be the “better.”

Here are our upcoming Marriage Helper 911 Workshop dates and locations.

MH 911 Workshop Version 3

9 thoughts on “The Mindset of a Person During and After an Affair

  • January 22, 2017 at 9:17 pm
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    Would like more info on your workshops. My husband and I are trying to make it work

    Reply
    • January 23, 2017 at 7:15 pm
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      Hi! Can you email me at audra.weeks@marriagehelper.com

      I will have one of our Client Relation Directors call you or email you in regards to our workshops & saving your marriage.

      Blessings,

      Reply
  • February 18, 2017 at 4:37 pm
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    My wife and I are also going through a pretty rough patch in out marriage. We have been together for 18 years, married for 12. Six years ago, she was having an emotional affair and I caught her in the act of trying to plan a getaway with him. She was very apologetic and we agreed that she would cut ties with him and work on our marriage.

    Just last month, I found out that she was having conversations with the same guy again for the past 4 months and this time, she told me she wants to leave and get a divorce. She said that our relationship has not been the same since the first incident. I have been hearing her out and listening to what she is looking for to repair our marriage. We have 2 daughters together and I love my wife and do not want to break up our family. I have tried repeatedly to get through to her but she says that she’s changed and isn’t the same. She has love for me and also for the other man. I am not sure what I should do?

    Reply
    • March 3, 2017 at 7:12 pm
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      I am so sorry you are going through this. My heart goes out to you..

      Have you listened to Dr. Beam’s podcast on boundaries?

      In addition, I would encourage you to look into the Save My Marriage Online Course.. Give us a call at 615-472-1161 if you would like more information or to make sure this is the right course for you.

      We are here to help.

      Reply
  • April 22, 2018 at 2:02 pm
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    My husband would often make irrational accusations, was judgemental, verbally abusive and downright mean. Then after a verbal attack and storming out he would return and expect a loving and attentive wife. For years he justified his behavior by blaming it on me and my reactions to the disrespect. I was a believer and had been praying and studying the bible during the years that I forgave him, but each year he grew more explosive and irrational. We separated many times before I was blindsided by a woman he was seeing who followed him home (during our last separation), Following many months of him trying to convince me he wanted our family, I finally decided we should divorce, I was heartbroken that he would mistreat me all those years while he was actually the one being unfaithful. I couldn’t get the things he did with her out of my head, and I felt abandoned by God and betrayed by him. I had overcome major depression and loss of income during the tumultuous years, and when presented with the truth of who he was I lost hope. We coparented during the last separation but didn’t divorce. I was underemployed and struggling financially. I finally accepted the results of 13 years of prayer and loss, but I was in a dark place. Almost a yr later i accepted a date with an old high school classmate, although lonely I knew he wasn’t the answer. The night I met him to break things off, my estranged husband was in the restaurant and saw us together. This sparked him to aggressively pursue the marriage and work on himself., but i didn’t want to reconcile and told him so. I continued seeing guy2 I think just to avoid being home whenever my husband would show up and let himself in to plead his case. But I didn’t trust either of them and was honest when they asked about each other. I stopped seeing guy2 yet it took him some time to accept it and stop calling. We were losing our home but my husband was doing all of the things I begged him to do for years. My husband was going to counseling, taking ownership of his behavior and indiscretions and even going to church with us as a family. He vowed to prove he would change and be the man I once loved. After 6 months the changes in him were pronounced and he told me after bible study that he was finally listening to God rather than his own maligned thoughts. Another 6 months and we reconciled and agreed to leave the past there. We downsized to an apartment, filed bankruptcy and started over. But now when we are trying to rebuild our lives, he is starting to be angry and irrational again. He’ll say mean things whenever he wants and then expect affection and full compliance. He even brings up guy2 and tries to compare how I am with him. We agreed to leave the past and not discuss it if we reconciled but he is not holding up his end. I’m feeling duped and it’s difficult for me to be affectionate when his words are so hurtful. Often I feel like leaving before it gets worse again. Rebuilding is difficult after 40 i don’t want to waste the rest of my life in this cycle

    Reply
  • June 12, 2018 at 7:14 am
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    My husband have been having an affair with an ex co-worker for about two years! He says he love me but not in love with me. He says he don’t want her but yet I’ve caught him at her house.
    This weekend he’s going away because he needs time for himself I believe he’s taking her with him!

    I askes him last week about us going away so we could reconnect and he out flat told me no! Needless to say I was hurt and moreso when he told me that he was planning to go away. I’m afraid that he’s going to take her with him!

    I love my husband very much and I’m praying that he will come to his senses! I believe that he’s in a limerent relationship with her!

    I don’t know him anymore! When we are together he acts like everything is good but I know its not!

    I need help and more understanding on limerent relationships!

    Reply
  • December 5, 2018 at 4:39 am
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    I am not the wife but how do I get this married man to see this? 30 years of marriage been fall harder last 3 years. I got hooked to him when I was on a move out of state. Volunerable needes a dedicated man he reassured there is a divorce cause of money and whar lawywe said divorce has not happended. The scriptures I shadwd feom Gal 5 he still made a excuse. I tried to message ethe wife to work it out but she blows up on him. I want credibility to get him to see what he is doing to me ans his wife. I wish I knew this word “limerence” to help myself. I want to grow in christ for a week I had no peace. I did not have the strength to separate this emotional affair. I finally meet someone differnt and other factors. His friend madwle his happen. A secular friend. Then today I tyoed about affairs that on a process of divroce. Something kept tearing me. Because we’re all individuals God’s has a way of open your eyes and setting is free. And what was comvicting me not to ask God to take it away. God had a plan to educate me and that’s what Set Me Free is that I learned what this word meant what this all about why would he do this and why would I do this to myself to his marriage even though it’s been horrible the last 3 years even though there’s been no physical contact even though she’s been physically abusive he’s just want to do nothing about it but I found out that he had balls that I’ve overrun and I didn’t know didn’t know until you told me later alcoholism and other stuff. So I decided to read and find out what was it and I felt such Freedom about the word limerence us and it really Set Me Free now I know that I’m able to make the steps and procedures to end this relationship. If this guy truly loves and he would do but it’s right and I know that cuz I even told him that I made sure I was fully divorced before I got anywhere emotion involved with anyone or anything.
    The Lord in his mercy and his grace is really help me and I’m hoping that I could share this with the woman but I don’t want to anger her on a private message. Pray for us all. A marriage end in divorce or he will find another.

    Reply
  • March 13, 2019 at 5:49 pm
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    My husband is having an affair with his third cousin and feels it’s ok about this because in his mind the blood line is not that close. I stumble upon his texts conversations with her where he’s promising to give her large sums of money. Meanwhile, she know he’s marrried and we have two small kids . He’s has been disrespectful to me and non attentive to our kids. I’m praying that he sees the real side of his LO so that comes to his senses.

    Reply
    • March 15, 2019 at 7:22 pm
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      Hi, Jennie. I am so sorry you are going through this. Please call us at 866-903-0990 so we can help.

      Reply

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