Is A Marital Affair Really Love?

 

Before this experience I thought I had a pretty good idea about love. I thought love for the most part encompassed the words we said in our wedding vows: “to love, honor and protect for all the days of our lives.”  I’ve always been a romantic at heart and really believed that our love would conquer all.

Why wouldn’t I believe this?  Both of our parents and grandparents have been married way past the 50 year mark, and even though they certainly had rough patches, and maybe at times acted like they didn’t particularly care for each other, they are still together.  That is how I thought my life would be until the day that Doug told me he wasn’t in love with anymore and had those “in love” feelings for someone else.

At that point I started questioning just what the true meaning of love was.  Questions like:  If we were truly in love, how could he find someone and have those feelings for so quickly?  Was she his soul mate?  Was he destined to be with her but instead met me?  Are we as humans really incapable to live our lives with only one person, or are we designed to love many people throughout our lives?  Should I give up and let him follow his heart?

My response was to do just as I had done throughout this emotional affair–I went hunting.  I went hunting for knowledge and found several books about the various stages of love.  Most of the books I found highlighted anywhere between 3 and 7 stages of love, with the first stage being infatuation.   It is my firm belief that the infatuation stage is the stage that most marital affairs exist.  The dynamics of an affair provide the opportunity for the affair partners to nurture and preserve the infatuation stage of love.

Because of the typical newness between partners in a marital affair, the secrecy and the mirroring of your perfect self in the eyes of the other person’s perfect self.  In other words, one affair partner portrays themselves as the best person that they can be, and unconsciously neglects to show their “bad” side so as to not illicit negative reactions from the other affair partner.

Basically, the affair partners are always in courtship mode, but this courtship is different in that it is shrouded in secrecy and lies.  Since nobody knows about the infidelity, they never get to experience the typical family commitments or the mundane day-to-day activities that can exist in a marriage.  Basically they are both in their own perfect little world!

So is a marital affair love  a true, lasting and real love?  I guess in our situation, only Doug can really answer that question, but based on what I have read it is apparent that affair love is nothing more than infatuation.

Real, true love is love that evolves from commitment, honesty, being ones true self (not necessarily that perfect person you were infatuated with when you first met), and accepting the other person for who they are including their faults, their individual growth and their inconsistencies.

True love means living through miscarriages, infidelity, financial difficulties, raising children and dealing with reality every day, yet still looking at your spouse and realizing that there is no one and no other place that they would rather be than with them.  Now that is true lasting love!

 

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14 Responses to Is A Marital Affair Really Love?

  1. Eric March 9, 2010 at 6:21 pm #

    WOW…your last paragraph was so powerful to read!!! Thank you. I recently went through a divorce (spouse cheated). ALL my friends and the professional help that was given to me said exactly the same thing. True love means living though……

    Very powerful and great to read it and be reassured that the help that was given to me and my friends advice just wasn’t kind words to help me.

    Thank you for the reassurance!

    • admin March 9, 2010 at 6:46 pm #

      Thanks Eric for the kind words and for commenting. So sorry to hear that you were unable to save your marriage. Perhaps the rest of the readers could benefit from some of your experiences if you would care to share. Many that have commented are currently going through the surviving process and have not traveled down the divorce road yet. thanks again.

  2. Donna June 22, 2010 at 6:48 pm #

    Thank you so much for this fantastic blog and for the honest sides from both of you. I am currently living this nightmare of infidelity. My husband was having a 12 month emotional/physical affair with my then best friend who I had only known for 3 weeks when it all began.. so very quick. The emotional side began very quickly with them texting and talking everyday sometimes 6 and 7 times a day.. I knew something was not right, allarm bells but I never once thought it was an affair. Hind sight is a wonderful thing isn’t it. I will never ignore my gut insticts ever again.

    I found out 9 months into the affair by accident. They apparently broke it off the night beofre I found out because they both wanted to try and salvage there own marriages. Yes, OW is married and has 4 children just as we have 4 children all under 12 years. He told me that he is in love with OW and has found his soul mate with her. He loves me or cares about me, but is not in love with me.

    He wants to work at our marriage and learn to love me again so we can have the ideal family again. He has since moved out, I am now on my own and have been for nearing 3 months. He comes over nearly every night for dinner and helps out with children etc.. stays sometimes late and talks, watches a movie etc… other times he leaves as soon as kids are in bed saying he needs his time to sit and think.

    Yes, maybe I am stupid I don’t know, but we have still resumes an intimate relationship every now and then. At those times I feel so close to my husband, and he even seems almost like the old husband. Then something triggers like guilt in his head and he feels like he is betraying the OW as he loves her, not me.

    As I said, I found out 9 months into affair, naively thinking that he really had ended it with her. Found out 3 and half weeks ago that he had FINALLY ended it again with OW telling her that he was going to really work on his marriage etc… left her with a hug, kiss an I love you and a sexual experience.. 1 hour after telling me that we were going to be okay and left me with a intimate experience with my husband. I feel so sad.. have been STD tested as has he and all is clear thank goodness.

    He is nearing 4 weeks of complete no contact with other woman and is having withdrawals like he is on drugs. He shakes, he has anxiety attacks, he cries.. real gut wrenching sobs. It is just awful. I have only seen this happen 2 times and it kills me to see him devestated over an other woman who he has known for a year and me for 15 years.

    Through all this, I am still determined to work at my marriage. I have been awful and although justified been angry, but it was a real ugly side of met hat presented itself and I was really nasty and spiteful. I am over that thank goodness but come out occassionally with why the hell did you screw me and then go and screw her.. I feel so hurt by it. He is more concerned for OW than me right now, although I know he does care and is sorry that he has hurt me like this.

    I know he is sorry, I just have not seen is real sorrow yet for me as he is too wrapped up in his own sorrow of not having her. I have even told him he can go to her as he said sheis his soul mate and she makes him happy and she is what is good for him and she is what is best for him and I guess really I am just not what he needs any more.

    I feel as though I am not funny enough or pretty enough or have an attractive body like her or am not fun enough and exciting enough or a great conversationalist. I actually feel like a complete failure in comparison to this other woman.

    I am struggling as to why he would give up the love of his life for someone who he struggles everyday to come home to each night. I am trying to find the joy each day in my life and have a laugh as I struggle with my own twisted emotions and try to be the best mum to my children. Some days I feel like I only just make it through each day.

    I am a person who craves physical touch and some days I feel so desperate for him to touch me, but I daren’t ask him too or try to touch him. I crave words of affermation and I don’t get that a lot of the time. I have been losing weight, not for him, but for me this time and I look fantastic and he has not not once said so. I feel so ugly and like a monster in his eyes even though he has not actually said this.

    I am struggling with losts of things, but at the same time I have become stronger than I ever thought possible. In some ways I am grateful for this trial as I have become a better person for it and have learn’t much about me. I just wish I was what my husband wants.

    Life is very unsure at the moment, as I said, he is withdrawing from her and he seems in another world at the moment and I don’t know if I need to just give him space and let him have time away from me and the children. Please, any advice or tips would be so appreciated at this time.

    • Doug June 22, 2010 at 7:44 pm #

      Donna, Thanks for sharing your story. Though you might feel helpless at times and things seem desperate, I can see good things happening in your relationship as well. The fact that he want to stay with you and try to work on your marriage for starters. Remember that an affair relationship is like a drug and as you mentioned, your husband is currently going through withdrawal. The longer he goes without contact with the other woman, and the longer the two of you do the things necessary to kick start your relationship, the easier it will be for him to open up and return all the way back to you. Continue to build your inner and physical strength and let him know that you will be OK on your own. I bet he will soon return completely and then the feelings of hurt and failure will diminish with time. Good luck and thank you again for sharing.

  3. anotheronein AZ September 10, 2011 at 1:37 am #

    I really appreciated the last paragraph. That is what I thought we had. I knew he had been under a lot of stress and I understood and just stayed away, as that is what he seemed to want… and let him run, take care of his sports car, work, etc. After I found out about the emotional affair, I even forgave and decided to work on the marriage for a year. I tried everything and listen to his complaints and changed everything I could. The problem was, he did not and now I now never really did love me. After 24 years together…he continued the relationship and lied to me over and over again about seeing her and talking to her. I believed him. He even made me feel guilty for doubting him, etc. They had been in love for 30 year (HS girlfriend) and come to find out we had had problems for years…. I just did not know it… ever since the start. So, here I am now, almost 2 yrs. from the first D day and soon to be 1 yr. from finding out more lies and betrayal… divorced since April, just the ring on her finger tonight. Guess he was way over me a long time ago. Sometimes us spouses are slow. I never got a chance to actually work on the marriage, he was already gone in mind and spirit. I wish all of you good luck who at least have that opportunity. I tried but never had a chance. May be you can make it. Good luck. As for me, I believe in marriage and see it as a lifetime commitment, but it is lonely when you are the only one in it .

  4. Jackie September 10, 2011 at 9:16 pm #

    anotheronein AZ,

    Very sorry for how your H treated you. You deserve better.

    Don’t believe the lies he has been telling you the past couple of years. It was his way of rationalizing what a lying, deceptive person he had become during the affair. I don’t believe they have been in love for 30 years, and the times you spent together was loveless. I’m sure you felt love during that time and so did he. Those are just more lies that he is telling you to make himself feel justified for treating you so badly, and committing adultery. He doesn’t want to be the bad guy, so he blames you. Don’t accept it. They are more of his lies to cover his bad behavior.

    It is just amazing, as well as scary, how people who are infatuated, “in love”, in an affair, fantasy, can justify what they are doing by rationalizing that their lives were just a sham, until they found “the one”. Who are they really kidding but themselves. No different than being addicted to alcohol, except he married his bottle.

    The clues are he was under a lot of stress…then the affair happened. Same as all of us. Lot of stress, the affair, then the lies, shame and blame. It is a typical pattern of most of the affairs on this website. The CS gets so addicted to the feel good feeling of the fantasy affair, that they will do anything to keep feeling good. That includes destroying a perfectly good marriage and devastating their spouse and kids. They will do anything for their fix, including marrying the OP.

    But what happens when the high wears off, and you have to look at what you have done? How could you betray the person you promised to protect and love the most? Who are you really? Where is your integrity? These questions will come back and haunt you eventually, especially when the effects of the “in love” feeling wear off (which they do usually after 2 to 4 years), and you have to look at whom you are really with. No more feel good chemical in the brain…reality sets in again.

    Don’t beat yourself any more. It isn’t you. You are not “slow” or dense. It is him. He cheated, betrayed the one he supposedly promise to love and honor, blamed you, and ran away. Maybe some day he will grow up. And maybe he never will.

    You have a whole life to look forward to. Don’t let his problems become your problems. Find things you love to do, and do them!

    • STILL STRUGGLING September 12, 2011 at 3:43 pm #

      Thank you Linda for your most recent post – I agree completely with this. I want you and Doug to know how much help you have provided. Thank you for putting yourselves out there to help others.
      I found out in January that my H was having an EA with someone with whom he supervises. My story may seem pretty typical other than, I was diagnosed with breast cancer over a year ago and just finished my last round of chemo just 3 months ago. I found out about the affair from the spouse of the OW. I was devastated as you can imagine. We are back together trying to make it work, but struggling! I am having a difficult time with all we have gone through, and there are a lot of unanswered questions, and a lot to understand! How could he do something like this when I needed him the most? How could this OW do something like this to another woman under these types of circumstances? I could go on and on with questions that I don’t understand.
      Trust is a major issue, as many may understand. He still works with the OW, and even though his actions are that of a man who is very much committed and very remorseful of his actions, I know very well that this is a precarious situation. You see, and the OW is now divorced and unremorseful for her actions. Yes, I know this indeed, I spoke with her, and she was unwilling to agree to meet with me, and did not apologize for her actions. I wanted so much for her to face me, to see my suffering, to look me in the eyes and see the pain she has caused.

      I have a lot to overcome aside from the EA. I have my health to attend to, and strength and self confidence to regain!

      • Patti November 23, 2012 at 11:32 pm #

        I love the answer that Jackie gave as well. I am new to this post and my story is so bizarre that I have not written about it for fear that it so complicated that I can’t get a handle on it myself.
        I found out abut the affair in August. My husband tried everything to stop the process of me finding out. I had so many suspicions but one night I prayed so hard for God to reveil to me what was going on. I twas then that I called him , he thought he hug his cell phone up, but didnt and I hear the most horrifying conversation from this OW. She was cursing like a sailor, I hav eneve rin my life heard a man talk like that non the less a women, she was involved in some kind of fight with friend and was using the foulest language that I was shocked at. I did not hear too much from my husband other then, “you are losing all your friends since you met me” and that was how I found out. he tried to deny it and say it was his workers GF that he was trying to calm down, but in my gut I knew different. I tried to beleive it, but I called the number one night and she told me never to call her.
        The she started to send me all the information I needed, pictures of them together, places he had taken her, dog he cought her, and told me that they had a f’n life together and she would tell me more but she was a “f’n good person” I was horrified, and went down on my knees in front of my husband that was crying as well, begging my forgiveness, and said he was so sorry that he could not get rid of her, that it started as a drunk fest.( my husband always drank too much) but I knew him to be a morally clean man, I was taking to the core of pain. I knwo what that feel like.
        After it was all out, she continued to send me text that she knew where I was and called herself the “dark Mistress” and that he played with fire and he is going to get burned now” she even got a tatoo of his last name knowing all about me.
        The story gets worse. We stayed together to try to work on it with me asking a millions questions, he answered but I could tell he wanted to try to put this all behind him. He said she had been threatening him for months to reveal to me what was going on, and to appease her he tried to let her go easy. but I checked his phone records and it was back and forth called that lastest one minute to two minutes all day long, pages, like they were in a fight for sure. All together the affair went on she said for 9 months.
        He felt at times it was a set up to him he told me but he could not appease her. Story gets worse.
        As I struglled with the pain she continues to call him during the day and he would tell me so. Threatening him, she must of had much more on him then I thought. After a few weeks of this and me not knowing what to do with my emaotions, scared of her and still trying to understand what happened, he met with her again one last time he told me. They got a few drinks and he said he tried to end it for good and be rational with her. He was trying to drive her back to the train and she got physical with him and punch him in the face and gouged at his eyes when he was driving and gouged at his face. he pulled over and a cop came and he was arrested for domestic violence and a DIU, he refused to take the Breathalyzer because he is diabetic and though it might show incorrectly.
        I was home with my oldest daughter wondering where he ws, and about 11pm, he walked in the door with his mother that had to bail him out of jail, with his face all bloody and cut to shreds. My daughter hugged him (not her father) from my deceased husband, and I could not even look at him, He was crying and devastated! He didn’t want to tell his mom the whole story but I did because I feared for her safety as well. We both were devastated and we both looked at him and said “who are you really ” terrible!
        So a few days later he was so ashamed and heartbroken I had him come home, he hired a lawyer and we tried to work things out, but she continued to call his phone with threats, (he cannot change the number because its his business cell) , he ignored the calls he said, but then she got one of his workers numbers from a mutual friend and started to leave messages there.
        After a month of trying, I had to callthe cops one day becasue she treathened to come to my house, she jknew my addr4ess from a pill bottle she took from his car, and tell me everything. I did not want her at my house so I called the police, they called her and told her to not call me, and she still continued to text me and call again and said” YOU CALLED THE COPS ON ME!” i was afraid of her myself!
        Now as we were tying to get a handle on the situation he left me after my Birthday, and told me that he is staying with a friend and that ” he needs to fix his life” that he will talk to me after the trial and that this is just too hard for him to look in my face for what he has done”
        I have been in contact with him for things we need to discuss over our finances and he still continues to pay the bills, but after talking to by text from work and all, He said to me, please this is too hard for me, let me focus on my life and get this mess behind me, and told me he would talk to me after the court date. I said OK, and so many ways I am glad he left,
        But I know he is still in contact with her, I can see that he has called her where she works at some low class pizza place,. So I have not called or text him in a week, and low and behold I get a text from him at work stating” please don’t contact me by phone or text on either of my phones. she is online and wants to ruin me” first of all I have all the passwords to everything unless he left something around, I know he is seeing her, maybe to appease her since he told me he would call as soon as the crt is over.
        I don’t know what to think. No answers and its been almost a month that he has been gone. I have 4 days to wait to hear what happens to him and my life as well. Its so painful at time and at times I say.” I don’t need all this grief” and drama. All I can picture is he is lying to me, but I do know how she was with me! I even picture them happy! and that makes me nuts.. is that rational that they could be happy together??? Evenif I was not in the picture????
        If I could get those thoughts out of my head I would feel so much better.
        Can someone please help me with those thought?
        Thanks so much for listening.
        Patti

  5. social vs nature October 24, 2011 at 10:22 pm #

    I’m curious why when a marriage is involved, it is given priority in regards to what is right? Marriage is a social (religious) establishment, and you could argue the points of humans being really committed for life (look at a married couple after 40 years at dinner, they hardly talk) is realistic. The companionship grows, but the ‘new’ factor dies…but who’s to say which one should have precedent? If a marriage fails, and there just a need for wanting something new, what is wrong with that? In other words, the affair may be reflective of a need of a primal desire that is in fact lost, yet the affair is always given the negative stigma as if the need for the cheater to want to start again isn’t plausible or sane. Without the legal costs, religious implications, or social stigmas, one could argue marriage in itself is a fantasy.

  6. A month after discovery Is it possible it didn't get physical? January 13, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

    I recently discovered and confronted my wife on a 10 month emotional affair she was having with an old high school boyfriend whom she met on facebook. She has been completely honest (from what I can tell) and remorseful. She also wants our marriage to stay together even though she lied repeatedly and erased some facebook chats/text messages. We live 6 hours apart from the OM and she only talked on the phone with him twice but each time for several hours. Is it possible after 10 months that her relationship with him didn’t get past stage two of an affair ( still just talking). I read several texts and emails/chats of him asking to meet up with her throughout the 10 month ordeal. Is it statistically realistic that they didn’t meet up? Or am I just being overly optimistic?

  7. mrs gordon January 21, 2012 at 11:55 am #

    my husband and I had our problems and through it all we have made it work he came to me one day and told me he is confused he dont know if he wants to be with me any more we have been together for 6 years and have 2 kids every since he has starting this new job he has became another person he is very cold hearded towards his family and i finaly did some detective work he w having an emoitinal affair with a co worker he is telling her all about our problems and she is convincing him that she is the one for him and he can never be happy with me im so sad we have a baby born with spina bifida and i also have some health issues my husband cannot be thinking rationaly i know but it seems as if his heart has left me i am hurt by this and he thinks its cool for people to leave there family and go start another one and mind you that she has a boyfriend and child already i am thinking about telling the boyfriend about this what should i do

  8. mkg March 24, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

    I found out about my husband’s affair 2 months ago now. He still can’t decide who he wants to be with and I’ve heard all the typical lines like ” I still love you but I’m not in-love with you”. He can’t go 2 days without texting her. They’ve been a “couple” for 6 months I’d say and friends for 18months. When I read about Donna’s husband and all the withdrawal he’s going through I can’t help but ask myself is it worth it? Why feel like a piece of chopped liver and deprive him of his “fix” when he might never love me like he loves her in the end. I could find someone else who is affectionate and loving sooner maybe than the time it will take him to get over her (if he decides to stay with me). The only thing that makes me want to take the chance is our 3 little children (one of whom is only 3 months old…). But the thought of living with a man who can’t hold me or say ” i love you” for an undetermined amount of time makes me want to give up. I don’t want to stay together just because we are married I want to be with someone who wants me first! I don’t want to be second prize. ARE THERE ANY CHEATERS OUT THERE WHO CAN ATTEST TO THE FACT THAT THEY ARE HAPPY THEY STAYED WITH THEIR SPOUSE AND THAT THEY REALLY WERE IN A FOG OR DO THEY STILL LOVE THEIR AFFAIR PARTNER?

  9. Disappointed March 24, 2012 at 7:59 pm #

    My H had a one month EA via primarily texts. After D-day he moved out. That was almost 5 months ago. In the first two months I endured his tearful eyes as his voice shook saying he missed her. He said he finally found someone who sees relationships the same way, fell in love with her and can never see her again. It took. 3 mmonths for him to tell me what that meant: says they dont believe in marriage any more. Each would have separate home and see each other when they wanted. Said she believed in freedom. She cut it off saying she coud never see him again. She is a married mother of two. Last week I asked him if he was in love with her like he was with me in the beginning. He said yes. And I asked, and she was more important than me and the 20 years we’ve shared. He said yes. Then blurted out, I did it because I wanted to, it felt good and it made me happy. When he talks about it, he usually talks about how it made him feel rather than how wonderful she was. I think it could have been anyone. He is clinging to his feelings for her. No matter what he says I cant believe it was the same as with us. I cant believe it was love. Am I just in denial? I too would like CSs to try to explain and let me know how not to feel like the fall back choice, which I guess I am not even that. Cant believe he has not come to his senses and was talking divorce this week. He is saying it is all my fault and that I need to change. I just wish I could understand and fix it.

    • Lynne March 25, 2012 at 10:19 am #

      Disappointed-

      I would venture to guess that your H can ONLY talk about how he “feels”, as you can’t really know someone you’ve been texting for a month. Can you truly be in with love someone you’ve been texting for a month??? I think not! It sounds as if he is in love with the feeling it gave him. One month of an electronic EA does not even come close to comparing to twenty years of marriage–he sounds like a very confused man, and one that is likely confused about himself, so he’s putting the monkey on your back. DO NOT TAKE THE MONKEY!

      Remember that when someone isn’t ready to do the painful work of looking at themselves, it is easier to blame someone else. As his wife, you are the obvious choice. Keep telling yourself that this is text book stuff–this isn’t really about the things he’s saying to you–it’s his disappointment and disatisfaction with himself.

      I would really encourage you to step back from him right now. Don’t be so available and don’t be willing to listen to him waxing on about the OW–he doesn’t even know her, so what’s the point! Give him some space to live with himself and what he’s feeling, and the space to miss you. I believe you’ve said that you are seeing him 3-4 times a week……when he wants to see you, why not say, “that would be nice, but I’m sorry, I have other plans”. I promise you when you start to pull away, you will get his attention. Right now you are telling him that you are always available and that you are a willing participant in listening to his nonsense. This doesn’t give him any motivation to change the current scenario, or to step up and begin making some changes of his own.

      Hang in there Disappointed–this will get better!

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