I have read all of John Gray’s books in the past, and recently picked up his new one called, “Venus on Fire Mars on Ice.” It has a lot of the scientific data that I enjoy absorbing.  I haven’t realized this about myself until after the affair, but I am somewhat of a geek.  I love gathering data, research and information to help me understand life’s problems.

The insert of the book promises to provide the knowledge required to “…ensure a steady supply of feel-good hormones for you and your partner.”  He states that he would teach me about stress hormones, especially the ways that they harm our health and complicate our ability to relate to one another.

Perfect! This is exactly what I need to replicate the feel good hormones that Doug experienced during his affair and transfer them to our marriage.  I can’t say that I have totally read the book from cover to cover yet, as I am one who likes to skim the book, read the chapters that interest me, then go back and read the entire book.

The chapter that caught my eye was “Love, Sex and Happiness.” Gray states that in a mature relationship love is not a feeling, but rather a way of being–a decision.   If we are to love we must avoid the trap of behaving however we may be feeling on any given day. That puts love on a seesaw with us; down one day, up the next.

He also says that love doesn’t grow from being adored.  It grows when it persists and endures through times when we or our partner are difficult to love (like after the affair). Ultimately, we should not love to get what we want or need.  Love should be its own reward.  To feel love as a result of our own deliberate actions and responses is a far greater experience than the love we feel in response to someone else’s behaviors and actions toward us (affair love). We can only sustain love through genuinely making sacrifices to give our support.

Gray believes that in order to give this support we must learn to support ourselves.  We must learn to create our own fulfillment if we expect to give others what they need.  He emphasizes the 90% rule–90% of feeling good is entirely our responsibility.  We gain our sense of well being through the people and activities we bring into our lives.  Do not include your partner among these people because they are only 10% of your happiness.

I had difficulty grasping the 10%, however Gray believes that it eliminates the blame game.  You can’t blame your partner for everything that goes wrong in your life.  He believes that the 90% takes us back to ownership of our well-being.  He is mainly talking about stress and questions if we are taking care to reduce the stress that complicates and weighs down all the good things in life.

Stress is the real troublemaker in our lives and blaming our partners for our stress-based unhappiness only increases the stress. Gray states that the single most important thing we can do for our health and the health of our relationships is to reduce stress.

Gray goes on to elaborate detail of how we should reduce our stress. He believes sex is the cure for much of what ails us. Doug has been telling me that for years, but I thought is was just a ploy to get me in bed.  Sex has the ability to reduce stress, improve health, and enhance communication.

Frequent sex raises the production of our feel-good hormones: testosterone for men, oxytocin for women.  When sex is combined with feelings of love and affection, the act triggers an even greater release of hormones.  That’s all I need to know!

The next stress reducer is taking responsibility for our own happiness.  In order to find happiness we need to look for love and support aside from our partners.  I have some apprehension about this because so many other relationship experts discuss the importance of spending time with your partner, and establishing clearly defined boundaries with respect to other relationships. Gray, on the other hand, seems to encourage outside stimulation.   He gave a list of suggestions on how to find happiness aside from our partners:  Look to yourself, to work and coworkers, rest, recreation, hobbies, vacations with friends,  schedules, priorities, family members, therapy, support groups, etc.  I am sure you get the idea.

He cautions though, that these activities will only be effective and benefit your relationship if you develop the right attitude.  If a person begins to look at this support as something we are not getting from our partner, we begin to resent our partner.  Instead of feeling gratitude and fulfillment from the love we are getting other places we use it to justify our feelings of victimhood.  The more we get from the world, the more we resent that our partner can’t or won’t provide the same kind of support.

I found the book very interesting especially the chapter on stress and how it effects our hormones, our relationship and basically everything in our lives.  It helped me to understand why I act the way I do after the affair when I am under a lot of stress, and how important it is to try to control the stress in my life.

    17 replies to "Sex, Stress, Hormones and Happiness After the Affair"

    • Jeffrey Murrah

      Linda,

      Gray’s book sounds challenging yet informative. I have not read it, yet the material you have shared is fascinating. I know from the material coming out on how relationships reprogram our brain, that the changes in neural programming bring with them changes in chemicals released in our minds and bodies. From what Gray says, individuals have the greatest responsibility for the reprogramming of the neurons and subsequent chemicals released in terms of creating love sensations.

      Stress is like a chemical bath across our hormones and neural connections. It changes everything!

      I may have to read a copy of Gray’s book. Thanks for telling us about it.

    • D

      This quote from the Dalai Lama seems apropos:

      “It is not just a person’s physical constitution, their intelligence, their education, or even their social conditioning that enables them to withstand hardship. Much more significant is their inner development. And while some may be able to survive through sheer willpower, the ones who suffer the least are those who have a high degree of patience and courage in the face of adversity.”

      • Doug

        Nice quote D. Very appropriate. Thanks

    • Broken

      Doug… what was so appealing about Tanya? It seems like the only thing she could offer you was fun and good conversation. She couldn’t offer you honesty, loyalty, children, sincerity, security, or a promising future. What kind of woman would cheat on her own husband with another married man? What is so appealing about that? She obviously isn’t the most trustworthy or loyal person. She was a liar, betrayer, manipulative sneak who was ruining her marriage and your marriage at the same time. She was also selfish and self-centered. She only cared about herself and the fun she was having. She never considered her H’s feelings or Linda’s. And even when you were “caught” she continued to try and sabotage your relationship with Linda by trying to continue the relationship. What the hell were you thinking? That this poor excuse for a woman was going to give you something Linda couldn’t? Linda provided you with so much more. Linda is more of a woman than Tanya will ever be. She didn’t sacrifice her marriage or family even after you betrayed her. I wonder if Tanya would have done the same, obviously not! She was willing to risk her H and family for an adulterous relationship that was based on lies and secrecy. Didn’t you ever think that she was a low down dirty b**** who didn’t have any values or morals? If you had taken some time to think about Tanya in the midst of all the fun you were having you would have seen that she was just a fake who was using you as a crutch, because she was probably so damn miserable in her own marriage, and wasn’t woman enough to work on her marriage. You should create a link on this site that provides a place to praise Linda and bash Tanya.

      • Doug

        Broken, I’m beginning to think you are actually Linda 🙂 You are absolutely right in everything you say, and I’ve have been told pretty much the same things by Linda. I don’t disagree with anything you (or Linda) have said. The truth of it is that I have no idea what I was thinking. As I’ve mentioned many times before, I was truly stupid. I guess when things aren’t so great at home, it was easy to be swept up by someone who stroked my ego, instead of working on the issues in my marriage.

      • Linda

        Broken, you must have been in my head today, because many of these thoughts consumed me today. This morning I was researching divorce and infidelity and one of the things mentioned was married women in affairs are more likely to divorce because they view the affair with so much emotion and bonding. They believe that they have found their soul mate and are willing to throw their husbands aside for something that appears better, focusing on the emotional feelings they are receiving from the affair rather than the logic and reality of a long term commitment with this person.

        Reading this information really upset me because I know Tanya wanted Doug to leave his marriage so they could be together. I started thinking about everything that was said and done (I know, very unhealthy) to achieve this goal. It is so ironic that Doug told me she was helping us with our marriage, when obviously she was doing and saying things that were destroying it. I was upset because I wonder how much Doug agrees with and believes. I know that I was not perfect, and made mistakes, but not enough to end a marriage, leave a family and begin a new life. I wonder what she said and did that made him believe that she could be a better companion to him than I was. Sometimes when I do something that upsets him I wonder if that was something they discussed, I wonder if he thinks, maybe she was right. I know how stupid my thinking is and I am being paranoid, but I wonder what went on behind closed doors to make him act and say the things he did.

        I am not being naive either I know that Doug had just as much a part in this as she did, and she wouldn’t have thought about leaving her marriage if Doug wouldn’t have given her the indication that he was very unhappy. I just believe that Doug’s involvement in the affair was different than hers and at some point he got way over his head and couldn’t turn back. Why he didn’t stop it right there and then will always haunt me. I guess the thing I wonder most about is if he still sees the illusion he had of Tanya or the reality and more importantly does he see me the way I really am or the person he believed I was when he was with her. Does that make sense?

        • Karen

          Linda and Broken,
          Can there be 3 of us in one head? Exactly what I think and have asked my husband about. Doug’s answers mirror my husband’s (is it a man thing?). And guess what? There will be problems in our post-affair marriages. Are our husbands going to run to other (or the same) OW’s again as the lesser of two evils (getting ego stroked or working on the problem)? I already get frustrated with my husband for not “working” on our marriage and getting distracted, and we’re still in the post-affair healing phase 🙁
          I guess there’s no guarantees, but it really ticks me off.

          • Broken

            Karen and Linda… I wonder too if the frustrations of the post affair marriage will be too much for my H, if he ever needed an ego boost, it would be now! Sometimes I think the stress of our post affair marriage will make him look for another affair. Our marriage before and during the EA was a walk in the park compared to our post affair marriage. I just tell myself that if he decided to do this again, I will be ready. Ready to walk out and never look back.

        • Broken

          Linda…
          The OW in my H’s EA was not married, she was single. No strings attached! She had nothing to risk and nothing to lose, while my H had everything to lose. She also wanted my H to leave our marriage and family for her. I also wonder what was said and done that would make her want him so bad. He must have done everything in his power to make her feel special. My H also claimed that she tried to help him with our marriage, and that she even suggested we go to counseling!!! What a joke! An unmarried woman is trying to teach my H how to save his marriage, all the while talking to him non-stop all day, while I sat at home lonely and ignored. How can she suggest counseling and at the same time ask him to leave me for her?
          I know that I was in no way the perfect wife, but I also didn’t deserve this. And if my H did believe that it was that bad, then he should have packed his bags and left before contemplating an affair.
          I also wonder when I am bitchy or moody, or when we argue if he thinks to himself that the OW was more relaxed, friendly and agreeable. I wonder if he compares me to her. I wonder if he thinks that maybe she actually would have been a better spouse. Sometimes I’m afraid to get too angry or say certain things because I don’t want him to see me in a bad way. I want him to see me like he saw her, this perfect women who could stroke his ego all day and make him think he is king of the world.
          I am also not blaming the OW for everything, my H played a HUGE role in the affair. He is at fault 100%, she didn’t force him to talk to her. And I also believe that my H must have done something to make her so crazy about him, otherwise she wouldn’t want him to leave the marriage.
          The other day I asked my H., if he could see any bad in the OW at all. And the only thing he could come up with was that she was very persistent. That’s it, that’s all he came up with. I was upset that he couldn’t see her the way I saw her. As a desperate single woman who couldn’t have the decency to find another single man, but instead found my H with kids to get involved with. I don’t think he will ever see her for who she truly is and that bothers me, I want him to hate her with a passion just like I do.
          And I wonder just like you Linda, if my H sees me for who I truly am or does he see me the way she wanted him to see me.

      • Michael

        If I read this they way it came over, this could easily be directed toward my wife. To Doug, or to anyone who has had an affair.
        If that is truely the case why are any of us here.. We sould start devorce procedings now.. Kick our wives/husbands out of our house.. And go forth to find someone who will never be tempted, never stray, never look at another Man/Woman! GOOD LUCK WITH THAT..
        Wait!, what we should do is abolish the act of marriage. How can you cheat on someone if nobody is responsable to anyone else..

        If human emotions were so easy to stop and start like flicking a switch, none of us would be here..Why didn’t they stop right away?Why dont we just stop visiting this site?. Because it gives us some sort of comfort, some sort of connection, some sort of opening up. Thats what my wife found, thats what Doug found, Tanya, everyones husband/wife here. If only more of us had the guts to stand on this wall as a husband and wife team, We would all be a lot better. We love our wives/husbands, we show it every time we post here. Maybe they don’t love us in the same way, maybe not at all, but we do. And if Tanya was my wife i would stand up for her the way i stand up for my wife in the way the implications point to her

    • Michael

      I too fell into a bad mood the last few days. I had something to say wednesday but I didn’t. So I Will share it here.

      “My wifes secrecy and dishonesty was and is a big contributing factor in what happened to us. Her inability to express herself to me and be honest with her feelings closed the door to me and what I promised her.
      She still tells me “well I didn’t think you wanted to know about that”. When I asked about all the calls on our friends phone. She told me our friend was talking to him. Ok, you never told me that before. Guess it didn’t matter as much as when our friend called him a home wrecker and she cried for him to stop talking about him that way.
      Yesterday stirred up all of the problems again when she asked me if I was ok this morning in a text. At first I was “I’m fine, why?”. But then I started thinking why is she asking me this.
      Now what’s going on? I know she still fears me leaving but I can’t help her in that. I’m still here 7 months later and several new lies discovered. And on top of that her ex-husband sent me a message about his “recovery process” and wanting to make amends with her. Not a good time to ask me this.
      Can I put it more simple than that.
      I don’t believe her when we talk about this. When thats only once every few months. She says she is working on herself. Good. I am done playing games. I’m done longing for her love. I can’t get what she will never give me. And I can’t give her what she doesn’t ask for. Its too much to expect that this will never happen again.
      I see myself slipping into a place where I don’t care that she buries herself in other things while I’m home. So now I’m doing the same.

      I find something else to do. We pass by each other and say I love you all day but that’s it. Its all about the TV when we lay down and facebook when she’s not doing anything else. I get it. Were friends with benefits.
      We went for a walk one day and she spent it on the phone with a friend. Sure we held hands. We held hands while she was calling him for hours each day. Sure we make love. When its ok with her, once a week or less. It was a lot more while she was talking to him.
      Sure we talk, about the kid dentist appointments and family crap thats happenning. The only time we talk about us and what happened is when I’m fed up and done with her BS.

      Was it good for our marriage? YES.
      It made me realize how little she cared for me. And how selfish she is. I used to think that this was the way a married couple was. And now I realize it wasn’t good enough for her and it defiantly isn’t good enough for me. And it made me realize what I did to contribute to her unhappiness.
      Can I live with the way it is? YES.
      Can I go through life knowing that my wife loved him so much that she would throw away our marriage and children? YES.
      Can I live with the feeling that she was intimate with him? YES
      Should I keep checking up on her and seeing if he contacts her? What’s the point in that? At this point if they still talk its by other means that I don’t know of yet. And she wouldn’t tell me if he called her or sent a message anyway.
      Can I get over this? YOU BET I CAN.
      Can she? ??????
      Would I want her to go though what I did on this side of it? NO!
      I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. It is one of the hardest things I have faced in my life.
      I gave her my heart. I give her my words (good or bad) and I gave her my life.
      Do I know how she felt? YES I DO. All too well.
      Will she ever lie to me again? YES.
      If I don’t need to know she doesn’t need to tell me.
      Would I change anything I have done up to this point? No.
      Did I keep it a secret? NO.
      I should have. Maybe that was one thing I did wrong. I had nowhere to go. I needed her and she wasn’t there. She hasn’t been there. And she probably won’t be when we get to that point again.
      Should I have kicked her out? Yes.
      Then I would have been able to move on in a life I deserve. But I still need her so.
      I have given her every feeling I have in cards, in words and in what I have written here that she can read. But even this site she has come to forget about. Like she put aside me and the years I have given her. Like she has buried her feelings of the past. Until the next time this happens again.
      I don’t know what’s come over me today but it sucks. And I feel a lot better for venting. Maybe when she reads this some day she will understand. Maybe she won’t. I can’t help but think does it matter? ”

      I understand where my feelings came from and, for the most part, don’t let them run my day. But some times it’s just hard to do. I may have felt some awful things but we all do. If we didn’t care about them as much as we do we wouldn’t take the time to bask in the pain.
      Is it selfish of me to feel this way. Absolutely.

      I Will be the first to stand up and defend my wife against any one who points a finger at her. She is one of the few great gifts I have in my life and while she is mine to protect. Protect her I will.

      I’m sorry if the Tanya bashing triggered a reaction from me but someone had to say it. Not all of our wives and husbands are bad people. If they were, we wouldn’t be here.

      Does this mean I forgive HIM?. No.

    • Rushan

      I have the very same thoughts as LInda Broken and Karen. I am so glad that it isn’t only me that feels all those things. That I can still feel so after a year I wish it couldhave been different and that I can forget about the affair and everything and just carry on with my marriage, but it is so difficult. What can I do to overcome everything and just live my life.

    • Jenny

      One of the things that really ticks me off is that before my husband’s emotional affair I wasn’t a stressed person. We had a very active sex life. We laughed and talked. All of this and it still wasn’t enough. I sometimes think my lack of stress made him be more stressed out though. I think he felt he needed to worry about things for the both of us or something. I honestly don’t know. I look back and try to figure out what I could have done differently. I’ve become a more stressed person since the affair. I used to wear my heart on my sleeve and tell him what was going through my head. I still do this sometimes, but there are times when I become more reserved. When I do this he bugs me about what is wrong. One day when he asked me this I said to him “What do you want from me?”. He said “I want my happy wife back.” This nearly sent me over the edge. He is the one that changed me and now he wants me to just forget everything and change back. I think he thinks that since it has been three months, he’s apologized and said he was wrong he should get a do over. He doesn’t understand my need to keep hashing it out and sometimes he tries make me feel like I’m crazy to keep dwelling on this. It helps when I read people’s posts on here and realize that what I’m experiencing is normal.

    • Dealing

      I can completely relate to all that has been said. My H is still involved in his affair. He hasn’t stopped talking to her, but in general, he has stopped mentioning her to me. It all started at the end of Feb. of this year. He “knew” he was in love with OW by the beginning of April. Only a couple phone calls and e-mails and voila. Amazing how that happens! We have been married over 8 years yet a month of e-mails and such and they are in love. She was the first person he had sex with, never a relationship. They haven’t seen each other in over 20+ years. She is married with 2 children. She was unhappy. He made her happy by giving her compliments etc., which in turn made him happy and she returned those compliments and now they are soul mates.
      He asked me for a divorce 2 months ago- almost to the day. We haven’t talked about it much since, but it is looming over me like a dark cloud. I do not know when it will happen, but these are his plans.
      They are meant to be together, so he claims. Her husband is a wreck. He is furious that she didn’t even come to him to let him know that their marriage was failing. It took me threatening to tell him that she was having an affair with my husband to tell him. And then I told him too. I told him about the e-mails, the pictures, the hours and hours on the phone between them.
      I hate her. I hate that she continues to speak to my husband. I hate that he continues to speak to her. I hate that he tells her he loves her and she him.

      I still love my husband, but I am very tired of continuing to try to save my marriage. I am tired of not receiving reassuring touches, hugs and all around love. We both sleep on the sofa now rather than the bed- weird, but I cannot sleep otherwise. I need him near me to sleep. We touch only rarely. I miss the man I knew.

      Up until Feb. we were happy- even he says so. We did everything together, we enjoyed each other’s company, we laughed, we made love, everything. I do not understand how we could have gone from that to this h-ll that we currently live in now, but we did.

      We still do many things together. I bite my tongue often so I do not let out snide remarks. I don’t know what to do or how to fix it. He hasn’t left yet, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t leaving. I have asked him to change his mind or leave- he has done neither and it has been over 3 weeks since that request. I want to heal or at least try to. I want to not wake up in the middle of the night with dreams of him and her having phone sex. I want to know that when he is away from me he isn’t talking to her. I want to know when he checks his cell phone, it isn’t to see if she is calling or e-mailing. How does one get through this? It is crazy making and I am very lost. I used to be a very confident person. I used to be comfortable enough with myself and him that he could talk to anyone and I wouldn’t worry. Now I worry all the time. I stress about most things. This consumes my everyday. I don’t want this to be normal, I want this to go back to being what was normal before “Heather” entered into our lives.

    • Last2know

      Dealing, Do a “180” on your H. Right now he has the best of both worlds. Your there waiting for him to decide, ” he’s leaving but doesn’t know when”. Does the OW know if and when she’s leaving? Start going out and let him take care of the baby, he is already talking to her and you know it, he refuses to stop so why should that stress you out. Unfortunately they have forced a change in our lives. Start moving on, get dressed find some friends and go. Tell me this who if the two men her H or yours can provide more security for her? Who has to move jobs or locations to be with the other? If she has kids the law will not (nor will her H) to move the child X miles from the other parent. My first sex “event” was horrible, I didn’t even know how it was supposed to feel. Right now neither of them care about how you feel so you need to care about how you feel, look and plan your future with or without him. Stock some $$ away if you can. Take the baby and leave for a week and let him feel the loneliness. Do not tell him where you are. He can reach you by cell (but I wouldn’t take his calls). They can’t be on the phone and computer 24hrs. You are already in your worst nightmare. You have nothing to lose at this point. I know it’s scary but sometimes you have to call their bluff.

      • Dealing

        Last2know, the funny thing is that he doesn’t even plan to move to the same city as her. Instead he will be living about 3 hours away from where she lives and they will continue to have a long distance relationship. They are completely living in a fantasy world. She cannot move and keep her children because of the custody laws and she hasn’t had a job in over 7 years so she isn’t even marketable in this job climate. I just find them both to be very immature. I expected more from a 38 year old than this.

        Thank you for your suggestions. I am working on trying to get out. Money is very tight and we have a mortgage that neither one of us can afford by ourselves. It is difficult to have been put in this situation when it wasn’t caused by anything I did/didn’t do.

        • Last2know

          Understandable, well hopefully her H is a good provider so she has something to think about. Hang in there. Start doing some things to distract your H, take a pole dancing class. Send her an email and tell her you and your H had sex all weekend. This will really piss her off because she won’t know if he is telling her the truth or not. It will start problems between them and then he will see the real her, which is what you want. Fight for him if you want him. Don’t just back wait and wonder. Worst case scenario, he gets upset with you. Doesn’t really matter right now anyway. Fight fire with fire. I sense you have gotten the “liberated” feeling yet, that comes with “working on yourself” in the meantime just make trouble for them, where’s he going to go?? Tell her H to do the same to your H (the whole weekend sex pretend). What could it hurt. The pole dancing class was just a joke, but they do exist.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.