surviving an affairLooking back when I first became suspicious of Doug’s emotional affair I remember Doug trying to convey to me what was missing in our marriage.  He said that he wanted the “in love” feeling, the feeling of excitement and newness like when we first met.  Little did I know that he was describing what he felt when he was with Tanya. 

I knew that surviving an affair would be difficult if he didn’t realize that what he was experiencing with Tanya wasn’t realistic or long-lasting.

I became frustrated as I knew that would never happen again in our relationship because that stage of love happens only once in a relationship, and then it moves onto a more mature kind of love.

I tried to tell him that we have been together for so long and that we have seen each other at our best and worst.  We know almost everything there is about each other because basically we have experienced most of our life together.  That wasn’t the case between Doug and Tanya.

I reminded him of when I was pregnant with the twins, which was a time when he had witnessed me at my worst.  I was so sick during my pregnancy that all day he had to sit next to me holding my hair away from my face while my head was in the toilet. 

I became so dehydrated that I had to go to bed for a month while he changed my IV bags every three hours and gave me sponge baths. To me, that is real love.  I know that it is not exciting and new, but it is love that has commitment and security.  Unfortunately Doug didn’t believe that spending the day watching me get sick was better than spending time with Tanya.

I wished that I knew that he was experiencing an emotional affair and that I knew that affairs are based on infatuation, then I wouldn’t have felt so hopeless and would have been armed with some kind of power so that I could have felt confident that we could survive an affair.

Today I have decided to compare affair love to married love. The information I’m referencing can be found in the book “Infidelity:  A Survival Guide” by Don-David Lusterman.

The definition of infatuation is “a foolishly irrational love or desire.”  If you Google infatuation, you will find the words selfish, jealous, unsustainable, insecure and blind.  Obviously these are not attributes you would want in a long term relationship, however many men and women have left their spouses and family because of infatuation.

Lusterman states that most people associate infatuation with an aspect of “falling in love,” as it is easy to mistake infatuation for love.  When you feel infatuated you feel captivated by someone. You’re fascinated.  You’re obsessed and you can’t get that person out of your mind.  You see no flaws.

He writes,

Infatuation is often the characteristic feeling in an affair, never evolving into a more tempered, realistic, and mature love.  An affair, by its very nature a secret liaison, locks the object of your infatuation with you in a private world.  Since there are few, in any, opportunities to expose your perceptions of this person to the light of day, it is especially easy to maintain you illusions.  You romanticize.  You see the object of your desire as what you want, but not necessarily as what they are.  Thus, the infatuation can continue, untested.

Secrecy is part of the excitement of an affair.  It adds spice to life when the marriage seems bland.  The affair offers a time beyond responsibility and it is addictive, carrying with it a powerful emotional rush. As with other addictions, the rush is often followed by a sense of loss – real life doesn’t seem as good. So the person is drawn to return to the source of the rush.  Again with other addictions, there is always a feeling that it would be awful to have to give it up.

Married love, unlike an affair, has an ebb and flow. Some days you feel the way you did when you first fell in love.  Other days you feel dispirited, tired, distracted, disappointed, and angry.

Even if married love begins with infatuation, it finds its continuity in married love, with peaks of real passion, valleys of disappointment, and plateaus of OK days.   Successful married couples know this.  They have learned how to communicate and deal with the ups and the downs.

For those of you who are battling the effects of a spouse’s affair, there has to be some way to make your spouse understand that what he/she is experiencing with their affair partner is not real

If only they could step outside of their bodies and see themselves from another point of view, they could then realize that though they may feel great now and think they are in love with their soul mate, that once the “affair love” wears off, chances are they are going to regret what they have done. 

Certainly, surviving an affair would be much easier if they could come to this realization on their own before so many people get hurt.

 

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    14 replies to "Surviving an Affair: Affair Love vs. Married Love"

    • D

      Saturday night my wife and I were watching “You’ve Got Mail.” This used to be a cute little love story until we realized it’s really a story about two people in committed relationships engaged in an emotional affair. Needless to say this sparked a discussion.
      What kills me is that I know my wife harbors warm and fuzzy memories of her lover even though the affair is over and she is committed to our marriage. She says she just remove the memories from her head. They are there. She experienced something. She just can’t turn it off and think the guy’s an asshole all of a sudden (and he is an asshole.)
      Despite the fact that her affair was as textbook as they come, she still can’t accept that she is a statistic, that what they shared was real even in light of the affair fog. It was a massive mistake, yes. But the emotions were real. At least, that’s what she wants to believe.
      The problem with really seeing the affair emotions for what they are is that my wife would have to hold that mirror extremely close to her face and see the ugliness reflected. If she were strong enough to do that she would never have had an affair in the first place. It also makes sense that she can’t see the guy as an asshole as that would mean she would have to be one herself. The ego is too massive, the self-esteem too small for one in an affair to understand themselves or their actions.
      I would like to add that I’ve managed to retain that “in love” feeling throughout my marriage. I reject this notion that marriages grow stale over time, that mature love has to be unexciting or routine. Life is what you make it, so is love, so is passion. My wife believes she’s lost that spark in our marriage and is working hard to find it again. I feel badly for her, for anyone, that loses that spark. Why in the world would someone want to lose that spark? It’s like losing hope in life, letting “them” get you down. I refuse to let “them” win. I still love and have passion for my wife, even now after all she has done to me, because my marriage would be boring if I didn’t make that choice every day.

      • Doug

        D, Thanks for the comments and you raise some very good points. Certainly one of the mistakes that we made in the past was not realizing and acting on the staleness that had taken over our marriage. It’s a mistake that willnever be made again I can assure you. Thanks again, and good luck.

      • Karen

        D – wow, you made me really think in your post – thanks.
        I also think my husband is weak and has low self-esteem, which also contributed to his “stupid decision” to have an EA. And I also agree that my husband still has a good feeling for the OW just as you state your wife does because it’s easier than dealing with the ugliness of what they did. That is something I don’t have control over, so I just have to proceed with my process of grieving and forgiving them both (not there yet)!! I love your attitude about it’s our choice what we make our our marriage, and you’re choosing to stay in-love with your wife, even with her imperfections.

        The toughest thing for me so far is looking at myself and how I have made choices that have not helped perpetuate the in-love feeling of our marriage that you describe – this blog and other articles and books are hopefully helping me to tweak myself (one who has high self-esteem and is very strong-willed) so that I avoid any contribution on my part to a future EA or reconnecting with the same OW, who I am sure will try to reestablish contact (a 2-year EA is very hard to let go of, especially for women I think). Thankfully, my husband is so far receptive to the process I’m going through, which includes letting him have it on what we’ve agreed to be a once-a-week basis. Take good care of yourself – your wife is a very fortunate woman.

      • Tracey

        I am trying to get over an emotional affair…over the past month I have battled the flow of many emotions. I have read different articles, blogs, etc to try to get my head back on straight. This “life experience” – my “life exeprience” I guess is more appropriate of a statement – has no explanation. I always despised those that carried on an affair, I could never understand how it could happen and here I am trying to get over – something descibed by all that I have read – is nothing more than an addiction or an infatuation. I have been with my husband for 15 years -married for 12.5 of them. He is the most amazing person, a loving husband and true champion of mine… and yet I hurt him for something that was selfish and shallow. I do not want to allow for my emotions for the other man to cloud what is real love, but I continue to battle the feelings. I try to reason with myself that what I see of the other man’s life, outside of what we have shared, is something that I really do not feel I would care for IF I was to be in a “real” relationship with him. My affair was intense and existed under extarordinary circumstances…we spent a tremendous amount of time toghether and shared a lot of emotions. The difficult part is that I still have contact with him due to work obligations. I feel desperate and weak when I do not hear from him…the moment I do have contact with him I feel elated. Why can’t I see the reality of what I have and what the affair is. I have always been independant and strong, I always HAD strong morals and deep conviction for what was right and worng. I DO NOT want to destroy the life of the man who has been and remains devoted to me….a man that I know is the one for me.

        • suziesuffers

          Tracey, what is it that the other man is giving you is feeling a void in your life? This is not so much about what your husband is doing as it is about what you are missing within yourself, and either don’t know how to heal that on your own…or don’t know how to ask your husband to help support your healing of that inner wound. I’ve read some interesting stuff on a web site Inner Bonding that gives some insight into the wounds we need healed. The more you shift the power to your affair partner to fulfill this need….the more you need him to make you “feel” ok. This just keeps diminishing the input you get from your husband or ask from your husband to fill that void and FEEL loved. Have you thought about a therapist helping you “move” away emotionally from your AP?

          • Tracey

            Thank you for your response…I will look into Inner Bonding. In the years past, I have struggled with self-esteem…maybe that is where the root of the problem is. I don’t know. I do not believe that I have the right to be sad or be depressed – after all I am the one that caused this. I cant seem to be as affectionate to my husband as I want or know I should be… and that, obviously, is not going to help him or our relationship. My husband has been truly amazing – he has been with me they way that I should be with him – he has been the one who has been hurt and I am not putting forth the effort that I should. Right now, I am able to hide under the guise of finishing up school and projects at work. I feel that I have had to shove my emotions and feelings under the rug until I complete these few things because I know that if I don’t I will be a mess and incapable of doing anything. I dont know what it is that the other man is giving me that I have not received from my husband. Before all this happened , I had a marriage that many people envied…we seldom argued, we could sit in each others company for hours, we enjoy the same things and yet I did something very foolish. I can admit that I had an attraction for the other man for a long time, but I had not ever thought of acting upon it. During the time that the other man and I were together it seemed as though everything fit.. we had a lot in common, he understood me and things just seemed to come together. But none of these things are things that I have not had with my husband. I wish I could banish the thoughts/emotions that I have for him – I wish that I could get it through my head that the other man is not the one for me. I feel so weak and pathetic, selfish and at times desperate. I do not want to ruin my husband life…our life together for something that will be in the end shallow and without substance.

      • Holdingon

        It’s the same with me, I’ve been married 26 years now and she still makes my heart skip when I look at her, I still believe her to be the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, and her touch is still electric, I hate knowing she loves her first love, it’s only been me and him, I’ve been with her since she was 16, I married her 90 days after we met, she just turned 17 and I knew the second I saw her that I wanted her for the rest of my life, I thought she felt the same, we never had a problem until we had been together 23 years, and then he got out of prison and contacted her, that’s right, prison. He has been in and out, mostly in his whole life, he has no job and moves from woman to woman to have a place to live, he’s just a parasite, now he has my wife to take care of him, I’m sure he enjoys her pay of almost 3000 a week that I made possible for her to earn, I taught her my trade, we are both industrial electricians, I know it won’t last because he’s just nowhere near her equal, she’s highly intelligent and used to someone who is her equal, she will never stay with someone with an 8th grade education. I miss her.

    • ruth

      I always wonder if my huband knows that his love for the ow was lust not love. How can it be love when it has to be a secret? If you love someone that much dont you want to shout it out to the world?? Someone once told me that if you want something bad enough you will do anything to get it. I hold on to that, because if my husband wanted her that bad and was in love with her that much he would have left,I gave him every oppertunity. I moved out and moved into an apartment on my own to show him I would be alright. What bothers me,is that all his memories of her are of good times, fun times and perfect times. When we did talk he never had one bad thing to say about her. All though threw my snooping I found out alot of bad things. I know if he looks in the mirror he too will see the ugly side of what he did. We are working on a better life. What is sad to me is how many years will it take to really put this behind us. I know I will never forget and I know that as long as I live there will be triggers to remind me. As positive as I am trying to be, this changed everything inside of me. I feel the love between us is stronger now than ever before but the hurt still is there.

      • Karen

        Ruth:
        From what I read, the hurt is a necessary part of the healing process, and it can take a while to conquer.
        My hurt manifests itself in many ways, none of which I’m proud of, but I am watching a DVD called Anger to Intimacy that is comforting me to know that post-EA
        hurt and anger can last a while, so I’m not dwelling on the time period (although I wish it were gone yesterday)
        it’s taking – just that I keep taking positive steps to
        take care of myself. We deserve that, Ruth – both of us, and all betrayed spouses.

      • D

        Regarding the hurt, I like to tell myself two things.
        1) today is better than yesterday so stick around for what tomorrow may bring.
        2)If someone told me I could have a wonderfully satisfying relationship for the rest of my life but that I had to endure a year or even two of emotional pain in order to have that, would I do it? This second one asks for a lot of faith, but with the hell of divorce as an option I’m more than willing to give it a shot. Besides, that which does not kill me …

    • ruth

      Thank you Karen, you have a wonderful positive attitude your husband is a lucky man! I will tell you that my husbands affair lasted 2 yrs too. His was emotional and physical. He too has low self esteem. But one thing I have learned I really am tired of all the excused of why it happpened. Other people have low self esteem and dont cheat on there spouse. Lets face it he tore my self esteem to shreads and I am still trying to recover from it. Everyday I tell myself I am a good wife, mother, friend, sister and I deserve to be loved back. I tell him everyday now how much I love him to help build up his self esteem so he doesnt do this again. I still worry about his self esteem instead of my own. We betrayed spouses really do deserve to be happy!

    • Empty and Numb

      I find Linda’s post to be so beautiful.  Girl! You deserved so much better in life … all around.  I’m proud you both have worked so hard.  

      It is truly the unevolved person that has an affair.  There just was never any depth to them … to begin with.

      Long term cheaters just never understood what their purpose was nor how to lead a purpose driven life.

      I am glad Doug is on his way … if for nothing else, Linda … Wow (as all women like us do) deserved and deserve truly the best real man possible.  You are a 110% giver. 

      I think that is one of the things that I still Hurt about … I gave everything and he gave as little as possible … I enabled and was scripted.  

      It was not seeing my self worth that still hurts the most and the time I wasted. 

    • mightbeatranny

      who are YOU to judge the love someone else feels? you’re kidding yourself if you think you know what he felt. you’re foolishly keeping a liar around. a liar in your bed, w/ access to your heart and your $.

    • jenn

      Ruth I hear you on the wondering on how long it will take to be behind us… I wish that I could just forget what my husband did. I hear songs on the radio and it triggers thoughts, movies and especially her name haunts me…
      Truthfully I feel abnormal, like no one understands. Finding this website helped me right now.
      He tells me he hates her, she has done all kinds of bad stuff to me and our kids in her revenge because he dumped her up for his marriage. Says he regrets what he did and is sorry for hurting me.
      I know I will never forget as much as I wish I could. I would give anything to make it gone. I just hate not trusting him anymore….

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