My question is my husband of 22 years is obsessed with a woman he met while he was out of town. She lives on the other side of the country. It came as a total shock. No warning. He says at this time he doesn’t want to repair our marriage or the damage he’s done to me but he’s not sure he wants a divorce, either.
The only time he went to therapy with me was to tell the therapist that the solution is for us to have a polyamory type relationship so he can have both of us. I was in shock. We have always been 100 percent dedicated to monogamy. I’m sure the idea came from this woman who’s been married four times and broke up at least three marriages. But he says he’s in love with her.
When anyone says midlife crisis, he walks away. He did go to individual counseling once, but left when the therapist told him he’s being delusional and living in a fantasy land. Now he’s left the house to think and not be bothered by all my crying and pain because I found a secret phone after he said he broke it off with her, but he says the pull to her is too strong to end it cold turkey. He’s angry with me for not accepting his “solution.” Now, he says the last 22-plus years were a waste of time for him. Do you have any help for me?
Your husband doesn’t love this woman. That’s the wrong word. Your husband is infatuated with this woman. There is a huge difference. Love is about commitment, sacrifice, loyalty, unselfishness and compassion. Infatuation is a completely different emotion.
Dr. Shirley Glass researched affairs for over thirty years and found that unfaithful partners believe they’re in love when in reality they’re experiencing the high that comes from obsession. The following are conclusions she made about the feelings of “love” in an affair:
- People compare and confuse the intensity of being “in love” during an affair with the secure, comfortable feeling of reality based “loving” that occurs in long term relationships.
- The feeling of being “in love” is linked to Stage One idealization, passion and infatuation.
- True love, which you grow into, is characterized by acceptance, understanding and compassion. That is why so few people end up marrying their affair partners, and those who do have an extremely high probability of divorce.
- Once the affair is no longer the forbidden relationship that takes place in a golden bubble, the cold light of day soon bursts the romantic fantasies.
Your husband is in an affair. He’s not capable of offering you or this other woman love. You have to decide if you want to wait to what comes of the break he’s taking to think about your relationship. If he’s taking time to think about the relationship with you while he’s still engaging in a relationship with you, then he’s made his decision. You have to now decide what you’ll do.
You committed to be monogamous and faithful to each other when you married. Your husband wants to break that agreement and change the rules. If he had an issue with that agreement, he should have talked with you about his concerns before he broke the promise. My belief is that he’s now changing the rules because he doesn’t want to give up the high he’s experiencing from this affair.
You have a difficult road ahead of you. None of this is fair to you, but you have to make a decision of what you’ll do. You’re in shock and are having difficulty making sense of this awful reality he’s dumped on you. Get some professional help to guide through the decision making process so you can make the best decision for you and your family. Your husband has already made his decision.
Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.
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