Save Your Marriage Central: Falling In Love With An Affair Partner

Love Doesn't Excuse Infidelity

Falling In Love With An Affair Partner is one of the classic articles from Save Your Marriage Central’s founder Penny Tupy that Marriage Advocates is very proud to feature.

Originally published as Love As An Excuse For Infidelity, this article addresses the commonly given excuse for infidelity – love – and why love doesn’t excuse infidelity or doom a marriage to failure.

“But, I Love My Affair Partner!”

So often in my infidelity work with spouses whose mates are in the midst of an affair, I hear the anguished fear that because s/he claims to be “in love” with the affair partner, the existence of that love must mean that the marriage is over and the cheating lovers are meant to be together. Soulmates – because they now feel the intense passion of a fantasy relationship.

Falling “In Love” With An Affair Partner

But of course they are “in love.” That’s what an affair is. It’s what the addiction is. It’s an emotional response (without rationality, commitment or long-term thinking) that motivates us to make decisions and take actions that are not in our best interests, hurt other people, and destroy what we have worked hard to build in our lives – things like homes and families.

The idea that love should be the deciding factor is any of this is completely erroneous, as is the idea that love is some magical chemistry between two people. It’s neither of those things. Romantic love really is nothing more than a mathematical equation. Spend enough time with someone meeting intimate needs of conversation, affection, admiration, and play time – and you will fall in love with that person. (Assuming, of course, that they are not doing things you find offensive or objectionable at the same time.)

Yes, Love Is Blind

Interestingly, new infatuation/love blinds us to the offensive or objectionable things – at first. I think the pleasure of having needs met by someone new captures our attention to the point that we block out the less desirable traits. But like any addiction, what worked at first to create a high soon becomes not enough – we want more. When that happens in romantic relationships, the irritating things seem to grow in proportion to the decreasing pleasure from getting needs met. Unless real change takes place at this time – unless the real work of building a relationship kicks in – romantic love will wane.

A Successful Relationship Requires More Than Romantic Love

This is when the instinct to demand more, be rude, or even lose our tempers takes over. This is when the internal shift from, “You are so wonderful, what can I do for you,” to “You aren’t doing enough for me and I’m not willing to do anything for you – you jerk,” occurs. This is where real marriage happens, when we move from doing what we feel like to making the commitment to doing what it takes to craft a truly connected and compatible relationship. This is where real love is grown.

This is where those who have never honored commitment when the going got tough begin to bail. So, yes, I am sure that affair partners are in love. Does that mean it’s the right place for them, or that they have met “the one?” Of course not. It means that they are in the habit of going for the feeling rather than committing to doing the work of making a truly successful relationship. Unless something greatly changes for these men and women, they will do the same again, and again. They will not find lasting happiness until they understand that marriage is more than feeling.

Being in love is important, but staying there is what separates the men from the boys.

How To Combat Infidelity

Be an advocate for marriage. When you hear of infidelity, take a stand. Refuse to condone affairs and “friendships” that threaten the integrity of the marriage bond. Educate your friends and families on the seriousness of becoming involved outside the marriage. Love is not an excuse for betrayal and abandonment. Love based on that foundation is like a house built on sand.

© Penny R. Tupy 2003

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6 Responses to Save Your Marriage Central: Falling In Love With An Affair Partner

  1. Marie says:

    Hello,
    My husband has been with his affair partner almost 2 years now so I assume it’s more than just a fog now. He left me 7 months ago (found out about her a month after he left) and I don’t see any hope of reconciliation even though he cake eats like crazy. Can anyone give me examples of anyone being in the fog this long? I hear anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, but my hope is really dwindling.

    • I’m sorry for your situation, Marie. You ask how long someone can stay “in the fog.” It’s typically two years, but some people never come out of it–they take a wrong turn and just keep going. Think about this: Your WH is nearing that two-year mark, and he’s still in the catbird seat, running your life, calling all the shots…he’s got OW, and access to your home and contact with you, time with his dogs (an excuse to see YOU) whenever he wants. While you’re going crazy. Anti-depressents aren’t always enough. Ask your doc if some anti-anxiety medication would be more useful. It often is.

      You know, when something clearly isn’t working, it’s time to do something else. What you’ve been doing is not only not bringing him back, it’s debilitating you! YOU are paying the price, day after day after day. The cake eating is stablizing the affair, and only you can make it stop. When you have NO contact with him, not only will the cake eating come to an end, but you’ll stop ripping the scab off the wound every time you interact with him. It’s killing you, Marie, and you’re worth so much more than that. He has no incentive to change anything, so only you can break this limbo-like existence you’re living. See a lawyer, and then take his/her advice. It may take filing for divorce for him to get the jolt he needs to rethink this. Till then, he doesn’t have to think at all.

      But even if that doesn’t happen, filing for divorce puts your power back in YOUR hands.Try that bold step. What have you got to lose that you haven’t lost already?

  2. Denise says:

    After trying and trying it looks like my husband will not forget the affair partner. I’ve started to accept he truly fell in love with her and no longer loves me. As heartbroken as I am about that and as badly as I wanted to get back what we had, that part of our life is dead and its time to let go and move on. I will always love this man even after all the pain of his affair but like I heard it said one. If it comes down to you or me I will have to protect myself.

    I honestly thought I was this mans true love, soul mate, whatever, I now wonder if she is. Part of the pain in this is 25 years of marriage and a lifetime for no happy ending. I feel cheated in love.

    • Hello, princefan. It sounds like your WH is till with the OW, or at least, not making the right moves to make you willing to let him come home.

      What’s happened since your last post in April 2013? Come back to your tread o we can rally round and walk with you through this part. Maybe we can be of help. ((((Princefan))))

  3. Joe says:

    My wife recently moved out of the “forever house” we built together in 2006 after 14 years of being together and 10 years of marriage. For the past couple years, we had drifted apart emotionally,and she became pretty detached. I accept most of the responsibility in this as I was emotionally unavailable, uncommunicative, angry, and many times disrespectful when I talked to her. She finally couldn’t take it anymore and on March 3rd, I found out she has been having an affair with a coworker since late December 2013. They have been physical and she exhibits all the classic signs that I read everywhere, obsessive, head over heels love for this man. He is also married, in what he told her is a “roommate relationship of convenience”. He has reciprocated her love, but I have no insight into his feelings for her. She thinks he is her soulmate. She sends him love song lyrics that mirror her feelings to their relationship. She spends as much time as she can with him. She professes that she has been waiting her whole life to meet someone that treats her like he does, but as far as I know, he has made no commitments to her. He has not told his wife, he has not said he will leave his wife, he has given my wife nothing in that regard. At least that’s what she tells me. What he does give her is hours of wonderful conversation on the phone, constant texting on the phones, time spent with him is the happiest she has been in a long time. This is apparently enough for her at this point.

    When I found out about the affair I was devastated. I still am emotionally devastated after a month. Sometimes the pain and despair is so overwhelming I just sit down wherever I am and cry. We have had many talks during the intervening month and I have come to realize that I spent our entire relationship treating her like crap. I have so much guilt, shame, and regret about how I hurt that which I hold most dear, that sometimes I find it hard to go on. We have two children, so I try to remain strong for them, but it’s hard. I have started the therapy she always wanted me to get. I have started medications to treat the behaviors that drove her from me. I have completely reversed the way in which I interact with her and the kids. But I fear this won’t be enough.

    I need to fix myself for me, so that I can be a better, happier person, and in turn, those around me will benefit. I wish it would be enough to draw her back in, but I just don’t think she has anything left for me. All she can think about is him and their next date. I have resolved myself to spending however long it takes to make amends to her for how I have treated her. I expect nothing in return. I only hope that I can give her some small measure of the happiness she always wanted from me.

    In the space of reading a few text messages on her phone, my life has been unalterably changed. I was in a clinically depressed fog and never realized I was rushing headlong into losing the most important person in my life. I’m so lost right now, I have no idea what to do, or what to say to her. I would like to eventually reconcile, if I can forgive the affair, and she can find some measure of the love we used to share. The family unit is so important to me, and without her in it, it seems so meaningless. Doing things by myself or with the kids that I used to do with her, fills me with emptiness. Moms and Dads aren’t supposed to have their own homes. They are supposed to live together, and raise their children together. How does one recover from this if they still love the one that left? How do I recover when I see no hope in ever reestablishing that which we once had? Give it time? Find someone new? I don’t want someone new. They won’t be our children’s mother. I guess I don’t even know what I was hoping to accomplish by writing this.

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