It’s tough. Isn’t it? You feel this tremendous emotional connection to one person… Loving him or her like you never thought you were able to love.
You’re married to someone else.
And you really want to make that marriage work, because you’re convinced that’s the right thing to do.
But how can you do that when you’re in love with somebody else?
You find yourself going back and forth, thinking, “I’m a good dad. I’m a good person. I made a vow that I’d be together with this person for the rest of my life. And now I’m in love with somebody else, but I need to stop that and work things out with my spouse.”
Then maybe just 5 minutes later, you think, “I don’t know if I ever can put the marriage back together, because for the rest of my life, I’m going to be mourning what I’ve lost if I end this relationship with the other person.”
I understand how you feel.
As a matter of fact, I’ve been exactly where you are.
Over 30 years ago, I actually did divorce my wife, and left her to be with my lover. Eventually it fell apart, as most of these things do. I know from experience, but also because I’ve worked with thousands and thousands who have as well. It’s the experience of so many people. Plus, I’ve done lots of research.
So the first thing to do to stop your feelings is know that it’s going to end.
This deep, powerful emotion you feel for the other person…It’s going to end.
As a matter of fact, from the very beginning to the end, it will last somewhere between three months and 48 months (although it’s super rare to go beyond 36). If you’ve already been in it 24 months, for example, it’s probably already on it’s way out. So it’s eventually going to end.
But kudos to you that you’re thinking, “I want to follow my beliefs and value system. And my belief and value system says I should try to restore my marriage.” I admire that.
Now, assuming that you’ve made the decision to put your marriage back together… Do believe me when I tell you that the emotions you feel for the other person will fade. Not immediately, but they will fade. So, once you make the decision you’re going to commit to the marriage, stick with it.
Because there’ll be days when you’ll want to do that.
There’ll be days even after you make that commitment… You’ll be thinking to yourself, “Oh my goodness, I miss her so much today. Or I miss him so much today. I just need to talk to him. I just need to be around her.”
Whatever it might be, you’ve got to commit and not waiver.
And you can’t have a backup plan! Or else your feelings won’t ever stop.
If you find yourself thinking, “Well, if I try to put my marriage back together and, and my wife won’t take me back or we can’t work it out, my husband won’t take me back. And we can’t work it out, then I’m going to have my lover in the back of my head. If not in some other fashion as my backup plan. So if this doesn’t work, I’ll go back there.”
Please don’t do that. Because you see, you’re deceiving yourself.
And as long as you have that as your backup plan…
Can you really know in your own heart that you’re trying as much as you need to try? That you’re doing as much as you need to do? Or will a part of you be hoping that you fail at this, and maybe your spouse doesn’t work things out with you… So that you can go back to the lover with a clearer conscience?
That’s playing a game with yourself…a game that has no winning strategy. That’s a game that you will lose, one way or another.
So not only should you not waiver once you’ve made the decision, you have to end the other backup plan, which means that you have to stop all contact with the other person. All contact.
Now, listen to me. I know this is tough. I have been where you are and I have felt these emotions. You’ll make excuses to yourself, “but what if I just talk to her to make my day better? Or if I just call him to see if he’s doing okay?” Everybody loses if you do that; You, your lover, and your spouse.
What do I mean by that? If you contact the other person for any reason, even to see if they’re okay, “Oh, I hear you’re in a hospital. I want to make sure that you’re alive. That the doctors gave you a good prognosis.” Whatever the reason might be… If your spouse finds out about it, it’s going to hurt him or her. And that’s not fair. Because they will be thinking all kinds of worst-case-scenarios if you make any contact for any reason with the other person. So it’s not fair to your spouse.
Here’s why it’s not fair to your lover either…Because any contact you make with him or her, leaves an open door in their brain. They think, “Maybe we can put this back together someday. It’s obvious that she or he still cares about me. It’s obvious that the emotions haven’t all gone away. I heard the compassion in his or her voice. And it was just great to talk to them again.” And you have given them hope. False hope, if you’ve made a decision to save your marriage. You’ve given them hope that you might come back to them at some point, and that’s not fair to them. You’ve made their grief period go longer. You’ve made their pain last longer. You’ve made it more difficult for them to get past you and move on with their life.
If you truly have loved them, and I believe you have…And maybe still do…Then don’t hurt them. You say, “But I’m hurting them if I end it.” Yes, but at least it’s a clean, solid hurt. They can start in the grief process. They’ll have some denial, all that kind of thing, but they can start grieving and they can start working out of it. And then you hurt yourself. Because if you talk to them, it touches those emotions inside your head. You think, “I heard her voice, she still sounds so beautiful. I heard his voice, and I wish I could just be in his arms again.” And even if you don’t think those thoughts right then, you’re keeping the possibility of that going on in your brain. And that’s not fair to you, either.
You make it so much more difficult to solve this thing.
So stop all contact.
No contact for any reason. No matter how you justify it. A friend of mine, years ago, tried to justify it. Here’s how he was able to deal with that:
He said, “Joe, I just need to know if she’s okay.”
I said, “Well call her father. You know him, don’t you?
“Well, yeah, but her father knows I had an affair with her. And if I call her father…”
I said, “I understand my friend, but don’t you see? It’s not fair to your wife, to you, or to her, to call her. And if it’s honestly your motive just to know how she is, call her dad and ask her. Then you can find out if he’s okay or not.”
And then in this process, allow yourself to grieve. Even if you’re the one who made the choice to end the relationship, you’ve lost something that’s important to you. And it takes a little while to get over that. So allow yourself to grieve. Don’t panic when you feel those things. Don’t get into one major pity party, either. If you need to find a friend to help you grieve who can listen to you, please do so. A therapist, counselor, please do so. Just make sure it’s not our friend that you could possibly develop romantic feelings for, because that will work out really badly.
After cutting contact, the next step to putting it back together is renewing a relationship with your spouse.
Start by becoming friends again. Just being nice to each other. And if you’ve already started that, good for you. Keep it up.
And if you’re sorry about what you did and the pain that you caused your spouse by being involved with this other person… there’s something you MUST do if you don’t want to push your spouse away further.
Confess to your spouse that you’re sorry, if you really are. Listen to them when they’re in pain. Just don’t repeatedly apologize over and over and over again. That’s not healthy. You can do it a few times…But if you keep doing it over and over…You’ll subconsciously program it into your spouse’s head that you’re not good. And you don’t wanna do that. Instead, you can say this:
“I’m glad I’ve learned better. So I will never do that again.”
If he or she brings it up another time, you can say, “It was a tough time. I get that. I’m so glad we’re on the other side of it.”
You’re still letting them know that you’re sorry, without drilling the idea you’re bad into their head.
And then, if you feel it’s right to do so…You can ask your spouse if he or she will forgive you. Just don’t demand forgiveness. Your spouse gets to make the decisions about that. Listen. I know it’s going to hurt you to hear that. And I know you can’t do it forever. There actually has to come a time when you end that. But in the meantime, listen. And while you’re listening,
And then, if your spouse is willing…Ask him or her if they’ll explore reconciliation with you. And then, whether they decide if they will or they won’t, be patient.
Don’t push anything, right? No manipulation, no control, no demanding. Let it go easy and slow.
There’s a methodology for exploring reconciliation. It’s not a good idea to just move back in together and act like nothing happened. That usually works out pretty badly.
If you want to reconcile, discover the best method by going through our course, “Exploring Reconciliation.”
You can work through that, and to try to decide whether you’re going to reconcile or not. The title is “Exploring Reconciliation” because that’s what it is. It’s not a decision to reconcile. As a matter of fact, it’s got five steps, and you don’t even make the decision until step four. But it’s a very powerful process for you guys to go through as an online course.
I also recommend that if you go through it, and your spouse isn’t ready to reconcile, then you also book time with one of our coaches. Because our coaches can give you personal help with this, so it doesn’t become burdensome to you, and you can really understand each other.
On the other hand, if your spouse says, “Okay, I’m ready, let’s reconcile.” Then start with our weekend workshop. It’s a three-day intensive. Most of the couples there are in some kind of marital crisis. And if you think, “I’ll be the only one in there that had an affair, either emotional, sexual or otherwise”…That’s not true. There’ll actually be a lot of people in that same situation.
It’s a non-judgemental, powerful weekend to work through a lot of things, to understand how it happened, to understand what’s going on inside of you and your spouse, and to understand how to put it back together. If you choose to do that, and you go through the “Exploring Reconciliation,” then you’ll do it with a different mindset and that will come even more powerful for you.
Here’s the good news: You can get past the emotions you feel for your lover right now.
And if you decide to put your marriage back together, we can help.
We’ve been doing it for a quarter of a century. We have a tremendous amount of success and we want to help you do it.
Let us help you make your life good and your marriage good again.
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