Choosing Between Spouse and Lover: What If It's Love?
- Friday, December 14, 2012
He began to debate, “No. Not a thing. You’re wrong about that.”
“John, think about your children. Do you spend as much time with them as you used to? You still love them, but if you are honest with yourself, you know that you will miss events with them if Sheila wants you with her. Same with your parents and your close friends. Spend much time with any of them lately, John?
“And what about work? You’re not a guy who does some rote work for 8 hours a day and goes home. Your job requires creativity. Isn’t it true that some days when you feel euphoric about Sheila, you find yourself amazingly productive for a few hours, but gradually lose the productivity because you become so focused on thinking about her? And what about the days you get very little done because you find yourself obsessing about whether she’s happy with you? Isn’t it true that if she isn’t having a good day, you worry and find yourself ineffective at everything you do? Yeah, John, I’ve been there. I know all about that.
“Long-term relationships aren’t based on euphoria. They especially cannot ride that emotional rollercoaster you find yourself on because you are so finely attuned to Sheila’s emotions that you react to nearly everything.
“As I mentioned, John, the love you feel is called limerence. It may be more intense than any other form of love. Dorothy Tennov, PhD, named it limerence in 1977 to describe what people feel when they are madly in love with another person. Helen Fisher, PhD, and her associates now do most of the research concerning it. We know from their research that powerful brain chemicals are associated with limerence and, as a result, a person in limerence behaves differently than he did before, and differently than he will after limerence fades. And it will fade, John. It always does. It does not last.
“I’ll run through some characteristics of people in limerence, John. I’ll describe them as if they represent what you feel about Sheila. Stop me whenever I list one that isn’t correct.
“You see no flaws or faults in Sheila. In fact, you cherish and adore letters, words, and events associated with her. Those things are special to you.
“Your life has become crazy both physically and emotionally. For example, you experience some of these – euphoria, energy surges, insomnia, lost appetite, abrupt mood swings, or rapid heartbeat. You may even occasionally feel anxiety and panic.
“When your pastor told you that you were not in love with Sheila and should end things with her, you felt even stronger emotions for her and wanted to go to her immediately.
“You’ve exhibited signs of emotional dependency on your relationship with Sheila, like jealousy, being possessive, fearing rejection from her, and feeling anxiety when separated from her.
“You crave emotional union with her. You feel a sense of understanding for her and connection to the point that you’re willing to sacrifice for Sheila. If it means ending your marriage, losing your job, or even giving up your religion, you’ll do what it takes to please her and to be with her.
“You’ve already reordered some of your priorities for her. For example, to please her have you changed the way you dress, your mannerisms, or maybe even some of your habits.
“Beyond that, you’ve changed some of your beliefs so that you can be with her. Did you once believe that adultery was a violation of the Ten Commandments, but now believe that God sent you the woman with whom you commit adultery? You used to go to church, but now you’re looking for a different kind of church – one that you never would have considered before – a church that will accept you and Sheila though you left your wife for her.
“You love making love to Sheila, but sex isn’t the core of your relationship. You want the emotional union much more deeply that you desire the sexual union with her.
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