This question came via email:

I have been married to a man for 20 years (2 children later) that I do not and have never loved like I feel I should. I married in a rush and BECAUSE I felt like that's what God wanted for me at the time.  I almost left him at the altar. I have been loving and caring, and submissive. I have prayed for all these years for God to give me the love I need.  Well, recently I have fallen "madly in love" with a person that I have a work relationship with. There is no sex involved.  I have been faithful. I have never had these feelings for anybody in my LIFE.  My question is what do I do with this?  It absolutely breaks my heart that I have never had this kind of love feeling in my life ever and now I do. I felt like in my prayer time in May, God told me to hold on, be faithful, and trust him and my passion and desire would come.  Well, it did, for a different person. And I am still doing what God said. This other person has asked me would I consider marrying him if the circumstances were different. Any advice?

I wish I could label this an atypical question, but unfortunately, I get this more than any other. Many people – including Christian men and women - find themselves madly in love with someone other than their spouses. Therefore, rather than answering it for one person, I hope to answer it for thousands. While I address it specifically to the woman who sent the email, the application is to all who find themselves in this situation.

My Reply

The best word to describe your feelings for the “other man” is limerence. Limerence is a feeling of being madly in love with someone. Among its many characteristics are obsessive thinking about that person, changing things about yourself to please that person, and perceiving anyone who stands between you and that person as an enemy.  It is a euphoric sensation that has no comparison. Those in limerence generally feel that no one else possibly can understand what it feels like because there is nothing else close to it in our emotional experiences. “I've never felt this way before,” or “You cannot possibly comprehend,” are oft-used phrases by those in limerence. The person making those statements believes them absolutely to be true.

However, that usually is incorrect.

It feels that way because such feelings of closeness and desire almost always rewrite history. That means that the person in limerence usually cannot remember feeling anything similar to this before, yet there may be objective evidence that s/he actually has.

Allow me to explain.

One man I know said almost verbatim the statements you made in your question. “I do not and have never loved [my wife] like I feel I should. I married in a rush and BECAUSE I felt like that's what God wanted for me at the time. I almost left [her] at the altar.” He, too, had prayed for years “God…give me the love I need.” He made those statements to a marriage counselor he and his wife were seeing. He had not gone to save the marriage but to salve his conscience.

At the beginning of the next session, the counselor asked the wife to produce the love letters her husband had written to her when they were courting years before. The things he wrote in those letters disproved what he now believed about how he felt then. They showed that he did love her. As he read his own words, written in his own hand, he denied them. No, he had never felt that way toward his wife. He claimed that the feelings he had for the new woman in his life had never before occurred for him. Yet, the proof was right there in his own handwriting.