Nobody is. Allow me to explain what you have before I predict where you will wind up. You cherish those feelings so dearly that you want to do whatever it takes to maintain them. We know from science and from our own experience with thousands of people that limerence lasts somewhere between three months to three years and then it begins to fade away.
This is real.
- When She Dreams;
- 53 Letters for My Lover.
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Very real. Your brain makes the chemicals driving these amazing emotions. Admit it; you spend a lot of time thinking about Sheila. Honestly, 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.
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Spend much time with any of them lately, John? Your job requires you to think, be creative, and plan. I know all about that. That is an identifiable and measurable kind of love. It may be more intense than any other form of love. Dorothy Tennov, PhD, named it limerence in 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. In fact, you cherish and adore letters, words, and events associated with her.
Those things are special to you. 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. For example, to please her have you changed the way you dress, your mannerisms, or maybe even some of your habits? 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 want the emotional union much more deeply that you desire the sexual union with her.
He tried to look smug, but could not pull it off.
Instead, he demonstrated a mixture of anger, frustration, and anxiety. Besides, when a person is in love, he feels those things. You described true love, nothing more, and I already told you that I truly love Sheila. When two single people fall into limerence, nobody worries about them. No one expects them to be in that euphoric romantic stage for the rest of their lives. If we did, we would worry, because we know that life cannot be lived that way for long.
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It is too exclusive, too selfish, and too unproductive for them as individuals, a couple, and for society as a whole. We expect them to develop a more mature and broader level of love that is not as intense but is much more fulfilling; a love based on giving as well as taking, a love that is much more secure and less driven by moods, a love that is stable rather than reactive. We know from our work with thousands of marriages in crisis that you have a great likelihood of resenting Sheila.
The object of your love probably will become the object of your resentment. When limerence fades and you comprehend the costs of all you sacrificed for her, it is extremely likely that your mind will exacerbate her flaws. We see it every day. Nearly every person we work with who leaves his or her spouse for someone they love with limerence, and then marries that person, winds up divorced eventually. Most kids resent the person their Dad left their Mom for, or that Mom left Dad for.
They may treat her kindly, callously, or indifferently, based on how angry they are with you and whether or not they want to keep emotional connection with you. Your kids will rupture that fantasy. I bring that up because you mentioned your pastor and your past church involvement. The Bible you once believed says that God hates divorce Malachi , and that adulterers will not inherit the kingdom of God 1 Corinthians If you are honest with yourself, you know that you quit believing those because they contradict what you want to have with Sheila. However, as you abandon those beliefs for her, what changes inside of you?
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You see, part of your identity is your belief and value system. When you change that, you change you. When a person becomes a Christian, she becomes a different person because she changed her beliefs and values. It works in reverse as well, John. As you change your beliefs and values, you become a different person.
If you do, you may not care. Believe me; you will see it in years to come if you pursue this course. Think you want to be that person, John? We call it rewriting history.
That means that your mind actually focuses on any bad thing that happened with Melinda and makes it worse. Because of the intense emotions for Sheila, your own conscience had to justify your leaving Melinda.
I also know where this love leads. But you are married. Divorcing your wife to be with Sheila creates negative consequences for you, Sheila, Melinda, your children, parents, friends, and the kingdom of God.
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It may even seem good for a while. Nevertheless, the limerence will fade. When it does, you will come face-to-face with the consequences for you and all those others I mentioned. If you let us help you now, there will be far fewer awful consequences. Do the right thing, John, and good things happen.
They will not be as exhilarating as limerence, but they are much deeper and more fulfilling. His eyes indicated our conversation was over; he barricaded his mind and heart from me. I had anticipated that and had come on as strongly as I did because I feared I would have no second chance. Therefore, I had tried to plant as many seeds as possible.
Though hardly anyone believed it could happen, John decided to end his relationship with Sheila and try to restore his marriage. After a lot of soul-searching, I realized I wanted to be me again. I wanted to be with her — there are days when I miss her intensely — but deep inside I wanted peace with myself, with my God, and with my children.
I love her…guess in a way I always did. Not only did she forgive me, she stood up for me to her family, our friends, and our church when she took me back.
John and Melinda worked on healing their marriage. They allowed me to help them understand how he had fallen into limerence, how to heal their marriage, and how to learn to love each again. Actually, they learned how to love each other more than they ever had before.