Q: I found out a few months ago that my husband of 13 years is having an affair with a 21 year old. He told me he was not in love with me and wanted a divorce but lied and lied saying nothing else was going on. He blamed me for the end of our marriage and made me feel like crap for 3 months….This was totally out of the blue for me and I did everything I could to make him love me again or to find out what was really wrong. I found out on my own by breaking into his email account and what I found devastated me…I found letters and poems and pictures…very detailed and very hurtful…their affair was for about 5 months. He planned on leaving me and the children for her. He is military and left on a deployment for 6 months, basically telling me he needed time to think and I said I would wait for him…that was BEFORE I knew about the affair, I found out AFTER he left for the 6 months. I have been a mess! I am depressed and crying all the time, my kids are hurt and confused as well. He is due back home in a month…What in the world do I do? Do I let him back into our home? He says it is over with her and he wants me but how can I believe that? How could I EVER trust him or love him in the same way again?
A: The emotional roller coaster that your husband went through is called limerence. For detailed information, see chapter four in Your LovePath. The short version is this: When a person becomes that enamored with another (obsessive thinking, unable to see the other’s faults, great longing to be with that person, etc.) the brain produces more dopamine and less serotonin. That means that they have feelings of ecstasy while at the same time losing inhibition. In short, they go a little crazy for a while. A person in that state typically lies, covers actions, and does all sorts of rationalizing and justifying in his/her mind. That’s why your husband could convince himself that it would be okay to leave you and your children.
IF he is over the limerence, you have a decent chance to make a good marriage if you let him come back home. If he is still in limerence, then he will continue the deceptive behavior until someone helps him overcome that. Either way — forgive the commercial — I feel strongly that we can help. Working with couples when one is in limerence with someone else is one of our specialities. While I cannot guarantee success, odds are good; we are able to help save three of four marriages. You can find out more about that workshop here.
If you choose to take a chance and allow him back home, do something (even if it is not my workshop) to repair the marriage. Do not think that you can go on as if nothing happened or you may one day find yourself in a similar situation.