Two Years; Or, A Story of Limerence

If you have read this blog in the past, you will know that I started it about four years ago because my wife was having an extramarital affair. Many have found this blog since then and have been able to find help through the various resources and links that I had posted here.

I very recently found a resource that is so important to anyone with an affairing spouse that I am going to post the link right here.  It’s a podcast that you all must hear. Please click through and listen to it right away. It will not cost you anything, your computer will not be infested with malware, and you will not be sold anything. Please, please, please, click through and listen. It’s that important. I would not post the link three times if I really did not feel it would be helpful. If you want to know more about why I am posting this link, then please read on.

Looking over this blog today, I realize that I have only written three posts in the past two years. Prior to these past two years, I posted quite regularly, as the archives will show—so regularly, in fact, that if you do a Google search for “obstinate spouse,” this blog will still be one of the top hits. There is a reason why I have not posted much these past two years.

Two years ago to this day, on March 25, 2014, my marriage ended. I was more or less obliged to play along with my (now-)ex-wife’s “let’s-destroy-the-marriage” ploy. Let’s just say that she—or more properly, the adulterer, working through her (because as we all recall, he was far to cowardly to confront me directly)—more or less obliged me to sign the papers that finalized the divorce process.

That was the last time I saw her. Two years ago today.

My last post from two months ago was one that originated in a bit of desperation. I had learned some rather unsettling news about my ex-wife and really felt quite upset. One of the things I did shortly thereafter was to have a chat with the marriage coach I had worked with over the course of the marital crisis. I had not spoken to him for nearly a year, and the previous time I had contacted him was just before the one-year mark of my being an unwilling divorcé. His advice for me then was to “take a season” and wait; he felt that she was very much in transition and that things could change.

Well, things did change in her life—she lost her mother—but the affair did not seem to show any signs of ending. It just seemed like all the traumas and turmoils of her life forced her deeper into a stupor of self-justification—a stupor that seems to persist even to this day. So, I was a bit surprised when, at the end of my most recent chat with the coach, he gave me his advice.

“I think your next move is to wait,” he said.

I asked him why, and he said that he felt that I had not been released from the force that compels me to wait. This was a very accurate assessment. I am not particularly in a hurry to start a new committed relationship with anyone at this point in my life. I am also not desperate or depressed. In fact, on the whole, life is pretty good.

“I wish I had statistics to prove to you that the affair always ends,” he said. Well, I’ve seen those statistics, and her affair certainly is a statistical outlier. Most affairs would have died by now. I left that conversation feeling somewhat buoyed but also a bit confused.

A few weeks later, I heard from an acquaintance who had also suffered her spouse’s long-term affair. Her ordeal had lasted somewhere around four and a half years before her spouse’s affair ended and he came home to reconcile. She directed me—albeit somewhat indirectly—to a podcast that I have found very helpful.

The podcast is called “Marriage Radio” and the host is Joe Beam. I had known about Joe Beam for some time and knew that he had a quite successful marriage coaching business. However, his coaching style seemed more geared toward Christians, so I had opted for a coaching system that was more secular but still strongly morally grounded. He started a workshop format around the same time my marriage crisis began and boasts success rates from that workshop of about 75%. That is, 3 out of 4 couples attending are still married 7 years later. These are pretty impressive statistics.

Joe Beam’s story is interesting, in that he knows the psychology of the affairing spouse first hand: he had an affair as a young man and divorced his wife. After three years of divorce, the affair ended and he returned to remarry his ex-wife. He then made it his life’s work to help others in similar situations.

So it was with great interest that I found this one podcast episode that aired a few days before last Christmas. The podcast title is “Why Your Spouse Loves Another (Understanding Limerence),” and is a must-listen for anyone whose spouse is committing adultery. Limerence is a concept I was already familiar with; essentially it is a very strong type of infatuation that easily is mistaken for real love. “Relationship” affairs (i.e. as opposed to short-term, sexual affairs) are typically characterized by limerence and therefore subject to the trajectory that limerence sends the affairing partners on. There has been a good amount of research done on the topic, so Beam’s remarks are really quite trustworthy.

Beam describes the three stages of limerence: its beginning stages, in which the affair partners slip into the affair and experience cognitive dissonance; its middle stage, in which the faithful spouse becomes the sworn enemy, as does anyone who would oppose the affair; and the final stage, during which the limerence breaks down and resentment grows between the affair partners. An interesting phenomenon that typically occurs in limerence is that one partner becomes limerent more quickly than does the other; during the first stage, the slower partner pulls away because of guilt and other feelings, only to be pulled back by the other partner who already is fully limerent. In the last stage, the partner who became limerent the fastest also typically falls out of limerence the fastest. Now the roles reverse: the partner who entered limerence more slowly also exits it more slowly and begins to pull the other partner back into the affair.

This characterization of the final phase, it strikes me, is almost certainly where my ex-wife is right now: she was the one who became limerent the fastest, going from cordial formailities to I-love-yous in just a few days. The adulterer, on the other hand, was far more circumspect and did pull away from her several times. I learned this at the time from others who knew what was going on. It seems like it took him a good 4 or 5 months to finally go headfirst into full-fledged limerence. I already know on good authority that the adulterer is a very insecure, controlling, and manipulative person, so it is therefore highly likely that he is pulling out all the stops to keep her there on his property.

“Limerence exists to bring people together, not to keep them together,” Beam says, and this is one of the key take-aways from the podcast. It always ends, and when it does, so does the affair. Sure, one may ask whether it is possible that affair limerence could be replaced by true love once the limerence ends; the answer seems to be, “yes, it’s possible, but highly unlikely.” This is because the seeds of the affair were planted in soil that was thoroughly poisoned by lies, deception, and mistrust. Precious little can survive long-term in that kind of ground.

And that, my friends, is why my coach advised me to wait.

So please do listen to this podcast if your life has been touched in some way by an extra-marital affair. It will truly change your outlook.

May all affairing spouses eyes be opened to the impropriety of their conduct, and may they all immediately return home to reconcile. May all of you find happiness, peace, and love with your spouses once more.

11 thoughts on “Two Years; Or, A Story of Limerence”

  1. Hi once again Rodion,

    After all this time, would you really want her back, even IF she basically did everything that a truly repentative spouse should do?

    My time frame is even longer and it has been over 4 years since my Wife left me and my now 13 year old Son.

    I held on, making positive remarks and gestures when the opportunities rose, but after about 1 1/2 years, I faced the reality that I used to be In Love with who I thought shecwas, not the real her.

    When, for you, is enough finally enough?

    How and why could you Ever Trust Her again?

    1. Hi Ed,

      That’s a really great question and one that perhaps I am not fully qualified to comment on. I say this because I have had no contact for such a long time that at times I feel I do not even know who she is. Only time and eventual contact with her will tell.

      However, I do think it’s a very important question and would let others speak to their experience. Also on Joe Beam’s podcast page is a recent broadcast in which these very issues—trust, length of affair, questioning whether we want the wayward spouse back—come up. The link is here:–the-joe-beam-show

      By way of disclaimer, I actually know this person through internet forums and have followed her story from the very beginning. On this podcast, you will hear her speak to the issue of wondering whether she wanted her husband back—and this happened, as it apparently often does, after he returned. More importantly, you will also hear her husband speak to the entire situation. His transformation is absolute. Their marriage is not just renewed, but stronger than ever, as is their commitment to one another. I find their story incredibly inspiring.

      However, we each have our own limits insofar as what we can tolerate and how much patience we can afford. At this point, it costs me nothing to wait, so to speak, because I’m not really waiting per se. I’m just not looking for anything else, if that makes sense.

  2. Going through the same thing with my husband of 21 years. Plesse tell me. I have begged inconsistently for reconciliation between October and April. Turning o er a new leaf. Following Jow Beam’s system. As a man, do you think I have caused too much damage with my begging or might I turn things around. My husband claimed to desire contact and friendship, but cannot now because he feels afraid of me and strong feelings of hate. He seems sure that he will never love me again.

    1. Hi Vivian,

      I don’t think you damaged your chances in any way by begging or pleading. What’s really important is what you do from now on—that is what is going to write a new chapter in the history of your relationship with your husband.

      I am not really familiar with the things Joe Beam recommend because I followed another plan (Mort Fertel’s), but what I do know of Beam’s approach is that it is firmly grounded in morality, as is Fertel’s. All of the best and most successful systems (e.g. Lee Baucom et al) are strongly based in morality and urge us to do the right things. In fact, Mort Fertel even said that he would advise people against doing things that might be effective but that were not moral. One other thing that most of these systems have in common is instilling an understanding of the symptoms of marital crisis and what one is likely to see when working toward reconciliation. “Things always get worse before they get better,” Mort would say again and again, and this really is true. If you listen to Joe Beam’s podcasts, you can quickly understand why this is.

      However, another takeaway from those podcasts is that the wayward spouse often seems to totally change, even to the extent of taking on behaviors that the person never had before or even rejected. As a practical example, I used to be a much more political person who was very open and vocal with his political views, and this is something that my ex-wife said she disliked. She even told the OM this yet was attracted to him even though his political views were nearly identical to mine. Now it turns out that xW has become quite political and extremely vocal about her views—in spite of the fact that she is not a citizen and cannot vote in this country. You can imagine just how hypocritical this seems; she is now espousing the very things she supposedly despised in me. She also apparently is starting to follow more or less the same spiritual path as mine, even though she rejected that several years ago and went so far as to state that my beliefs and practices were making me “delusional.” Again, the hypocrisy is very obvious, and this is because the wayward spouse truly lacks integrity: on the most basic level, there is no integration between beliefs and actions.

      What you will find is that it will take some time for your husband to see these changes in you and for him to perceive them as real and abiding changes. Just be patient and expect that things could deteriorate further. If you’re fighting with affair limerence, there really is not going to be any change until the affair ends. This seems to be the pattern again and again.

      I wish I could report more from personal experience, but even now my xW’s limerence *appears* to still be operative. However, I doubt it really is; she may just be covering her real feelings. Joe Beam does say that things typically fall apart by the end of three years and this often does seem to be the case. However, my xW discovered that her mother was seriously (and as it turned out, terminally) ill at right about the three year mark and I think this pretty much disrupted all that. A friend described her as just being in “survival mode” and sensed that she was so fundamentally unhappy that she offered her a place to stay should she ever need it. I think that experience really turned her upside down and she may not yet have really recovered.

  3. Hi Rodin

    I read with much interest your journey thus far. I wonder if you have any updates on your situation that you would be prepared to share. Thank you so much for documenting your personal pain – it’s an incredibly difficult period in anyone’s life and to know that others have been prepared to document it in a well articulated manner – while awful to read – is reaffirming what other people may be going through, how they feel and what they may or may not be able to do.

    1. Hi Sarah,

      Unfortunately, I don’t really have anything new to add. I have seen my ex-wife once in the past year, I think, and she pretty much blew me off. I wrote about that briefly in this post. Also in that post I wrote about how she made a Facebook Live video with an acquaintance that was sort of in the format of each person interviewing the other to get to know each other better. And in that video, she was asked about how she met OM—and she prevaricated. She more or less told the truth about how they met, but left out entirely the fact that she was married at the time and that they had an illicit relationship that lasted for well over two years before he managed to get her divorced from me. The acquaintance was surprised to find out that they had been married about a year at that point, because she apparently knew that xW and OM had been together much longer than that.

      Anyway, it seems that xW still continues to redefine moral reality and paint her life with the adulterer as one that never encountered any moral obstacles or quandaries, which of course is not true. For whatever reason, they have not yet met the conditions that will spell the end of their relationship. The causes are all there: their relationship began as an adulterous one, and statistically, most adulterous relationships end within three years.

      Moreover, seldom do betraying spouses marry their adulterous partners; it seems to be very rare indeed, something like 2-3% of cases. The statistics seem to show that such about 75% of such marriages fail, but then that seems just to be a generalization. Census bureau data on marriage longevity seems often misquoted; people often state that 50% of first marriages end in divorce, while the figures for second and third marriages are about 60% and 75%, respectively. However, the census bureau data reads differently: 47-53% of first marriages do end in divorce, and the failure rate of remarriages (i.e. to the divorced spouse) is 60%. Second marriages, i.e. to another partner, fail at the rate of 73% and third marriages at 87%. Note that these figures are for the first five years of the marriages (remarriage, and second and subsequent marriages). In case anyone wanted to know, 93% of fourth marriages end in the first five years.

      The statistic I have found (although I do not recall the source at this point) for marriages beginning as adulterous relationships stated that such marriages are 15% more likely to fail in the first two years and 25% more likely over five years. Thus, I think the 75% statistic is arrived at: 50% likelihood of marriage failure (for a first marriage), plus a 25% escalating factor owing to the adulterous origin of the marriage. However, it would seem to me that this would apply only to a partner who is getting married for the first time; the other partner would be on at least the second marriage.

      I’m not a statistician, and so my reading and interpretation of such statistics is not nuanced or particularly accurate. However, it would seem to me that xW going into her current marriage to the adulterer brings at best a 27% chance of success—if that marriage were on the up-and-up; that is, if there were no adultery involved at the outset. OM brings at most a 13% chance of success; he has two divorces on the books in this state, although I remember hearing early on that he had a third divorce prior to these other two, which happened when he was much younger. This, of course, would lower his chances farther still, to 7%. Add to this the escalating factor of adultery and whatever chance they have of making it work seems pretty much to be virtually wiped out.

      I could be wrong about all this, and in fact some marriage coaches (e.g. Joe Beam) do report meeting spouses whose marriages began as adulterous relationships and who had been married for a long time, decades in some cases. But they report this as being very rare. Joe Beam reports his interactions with such couples as revealing that the marriages only last because both partners did everything they could to make it work; this is not surprising, because every marriage requires such effort. However, it would seem that adulterous marriages require even more effort because the trust is poisoned from the outset. He also reports that pretty much every such spouse he talks to regrets his or her adulterous choices, and that they say that if they had to do it over again, they wouldn’t.

      I guess I’m rambling here a bit, but I just have not seen any obvious change from xW as far as I’m aware. I have very little interaction with her. She is now mobile and has learned to drive, and it does seem that she is using this to further her career ambitions, modest though they may be. A couple of years ago, a friend of hers, who also learned to drive as an adult, told me that her learning to drive would likely open her eyes in ways that nothing else could. This is because she’d be afforded an independence that she had never had thus far. Indeed, it seems she had relied on OM to get her places and take her to all her jobs, just like she relied on me to do the same. Time will tell if this friend is right.

      I guess I’ll close my reply here by just musing on what I’d ask my xW if I could sit down and talk to her. When we last actually did talk, there was no mention of the adulterer, or even of her show wedding (she was not yet officially married) that had happened a month prior. But, at this point I feel I have nothing to lose. I’d probably just ask her if she’s happier now, and see what she says. After all, when all of this began seven years ago, she said “I deserve to be happier than this” and used that as an apparent excuse for committing adultery. I somehow doubt that she is happier, and I really doubt that, if she had to do it all over again, she would.

  4. Hey Rodin,

    My ex broke up with me 4 months ago from our 9 year relationship and after 2 months, she is already in a relationship and claims she is in love already with that colleague. Ive tried to bring her back because she says she still has feelings for me but its hard since she said she doesnt want to break that persons heart. Im wondering, 2 months of just being together and claiming “already in love”, does that scream LIMERENCE? This is the first relationship of the other girl and ive been told that she is pretty clingy and wanted to be in everyday contact with my ex..

    Need your insights towards this.. thanks.

  5. I’m curious if in these 8 years you have attempted any type of other relationship. Are you still waiting for her to possibly come back to you after all this time? That would be an amazing story. I am totally rooting for you!

    I’m going through something somewhat similar now with my husband. He has chosen to end the limerent relationship. I have mentioned limerence lightly to him before and just recently he has begun to research it on his own. We are about 7 months out from the time he chose to end the relationship. It has definitely been hard but it’s comforting to know others have experienced the same thing and the statistics of limerence relationships. I am inspired by your posts and am at the point that all I can do is wait for it all to pass. It’s made me realize how hard it is to not feel in control of my situation. I can only control how i react. So in the mean time, I have been loving him the best I can while also bettering myself overall.

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