My unfaithful spouse says he never had a deep emotional connection with me. Is there hope for our marriage? When the emotional affair has been so strong?
I found your site and I’m really glad I did. This is my husband’s second highly emotional affair. We have been married almost 15 years and the first emotional affair happened seven years ago and this last emotional affair happened a month ago. Needless to say I am devastated once again. The problem I’m having is my husband says that he has never felt a chemistry between the two of us; not the sexual chemistry. We have never had any problems in that area. The kind of chemistry he is talking about is a deep emotional connection. I feel like I can move through the affair, but how do I do that when he says that he never has had that kind of connection with me. He says he loves me and is committed to working this out, but I don’t know how to respond to this bigger problem of if he has never felt that for me, will he in two, five, ten years go looking for that connection again? Is there any hope for us? I'm very sad.
We hear it all the time: "I love you, but I'm not in love with you." It's like a broken record in our world. It's part of the pattern of affairs. It's what unfaithful spouses feel when they get caught up in the chemical high and infatuation of an affair. But the affair is a fantasy and an escape from reality. People in an affair are not doing real life together; children, finances, in-laws, chores, sick days, problems and responsibilities. In an affair, people put their best self forward. Feelings of being "in love" follow loving behaviours and words towards a person, especially when these loving behaviours and words are being reciprocated. Husbands and wives can decide to fall in love with each other. When you follow that decision with willingness to learn and do what successful couples do, a deep emotional connection will follow.
So in fact the statement "I love you, but I'm not in love you," can be summed up as follows:
"I love you, but because I've stopped putting energy into our relationship, I don't feel in love with you."
"I love you, but because I'm putting more energy and effort into someone else, I don't feel in love with you."
Yes, there's tons of hope for you and your husband. One of the biggest mistakes we make in our culture today is believing that having that deep emotional connection in marriage is about mystically being one of the lucky ones who found our "soul mate." (Gag! I've grown to hate that phrase, because it is the most often used term given as a reason to abandon ones family and wedding vows, and a year later they usually discover the affair partner wasn't their "soulmate" after all.) The common denominator in both unhappy marriages is the person that left their first marriage.
Having that deep down passion in marriage, that deep soul, passionately in-love connection, where you connect in all three realms, physical, emotional and spiritual is about:
1. Your decision
2. Your commitment
3. The work you BOTH are willing to put in
4. Learning the skills (interestingly enough, most people don't think twice about getting educated for their vocation, but assume the skills for the one thing that will bring them more happiness than anything else in life (marriage) they should just know.)
5. Learning to be totally open and honest, and how to encourage this openness and honesty in our spouse instead of what most couples do without realizing it - train each other to lie to each other and be closed, by punishing them for being truthful (which we do by getting depressed and telling them how bad they are for having that feeling or thought).
When we make a decision to love each other (love is an action), our feelings follow. If your husband had put the same energy into your marriage as he put into his affairs, he would’ve had the same deep connection feeling for you instead, that’s the part he doesn’t see or understand yet, but he will in time.
It's also possible that your husband was in some way deeply hurt in his marriage to you and has been unable to move beyond this. This would then keep him from bonding emotionally with you. But whatever pain and hurt has occurred in the past can be healed, when both are willing and you get the right help. Usually isolation and a belief that "no one can know" combined with a belief that therapy and counselling are merely "psycho babble" keep people from reaching out for the help that can actually bring them to the healing, happiness and fulfillment they long for deep down.
Frankly, I don’t believe much of what people say when they’re just coming out of an affair. My husband said so many messed up mean things during that time, and this is consistent with most couples we help through healing their marriages after affairs. When a person gets caught up in an affair there is an actual chemical release in the brain that impairs their judgment as if they’re intoxicated. See my article: Are the Unfaithful Impaired
Yes, if your husband is committed and puts in the work and is willing to learn the skills to make marriage work, he will feel a very deep emotional connection to you in the future, and he will, too, be overjoyed, because he will have the love and satisfaction he has always longed for, without losing his reputation, self-respect, or the relationships with children and other people who are important in your lives.
PS - We care about you and your situation. If you (or someone you know) is currently navigating the painful and often crazy aftermath of an affair, we are here to help. You can call us at the number in our footer below. Or you can email us your question directly at firstname.lastname@example.org .