It’s amazing how often it happens. There you are, happily married but in love with someone else. In the United States alone, between 20% and 40% of failed marriages are due to infidelity, and you can only guess how big that number actually gets. And nobody is immune to this phenomenon — after all, the 2015 Ashley Madison data breach is still fresh in the minds of modern people.
But let’s face it, you didn’t come here for the hard numbers. You came here because this is a real problem for you — and I agree. It is one of the most debilitating issues that you can have, being married but in love with someone else at the same time. I can only imagine the sleepless nights, the tears, the anger, the sadness, and other uncontrollable emotions welling up.
If this dilemma has you cornered, you’ve come to the right place. This article will cover the topic of falling for someone other than your spouse. But let me be clear on one thing before I continue — there are no easy answers here. In fact, I do not aim to tell you to act one way or the other.
However, just because there are no easy solutions doesn’t mean you should stop trying. I truly hope that, by the end of this article, you’ll have a clearer idea of what to do next. With that in mind, let’s begin.
You’re Married But In Love With Someone Else. How Did It Happen?
There are quite a few different ‘motivators’ that can cause you to fall for someone other than your husband or wife. Listing them all is impossible, but let’s go over some of the basics.
Neglect is quite a popular reason behind married people falling in love with someone else, or rather, falling out of love with their spouses.
Let’s say that you’re a freshly married woman and that you love your new husband very much. However, you get a demanding job that has dreadful hours, and you fail to see your husband other than just before bedtime. In a very short time, he will feel like he’s being pushed aside, and his needs are not satisfied.
Alternatively, put yourself in the husband’s shoes. Here you are, starved for love and attention, and your spouse doesn’t even remember to kiss you good night because of how tired they are. Anyone would feel abandoned or alone with that kind of behavior from their spouse.
Emotional connection is important, and from time to time, you will have to address the needs your partner has. Otherwise, you’re leaving them high and dry.
As bizarre as it sounds, partners are sometimes just lazy. They often forget to invest emotional and physical energy into making each other feel loved. On the other hand, some men and women become so confident in their relationships that they completely ignore the possibility of someone getting in the way.
By far, the most extreme reason for two people falling out of love is constant arguing. Don’t get me wrong — not all arguing is destructive, and some can even be beneficial or downright expected. However, it does largely depend on how each partner takes confrontation. Sometimes, even a regular fight might lead to coldness and distancing, which can, in turn, fling you straight into the arms of another person.
There are times when falling out of love between spouses happens through no fault of their own, and it happens across all cultures. For instance, because of the busy 21st-century lifestyle, you have couples who literally have to live apart because of work. Some cases are as extreme as the soldier husband being deployed on a mission for years, or a government agent staying undercover for a long time. Other cases are more mundane, such as working in a different city because of a company mandate.
More often than not, medical emergencies can really damage a marriage. If the spouse becomes bedridden, hospitalized, or ends up in a coma, there’s a good chance that the other spouse, as loyal as they are, may develop feelings for someone else.
Of course, for the purpose of this article, I will not cover external circumstances since they are incredibly complicated. Instead, let’s focus on the options that you have as someone who’s married but in love with someone else.
What Can I Do, or Rather What Should I Do?
So, you’ve realized that you’re in love with someone who isn’t your husband or wife. That’s the easy part. Everything else that follows might be simple, but it’s definitely not easy.
What do I mean by that? Well, more often than not, a spouse will know exactly what they need to do in this situation. However, they first have to admit that to themselves, and then actually go through with it.
That’s what makes it simple. So what makes it difficult?
Well, a spouse has to consider several important factors first:
• How will my decision affect my partner?
• How will my decision affect my lover/potential partner?
• Will my friends and family suffer any consequences?
I will cover all of these points in a bit. But first, let’s focus on what you need to do when you actually find yourself in this situation.
What to Do When You’re Married But in Love With Someone Else
Step 1: Figure Out How It Happened
Falling in love with someone else doesn’t just come out of nowhere. You’re very much involved, and while it might not be your fault, you’re still at least partially responsible for this situation.
In order to figure out the reason behind falling for someone you’re not married to, you must do two very important things.
Try to Find the Original Cause
You know your marriage pretty well, or at least you should. So, when something like falling out of love happens, you need to rewind the events.
Pay close attention to everything that has happened to you and your spouse. Try to remember every little detail and analyze as much of your behavior as possible. Did you two argue too much, did you insult them in any way, or did you fail to give them the attention they need?
Never Make Excuses
Making an excuse is the easiest trap a person can fall into. When you ask them why they fell in love with someone else, they’ll often say something like ‘I don’t know!’ or ‘I was confused!’ or the infamous ‘Well, it’s not my fault!’
I’ll be blunt here — don’t do that.
The healthiest thing you can do for yourself in this situation is to be honest. Do not put all the blame on your spouse or your lover, even if they might be partially responsible. Always try to be objective and assess the situation in the coolest, most level-headed way you can.
Step 2: Consequences
All actions have consequences, and when it comes to falling in love while married, they can be so severe that they ruin lives.
As I stated earlier, you will need to think long and hard about this situation, and more importantly, you will have to be cool and level-headed about it. Naturally, this is extremely hard since it’s a very emotional time for you. To make things easier, think about the consequences that your decisions will have on you, your partner, your lover, and the people around you.
Short-term consequences are easy to define when you’re married but in love with someone else. You simply have to take a look at how your potential affair will affect the lives of those around you. Let’s list a few examples of what you need to think about in the short term:
• Are you in love with this new person, and if so, why?
• Why do they make you feel good at the moment?
• Why does your spouse not make you feel good at the moment?
• How will your spouse react to the news of your new love?
• If you have children, how will they react to the news?
• Should you tell your friends, and how will they react to the news?
The problem with short-term thinking is precisely that — it’s short-term. You might adore this new person, even more than you did your spouse when you met.
But human emotions are not exactly simple. You can feel intense love for someone one day and complete apathy the next. That’s why it’s incredibly important to evaluate your emotions as objectively and logically as possible.
Unfortunately, thinking long-term is not easy when you’re married but in love with someone else. It’s especially a challenge when you consider that you’re thinking about the future of not one, but (at least) three people.
So let’s break it down. Obviously, the first long-term consequence you need to think about is your marriage. How will falling in love with someone else affect this marriage that I’ve been maintaining for X number of years? How will it affect my relationship with my spouse, my children, and my neighbors?
But it doesn’t stop there; you will also need to see what the long-term consequences might look like if you choose your lover. Will your new relationship be a good thing for them or not? Can they maintain something long-term with you? Will their emotions (or yours) be just as strong after a few years?
Thinking long-term in this situation seems impossible because of all the emotions you’ll be feeling at that moment. But if you don’t, you risk ruining several lives, including your own. And as Greg Sestero’s mother told him right before he went to California to become an actor, some mistakes take an entire lifetime to fix.
Now that you’ve narrowed down the consequences, it’s time to make a choice. But who will you choose: your spouse or your lover?
Options for People Who Are Married but in Love With Someone Else
Save the Marriage
Obviously, you wouldn’t have married your husband or wife if there weren’t any powerful emotions between you, to begin with. But as I stated earlier, emotions are unpredictable. The bad side to that unpredictability is that you might just fall out of love with your spouse and, even worse, not feel bad about it.
However, there’s a benefit to emotions being so unstable and hard to predict. Namely, just as you fell out of love with someone, you can work hard on falling in love with them all over again.
Of course, the decision to save your marriage has to come from the heart. Before you try to do it, ask yourself, ‘Is this worth saving?’ Again, you’ll have to take a good, hard look at your years together with this person. Were they good, were they bad, did they benefit you or not, and what will happen if you continue the marriage?
If, by any chance, you feel like you can’t move forward, the next best step is to file for a divorce. However, make sure that you do it only if you’re absolutely sure that your marriage cannot be saved. More often than not, a divorce will only make things worse, especially if you realize that the person you were with was the right one all along.
Go With the Flow
In the previous section, I mentioned filing for a divorce in case there’s no chance of recovery. Sometimes, when you’re married but in love with someone else, that other person is objectively a better fit. They might understand you better than your spouse, provide the comfort and affection you need, or simply have a better effect on your daily life.
If you feel that your lover provides you with all of that, then you might just have to end your marriage and start a new relationship with them. I’ve talked to countless people who stated that their second or third marriage was the best thing to ever happen to them. And some of them had been married for at least a decade before falling for someone else.
Of course, there are plenty of dangers in dating someone new, and I’ve outlined some of them in the long-term consequences section. But there are other pitfalls as well, including:
• Your lover going after someone else who’s married
• Falling out of love again
• Your lover becoming more dangerous and/or toxic as the relationship moves forward
• Having to build a sense of trust with someone new all over again
• Your family not approving of them
• Their family not approving of you
• Your now-ex-spouse trying to ruin your new relationship
Take Time For Yourself
Believe it or not, there’s a third option most people don’t consider, and that’s taking some time off for yourself.
Let’s say that you have an intense emotional connection with an individual, but complete apathy (or even distaste) for your spouse. You can’t really stay with one or the other because it might ruin you on an emotional and psychosocial level. So, what can you do?
Well, you don’t have to pick either. When you’re married but in love with someone else, you probably think in terms of ‘I must be with X.’ But instead, try thinking, ‘I must be alone’ and break it off with both of them.
Yes, this move might hurt you initially, and it might hurt a lot. However, there are so many things you can do when you’re single.
Moreover, you will finally have the time to find that inner peace and tranquility. All of the stress from having to pick the right person will be gone in an instant. Plus, if you’re lucky, somewhere along the way, you’ll find a different partner that fits you even better than the ones before.
Falling in Love With the Spouse Again
Lots of people who are married but in love with someone else decide that they want to try to save their marriage. The problem is not knowing how or where to start. With that in mind, I have a handy list of dos and don’ts for anyone willing to rekindle the romance that led to marriage, to begin with.
Reconnecting is Important
More often than not, you’ll lose interest in your partner because you’ve spent a lot of time apart. Luckily, there’s a simple solution to this issue. All you have to do is reconnect with them. Find the time to do some romantic, ‘couple’ things, such as:
• Going on a date at least once a month
• Spending at least a few hours together at home each day
• Calling or texting each other frequently
• Listening to their current problems
• Reminiscing of old times (i.e., look at a photo album or an old video of you two)
Watch Your Temper
Talking about something like falling out of love can be hurtful toward your spouse, and more often than not, you will end up in a fight. Of course, that’s perfectly understandable; after all, there are a lot of strong emotions coming from both of you.
That said, when you’re angry, critical, or offensive, you won’t reach any sort of agreement. Instead, try to be compassionate and understanding. You’re not the only person going through this change, so it might help if you look at things from your partner’s perspective.
Pay Attention to Their Interests
Interests change over time, and your spouse might have picked up a hobby during the years. It’s incredibly easy to simply accept their hobby without any investment, and that can work in a healthy relationship. But once it starts to fall apart, that’s when you have to start paying attention.
When talking about their hobbies and interests, as well as their likes and dislikes, don’t be apathetic toward your partner. Show general care and interest in what they like (or even dislike). Let them know that you support them on a completely new level. And if possible, try to personally engage in some of their newfound interests.
Use Words of Affirmation
As a spouse, you need to let your partner know how much they mean to you. In order to do that, use words that will build them up and lift their spirits. Tell them that you love them and that you’ll be there for them through thick and thin.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
This subheading might sound a bit bombastic, but really, the actions that will help you reconnect with your spouse don’t have to be grandiose. For instance, you can clean the house, mow the lawn, clean the car, or give your partner a back rub. Anything can be a gesture of goodwill that can help save your marriage.
When in doubt, get your spouse a present. It can be something fancy, like jewelry, or something simple and silly, like a pack of Jelly Babies.
Of course, few things can beat direct physical touch. It is the most powerful indicator of how much you love someone. So, when reconnecting with your spouse, try to increase the level of physical contact. Hug them, snuggle with them, nudge them from time to time, tickle them — anything will work, as long as you do it right.
Married but in Love With Someone Else: Final Thoughts
I’ll say it again because it bears repeating — being married but in love with someone else is incredibly difficult for an individual. It’s a mix of strong, scary emotions and a whole heap of uncertainty.
Hopefully, this article has helped shed some light on this problem, and with any luck, you’ll manage to find the solution that suits you best.
But before I go, I do have to provide one final piece of advice. Whatever you decide to do, be it to reconnect with your spouse or to move on, make sure you commit to it 100%. If your attention is divided between saving your marriage and dating your lover, you’ll only end up making things worse.