eo Insights

Life starts with what you believe

Withdrawal From the Illusion – After the Affair – Part 2


How do I love thee…….extra maritally?  Let me count the ways.

What many people caught in an extra marital affair do not realize is that the ‘love’ they are experiencing is not real.  It’s a self-contrived illusion of love.  Let me count the ways.

One… Extra marital love is intentionally created in an unrealistic world, that is essentially free from conflict and deliberately protected from the cares of normal living.   Two….This love is time spent together in a fantasy where only maximum enjoyment is pursued and cultivated.   Three…The extravagant passion and admiration shared within the strict confines of adulterous love blinds the participants to the downside of the relationship.  Four…So intoxicating is this infatuated romance that time and again lovers will risk their family and everything they’ve invested within their marriage, to enjoy another momentary high; the craving for this experience is so intense that objective reality doesn’t stand a chance. Five…Need I count on?

This is why withdrawing from this addictive illusion is so painful.  Like a chemical dependency, there is no painless escape.  Sometimes the suffering seems completely unbearable and hopeless.  At times both the unfaithful, and the betrayed spouse feel powerless in the wake of such emotional turmoil.  One of my clients shared, ‘Elaine, I feel like hell.  Like I’ve been run over by a train.  I’m not sure I will ever recover.’

The decision to withdraw from an affair is not easy.  It must be made on a daily basis, regularly challenging thoughts, fears and emotions.   As I’ve worked with clients going through the pains of withdrawal, I have noted two common delusions that intensify the agony.  The delusion of not being able to live without their lover – even though the time spent in the affair was far less than the time spent out of it.   And the delusion that the heights of love enjoyed within the affair will never be experienced within the marriage – even though the feelings experienced in the affair was completely conditional, in every way possible, which is not true love at all.   During withdrawal, the yearning to see the object of their affection, to hear their voice or be together one last time is absolutely agonizing.   Resisting the desire to run back into the affair for a momentary relief from the emotional pain requires a tremendous amount of courage.

Here’s the good news.

The pains of withdrawal are temporary.  They can be overcome.  Withdrawing from an extra marital affair usually lasts three to four weeks, depending on the longevity and intensity of the affair and providing the temptation to return to the affair (which would reset the withdrawal period to the beginning, again, as soon as the affair ends, again) is averted.   Once on the other side of the withdrawal period, there is incredible hope for recovery!  With a combination of faith, support and the right balance of work and play, couples can find real love and enjoyment in their marriage once again.  And learning to find love….. is real love.  Let me count the ways!

Next Week; Hope For Recovery – After An Affair – Part 3

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Author: Elaine Olson

Elaine effectively counsels in the area of marriage and family, with specialization in anxiety and stress, decision-making and young adult concerns. Elaine uses a variety of counseling therapies to meet the specific needs of each client. Her insightful approach to life challenges the three-part makeup of humanity, to ensure total wellness, physically, mentally/emotionally and spiritually. She is a strong advocate for women, taking a lead role to pioneer many innovative support programs for women around the world.

4 thoughts on “Withdrawal From the Illusion – After the Affair – Part 2

  1. All great reminders that we need to be on guard against these illusions that Satan would like us all to believe. Time for a date night with my hubby!

    • Do so quick, I’m living this nightmare that I caused last year, and the other woman contacted me again last month, it’s been 8 months from NC. and out of the blue she calls again. YUP!! it’s starts it ALL back over! painful for sure.

  2. What an excellent article you have written, Elaine. Thanks for all you are doing to help people in this way.

  3. Elaine, you continue to do good and helpful writing. This instalment is particularly relevant in today’s media-intensive context, where life choices are marketed intensively to people, often to people’s detriment. One only has to watch TV for 15 minutes to be encouraged to “enjoy” exuberant, carefree living – and do it now! So your line about such a relationship being “intentionally created in an unrealistic world” is a particularly good reminder for people to stay alert and committed to their most precious relationships.

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