Infatuation with Others
I thought this might be a good read, and a good resource, for some. I think this is a more well-balanced view than we typically see in the “church culture”, these feelings are normal.
Thanks for sharing SC. I decided to pull out some good quotes for discussion here (all emphasis/bold was in the original article):
- “Infatuations inside and outside of marriage are momentary storms.”
- “If you slip off alone and have a meal together ‘to talk things out,’ you’re creating a romantic tsunami that may become more powerful than you can handle. Sneaking around creates an intimacy that feeds the infatuation and feelings.”
- “Here’s what made the difference: I saw the attraction as a threat instead of a fantasy or escape.“
- “We rarely choose these things, and, at least according to therapists, they’re bound to happen.”
- “In a sacred marriage, there’s so much more keeping us together than a momentary emotional storm.“
- “Knowing that outside infatuation remains a possibility can actually serve marriages. Proust suggests that a little jealousy rescues relationships that have been ‘ruined by habit.’ It’s natural to begin taking our spouse for granted. Occasionally doubling down on winning our spouse’s hearts back is a good practice if it’s not done out of desperation and fear.”
So here are some of my thoughts on the above…numbered to match so I don’t have to quote again. 😉
- This is a great point to make. It is so easy to forget in the moment that you’ve built a life together with your spouse, including highs and lows. Don’t trade that history at a low point in your marriage for a temporary high point with an outsider!
- While not explicitly stated in the article, these kinds of things (EAs, PAs, and even porn problems) rarely happen in one sudden big decision. Instead, it’s the “death by a thousand paper cuts”, where a whole bunch of small violations/bad decisions combine on a slippery slope. Often, that ends up hurting the betrayed spouse even more, as they see it as their wayward spouse choosing to lie/hide dozens or hundreds of separate times/choices.
- As alluded to in the article, this reaction comes with wisdom. For those that haven’t been through this, preparing and educating yourself in this is crucial to the learning process, so you don’t have to learn the hard way!
- Absolutely true…most just seem to stumble into this when their guard is down. The exception is when people want a divorce and engage in an EA or PA just to have an excuse to divorce. 🙁
- See my response to #1. Even couples who have only been married a few years have built a huge thing relative to most/all of their other relationships.
- This is something I’ve considered writing a post/question about. I see it all the time in a variety of manifestations–the whole “I didn’t appreciate what I had until I almost lost it” syndrome. It’s seen when one spouse suddenly becomes debilitated. You’ll see it with widows/widowers once they get re-married…they appreciate their second marriage so much more, and it has nothing to do with the differences in spouses. It’s seen by a cheating spouse once they get out of the affair fog and then dive headfirst into trying to repair the damage they’ve done. It’s even seen in betrayed spouses making all sorts of efforts to “win back” their wayward spouse once they realize their marriage is on the brink. It’s seen in romance novels where repeated high-stakes situations keep the relationship fully stoked and steamy (which in real life would eventually emotionally drain the people). Unfortunately, I’ve seen knowledge of this phenomenon used/exploited to artificially keep a spouse close. In the “red pill” world, some men will make sure their wife sees them engaging with younger/more attractive/more powerful women as a way to keep their wives sexually interested in them because of the competition (I’ve also seen this as a suggested cure for dead bedrooms). I’ve even seen one man claiming that he will fabricate a “crisis” every 6 months or so to keep things tense so his wife clings to him. We need to remember that these approaches are neither healthy nor loving! The suggestion by Gary Thomas to use the knowledge of this as a way to be closer to one’s spouse it a much better approach.
Though this concept is relatively new to me, I would agree. Also, it supports my understanding that “falling in love”, “being in love with”, “being attracted to someone”, etc. are not adequate reasons to marry or to base one’s marriage relationship upon. We need something much more solid and enduring than those things.
Great read and share SC. If I could vote more than once, I’d upvote this share dozens of times. We are all susceptible to stress and strains and should NEVER say, “That’ll never happen to me” ’cause it the most vulnerable moment it will and we need to be prepared to fight those thoughts.
Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” and 2 Cor. 10:5, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
Too many marriage start down the road of failing when individuals start by entertaining thoughts about another person. Great article!
Thanks as well for posting this. I agree that it presents a well-balanced view that says to take the issue seriously but not to overreact. (At one point it even says “don’t take it too seriously” but that’s not really what it’s saying; it’s saying not to overreact). Feelings about others can be normal; it’s how you act on them. Ideally they help you identify things that are missing in your marriage and how to work on them with your spouse.
@MrsNerd, I know it would have been helpful for me to realize that these feelings are normal and that (almost) everyone faces them, and how to handle it. Rather than the word “infatuation”, “crush” seemed to be more of the word used back then. It was freeing to me when I read at the beginning of my time on TMB that there were other women who experienced this, seeing how they handled it and learning to turn those feelings towards my husband, helped shed guily and shame around this natural occurrence, almost beyond my control.
I see part of not “overreacting” is a self-condemnation that can happen. “There’s something wrong with me.” “I am so unfaithful and an adulterous at heart.” Maybe it’s similar to a man carrying guilt snd shame around because they notice beautiful women and they feel they are lusting? When in truth, that’s not so, it’s normal and natural. It’s the way they are created, it’s what they do with it on whether they follow the path of lust or not.
When someone learns to handle it right, they can fight through the feelings because they know they are passing, learn to direct them towards their spouse strengthening the bond there, and they may come out of the other side with some good friends. 🙂 That’s my experience, and why I am a proponent for fighting rather than fleeing.
I think the way we get infatuated is we see someone attractive then start to think about that person, and especially if we keep looking at them, it can turn into infatuation. I think that’s how it happened when I was a teenager for me, and I hear there is some psychological research along these lines that looking can lead to infatuation.
It reminds me of Jesus’ teaching against looking at a woman in order to lust after her.
Thank you for sharing this article! I definitely think it would be useful for people to know this early in marriage so that when it happens, there are not those crushing (and counterproductive) feelings of guilt. Much better to have a plan of action. One thing that is so helpful in handling this or any other normal bump in the marriage road is just being able to talk with each other about it. I’ve always been very honest with DH about my thoughts on any man I interact with and share anything of significance (and don’t fool myself into thinking something is insignificant if it’s not). He shares what he notices about other women with me, too. It’s funny how much less appealing a third party man is once you have expressed any part of his appeal to your husband. Suddenly, you feel a little silly and don’t want to have anything to do with him (the other man) at all, really.
@Scott – I firmly believe in 1, 3 & 4 which is why I’m always willing to share with my wife when someone came across my eyes and let that drive me into her arms (well, more specifically her “boobies” =) ). Honesty breeds trust and intimacy; secrets destroy that.
When DW says, “you’d never do that to me”, I always remind myself that I’m not perfect or infallible (as much as I like to think I am) so I better guard my heart and mind (see the Scriptures I shared above – Prov 4:23 & 2 Cor. 10:5). Every man or woman has their breaking point and it doesn’t matter how good things are or were in the past, so set I try to healthy boundaries, communicate well and remember that my life & marriage is a daily decision to walk with Jesus and my wife that day…that week…that year.
Also, Shaunti Feldhahn has statistics showing that if rocky marriages will hold on for 5 yrs, better times are usually ahead for the same couple; sadly, many bail before five years.
This is excellent and it’s something I’ve been pondering lately. I think this would have been useful information for my young woman/teenage self. Instead, not knowing what to do with these feelings, I’ve come into adulthood and marriage wondering what is wrong with me. I’ve only the last year or so been able to think it through enough to realize these feelings come without warning and I draw comfort from the fact that they’ll fade if I don’t pursue.