Marriage is a commitment that's supposed to last until the end of your life. Unfortunately, even a happy marriage doesn't mean that other people won't come along and stir strong feelings inside you. If you find yourself falling in love with someone who isn't your spouse, don't panic. Examine the nature of these feelings and what they can tell you about yourself and your relationship before you make any drastic decisions.
What “Falling” Is All About
It's important to remember that the excited, passionate, butterflies-in-the-stomach stage of falling in love isn't permanent. Anthropologist Helen Fischer notes that this is a psychological and neurochemical state that repeats itself at least a few times throughout most people's lives and strengthens the initial bonding stages of a romance. Remember that this strong feeling would eventually fade with the new relationship. It is misleading to compare your feelings for a new person to the feelings you have for your spouse now.
This Love, That Love
If you're considering whether or not this new feeling and this new love interest may mean that it's time to reconsider your marriage, remind yourself of what it was like for you when you were falling for your spouse. Unless this new attraction is significantly stronger than the old one, it's unlikely that the attraction signifies a greater chance of success with the new partner than with your spouse. At the same time, reminding yourself of the early days of romance with your spouse and getting in touch with that feeling will help you keep this new interest in perspective.
What It May Mean
Another important factor to consider when looking at a new attraction is that your marriage is a big part of who you are and, therefore, a big part of your attractions. It's possible that you're attracted to this new person because this person has personality traits and strengths that you feel are lacking in your current relationship. This can tell you a lot about the areas of your marriage that need work and revitalizing, but it doesn't mean that this new love interest has the ability to make you happy. Consider using the attraction as a tool to get in touch with yourself and improve your marriage.
Benefits of Long-Term Bonding
Even though the passionate lure of a new romance may be strong, don't forget about the benefits of a long-term relationship. If your relationship with your spouse is still comfortable and strong, resist the temptation to take that for granted. A solid attachment relationship, although not as exciting, provides a sound foundation of emotional and practical support for your life. It's easy to forget the importance of stability, security and a certain degree of predictability until you've lost it.
- TedTalks: Helen Fisher: Why We Love, Why We Cheat
- Fidelity: How to Create a Loving Relationship That Lasts; Thich Nhat Hanh
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