Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Breaking Up with Someone Else’s Spouse

In “How to Break Your Addiction to a Person,” Howard Halpern says that “the most tragic and self-defeating addiction is an addiction to someone who is tied to someone else, particularly by marriage.”
He offers six guidelines to help you determine if you are fooling yourself into harmful addictive behavior, and how to end your addiction.

1. Unless there is hard and firm evidence that he is moving toward an explicit and concrete change in his commitments, stop deluding yourself that it will all work out.
2. You will also have to stop deluding yourself that you are more important to him than his spouse, his marriage, and his children. If you are, he would leave and be with you. Marriage and family can be very powerful investments.
3. You will have to set a reasonable time limit in your mind as to how long you will wait to see if he will make any changes in his status and commitments. And then, if there are no changes, you will have to adhere to that deadline or you can drift on endlessly.
4. Stop idealizing him (or her). Note that the game he may be playing with you–of giving you enough to keep you involved but not the commitment you want–is not a loving game. It means that in this regard he is not Mr. Clean, Mr. Nice Guy, Mr. Ultra Desirable, or Mr. Mature. Rather, there is a childlike selfishness at work in him in regard to both you and his spouse, and you ought to look at that squarely.
5. It can be useful to prepare your friends to be there for you when you go through the inevitable withdrawal symptoms and to help you to maintain your resolve to break it when the going gets rough.
6. In general, and perhaps most important, deal with the probability that if you have been choosing to remain with a person who is committed to someone else, you may be avoiding having a close relationship with a man (or woman) of your own. An exploration of your motives could be quite helpful to you.

  • Gisela Giardino

    Hi T!! First of all I love the change of the header of the blog. Awesome portrait to go with awesome readings. =)
    The title of this post is superb. Put things into the overwhelming-evident-reality perspective…
    I can write a book my own of this. This book you quote seems to be as great as the one on HSPs… may it be the second fantastic finding in your blog?!!! Hope so!
    For a short reply, I gotta say I agree 100% with the the 6 points. It´s usual for the “lover” to think the married person will leave their lives and start anew (they beleive this because they think: if he searched for a lover, then things are not OK at his/her home)… actually this turns to be exactly the opposite thought: “because things are not OK home I get a lover to COMPENSATE and BALANCE my life so my problems home don´t weight that much and I can go on on with my family-.”
    For most men, a woman lover is a crutch. And as soon as she demands something else they will say “this is all there is between us, girl, yoru are welcome to leave and continue your life.”
    I would like to agree with point 6, completely, yet I think that is a great reductionism. The intrinsic reasons why a person engage in an afair with someone commited to other depends person to person and in the situation so much that each case should be studied separately. OK, it´s true that if you are a person who is always engaging with people commited to others, then that thought would be in place. I just say it doesn´t work that way many times.
    For example, sily yet crucial point in me is that I am attracted to older people than me (between 10 and 20 years older average)… for anything, friendship, partnerships, relationships, work, whatever! I have a speacial communication with people older than me that I don´t find with people of my age. My best friends -men and women are above 40 except for one- I am now 28 but this happens to me since always. So, they most common thing is that I will feel attracted in a sexual way for a person older than me too. Now do the maths: a guy of ~40… tell me how many are not married or commited?
    See? It´s not that I am freaked out about engaging with someone… it´s that men I am attracted to for their age they are generally already commited.
    Anyways I am not into these types of rrelationships anymore (which means I am not into any relationships, almost!) except for one I still hold with a person who is married, yet after 3 years I still feel he is ther love of my life. This relationship is different to any other I had before, and will be. And possibly I will have to make my life not with him, but he will always be there with me, and he with me.
    Last, I think that infidelity or extra marital relationships, so increasingly common everywhere and in both men and women are nothin in itself “good” or “bad”… it´s a fact: people marry and they cannot hold their monogamy “till dead do us appart”, the less nowadays when people life 80 years, not like 200 years ago when people died at 40.
    This points to a flaw in the marriage institution as such, to me, not to a flaw in people feelings. 1) The economic reason to marry is no longer valid, because woman and men work like peers, so there´s not economic co-dependence… 2) people marry even before finish their studies… they almost don´t know who they are but they sign a paper to commit to another person -who also don´t know themselves- for the rest of their lives? It´s plainly absurd. 3) As people live about double the time they used to, and the state of health during that time also increased (this is: you died at 80 and you are a “young” person till your 60’s… 200 years ago you were an old cracked thing at 45)… such commitment: “till death do us apart” really implies a lot of years.
    I think that whethere people shouldn´t be allowed to marry before they are 33 and they may have to give an exam of self-examination, introspection and self-knowledge to know if they are capable of asuming such a commitment… or the figre of “adultery” should be abolished and people would be marry, yes, but would not be punished for having extra marital relationships. And divorce shold be a lot more simpler and less costly thing. To sum up: marriage should still exist, but should be taken less seriously, and never used it as a monogamy keeper.
    People should read history and understand where the marriage institution comes from and how it took the shape it has today… they will see how it mainly comes to serve economically to the State, and provide a social order. Marriage was little about love and affection between two people. Dig not long ago… ask a grandma or grandpa if they or their parents married for love exclusively… they will give a clue. So fidelity is a tricky territory or better said: first of all we should clarify when we say “fidelity” the question is: “fidelity to what or who?”. Men with lovers who still come back home every night and love their children and wife and feed them consider themselves absolutely loyal to their families. And in a way, this is true. The fact that they have a “close friend” to spend some time with from time to time outside home don´t make them unloyal to their “family”… so, fidelity to a family is what most surely all men have and why they won´t escape with their lovers. Fidelity for the supposed monogamy they should have for their love to their wife… this is the kind of fidelity difficult to keep for men, as far as I know.
    I guess a lot of people may discuss this and even get angry at me… guess that people will be married. Don´t mean to offend anybody. On the contrary I mean to make people realize how anti-natural marriage codes are, and that we should be more comprehensive. I know, it´s tough to see reality from this perspective. It´s even sad for me, for with this outlook the idea of marriage as it is held today to me looks not desirable at all. As Groucho Marx said: “Marriage is the main cause of Divorce.” It is-

  • four20th

    I am 33 years old and have 3 kids. My parents have been married for 35 years(this august). We have just found out that my dad has been having an affair on my mother for the last few years. The pain this has brought to my mother ,my 2 brothers and myself, and our children has crushed us all. It has changed our lives greatly and sadden our hearts we have suffered a lost. I wish it wasn’t taken so seriously either because then maybe my heart wouldn’t hurt.

  • R

    i won’t post my whole name for this comment. not out of shame. but for the fact that i will not out right hurt anyone. i will not say infidelity is a good thing. but i have been in an affair w a married man on and off for over 12 years. and unlike most affairs neither one of us expects the other to give more than the other is willing to give. i would never expect him to leave his wife or children and he never asked this of me. we have a deep friendship. we can talk about things w each other that we cant discuse w anyone else. and we have a physical relationship that satisfies a need we have not been able to find w anyone else. there are times we go years at a time w/out seeing each other, and that satisfies both of us just fine. but when either of us is in need of something extra we try to be there for each other. like i said this may not be “right” but it works for us.

  • j

    I just ended a relationship with a married man (with two kids) for this exact same reason, he’s been separated for about 10 months, we started going out on feb 2007, during this time he promised me he was going to get a divorced, but here we are 5 months later and he still married, again he has not lived with her for almost a year, we had great times together and I really love him, he keeps telling me the same, but yet, he hasn’t done anything about his marriage. I decided to move-on and if in fact he cares about me he’ll get a divorce (honestly, I doub it) in the mean time, I am not wasting my time anymore. I does hurt that we are not together.

  • j. ansell

    I think all of you are wrong. Infidelity is never okay. It is wrong. Obviously you have to justify your behavior so that you dont feel bad about yourselves.
    If the person who is “The love of your life” is still going home to someone else. Guess what you are not the love of their life. You are a toy, to use when they are longing for something within theirselves. No one can fill that void for them. They are just using you for their own pleasure. Meanwhile, you as the other woman are taking time away for their marriage, children, and their life.
    You are not an important part of the life of your “lover”, you are a affair than obviously means nothing. Otherwise they would chose you, and they would want you to be a part of their life.
    Grow up, people like you are the reason marriage fails. It has nothing to do with how long anyone lives.



  • TeeteringOnTheEdge

    Dearest “I think you are all wrong”
    Make you a deal.. I’ll grow up if you wipe off your bifocals and look at the reality of our society. Morality and personal ethics aside, humans (animals) have needs. If our needs aren’t filled at home, we go astray despite our convictions. Ben Franklin once said “in a marriage without love, you will find love without marriage” Some have the need to justify it, some don’t, but the commonality is that they both “did it” because theres something deeper there calling to them. For me, the calling is about feeling wanted and appreciated.. like it was when our relationship was young. Remember bliss? It’s hard for those married more than twice the seven year itch. My stand is that humans have an autonomous system in place that rewards the continuation of species.. (that is that it feels better than great to orgasm)and we are built to seek out healthy relations to breed with. Yes, I’m a deeply spiritual Christian, but I can’t argue with Gods telling me what feels right. So I have the choice, do what feels right and comes natural, or live under society’s control and resist my nature.. I chose the former, and regretted it for the latter. One can never win a catch 22.
    Marriage is an invention of humans, being in love and expressing it is a gift from God.

  • Rsexylady

    That is exactly what Gene Simmons says, he has been happily with the same woman for 22 years and if he had gotten married they probably would have been divorced. She knows he loves her, but at the same time, she knows he has other women and does whatever he wants but takes care of home and comes homes to her. It is an open relationship but its not for everyone. A lot of married people live in denial, they know they are with cheaters and every single woman and/or man is suspect. To each his own, I could not live like that, that’s probably why I am not married. Some feel as long as they take care of home, they have no control over what they do in the streets, but my fear would be what if they were not careful and brought something home to me, and even some have children outside the married and they turn the other cheek and think it won’t happen again. The stress of the marriage and/or relationship has caused illness but they still stay.

  • HereWittyKitty

    As I read the comments posted above, it seems that many are missing the point: In an extra marital affair, someone almost always gets hurt. Why should this be ok? Our current cultural style of monogamy has not proven to be universally followed, as most people will admit. There are those admirable marraiges where the spouses never stray, and their love stands up to temptations and trials–but don’t they seem a rarity? For those folks who do cheat on their spouses, unless the affair can be kept very quiet, and resolve itself to a reciprocal ending, more often than not someone will be caught in lies and the betrayal will scar the participants and possibly their children.
    Guess what I am trying to say is: If the relationship is built upon deceit, how can it not cause pain at some point? Does anyone get the idea that our feelings can be indulged if it doesn’t hurt anyone else, but should be curbed if lies are necessary to go forward with the affair? Why not END the unfullfilling marraige or relationship FIRST, then pursue where the heart takes you? That is the honorable way to do things.

  • Anonymous

    someone always gets hurt. always. The married person the spouse who does not know, or the spouse who does find out, the person who is involved with the married person… knowing they should not be with someone elses spouse – everyone gets hurt. After the chemical high wears off and the guilt can no longer be hidden behind the rose colored glasses of infatuation (sometimes that takes years) Knowing you are doing something so wrong erodes how you feel about yourself and then it impacts all those around you. You friends your families your work. Your relationship with G*d. If you ar a woman in an affair, you are seen or see yourself as a wicked evil person for going outside the marriage. You begin a journey of self hatred… feeling like you are caught in the whirl pool of life headed toward certain destruction going down…. addictions.

  • Guiltybutforgiven

    I guess I have more of a confession than a comment. After reading what was posted I just had to release and empty some of what is in my heart.
    I have never been in a “real” intimate relationship with anyone, unless I can count when I was very, very, very young. Some may call this relationship puppy love, as we were mere children and sex was not involved, however, I can still remember fondly some of our walks and talks that we had that lasted almost 2 years. There is a warmth that I feel whenever I think about this relationship. Our relationship ended abruptly as the other person was moving. Yet a promise was made that this individual would come back for me.
    I wanted to believe this but somehow knew in my heart that this would never happen. And I can remember a cold/numb feeling coming over me at that time. I do not know even until this day, if it was hurt, disbelief or loss of faith. I have never entered into another relationship that required commitment since that time and it has been many years….until recently that is.
    Although I have met many people during my lifetime, I found that the majority of them were married and/or separated. One conversation and usually I move on. There were a few divorced or single (never been married) ones that I ran across but I could never really bring myself to date them either.
    However, I began to believe and tell myself that it was my lot-in-life to only correspond with married people. I even began justifying in my mind that it was better to conversate with married people as they could not make demands on you, neither would one have to worry about starting a serious relationship. These people were “safe” and could not hurt me as could be the chance with an unattached individual.
    Many of these encounters did not end up with me having sex as again I would discontinue my acquaintance with them once I found out they were married.
    Recently I willfully became invovled with a married person. I began doing things and taking chances that were uncharacteristic of me. I can not figure out why, how, or when this person virtually took control of me. Everytime this individual called, I came irregardless of the time of day or night. I allowed this person to speak to me in ways that I never tolerated from anyone. I became as a child.
    I came to realize that my acquaintance with this person had become an addiction. But I have prayed to get out of this relationship. It appears that this may have happened but I guess I am having withdrawals. Deep inside I do not want it to be over. Even at the penning of this comment, I am hoping, wishing, nay desiring this person to contact me. But I have become self destructive. I am actually making up excuses in my head as to why we should stay in contact with each other when I know it should end.
    And yet there is another married person I am seeing extremely intermittently but nevertheless it is wrong. My feelings are not nearly as strong as it is for the other person.
    I am unable to share this with my family or friends and I feel alone and isolated. Because I know that they would all lose trust and respect for me.
    I guess this is what is meant by a toxic relationship. Toxticity can destroy your life.

  • Becky

    I’ve never done this before and am not sure where this comment belongs – but I’m here so here goes.
    I know I am in a toxic relationship – only because when I dropped my husband off at the airport yesterday, even though I hated to see him leave (on a business trip) I felt free to be the me that I was before he and I got married – it felt really good. My husband constantly accuses me of having boyfriends (with no prompting – I don’t answer a call is reason enough; or am a few minutes late home from work) – but it seems everything he is accusing me of is possibly related to guilt (I would hope) he is feeling.
    Let me give some details: We’ve been married 4 1/2 months and he gave me his password to his e-mail account when we first got married – I don’t think he believed I would remember it. I did and have been reading his e-mails in various accounts. All was good for a couple months – nothing to worry about – a few e-mails from ex-girlfriends that were innocent enough – couldn’t believe he’d gotten married kinda stuff. Then he started requesting pictures from one . . . and now finally there is one that they are planning to meet, and spend ‘quality’ time. I told him the other day that I’d been reading his e-mails – but I don’t think he knows about the final one. He told me that he can put anything in an e-mail – implying that he knew I’d been reading them and they were just setting me up. His new job provides ample opportunity for an extra-marital affair with this woman. Of course, now he has changed all his passwords – ignorance at this point is not bliss. I ‘caught’ him on Sunday, logging into the incriminating account – and told him to ‘tell her I said HI’. He didn’t appreciate my comment, but didn’t reply either. He acts like I’m worried over nothing. I am waiting until he gets back from his business trip to discuss this with him – and ask him how he expects me to be able to trust him. I’ve always given people second chances and given them the benefit of the doubt – but the trust is gone – can I ever get it back?
    I had SWORN I would never get married – I had seen only one that I would ever want to emulate – and thought I had found the one. When I met my husband – I saw into his heart and his soul, and I think that bothers him – I KNOW we can make it if he would give us a chance -but I know I can’t make him do anything he doesn’t want to – and I know my mistrust will kill our relationship – but I see no way to trust anymore – if he is not willing to talk.
    Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

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