Maria is a sexy, exotically beautiful middle-aged woman. Wherever she goes, men stare and women fill with jealously. She drives a prestigious car, wears the finest clothes and proudly displays her sizable diamonds. She is smart, funny, and fills a room with her bubbly energy and charisma.
However, behind the curtain of what appears to be a very charmed life is something no woman wants -- a 27-year "happy" marriage to a husband who looks past her, as if she were a pair of old shoes in the back of his closet. He has forgotten why he fell in love with her and how lucky he is to have her by his side. At the top of his career, women throw themselves at him constantly, leaving Maria worried she will be replaced by a younger, more desirable woman.
Her children, now teenagers, have found their independence and no longer need her the way they once did. Gone are the precious days when their little arms would reach up for her love and attention. The days when she was the center of their universe, able to fix their problems, kiss away their tears and fill their days with delight. Instead, she's greeted with rolling eyes, condescending attitudes and hectic schedules that have nothing to do with her any longer.
Last but not least, the dream home she spent years pouring her heart and soul into designing feels empty. It was the perfect home that she hoped would be filled with her children's laughter and husband's love. Strolling through the impeccably appointed rooms, she feels the cruel reminder of how absolutely alone and empty she feels.
Recently, Brad, a handsome and successful man in her social circle, finalized his divorce. At the last charity event, Brad shocked Maria with unexpected flirtation. Not sure how to respond, she gave him a witty response and walked off. As she reassured herself that she misunderstood his words, he slinked up behind her and confessed his desires. Uncertain of how to respond, she excused herself and retreated home.
Maria spent the next few days consumed with swirling thoughts of Brad and how happy, excited and alive she felt. Desperate to forget the whole thing ever happened, she decided to put it behind her. Then she received a text from him asking to meet and talk. Knowing that would be the worst thing she could do, she gave in and agreed.
After the uncomfortable hellos, Brad shared with her that his marriage was over years before the divorce occurred. He told Maria he fell in love with her years ago and begged her to give him a chance. Seeing her apprehension, he reached for her, pulled her close, and kissed her as she had never been kissed before. Maria surrendered to the moment as she felt her entire body tingle.
How do I know all this you ask? After a couple glasses of wine at a dinner party, she confessed it to me!
"Bree what do I do? I love my husband and want to grow old with him but this feels so incredible. Help me!" she pleaded.
I encouraged her to take a step back in order to see the whole picture of what she was about to do. I explained that feeling taken for granted by her husband and her fading role as a mother left her vulnerable to the amazing feelings Brad's desire elicited in her.
I asked her to first imagine how she would feel if her husband were to cheat and then how he would react when he found out that she did. I guided her step-by-step through each reality. However, it was too late. The look in her eyes revealed the whole story. She was already in too deep, the void she was suffering with was now being filled with the exciting temptation of this soon-to-be affair.
Why share this story? For the reason that it happens more often than anyone would imagine.
Men and women fall into the trappings of an affair because something is missing in their relationship or their life. The powerful rush and "high" experienced in the beginning of an affair is too much to resist. So many people find themselves in this position. They stop talking about the real things and start arguing about life stressors. They allow the passion to fade away and forget how special their partner really is. They feel a void and mistakenly think the new person will fill it.
Can your relationship recover from an affair? Yes. I have successfully helped couples heal their relationship after an affair, but please know that it takes work, effort, commitment and a great deal of patience. It is far easier to fix what is really wrong in one's life or relationship rather than clean up the painful mess after the fact.
So, if you're thinking about having an affair, be aware that you can never take it back. I urge you to try real healing first, rather than trying to stop the wound from bleeding with a band-aid.