We all know how affairs start…
You’re likely feeling lonely, unappreciated, stuck in a rut, or otherwise disconnected from your spouse. You may be going through the motions of your daily life dissatisfied, hoping for something better but not sure how to get it…
A person in this situation might not even know how vulnerable they are, but they can sense that something is wrong with their marriage, that they aren’t fulfilled in the same way they used to be – that something very important is missing.
Then they meet someone new or rekindle a long lost connection, and suddenly things feel different. That excitement they’ve been missing comes rushing back into their lives, and before they know it, they are beginning to fall in love.
What starts as a brief conversation can turn into time spent together, which can turn into something more, and eventually, the person who felt so lonely and unfulfilled is staring at a very difficult choice: do they throw away their old life for this new prospective happiness?
Well, before they even consider such a question, there’s something they have to understand: they won’t be happy in the new relationship either.
It’s pretty simple – successful marriages are made by people who not only invest in the relationship, but who also invest in themselves. So with that in mind, here’s the question referenced in the title of this article. If you’re feeling tempted to cheat, to seek a new partner, to find happiness in someone else, you need to ask yourself one critical question:
“Have I found a purpose?”
The unfortunate reality is that many, many people look to others to make them happy, and when that happiness falters, they look to someone else. If you have a purpose though, a sense of meaning and drive that makes you fulfilled as an individual, you have your own source of happiness. When two people come together, both with a purpose in their hearts, the relationship flourishes because they complement and support one another, instead of relying on each other for that sense of purpose.
If you don’t have that drive, that special thing that gives you personal joy, no amount of changing relationships is going to make you happy. You’ll always be looking to someone else for fulfillment and direction.
Another way of phrasing this question is: “Could I be happy all on my own?”
This is why finding your own passions – and sharing them with your spouse – is so important. A happy marriage is not about 50/50, it’s about 100/100 – when both people are complete and fulfilled, and make the relationship greater than the sum of its parts.
Now, before you feel down on yourself for not having a “purpose” figured out, realize that it can be anything – and it can change over time. What this really means is finding something that makes you happy independent of all the other things in your life.
It could be making music, teaching children, designing houses, fixing cars, writing stories, helping people in need, coding apps, cooking gourmet food, studying astronomy, learning foreign languages, collecting antiques, taking photographs, knitting, singing, acting, painting…
It could be literally ANYTHING that you can pursue on your own, grow within, enjoy achievements and accomplishments, and find fulfillment based on your own actions.
This is all about finding your own strength and your own happiness, instead of looking to others – especially a relationship partner – to provide that stuff for you.
If you’re feeling unfulfilled in your marriage, before you start looking for someone else (or let temptation get the best of you), ask yourself if you’re being the best YOU that you can be. Is your source of dissatisfaction really the other person? Or are you not doing enough to create fulfillment for yourself?
A new partner, a fling, an attempt at escaping from the unhappiness you may be experiencing now will only be a temporary fix. You can’t define your happiness in terms of other people – instead, two people that have found ways to be fulfilled on their own can come together to add even more joy and meaning to each other’s lives. It’s ultimately up to you.
For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!
Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com
My husband had an emotional affair 5 weeks ago. I can't get over it. It doesn't help that I am pregnant. I am in therapy. He is not. I dont think him and her are still talking. I don't trust him though. It has been lie after lie with him. I check his phone, email, and facebook constantly. I am starting to drive him crazy. I realize this. I feel like he hates me. And he is the one who did this to us! Ugh! Maybe I don't know what I want...
I gathered a lot of circumstantial evidence, but never any rock hard proof of an affair. The most I could come up with was several instant messages, texts and phone calls from and to a guy she worked on a project with a few years ago and had become friends with. Those messages drive me nuts, but appear to be innocent. Am I being crazy?
Hi Emily - It can be very difficult to rebuild that trust. https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/save-marriage-regain-trust-its-destroyed/ Let him know gently that your concern is the consequences of his actions, and that you goal is for you both to be able to trust and be happy.
Hi Smith - I would ask your wife. Ask her when you aren't feeling angry, just as a hey, I saw these and I'm a little concerned. Is there anything I need to worry about? Her response should tell you what you need. https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/my-husband-chats-online-lady-trust-him-watch-dr-danas-answer/
Its going to take you some time Emily my husband pulled the emotional affair about 3 yrs ago I am still not over it and I still don't trust him. I do wish you well. I also understand checking things constantly too. Try not to you will just make yourself crazy.
Hi Margaret - It sounds like you husband is going through several issues, perhaps a midlife crisis with his lack of intimacy and seeking it elsewhere. https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/save-marriage-affair-stop-haunting-visions-partner-person/ I hope you both are able to rekindle the fire between you.
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