This is as it should be and is yet more proof of the wisdom of God. If we didn't move past limerence the human race would have died out eons ago because rather than planting the crops, lovers would have been sitting under trees reciting poetry to each other. As noted earlier, limerence is made to draw us strongly together, but it is not the element that bonds us for life. That is a different kind of love that is very deep, but much more rational and far less euphoric and obsessive.
That is one of the difficulties Governor Sanford faces now. The Associated Press writes, "Sanford said he is trying to fall back in love with his wife, Jenny, even as he grapples with his deep feelings for Chapur." The ecstasy – though short-lived – of limerence will never compare in intensity with the type of love that makes for a wonderful, life-long marriage. He will need the proper help to overcome the one and find deep and true fulfillment in the other. Unfortunately, it would take a book to explain our success in helping people overcome limerence and learn to love their spouses in deeper ways than they ever imagined. Therefore, instead of providing the answer to limerence, allow me to mention at least three ways that limerence may end.
If two people are in limerence with each other, they usually don't evolve past limerence at the same pace. Often one is still entrenched in limerence while the other has lost most or all limerence. That often leads post-limerent to abandon the still-limerent, either physically, emotionally, or sexually. Because of the intense emotions felt by the one still in deep limerence, logic, rules, values, and even self-preservation may disappear in a fog of desperation. The limerent typically tries to stop the post-limerent from ending the relationship and will employ increasingly intense actions to keep the LO from moving on. Tactics may include manipulation, control, guilt, seduction, blackmail, threats, slander, public scenes, suicide, and murder. Obviously not every limerent being abandoned will do every option listed here. Some do hardly any. But the truth is that some will do all of them, or in an intensely fearful moment jump straight to killing the LO and/or self.
This appears to be what happened to McNair and, as always, it is such a shame. By all accounts he was a good man who genuinely cared about people and who would roll up his sleeves and get directly involved in helping. On Nashville television a fellow church member described the kind of man that McNair was. But even the best of people, even those who love Jesus and want to do right, can get into terrible situations if they fall into limerence with someone to whom they have no right. It appears that Steve did. It also appears that Sahel did to a level that would not allow him to do anything but marry her or die. Many hearts broke and those who loved them will have a tough time healing.
Of course, trying to convince two people in limerence that one of them might become that desperate some day is fruitless. While still in limerence people usually see no flaws in the other and anticipate living happily ever after. If they have a right to each other, that impossible expectation isn't as harmful as when they don't have a right to each other. Either way, no relationship lives on limerence for more than three years and must have something deeper to survive a lifetime.
At least Governor Sanford is alive and so is his paramour. However, the embarrassment and shame he faces publicly, including the demands that he resign from office and the humiliation suffered by his wife and children are a terrible price to pay. As long as he is in limerence he will likely see his love for Maria is worth it. When limerence fades – and it definitely will, no matter what he believes about it now – he will come to a point of self-examination and guilt that will likely be far worse than whatever he faces now. At least I know that will happen if he is the good man that others believe him to be. A good man who did a bad thing. Not because he intended to be bad or that he even contemplated how his actions violated his values. A good man that, as Paul wrote it in Ephesians 2:3, succumbed to his sinful nature (flesh) because we are by nature children of wrath.
When I read that passage now, I think of how the very things within our bodies (our flesh) that make us human can lead us to selfishly, almost blindly, go after what our emotions focus on if the focus is strong enough. I've seen enough Godly men and women destroy their lives by yielding to their flesh (brain chemicals and all the other things involved). Haven't you?
There are only two ways that I know of to overcome the natural. You do it either through natural means or supernatural means. If I have cancer and the physician's employ surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or whatever else they have in their arsenal to kill those destructive cells and save my life, I happily embrace their use of nature to overcome nature. Like many other Christians, I see no lack of faith in taking an aspirin when my head hurts or downing an antihistamine during ragweed season.
Similarly, there are rational, natural means for combating limerence. I use them every month and see amazing success. Bring your spouse or twist the arm of someone you love to come to my weekend workshop and our record since 1999 proves we have a three out of four success rate in overcoming marriage problems – even limerence – and saving the marriage. Our system is scientifically valid. It's a use of the natural.
But don't for a moment forget that the supernatural can overcome the natural in the twinkling of an eye. The most amazing miracle in the Bible is that of conversion, a person yielding to God and being changed in ways that humans cannot begin to measure accurately. Therefore, I often pray for conversion for the converted when that converted person has yielded to the flesh, particularly in the ways of limerence. Though I understand that brain chemicals drive them and make them illogical, I also know that one can choose to walk by the Spirit or by the flesh. Yielding to the Spirit not only can change our directions, it can change our emotions, and, yes, even balance out our brain chemicals so that they don't have as much influence over us.
Just as God heals some naturally and some supernaturally from their physical diseases, He can and will heal them either naturally or supernaturally from their "brain" and emotional misdirections such as limerence. The primary difference is that they have to yield to Him rather than to their flesh.
There is hope and there is a love that can develop for each other – the limerent spouse who strayed and the wounded spouse who stayed – that is so much more fulfilling and brings much more contentment and happiness than any intense short-lived love. Let us help if you will but whatever you do, surrender to the Spirit and walk by His guidance rather than that of your own desires, no matter how strong those desires are.
Click here for information on our seminar for troubled marriages that can rescue your marriage from an affair.
If your marriage needs help, click here to request more information, call us toll free at 866-903-0990 or email us at info@JoeBeam.com.