Help with feelings for someone else

Hi - I’m a protestant woman and am have been with my husband for 20 years (high school sweethearts), and we have one son who is 10. I am very attracted and have had a brief affair with one of his castmates (he’s an actor) who is Catholic. I can tell this person feels very guilty, as do I, and it is awkward. However, I have been growing away from my husband for some time and cannot stop thinking about this other person. He doesn’t seem to want anything to do with me due to his relationship with my husband. It’s very difficult as I just want to talk with him. Also, my son has expressed an interest in the Catholic faith for about 4 years and I’ve been wanting to take him, however my husband is somewhat anti-religion. I am very open to this and would be up for converting to Catholicism as well. Thoughts would be appreciated…

Dear Sister,
it’s wonderful that you are thinking of becoming a Catholic, along with your son. I am a convert to Catholicism from Protestantism, I was raised Episcopalian and then was nondenominational, I think you will find that being a Catholic is a richer experience that widens the universe for you.
I would encourage you to talk to your local priest. He can discuss the faith with you and what your next steps should be.
I would advise you to stay far away from the man that you had a brief affair with. You have a son who deserves to have parents who are loyal to each other. It is said that the best gift we can give our children is to love our partner, their mother or father.
You could attend something like Retrovaille, which helps married people restore their relationship. You owe it to your son to stick with your husband, work on growing close to him again, and provide a loving home. You are not doing the other man a favor either, as adultery is a serious sin. Satan is prowling around, trying to destroy families. I pray that you will not let him injure yours.
God bless.

I really appreciate the honest reply. My issue is that my husband is an atheist and I have grown away from him due to this. The person I mentioned is a devoted Catholic so I am torn…

He may be a devoted Catholic but he made a terrible mistake when committed adultery. For both of your sakes, I think you should stay far away from him.

And if he is devoted, as you say, then he is likely rather devastated by his actions. It’s really unfair to keep exposing him to it like that.

Nor can he marry you if you leave your husband. You would have to get an annulment, and even as permissive as these tribunals have become, I really can’t bring myself to believe they would grant you an annulment so you can marry the Catholic man with whom you had an affair. Especially when there is a child involved.

I don’t say this to judge you. We all make mistakes in life. But the spirit of Catholicism drives one to focus on their marriage and always do what is right. In your case, hopefully you will convert to Catholicism, and manage to rescue your marriage and your husband’s soul. Meanwhile, you provide your son with a solid Catholic upbringing, without breaking his family.

To us, the family is a sacred thing. Destroying a marriage under these circumstances is quite antithetical to our faith. Your marriage is about your family and not about your personal desires and ambitions. Your son has a vested interest in his family remaining intact. To break up that family in a nasty divorce would likely adversely affect him for the rest of his life (statistics consistently bear this out).

One thing you can do right away is speak to a parish priest about all of this. He will help you deal with these problems better than people on the internet.

Has your husband always been an atheist, or was he raised in a Christian home? What about you?

A marriage between two baptized Christians (even those who left the faith) is a sacrament, and those marriages cannot be broken without an annulment. A civil divorce won’t do it. And not everyone who applies for an annulment gets an annulment.

If one person is a Christian and the other a non-Christian, or there are two non-Christians and one converts, then the marriage is not a sacrament and can be broken due to the Pauline privilege.

If a Catholic (even a lapsed one) marries outside the Church, then the marriage was never valid to begin with and both parties are free.

I do suggest you do everything to work this marriage out. You owe your son to try your best.

Is your husband open-minded enough to consider God, or is he stuck in his ways? If he is open minded then there may be hope for him. There are logical and philosophical proofs for the existence of God (physical “proof” is actually a category mistake because God is immaterial and outside of time and space). Once he accepts God, there is Jesus and all those witnesses from the Bible. The Bible was carefully put together and only the most reliable sources were chosen to be included. And then the Eucharistic miracles and Marian apparitions that continue today and many other miracles, saints, etc., that show God is still present in the Church today. I think many people feel removed from the Bible because it was so long ago and our lives are so different from the lives of the apostles.

If he is not open-minded enough to consider God (e.g. anti-religious), all you can do is pray and ask the Holy Spirit to open his heart and mind to the Truth. These people tend to be very hostile toward faith and people of faith, so please be careful.

Adultery is a grave sin. I suggest you talk to a priest about going to Confession. And I also suggest that you stay away from the “other man” in the mean time. It’s too big of a temptation to sin. Remember that the Catholic Church teaches that all sex outside of marriage is a grave sin. In order for anything to happen you would need to get an annulment and then go through a discernment process and then marriage prep at least six months before the wedding. It could be years before you are able to be together again physically… and the best choice is to stay with your husband for the sake of your son, if that’s possible.

That’s only if the unbeliever leaves the marriage. The believing spouse is expected to stay in the marriage if the unbelieving spouse wishes to continue the marriage. (1st Cor chapter 7)

it just sounds to us like you are saying that you want to leave your husband for this other man and convert to Catholicism. And that’s not cool with the Catholic church. The Catholic church views Marriage to be permanent. I know you didn’t actually come out and say that. But that’s what it sounds like.

If you are open and called to convert to Catholicism you do not need to talk to this other man about it, you need to look in the phone book and call the closest Catholic church to you and get information from them.

If your husband is not willing to convert with you, or is even hostile towards you and your son converting the expectation of the church is that you move forward with your conversion, enduring your husband’s scrutiny over it, loving him faithfully all the way.
Not to divorce him.

I really think you need to discern whether you are interested in the Catholic faith because of this man, or because it’s the true church established by Christ himself. Being Catholic in America is difficult and requires us to with stand ridicule from all sides. So if your conversion is for any reason other then the latter it probably won’t stick

The path you are following has many fellow travelers. What has happened is very common and perhaps the result of 20 years of marriage where “the thrill is gone” and you have drifted apart. Neither of you is feeling acknowledged or appreciated. Enter stage left your potential Knight in Shining Armor. There is the high, the thrill, the suddenly feeling wanted and desired. IT IS ADDICTIVE. You must treat it as an addiction. Several posts have provided resources. Please for the sake of your family, turn back or you will so regret your actions.

Do not mistake your feelings for anything more than a chemical reaction in your brain. Do not be led down the path of destroying your home and your child’s life. You can make all of the excuses you want, but divorce destroys children. Unless your spouse is abusive, to the point of fearing for your life or that of your son, this is not the answer.

And if you are a Catholic, you don’t need me to tell you that your path is leading to the destruction of your soul as well as your life.

We have many amazing saints and soon to be saints in the Church who can give you hope and strength. One whom you might consider is Elisabeth Leseur. She was a convert and devoted the Christ and the Church. Although her husband was Catholic, she realized he had lost his faith and had become quite a militant atheist. She continued to pray for him and write in her journal about her hopes for his salvation. After her death, her atheist husband read her journal and his heart was turned. Not only did he start practicing his faith, I believe he became a Priest! Her story is quite inspiring and might give you courage to continue to pray for your husband’s conversion. As his wife, it is your mission to help him on a path to heaven.

Please do not destroy others’ lives as well as your own. Get counselling, read about how to change yourself and your relationship to your husband. You can overcome this and lead a happier and more blessed life.

Lisa

:thumbsup:you, innocence, listen to the wise woman

With the wise advice of other people, I suggest you ask yourself why you want to become Catholic. That question requires a lot of reflection and contemplation. Please don’t convert to Catholicism for the wrong reasons.

First of all I myself have made many mistakes in my life and I might see this situation from a different perspective. Based on what I have read so far, it doesn’t appear to me that you have given your atheist husband a fair chance. Your mission as is spouse is to bring him to Christ. Unfortunately, the action of you and your mutual Catholic friend have not provided a compelling example for your husband to want to become a christian. I say this because I too have twisted/rationalized my bad behavior as being at least partially somebody else’s fault. Rather than blame your attraction and affair to another christian on your husband’s athiesium, it may be healthier to acknowledge that you perhaps have not provided a compelling example to become a christian. I know that I am painfully aware of several people in my life that I have not provided the example I should have.

I do think that your discussing this here is a step in the right direction.

Is your husband baptized?

You took an oath to your husband, uphold it.

You created a family with him, support it and keep it together.

Support your son in his spiritual journey, his father must respect your (plural sense) son’s belief’'s as he expects your (plural sense) son to respect his own.

I’ve seen folks tear up their families mid-life. A bit of advice-

“The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. If yours is brown because you didn’t take care of it, the grass on the other side isn’t going to stay green for very long.”

If you can’t uphold your oath to someone who’s stuck by you for 20 years, why will you uphold it for someone who was willing to betray their own friend and their God?

This is how Innocence treats her man, her husband? This is what your son should expect from his wife? You are the archetype and set his expectations for women.

Your infidelity has ruined your chance to have an appropriate friendship with this other person. Do him a favor and give him lots of room, because you are a near occasion of sin for him and a reminder of his profound betrayal of your husband’s trust. It is good that he wants to put his offense against your husband far behind him. You should, too. You betrayed your husband’s trust, too, and the degree to which you are “growing apart” or not doesn’t change that.

One thing at a time. You and your husband, both baptized, married according to the laws of the Church…that is a sacramental marriage. Don’t start dreaming about the other Catholic sacraments while you plan to commit sacrilege against the Catholic sacrament you have. Don’t start dreaming about converting in public when you are holding back from a conversion of heart from what I gather by your vague description was a mortal sin. I do not want to be too hard on you, but the evil one is trying to poison your desire to convert from the very start. Don’t let that happen!

You aren’t Catholic yet, but you can definitely approach a Catholic priest and ask for advice about your desire to join the Church and how to try to return to fidelity to your marriage vows. It is not at all uncommon, though, for lukewarm spouses to experience a conversion of their own when the rest of the household converts. It doesn’t always happen, but these issues are something that a parish with an RCIA program can address.

If you don’t know what geographic parish you belong to–Catholic dioceses are broken up into parishes like states are broken up into counties, so based on your home address you do actually have a “home church”–you can call the office of your local diocese and find out. If the bishop allows the faithful latitude concerning which parish they will be given the rights of the sacraments simply by virtue of regular attendance or their choice of registration, they will tell you about all of the parishes in your area, and not just your geographic parish, but that will differ from one diocese to the next.

Please do your soul a favor, though. Renounce the sins you have allowed yourself against your marriage, your husband, this other Catholic whom you purport to care about, and God. Repent from your adultery and your covetous thoughts entirely. You no doubt have heard the passage “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil. 4:8). Make yourself a list of thoughts that fit that description, and when thoughts of this person who attracts you to illicit things comes into your mind, substitute a good thought, instead. It will take awhile, but you can break the habit or at least diminish it greatly if you ask for God’s help and work at it.

Hang in there. God has tender mercy on the contrite heart. He doesn’t desire that you die, but that you live.

This is a bit harsh, but true non the less.
I was married once before (it is annulled) We were constantly having money problems. Short story is we both blamed each other. She found another man (grass looked greener) and left, she is still married to him 15 years. I have been married to my real wife for 13 years. We have a stable home and non of the problems That I had with my ex.
She on the other hand is having all the same issues with her current husband that we had only worse.

There is a saying “Behind every great man is a great woman.” I find the reverse to also be true.

I knew a man who was divorced and remarried. He said he so much wished that he had gotten counseling before divorcing his first wife. He remarried, they went to counseling, and only then he realized that it was his own unrealistic expectations and behavior that made his first marriage fail. As it was, he had two families to support, he didn’t get to be in the same house with his own children while they grew up, and all because he was too stubborn to believe that he could be the problem in the first place.

I think it is Dr. Phil who says you have to earn your way out of a marriage. He means you don’t get to quit until you’ve identified what is wrong and done your best to make certain that it can’t be fixed. The idea is that if you know what went wrong the first time, you’re much less likely to go out and make the same mistake and repeat all that damage and heartbreak all over again.

PS To the OP: It can be fairly asked why either you or the man you had an affair with would ever think that someone who committed adultery before marrying each other wouldn’t be prone to make the same bad decision after they married. Do the work on the marriage you are in. Only after you have shown it has a fatal defect can you leave it, and only if it was invalid can you consider yourself free to marry again. (If the defect is the choice to sin after marriage, rather than some fatal defect that was in place at the time of the vows, that does not render a marriage invalid, even though it can ruin the peace of the marriage and make a common conjugal life impossible.)

Yes this reminds me of the warning…“A mistress who becomes a wife leaves a job opening…”

I do know of people who married their adulterous partner. Most ended up with “same song different verse.” As one poster said, if the grass is brown, it’s because you didn’t water it. The same thing will happen when Prince Charming turns into a pumpkin.

Again I stress, please understand the power of brain chemicals to render your ordinary prudential judgement helpless. The “feel good” of being “in love” is so so powerful. My DH went through this with his former wife. The counselor said no marriage can compete with an affair because of the stimulation, excitement and feeling more alive with the new honey. The reality is that it won’t last with him or her either. But the adulterous spouse needs to wrench himself or herself away from this tempation, this addiction to the feeling. The OP has all the signs…“just want to talk to him…” “think about him all the time…”

Understand and address these feelings before they master your mind and your actions. And yes I do know subsequent marriages that have worked out but NONE have failed to destroy the lives of the children and others.

It isn’t worth it.

Lisa

As others have said above, it never made sense to me why a man would be willing to marry a woman who is willing to leave her husband to marry him (or vice versa).

:thumbsup:

My apologies to all for appearing harsh as that was not my intention.

I was trying to be real, provide a perception from outside the marriage as opposed to from within. Our children do learn about relationships from observing the parents, how well they treat each other. Their approach to the obligations of marriage and the vows they took.

It would be nice if we took pride in our children seeing how well we honor and treat our spouses.

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