Sunday, March 7, 2010

Wounded Love? Is It Possible to Love Someone and Still Betray Her?

How many of us have agonized over that question...
My mother told me,  shortly after D-Day, that she believed my husband loved me "the best way he knew how." Unfortunately for all of us, his best wasn't particularly good. But, she added, pointing to the new improved him, "now that he knows better, he can love you better."
At first I scoffed. Honestly, I thought, how hard is it to NOT have sex with someone else when you're in love with your wife? And for me, the answer is, not very hard at all.
Still sinking under the weight of betrayal, I couldn't really see my husband...or acknowledge that I never really had. He wasn't the person I thought he was. That much was clear. But could I love the person he was? Did I want to even try?

It's small comfort that your husband may well have loved you...the best he could.
But for those men who were never loved particularly well in their own lives, the whole notion of love and marriage can get a little sticky. (I'm not talking about your standard-issue asshole here who simply doesn't care who he hurts...but rather those who genuinely seem as baffled by their behaviour as the rest of us).

In my case, I agreed to stick around long enough to get my bearings. To not make any decisions for 6 months or so. To sit back and really get to know this man – and decide if he was a man worth knowing.
If he hadn't worked so hard on exorcising his own demons, on really getting to the root of his beliefs around love and marriage and self-respect, I would have continued to doubt his love.

But my mother's words continued to play in the back of my mind. And encouraged me to examine my own thoughts and beliefs around love and marriage and self-respect. I came to understand that my husband did love me...the best he could. And I hadn't loved him perfectly or purely either, despite my self-righteous conviction that I always had.

So now, even amidst the detritus of a marriage made messy by betrayal, we are both able to love each other...better.


  1. I am learning to set boundaries. This is hard to do when I don't even know exactly what I am feeling. I go with the 'ookie' feeling or discomfort as my guide. Then coming up with a real boundary with real consequences is difficult when I feel like the 'missing man' in the relationship holds all the cards. To keep my investment in my life, because it is MY LIFE too, means I have to wait, and hope, and clean up my side of the street. I highly recommend the book 'The Emotionally Unavailable Man' to everyone in a relationship where they feel they are disconnected from the other half. I am trying to learn to love better, and hope that the husband is trying to learn to love better as well.

  2. I am having an issue with this. WH says he was 100% committed to me and 100% loved me during the 2.5 year emotional affair and 9 month physical affair. I am having a hard time moving forward with him still believing that.

    He couldn't have been 100% committed to me/ loved me 100% when he was opening the door to OUR house and letting her in over and over again. He couldn't have been 100% committed to me/ loved me 100% when he was telling her that he loved her and was in love with her.

    I can't get past that.

    1. Mamie J,
      I suspect you're getting hung up on the "100%" bit. You're right. It couldn't have been 100% or there wouldn't have been any room for another person. But love, of course, isn't a portion of a pie graph. It ebbs and flows.
      I think what's really tripping you up is the fear that if your husband won't acknowledge that he didn't love you enough (or take your feelings enough into account) to stop him from doing something so detrimental to your marriage. If he would accept total responsibility for making this horrible choice, would that help?
      For me to be able to get past this with my husband, I needed to know that he recognized how devastating his choice was. The fact that "never stopped loving" me meant nothing since his actions didn't reflect that. I had to understand that his actions were those of a man who didn't really know how to love another person unselfishly. Like my mother said, he loved me THE BEST HE KNEW HOW. When we know better, we do better.


  3. After I found out in June 2013, he said he still loved me and the kids and the family.

    But just 1+ month ago, he said he didn't love me anymore. This was heartbreaking.

    What is love anyway...?

    Does being sexually abused as a teen and being somewhat addicted to 'soft porn' have anything to do with anything?

    1. Iiss,

      Oh my goodness, yes! His sexual abuse and addiction to porn is absolutely HUGE in terms of the choices he's making. Unless he's sought treatment for both and is making huge progress, it will completely distort his own ideas around love and sex and intimacy. I sincerely hope he will seek treatment and gain understanding of just how sex abuse has affected his ability to feel vulnerable (a key part of intimacy and genuine love). My heart breaks for anyone who has has their trust violated in that way. I hope you'll also learn more about how it has impacted him…and you.


    2. Iliss,

      One more thing: I can hear in your posts how confused you are by what he's told you and you're trying desperately to discern what he has said to you are his true feelings and what aren't. I know how confusing this is.
      Please know that this honestly has nothing to do with you. It's so hard to wrap your mind around that in the early days of finding out about a spouse's affair. But it's the absolute truth. This is about HIS stuff. It's about his own issues around sex and intimacy and love. He's confused as hell and likely doesn't even know it. I just want you to please stop blaming yourself in any way…and to understand that you're looking for sense in a nonsensical situation. It doesn't make sense. At least until you recognize that he's acting out his own pain.




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