“I never stopped loving you”

This post comes on the heels of an earlier post, where I discussed how a husband can have an affair, and claim to still love his spouse.  It’s crazy making, right?

As I mentioned in the above-linked post, this was something my husband used to say to me all the time when I was hurting.  He knew I felt unloved in his actions, so he reassured me that he had never stopped loving me during his affair.  It made me sick to my stomach, and almost hurt more.  Was this his twisted idea of what LOVE is?  Is showing love to me going out and creating false email addresses designed to sneak around behind my back?  That isn’t love to me.  Is showing me love going out and finding pleasure in the arms of another woman?  That isn’t love to me.  Is showing ME love, buying a hotel room in order to penetrate another woman, while I struggle at home to get the kids home from piano lessons, get dinner made, homework checked and kids washed and ready for bed?  That isn’t love to me.  But for him, it meant something different.  It meant that he had merely compartmentalized her, and kept her and their relationship in a separate box from the one in which the rest of his life resided.  He was able to open that box and visit it, and then when he was done, he could close the lid, and open his usual box.  They were never open at the same time, so when he was in one box, the other was out of mind.  Although, I would wager a guess that while I may not have come to mind while he was with her, she certainly came to mind when he was with me, and that is because she posed  continuous threat on our relationship, something I could never have done to them, as I was in the dark, kept in a box, with the lid on tight.

Nothing would infuriate me more than my husband saying the words “But I never stopped loving you”.  It was like a kick to the midsection.  Left me breathless and confused.

One day, as we drove back from therapy, on the way to picking up our children, he said it again.  I screamed at him in the car, trying to help him understand that those words are empty and hurtful, not helpful as he had hoped they would be.  He wanted me to say “Oh!  I understand you did this, but you still LOVED me throughout, so I should actually be happier about this than I am!”  That wasn’t my reaction.

At the end of my rope, as we drove, I tried to help him see it from my perspective.  I had to find a way for him to see my position on this.  Seeing my position meant standing in my shoes, and since I hadn’t cheated on him, I had to take him on a mental journey through part of my experience.

Now, he was driving at the time, otherwise I would have asked him to close his eyes.  Instead, I asked him to vividly picture the words I was going to convey. It needs to be said that in my line of work, I work alone.  I do not have employees or colleagues, and I work for myself.  And so I began:

“There is a man I work with.  He is tall, muscular, athletic and fit.  He makes me laugh, and has a great sense of humour.  He and I have been working together for about 6 months, just he and I, in my small office space.  He and I, spending so much time together lately, have been sharing more and more details of our lives with one another.  I have learned about his family.  I have learned about his likes and dislikes, and he has learned about mine.   Our friendship has grown stronger over the past few months, and we have taken to grabbing lunch together on most days, instead of splitting up and resuming work at the end of our lunch.  He has opened up to me a great deal, and shared some very personal details of his life.  I too have shared details about mine.  I think he appreciates the reciprocation, and it helps us as colleagues to open up to one another, as it makes us better work partners, not just strangers who have to be there, but want to.  A few weeks ago, while we were having lunch, his hand brushed mine, and I didn’t pull it away.  He turned to me, to gauge my response, and we looked at each other and knew.  The attraction that had been building between us over the past months was unavoidable.  As he looked into my eyes, we both felt it.  Moments later, I felt our lips touch, and we were kissing.  It was the passionate first kiss that everyone remembers.  My head was spinning with the excitement, as it had been years since I’d had that experience…” I looked over at my husband as he drove, and his brow was furrowed in either intense concentration on the words, or he was angry at being put through the exercise, or the content was bothersome.  I couldn’t tell, so I continued.  “Before long, I found myself wishing we were somewhere more private, where I could fully and completely express myself and my affection for him.  I asked him if he wanted to get a hotel, and he agreed.  We agreed to meet there, and take separate cars so that we were less obvious, in case we ran into someone we knew, and I needed to be available at 3:30 to pick up the kids from school.  I wouldn’t have had time to return him to his car back at work, and vice versa.  I fantasized throughout the entire drive about what was about to happen.  Would he find me attractive naked?  What did he look like naked?  Is he a good lover?  ‘Of course, he must be’, I thought, considering his sexual energy.  The traffic could not move fast enough to satisfy my hunger, and soon I had parked the car, and was running into the lobby.  He was already at the desk, making the arrangements.  He had obviously driven faster than me.  He must have been as excited as I was.  We hurried through the check-in process, giving fake names, and a credit card number.  As soon as the plastic key card entered his hand, his eyes met mine and he smiled.  This was really going to happen.  We rushed for the first available elevator. Truthfully, I would have taken the stairs to the 21st floor, it didn’t matter, but thankfully, it only took seconds for the elevator car to open.  Speed walking through the hallway, he held my hand tightly.  His hand was sweating, and I could feel his rushing pulse.  It matched mine.  We fumbled clumsily with the key card in the lock, and finally the door opened.  We crossed the threshold and the door slammed shut behind us.  The next moments are a blur as we peeled off one another’s clothes with an excitement that I had long since forgotten.  Revealing his body to me, and mine to him, we became ever more excited, and he kissed me.  Before I knew it, we were on the bed, his gentle caresses on my neck.  What followed was the most amazing and extraordinary sexual experience I’d ever had…”  I looked over at my husband driving, and his knuckles were white on the steering wheel, his jaw clenched, and I continued. “He gave me the most intense and body-consuming orgasms I’d ever had, over and over again, until we both fell onto the bed together, in a breathless and sweaty pile, our hearts racing, and our bodies satisfied.”

“So, tell me”, I asked of my husband while he drove, “where exactly in that situation was I loving you?”.  My husband’s eyes filled with tears, and he finally understood.  “I wasn’t”, was his reply.  “I was never loving you or showing you love in those moments, if I was doing something so selfish with someone else like that.  I wasn’t loving you at all”.

My husband got it.  He never again told me “I never stopped loving you”, because he realized that while he may have never stopped FEELING love for me, for those moments that he was deceiving me, he wasn’t LIVING his love for me.  For the first time in our recovery, my husband stood in my place, and felt the horror of what I was feeling.  Knowing that the pain and anguish he was feeling as a result of a made-up imaginary exercise had caused him such hurt, he knew that mine must be so much greater, and at that moment, he felt what it felt like to stand in my shoes, and the ugly view I had from where I stood.  From that moment, he invested himself in SHOWING me he loved me, and it has made all the difference.

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  1. I should use this to explain how I feel to my wife. This post tore open the wound again. We’ve never been good at communication, which is a big reason why we are in this season. I feel she does not understand how her betrayal shattered everything I believed about her, and us, and our family. You have captured the grief, anger and excruciating pain in a few paragraphs. There are days when my love for her threatens to explode my heart, then a day later I never want to see her again, only to move back the other way because of our young sons. There is no pain on earth to compare with the knowledge of your spouse being sexually and emotionally intimate with someone else. There just isn’t.

  2. tentativelyhopeful says:

    I’m going to have to try this the next time my husband says “I never stopped loving you…”. Brilliant!

  3. Incredibly powerful and a timely reminder of what my wife must be thinking.

    • Remember that the video that plays in her mind is usually going to be more colorful than what you experienced. She will play it back as more sultry, more passionate, more electrifying than it perhaps was. It’s up to you to portray it as it was, so she can replace it with the truth.

      • I’m happy to share the details as and when my wife is ready to talk. As she said to me a couple of days ago, she controls this process and I can choose to either stick around or not. Right now, she does not want to talk.

      • Absolutely. Only she knows what she is ready to hear and process. Letting her know that you are open and willing to be honest and patient holds more weight than you know. Good Luck. Share the blog with her if you think it would be a good resource for her.

  4. betrayalsurvivor1981 says:

    Oh, my sweet Lord! I wish therapy like this had been available when my husband (now ex) CRUSHED my heart a lifetime ago!

  5. I sent a link to your blog for my husband to read. You could not have explained it better.

  6. I’ m going to try this exercise with my husband. He doesn’t’ t why I can’ t let go.

    • I think many wayward spouses want us to let go. Continuing to have to face their mistake over and over each time we raise it, or ask questions is hard and extends the shame they undoubtedly feel. It’s no wonder they want us to get over it, and fast. It takes a truly steadfast and patient person who is able to tolerate their own discomfort for the benefit of your well being.

      This exercise wasn’t an attempt to get him to understand why I was hurting (and hence not ready to move on). Instead it was to illustrate that the comment “I never stopped loving you” paired with the imagery I had in my head with the knowledge of the affair, made that statement painful.

  7. My husband has said the same thing to me, he never stopped loving me. That it was just for sex. I was and still am in Afghanistan on deployment, and althought he hasn’t said the ‘why’ he did it. I posed the question, of “If it was just for sex, why did that make it okay to do?” He had no answer. I reversed roles with, explaining what if I should meet someone out here and there is a very high ratio of men to women and many with lovely accents, is it okay since its ‘just for sex’. Again no answer. With your past two posts, I see my husband doesn’t ‘get it’ and perhaps when I do finally get home I too will have to use your idea and have him sit in my shoes. He may be sorry, as he says to me, but he doesn’t get it.

  8. I forwarded your blog to my husband , and told him that I had similar feelings to yr blog as he too had mentioned the same words as yr husband. Your blog really helped him be in my shoes and realize how much he had hurt me. Thanks so much for speaking out for so many of us in this situation, you gave me a voice. God bless you and may you and your hubby find peace and love again.

  9. My husband of 11 yrs just had a month long affair, happened about a month after I survived my battle with cancer. The pain was so intense that I wish I didn’t beat the cancer. I want to make this work so bad, if any one has any advise for me, I would live to hear it.

    • Ashley it’s the most painful pain there is. Someone you trusted with your entire being has betrayed you. Nothing else hurts like that does. Do you have help, support?

    • brokenjoan says:

      Ashley, so sorry to hear this has happened to you, It has been two & a half years since I found out about my husbands’ affair. I know right now it feels like you wish you were dead, I felt the same way, but though you will never forget or even get over this, time does ease the gut wrenching pain you feel now! Try to hang on & don’t make any rash decisions! Hugs from Joan

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