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“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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How could he do this to me, and claim to love me?


Often times,  I hear betrayed spouses say “How could my spouse have done this to me?”, and “S/he must have known this would devastate me, how could s/he do this on purpose?”, or ” S/he says s/he never stopped loving me, despite having had an affair.  How do you love someone and simultaneously hurt them so deeply?  How is that loving??”

Those statements are familiar, not only because I have heard them time and time again from wounded spouses, betrayed by their partners, but also because I too have asked EACH ONE OF THOSE QUESTIONS at one time or another.

The pain of infidelity brought on by a spouse’s affair has been described as one of the worst emotional traumas that a person can experience.  If you just caught yourself debating that statement in your mind, and posing death as a more painful trauma, you’d be close, but wrong.  In death, those left behind, except in the case of suicide, know that the person who left them did not do so on purpose.  In an affair, the person who suffers the loss is caused to suffer due to the purposeful actions of another, worse still by the person who vowed to protect their hearts forever.  It is a truly indescribable loss and betrayal that you simply can’t fathom or appreciate unless it happens to you.  When someone causes you to suffer such pain on purpose, and with intent, the damage is really immense.

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Of course, upon discovery of the affair, the first thing we wrestle with is the dissonance that arises when we consider that this pain was caused intentionally through the purposeful behaviour of someone we love, and who purports to love us.  “How can someone love me, and do something so ugly to me?”.   The simple fact is, affairs are completely selfish acts, where the person embroiled in the affair is NOT thinking of you, the pain their actions will cause you, the consequences of their actions, or whether they should reconsider in light of your feelings.  They are motivated completely selfishly by the benefits that the affair brings THEM.  For the time being, the world is revolving around them, and for a brief time, you do not exist.  Hurtful to think, but completely true based on the many reports from wayward spouses who report their experience. Affairs satisfy an emotional gap left open by vulnerabilities in the wayward spouse’s world.  Passed up for a promotion, the loss of a parent, a recent move, addition of a new baby into the home, these experienced, not dealt with and perhaps even minimized in the mind of the wayward spouse, grow and are soon tenderly placated and soothed by the adoring and admiring words of another, who reflects back to him/her the reflection of themselves they wish to project.  The affair partner, then, becomes a mirror to the wayward spouse, reflecting back only those positive qualities in themselves, and none of the stressors and reality that come with real life.  It is a fantasy and it feels really good.  It feels so good in fact, the wayward spouse starts to seek it out, the thrill like a drug, the  fringe benefits well worth the effort to cover it up and hide it.  Who the affair partner is, what s/he looks like, how they perform in bed, what they say and do don’t really matter – it’s how those things made your partner FEEL that made the difference, and I can guarantee that while they were deep in the throes of self-esteem-seeking, they were not thinking about you, your pain, the possible outcome.  They were selfishly only thinking of themselves.  It is akin to a drug addict, who just needs a hit – the tunnel vision showing them only the drug, the finish line, the goal.  Everything else falls outside the line of focus, at least for now.  So, when a spouse says, “I wasn’t trying to hurt you”, s/he probably wasn’t.  What s/he WAS trying to do was unhurt themselves, and you were collateral damage.

One of the things that used to drive me INSANE in the wake of my husband’s affair was that he used to say “I never stopped loving you”.  Knowing that my husband had been intimate with another woman made me feel as unloved as a human could possibly feel.  I had no value, no worth.  I wasn’t worth loving if he chose to do that to me.  I was unworthy.  Claiming that he never stopped loving me felt like a slap in the face each time he said it.  He’d say it with a expectant tone, as if I would hear it and magically understand that he was right, and I shouldn’t hurt over it.  PARDON ME???!!  How do you claim to love someone so deeply while thrusting your penis into another woman?  How do you love me while creating false email addresses to hide your tracks and telling the other woman that you love her?  “How is that loving me?”, I’d thought.  He would explain it as “compartmentalization”….that he had an ability to put me and our family out of his mind completely when he was with the other woman.   When he’d start to feel guilty, he would justify why he deserved this, why it was OK, and even why he thought I would be ok with it (yes, he rationalized that one).  He wasn’t thinking of me while he was with her. He had his phone turned off, and he was disconnected from us.  It was weird to consider that notion, because part of me wanted him to be thinking of me, and the other part didn’t.  If he was thinking of me, then I held at least an equal share of the OW’s power, I’d think.  However, if he was thinking of me, it also meant he was doing this to me with willful knowledge of me, consciously.  It was a lose-lose, and I hated it.  It was only once I had the opportunity to sit and talk with Brian Bercht of Passionate Life Seminars, and his description of what was going through his mind, that I realized that it was possible and that my husband “may” be accurately describing his experience, and not lying about it.  That was a big step forward for me.

It is hard to imagine, but our husbands don’t think of us during every moment of every day. I like to think that he does, and often play the playful “Did you think about me today?” game when we finally connect after work over the phone or in person.  Of course, then I want to know how often, what he thought…he just can’t report that because he doesn’t remember and just doesn’t think of me as often as I would like to think that he does.  He certainly wasn’t thinking of me when he was seeking her out, and if I popped to mind, I was rationalized away pretty fast.  It is amazing what the mind can do, and what you can allow yourself to do, and focus on, at the expense of all else.

We would like to think the pain the affair would cause US would have been a deterrent to the affair.  It simply isn’t.  The pull towards filling whatever that gap is, is so strong, that it trumps all things.  It is pure selfishness, unbridled.  They seek only to satisfy themselves, without thought or consideration of other people.   It’s the same reason why knowing that sex can lead to STD’s and unwanted pregnancy doesn’t stop horny teenagers from engaging in unprotected sex – the urge to fulfill their own immediate need blinds them, and their tunnel vision shows only the reward, not the sacrifices along the path.  It is the same situation that arises when one, addicted to food and what the food represents for them, gorges themselves with it, knowing full well that it is making them sick.  They do it anyway, because for the time being, it feels good.  The guilt will come later, but it will be rationalized away…”that’s the LAST time…”, or “I just needed it this one time because…”

Nothing set me off more than when my husband would say to me “I never stopped loving you”.  It was such a slap in the face, in the aftermath of the affair.  How dare he put a tender word like “LOVE” into his affair?  How dare he equate loving me with betraying me?!!?  It made no sense and would anger me incessantly.  He just didn’t understand why I would become so enraged when he’d say that.  He really believed it to be true and was trying to make me feel better.  So why wasn’t it working?  My next post will highlight how I showed him through a simple exercise why, and why he never said those words to me again.  Loving me was no longer part of that equation, and showing me how he loved me from that day forward was going to make the difference.

Stay tuned.

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