Love is more than a need

Today’s post on Emotional Affair Journey is exactly what my therapist and I have been discussing: affair love and real love.  There are many perspectives from which to look at it.

I posted a few weeks ago that Love is a Need.  That is how our marriage counselor put it.  As a need it can become addictive, and he described a person in an affair as addicted to the the affair partner.  He did not make a differentiation between real love and affair love.  He told me that he sees many men who are the middle of an affair and could not choose one woman over the other.  He said these men were in love with two women at the same time, and that this was very possible, and was what happened to my husband.  He said my husband eventually came to realize that though he loved the OW, it had become more an addiction than a real relationship, and he needed to make a choice.  He chose me.

And I am undecided about whether or not I still choose him.

Most of this, however, is very contradictory to what I have read about affairs.

My personal therapist and I discussed it further.  He didn’t call it affair love.  He said it was just fantasy and delusion and did not even qualify as love.   He reminded me of the Bible verse that defines love:

Love is patient, love is not selfish, love thinks of others and not self, love is kind, love never dies.

He said that infatuation, lust, hormones and much that we call love is not love at all.  He said they tarnish love.

This rings true to me, but it still does not persuade me that my husband really loves me.  My husband has not been patient, unselfish, or kind through much of this.  He did not feel love for me during his affair.  He regretted ever marrying me.  He had plans laid out to leave.  Today he does lust after me, but that’s not real love.  But I have to admit, he made the conscious choice to be with me and to give up his affair.  Does he really love me?

Again I have to say – I have to think about that.

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7 thoughts on “Love is more than a need

  1. aaroncrj says:

    Hi DJ:

    I appreciate your post and went over to EA Journey to look at theirs as well. As you may recall, I believe there are some startling similarities between your situation and mine. My wife’s EA was with an “old love.” (They actually discussed whether they were old lovers or old loves, settling on the latter.) It lasted, in varying states of intensity for almost six years. There appeared to be one meeting that involved inappropriate contact (passionate kisses, hugs, hand-holding, etc.), but they, in their words, “respected boundaries” (though they oft remarked later that they had some regrets for maintaining that respect).

    I have come to the conclusion that I believe my wife did (does) love this man, though I think she is out of the fog and sees him in a more “real” light. Yet, I believe that because of their past and her attachment of youthful happiness to their time together 30 years ago, she will always have feelings for him. At one time, I was okay with that. Given more recent events, I can’t say that I am, but that is something I may have to learn to accept if we are to make it going forward.

    So, if this were a person with whom she shared no history, I might feel like this all resided in the fantasy world. I believe there were elements of fantasy and escape in their reconnection, but can’t dismiss that something real was felt. And that is what I struggle most with.

  2. DJ says:

    Hey Aaron – me, too. Exactly.

    My husband’s brother is on his third wife and considering leaving her. He has cheated on all three wives and on the live-in girlfriend he had in between wife 2 and wife 3. My husband told him the other day that marriage was a lifelong commitment and he needed to make it right with his current wife and straighten out his life. He never said that cheating was wrong or that he needed to be faithful or anything like that. They did not talk about love. He just said that his brother needed to work out his marriage because divorce should not be an option.

    That got me thinking about our marriage. Is he here only because he feels divorce is not an option? Is he just trying to make it right and live out his days with me, even though he loves her? That’s what he told his OW when they broke up. To me he says he loves me and only me. And like you, this is what I struggle most with.

    Our marriage counselor said that he chose me and even though he may still have feelings for his OW, he has decided to no longer act on those feelings. That’s not good enough for me.

    What does your counselor say?

  3. aaroncrj says:

    Hi DJ:

    I am a bit frustrated with my counselor and am probably going to seek someone new. She has been almost an apologist for my wife’s EA, though she doesn’t even have the full story as I have not told her all of the details of my wife’s history with me and with this man. Frankly, I don’t want to because I think she is encouraging me to sweep the EA under the rug and just refocus on repairing our relationship. I’ve told my counselor that I still struggle with my level of commitment to continue in the marriage, but I don’t think she “gets it.”

    I love my wife, and always will. Yet this most recent betrayal, in combination with other aspects of our history, has me frequently questioning whether I want to invest what I must for us to stay together for another quarter century or more. Though I haven’t verbalized such thoughts to my wife, she must be sensing my fits of ambivalence. She has expressed fears that I will leave her or that I will have a revenge affair. I am trying to reassure her that I have no plans for either, but I also don’t want to say something that might be proven disingenuous should I ultimately decide to go. In fact, I do believe that were it not for the fact that my leaving would be damaging to our youngest, still in junior high, I very well may have moved out sometime in the fall—probably to give us (me) some space.

    My wife recently told me in a private moment that he “never had a chance” against me. Huh?!? I didn’t know it was an open competition. She meant it to reassure me that she always really wanted me and that she knew her decision to accept my proposal more than 28 years ago was the right choice. This is in the context of our working together on our relationship and on our marriage (which I consider to be two highly-connected, but different things) and in the context of things that I have been doing to make myself a better husband and father. The “never had a chance” reference, while meant to be reassuring, actually makes me wonder if it isn’t more of a warning. It sure looked like he had a chance a few years ago–and that she actively worked to keep that chance alive for many years.

    In some ways It’s as if she’s saying that as long as I continue to be the husband she wants (and deserves) he won’t have a chance–and I won’t have to worry about her going outside the marriage for emotional or physical fulfillment. I know in my heart that’s not what she means, but I also don’t know that she yet fully comprehends the pain she has caused me—not only through her recent EA, but through other things throughout our marriage.

    There’s more to our story and I’ve already written a lot, but let’s just say that her EA has caused me to reconsider the entirety of our 28+ year relationship.

    Does your husband understand that you don’t trust what he tells you about his reasons for staying or does he think you’re just punishing him?

    –Aaron

  4. DJ says:

    Wow, our situations are like two peas in a pod, Aaron. A few months ago, my husband told me – also in a tender moment – that I was the best wife for him. No one else could compare. And I thought the same things you did. Geez.

    I met him when I was 17. I am now 53. I have been with him most of my life. We should be enjoying our new phase of life since our last child just graduated. But here we are.

    My husband absolutely thought that I was just punishing him by not letting go of the pain and memories. Our marriage counselor, while not helping much, did one good thing. He told my husband that it was entirely normal for me to be where I am in recovery and he would be surprised if I didn’t still think about the affair most of the time. And he said that trust could not be automatic and could not be expected now. It would take time, a long time, to rebuild it. And my husband needed to take responsibility to rebuild it.

    So now my husband is a little better. He is frustrated by it and still gets angry and withdraws, but he does understand that this is normal and there is no way around it right now.

    Hope you are finding some peace somewhere. I find peace in blogging here, in my online therapist, in my students, in my children. It’s all good. Whether or not I stay with my husband, I will be ok.

    DJ

  5. The Wayward Husband in Recovery says:

    I know exactly how you are feeling. And I totally can relate to what your husband is feeling as well.

    reading your blog is weird. It’s almost like you were talking about me!

    wow

    I think you need to make YOUR choice. Because after 15 months, you don’t seem like you know whether to commit to the marriage or not. Like you’re waiting for a eureka moment of clarity. So you’re withdrawing. Holding back from him. Waiting for your husband to do I don’t know what.

    I think if you don’t fully commit to fixing things — even if you can’t forget the hurt and the memories — then your marriage is ultimately doomed.

    it takes two. Remember, your husband has issues too. He has some anger at you as well. You need to work this out. Openly. Together. With the committed and common goal of not just fixing your marriage, but rebuilding it in a way that it may never have been. Better than it ever was. If you two aren’t both fully embracing that goal, it’s doomed.

    • Not Over It says:

      Hey WH,

      I am committed to doing everything I possibly can to make it work. I do not hold back and I do not withdraw. I work daily with a coach to be sure I do not have a meltdown and do any of that. If anything, my husband is the one who withdraws when I want to talk about it. He is better about it now, but he would still rather just make like it never happened. As you are finding out, it’s much more difficult that.

      You are still a newbie to the world of affair recovery. I admire the gusto with which you are working on your marriage – reading, therapy, spending quality time with your wife. If only more cheating spouses would do all that, maybe more marriages could be saved.

      For a betrayed spouse, 5 months is still brand new. Your wife still struggles. She’s still in the trauma stage. She is trying so hard to be what you need, but it will still take time.

      I welcome you to our blogging community. I don’t despise you because you are the cheater in your marriage. Hey, I’m married to one and am trying to make it work. Just know that I will tell you exactly as I see it, from the betrayed spouse’s perspective. And I expect the same from you.

      DJ

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