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Same old issue. "But I did love you."

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rbf1234 posted 10/14/2013 12:52 PM

I am frustrated by the same old conversations.

Me: You clearly didn't love me - because cheating and emotional abuse are not love.
Him: But I did love you.

Him: It really wasn't about you.
Me: That exactly the point. My welfare and our marriage should have been your high priority and they weren't.

I am starting to think I need to rephrase my problem.

Maybe my problem is that I think he wanted to have all the power in the marriage. He wanted to be entitled to a secret life, all while pretend to be the good husband - with the right to criticize me (a lot) and to make me feel that I had to run around and sacrifice myself for him and his needs. Maybe he did feel affection for me while eating cake. But that doesn't match with my assumptions about love.

In other words, he wanted an unequal marital arrangement.

So what bugs me now is this. If he thinks that was love, then doesn't he have a messed up idea of of what love is?

Sorry I know this is a topic that has been beaten to death on this site.

The other problem is this: I feel like I have my best friend back - and it is such a relief to be free of the the mean and angry person he was before.

But it is hard to imagine that I can feel romantic passionate love in the future. Especially while we talk about emotions so differently.

ShatteredLove00 posted 10/14/2013 13:05 PM

My WH says this too - but the way he describes it now is that he only knew 9/10 parts of what love was, and he was missing the one piece that he didn't know existed. He can't really describe it any better. He said that before, he thought he was loving me fully, but now realizes he wasn't.

It's almost as sad to me as the infidelity itself that for our whole marriage, I was giving a lot more than I was getting in terms of love, intimacy, and appreciation. My WH also blamed me for a lot - he would say I was a prude who didn't enjoy sex, but would let me go to bed alone and then stay up watching porn by himself. He would be annoyed that I had to take care of the baby in the mornings and evenings when he was home instead of pay attention to him, but he never offered to help.

He recognizes it now, but it's still painful that not only did he stray outside our marriage, but that he wasn't a full part of that marriage beforehand.

SisterMilkshake posted 10/14/2013 14:18 PM

This topic does cycle through. I can see that you both are fairly new to SI so maybe it hasn't cycled through recently. Have you heard about compartmentalization? It is very real. A lot of people use this. Even in good ways. Doctors, nurses, police, soldiers, firemen, EMT's, etc. etc. can use this technique. WS's tend to be real pros at this. I do believe my FWH truly loved me whilst he was cheating. I just didn't exist at that time, though. He put me in the "box" and there I stayed until he had to deal with me, and then I was out, only to be put back in when dealing with his AP.

This is description is from the Healing Library. Have you read anything in there? The BS FAQ's and even the WS FAQ's are a must read. It was posted in the WS FAQ's and I hope it is okay to repost it here.

Q: What Is Compartmentalization? Submitted by Fallen
A: We often use the word compartmentalization to describe how WSes are able to keep their married and secret lives separated. For many WSes, compartmentalization was a coping mechanism developed during childhood to get through difficult times, whether those difficulties were physical, mental or emotional.

A person who compartmentalizes has the ability to completely shut off one part of themselves into a "compartment." Many people describe this as putting difficult emotions or memories into "boxes" in their minds. Once the thought or feeling is boxed up, there is no need to revisit it. *Poof* and it's gone. Of course, this is not what happens, but compartmentalization also allows one to live in denial. If it's locked away in your mental closet, it doesn't exist. From the time I was a child, I compartmentalized any emotion that I could not deal with. I was not permitted to express anger or disappointment, so without a place to vent those feelings, I boxed them up in a virtual closet in my mind. Years of anger and resentment were 'stored' that way.

My BH and rarely had arguments because I didn't feel entitled to my anger or disappointment. I'd just shut it out. This was so normal for me that I wasn't even aware that I was doing it and when I started to feel things deteriorating between my H and myself, I couldn't deal with that. I didn't know how. I had no coping mechanisms at all. This compartmentalization keeps us in an emotionally immature place, because we're basically behaving like spoiled brats. Picture a 6 year old covering their ears and saying "La la la la la! I'm not listening!" If you do this long enough, it becomes an automatic reaction and you probably aren't even aware that you're doing it, or worse, you think it's a good thing that you CAN do it.

It's actually kind of scary that WSes can so effectively lock away those feelings. The ability to do this leads to some really hurtful behaviors- lying being the most hurtful, and cheating because it's linked to lying. This ability allows us to lie to everyone- ourselves, the OP, our BS, our families, coworkers and friends- all because we can lock away those critical or negative voices in the mental closet. Feeling a little bit guilty that you called the OP? Well? just lock it away in the closet. Lied about where you were? Well lock it up in a box in the closet and throw away that key!

There is a price to be paid, though, for doing this. Most times, D-day blows the door off that mental "closet". All the ugly things that have been locked away through the years must be dealt with. Now, not only does the WS have to deal with all the crap in those boxes, the crap is overflowing like a clogged sewer and it has polluted the BS too. We have to face the truth about ourselves and our fears. It makes recovery a bit more difficult too, because not only do we have to deal with the aftermath of the affair, we must also sort through the stuff in those boxes and love ourselves through that process.

The more you practice talking out your feelings when you feel them, or at least talking about them at an appropriate time soon after you feel them, the easier it will become to face painful emotions. One day, after some effort, you may realize that you don't really need to compartmentalize anymore, and that you enjoy being honest and transparent.

rbf1234 posted 10/14/2013 14:26 PM

Thanks for this. I think this is exactly the issue. I think my WH is a pro at this.

silentheart posted 10/14/2013 14:45 PM

I needed this too. Thanks for posting. I have had people tell me that my BF of 13 years didn't really love me if he was able to have an A for 4 years. Although I am still devastated by what he did and did not think he was even capable of it, I refuse to believe that he never loved me. I know he loved me, was in love with me....but after reading this I believe he was able to separate/compartmentalize.

TheAmazingWondertwin posted 10/14/2013 17:46 PM

Wow- that clears up a lot and is just what I wanted to hear right now.

It's amazing how sometimes I'm just reading to read, not really digging for anything- and someone will post something so relative to what I'm feeling....

Thank you for this post. :)

Lonelygirl10 posted 10/14/2013 21:05 PM

I rationally understand this, but emotionally just cannot "get it." I've cheated in the past on a prior partner. I loved him, but wasnt in love with him. I was able to compartmentalize.

There is no way I could have cheated on my current partner because of how much I was in love with him. Thoughts of another man never even entered my head. Even now after all this crap, I'm not tempted to be with anyone else.

So I emotionally cannot get it. To me, there is no way that he could have felt the same way about me that I did him, and still cheat on me. There's just no way.

AlexFL posted 10/14/2013 21:20 PM

I enjoyed reading this but ultimately it's giving the cheater somewhere to push the blame. It wasn't me, it was the child in me!!! That's just BS. We all have choices. We have daily decisions to make- sometimes we do make mistakes. If be more apt to forgive if they take ownership.

SisterMilkshake posted 10/14/2013 21:20 PM

Lonelygirl, it really isn't worth wasting your time in putting how you would think and or feel onto your WBF. Waywards, and everyone in fact, don't feel or think the same. Because that is how you feel, doesn't mean that your WBF would have to feel the same as you. KWIM?

SisterMilkshake posted 10/14/2013 21:25 PM

AlexFL, I don't feel this is at all about placing blame. It is about being able to compartmentalize ones feelings and thoughts.

compartmentalization also allows one to live in denial.

Lonelygirl10 posted 10/14/2013 21:53 PM

Lonelygirl, it really isn't worth wasting your time in putting how you would think and or feel onto your WBF. Waywards, and everyone in fact, don't feel or think the same. Because that is how you feel, doesn't mean that your WBF would have to feel the same as you. KWIM?

I just don't get it though. I think this has been the hardest part for me to wrap my head around. If you really love someone, I just don't get how you could want anyone else. I loved him, and didn't want anyone else. Since he wanted someone else, that means that he didn't love me, at least in the same way I did him. I'm not trying to force my feelings on him. I just honestly don't get it.

ShatteredLove00 posted 10/14/2013 22:07 PM

Lonely - this is how I feel about it as well. I love my husband so much that I can't even imagine sex with someone else...and since this has happened I've tried, seriously looked at someone I found to be attractive and tried to imagine sex. It just doesn't work that way. I have to have an emotional connection to someone to want them sexually, despite being quite able to find someone attractive. My husband, obviously, did not have this quality. In fact he knew the OW less than 30 minutes before he took her to a hotel room. It's just ridiculous...sure compartmentalization, I guess I sort of get it, but not the sex with a practical stranger. That's indicative of a much more serious problem IMO.

rbf1234 posted 10/14/2013 22:23 PM

I think compartmentalization explains a lot. It provides a scenario in which it is at least theoretically possible to love someone and cheat on them. It certainly explains denial and be willing to live with himself while doing terrible things - to someone he told himself he loved.

That said, I think that:

1. There may be reasons why he wants to believe he loved me. Maybe to avoid hurting me. Maybe to see himself as a better person than he is. Maybe because he doesn't want to admit he left the marriage emotionally as much as he did.

2. He has a rather limited idea of what it means to love someone. It may be even that he has no idea. (Sort of depressing what that means for the long run.)

The other hard part now - and maybe this belongs in a new thread. Is that he seems depressed - feeling very bad about himself. He finally finished a timeline (only took 12 months!). And something about seeing it on paper has hit him hard. I have trouble understanding why that should make a difference but perhaps seeing it in writing broke down some of the compartmentalization we have been talking about.

I would like to have a fully functioning partner. It looks like it will be a while (if ever) before that happens.

RidingHealingRd posted 10/15/2013 00:59 AM

I certainly hope that my WH did not love me while he was cheating because I do not want stay with a person that loves like that.

I understand compartmentalization...It may have allowed my WH to live a double life for a while but I do not believe that it allowed him to "tuck away" the fact that he loved me while he was having sex with AP. He knew what he was doing, he knew he had a wife at home. At the time he just did not give a shit...because at the time he obviously did not love me.

I have two amazing adult children. I would never even think of emotionally abandoning them, talk negatively about them to another, or lie and intentionally deceive them. Why? Because I genuinely love them.

If you really love someone, I just don't get how you could want anyone else.

I have to agree.

[This message edited by RidingHealingRd at 1:01 AM, October 15th (Tuesday)]

bionicgal posted 10/15/2013 07:13 AM

I don't think it is about love at all, and I certainly think you can love someone and have an affair.

Affairs are not about love, and they are not even really about sex. I think they are largely about escape, and they are very addictive. So, the WS are generally not thinking about BS much at all. So, are they connected in a loving sense that we all desire and want to us at that time? No. But, does love shut off and on like a water hose? I don't think so.

The compartmentalization does allow them to pursue their addiction, while disregarding the BS. And, love is a verb, so they certainly weren't being loving to us. But, I think the underlying regard for the BS can remain unchanged, which is what makes it sound so paradoxical.

SisterMilkshake posted 10/15/2013 07:16 AM

I agree with you bionicgal. Thanks for expanding. Frankly, I was too tired to try to write it out and you saved me the need.

bionicgal posted 10/15/2013 07:23 AM

SM -
Great minds (sometimes) think alike!

Lonelygirl10 posted 10/15/2013 07:24 AM

Maybe it depends on your definition of love. To me, love is always respecting the other person and doing what is in that person's best interests. And desire plays a big part of love to me. Personally, I know that he was the only person I wanted to be with. And I always tried to do what was best for him. I just can't picture a situation where I could feel those things toward him and still be with someone else.

If you define love as caring for someone, then yeah, I totally get how you can compartmentalize it. I completely see how it's possible to care about someone and have an A.

rbf1234 posted 10/15/2013 10:16 AM

Bionicgal writes "But, I think the underlying regard for the BS can remain unchanged, which is what makes it sound so paradoxical."

While this makes a lot of sense, I am struck by the choice of word. "Regard" is such an abstract, formal, intellectual word. My husband has always had a high regard for me. (Why not? I am great - at least in theory.) But just because you admire or have a high regard for someone doesn't mean you want to be married to her. Loving someone enough to sustain a marriage is is - in my experience - a visceral, emotional, holistic feeling.

I think my WH reached point where - sure he had the same old theoretical high regard for me, but for complex reasons, he could barely stand being married to me any more.

And the worst part? He wasn't kind or affectionate during the day, but was very interested in sex at night. He even said at one point "sex is how I express affection" which he later admitted was just a lie to put me off when I asked why he was so emotionally distant. So that has royally f** with my head. If our sex life had died, then reviving that part of our intimacy now could feel like a metaphor for reviving the marriage now. Alas, now it feels like another layer of brokenness.

And I think my fear now is that - while he has more regard for me than ever - he still doesn't really love me. Not because of anything wrong with me, but because of his own issues and limitations. He is very conscious of how my he wants to preserve our marriage and protect our kids. He is trying hard to do and say what is needed to keep his life from falling apart. But I know what it is like to feel passionate about someone even after 20 years (because that's how I used to feel about him). And it pretty depressing to realize that that is not how he has felt about me. Leaves me feeling alone and unloved in the world. Regardless of the high regard.

SisterMilkshake posted 10/15/2013 11:51 AM

Bluntly put, it is a mindfuck.

This is what I have found that enables me to go forward with reconciling with my FWH.

My FWH said he always "loved" me during his affair. He also was very angry with me. Some real hurts and resentments and a lot of rewriting marital history.

I need to accept that my FWH believes he loved me during his affair. Whether he did or didn't doesn't really matter to me anymore. How are we going to prove it one way or the other? The fact is, whether he loved me or not, he fucked another person for years. I need to validate my FWH's feelings. Just as he needs to validate mine. How frustrating would it be to you if your H was insisting to you that isn't what you feel (about anything)?

One of the very first lightbulb moments I had here at SI is to really understand that other people, particularly waywards, think, feel and act differently than you or me. Just because you couldn't have sex with someone within 30 minutes of meeting someone doesn't mean that there isn't a whole, whole lot of people that can and do this. And still be in love with their spouse.

I have to accept the fact that I am not going to be able to understand "why" and "how" my FWH choose to have an affair. It is just something I can't wrap my head around. I have to accept that to move forward. (Doesn't mean we don't discuss and address the issues that allowed my FWH to do it.)

I found myself a mantra about 9 months after d-day. It helped me a lot. It is: Don't live in the past, don't worry about the future, live in the present. Maybe it will be helpful to you, too.

[This message edited by SisterMilkshake at 11:53 AM, October 15th (Tuesday)]

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