Category Archives: marriage
I asked my husband last night if he thought it was possible that men who cheat on their wives also love their wives. He quickly said “Yes.” Inside I recoiled at such a statement. I already wrote about how love and attachment are two different things, but I wanted to explore this idea further. How is it he and I have two completely definitions of love?
If a man can love his wife and simultaneously cheat on her, then I need to define love because the kind of love I believe in doesn’t allow real true human intimacy and betrayal at the same time. Impossible.
Scripturally speaking, love is long-suffering. It is gentleness. It is meekness. It is kindness, it is pure knowledge, it is without guile.
I think we would all agree love is gentle, meek and kind, but what about this “pure knowledge” business? What’s that all about? If I love someone what exactly do I have a pure knowledge about?
Pure knowledge of someone is knowing her intimately. You know her deepest joys and her deepest fears. Actually it is even more than just knowing. It is allowing those deepest joys and fears to change you.
Pure knowledge is knowing her and also acting on that knowledge.
Pure knowledge is being known as an individual. It is to be known by ourselves and by others. That is my definition true love. And i feel pretty good about it seeing as it is rooted in scripture. 🙂
In this article about the difference between affection and love, the author says, “I get very jazzed about the fact that we are the final arbiters of the love we receive. If you say you love me and I don’t feel you know me, are interested in me, hold me in mind or engage with me, I get to decide the issue, get to say whether or not your love is valid. There is no other judge or jury. And if you really love me and I’m just not perceiving it for some reason, then you need to communicate your love to me again. If it’s genuine, then I’ll likely feel it.”
Did you catch all those actions words? Know, engage, hold.
When I bristled at my husband’s belief that cheaters can love their wives it is for this reason–the cheater did not have a pure knowledge of his wife. He was not engaged with nor did he act on any knowledge he did have. Quite the opposite. He was engaged with his own selfish interests and her psychological well being was about as far from his mind as the moon.
Love is a discipline that requires learning, development, commitment and sacrifice. When someone has a pure knowledge of me I do not feel alone nor unknown.
When I found out my husband was a cheater I have never felt more alone in my whole life. I felt unloved and unknown and invisible. I realized there was much about him I didn’t know. I tried in vain for years to get this man to open up to me, to let me really know him, but to no avail. He couldn’t. His addiction prevented him from curating real true intimacy.
So can a cheater love? I don’t believe he can. He can financially support, admire, and desire. But no, I don’t believe he can love.
My husband is a good man who is trying to change. Yes, that change is happening slower than I would like (patience has never been my virtue) but day by day he learns and applies a few more recovery tools to his life.
Recently we read a blog post from a young man who thought he understood addiction and who thought he should write about it. The problem is that this young man didn’t know the first thing about addiction. It would be like me writing blog posts about repairing car engines, which I know nothing about, but I have listened to my Dad and brother talk about cars, so there, now I am qualified to tell you how to fix your broken down car.
My husband decided to send this young blogger a letter, trying to help him understand what pornography addiction really is like. I post my husband’s words here:
Before I knew my husband was an addict, I thought he was simply a man of silence. He is a doer, not a talker. He never opened up his heart to me, instead, he would give me a foot rub or do the dishes to say he loved me. Every woman loves a foot rub, no complaints there. But most women want a companion as well–someone she can share her heart with.
After nearly two years of sobriety, my husband is still a man of silence. Oh, he says he is trying to open up more, and once-in-a-blue-moon he does, but he stopped checking in with me long ago. He said because every day to him is the same–he just goes to work, is still doing well managing his addiction, so what else is there to say? He still is the man who can spend hours in a room with me and never speak to me. It’s terribly lonely.
I have told my husband that our marriage of silence sort-of-worked in the past, but now I need more. I need a true companion to repair my broken heart. I need someone who is willing to try and earn my trust back, one heartfelt conversation at a time.
We have this conversation about silence over and over, just the two of us, and also with our therapist. I feel like we walk into the therapist’s office, and recently our ecclesiastical leader’s office too, and need to press play on the tape recorder because the message is always the same. My tape-recorded message:
“I am lonely, I don’t trust him, he won’t talk to me.”
And my husband has his tape-recorded message as well–
“I am trying”, “Old habits die hard”, and “Most days are just days, there is nothing to talk about.”
He’s good, he’s really good. He is kind, quiet, and says this so convincingly, with a soft voice that it really seems genuine. You feel sorry for him. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with those explanations, not really. But I can read between the lines. And the real message is–
“I don’t want to talk, please leave me alone” or
“I am tired of talking about this addiction that is way in the past” or
“This is my personality, she needs to get over this.”
If he does try to talk to me it is always after we turn the lights out and go to bed. I guarantee I would fall off my chair with shock if he ever said “Hey Lorena, can we talk for a few minutes alone in the bedroom?” Our broken marriage is simply an afterthought at the end of the day, a way to break the awkward silence between a man and woman who have shared the same bed for 21 years before they fall to sleep.
I really don’t know what to do about this marriage of silence. It’s the definition of loneliness. I feel like I am walking at dusk on this semi-dark road. Heading down the road only leads towards something harder to walk–these cold and snowy mountains. Either way I am cold–either on the road (staying married) or divorced (cold mountains). Do women really walk away from marriages where he is kind, quiet, and does the dishes?
I think loneliness can make a woman do crazy things.
Trust gives you the ability to crush someone. That’s why this problem hurts so very badly. That’s why it has crushed me and I have had to start over. I trusted my husband like I have never trusted anyone before. I didn’t just trust him, I carried a torch for him. I would never, ever do anything to betray that trust. But he has and it hurts like hell.
Elder Holland gets it. Oh boy does he get it:
“The result (of trust) is that I know much more clearly now how to help her, and, if I let myself, I know exactly what will hurt her. In the honesty of our love—love that can’t truly be Christlike without such total devotion—surely God will hold me accountable for any pain I cause her by intentionally exploiting or hurting her when she has been so trusting of me, having long since thrown away any self-protection in order that we could be, as the scripture says, “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). To impair or impede her in any way for my gain or vanity or emotional mastery over her should disqualify me on the spot to be her husband.
Indeed, it should consign my miserable soul to eternal incarceration in that large and spacious building Lehi says is the prison of those who live by “vain imaginations” and the “pride of the world” (1 Nephi 11:36, 12:18). No wonder that building is at the opposite end of the field from the tree of life representing the love of God! In all that Christ was, He was not ever envious or inflated, never consumed with His own needs. He did not once, not ever, seek His own advantage at the expense of someone else. He delighted in the happiness of others, the happiness He could bring them. He was forever kind.” (How do I Love Thee, BYU Speeches, Feb 21 2000)