I’m Not Sure If I Still Love Him After His Affair

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from wives who are not only unsure about how they feel about their marriage after their husband’s affair, they are unsure about how they feel about their husband himself.  I heard from a wife who said: “my husband cheated on me with our accountant.  I have known this woman for many years and I trusted her.  At the same time, I have been married to my husband for half of my adult life.  No one knows me better.  No one else has been through life’s up and downs with me in the way that he has.  He’s begging me to give him another chance and has promised intense counseling of my choosing.  My problem is that I’m not sure if I love him anymore.  I understand that I am angry with him.  But it’s more than that.  I need to respect someone to love them.  I do not respect what he did.  I am not attracted to someone with a lack of character and I feel that he doesn’t have the character that I thought that he did.  He says he will prove to me that the good parts of his character are still there.  And there have been moments that I will look at him and still feel some simmering of love, but then I think back to how he betrayed me and whatever I’m feeling is extinguished almost instantly. How do I know if I still love him? And what should I do in the meantime?”  I’ll try to answer these questions in the following article.

Why I Think It’s Best Not To Try To Sort Out Love Until You’ve Had Enough Time To Reflect:  The wife was probably right in her assumption that her anger and shock was clouding her feelings.  Because right now, all that she was able to see was how his character was lacking.  This is completely understandable and no one can blame her for this.  However, when all you can see are the bad parts of his character, you aren’t likely to see any of the good parts.  Which means that you aren’t looking at this even remotely objectively.  Any decision about your marriage is an important decision.  Give yourself the time to make the right one for you.  I know first hand that in the initial time period after the affair, your anger clouds almost every feeling that you have.  It’s nearly impossible to truly determine deep emotions like love or even hate in that emotional state.

Try This Exercise: Some women tell me that they know for sure that they hate their husband and no longer feel a shred of love for him.  They won’t even consider that their anger is clouding their feelings.  They are completely sure that every ounce of love that they ever felt for him is long gone.  So here’s an exercise to test that.  I’m not bringing this up to be cruel or to try to hurt you more.  I’m not even trying to prove you wrong. I’m just trying to give you some perspective.

Imagine that it’s five years from now and you’ve saved your marriage.  Imagine that you took your husband up on that offer for counseling and this actually improved your marriage to the point where you renewed your wedding vows. Imagine the dress and the look on your face when you say your vows all over again.  Can you imagine this scene without any strong emotions? (Positive or negative emotions count.)

Now imagine that it’s those same five years later but you went the other way.  Let’s say you determined that you didn’t love your husband because of his cheating and you divorced him.  So let’s say that he and the other woman picked up where they left off and that, because he couldn’t have you, they eventually married.  What if you ran into them one day and made small talk?  What is your reaction to this scene?  Anger? Sadness?  Something else?  Are you have a strong reaction at all? My point is, if you have strong reactions to either scene that I’ve just described, you’re still responding very strongly to your raw emotions.  Determining the outcome of your marriage (or even your feelings for your husband) when emotions are running this high can be the wrong call.

Why You Can Hate What He Did And Still Love The Person:  I think there’s an important distinction that many people miss here.  You can loathe with everything you have what your husband did.  You can be so angry that you feel as if you will explode.  But you can still deep down love the person even if this frustrates you.  It is totally possible to hate the act and still love the person.

And the reason for this is that one act, or one character flaw does not negate all of the kind, loving things this person has done or all of the positive character that they still have.  Nor does it negate your history. So to address some of the questions that this wife posed, I don’t think it’s possible to totally define any feelings of love or hate after the affair until you have given yourself plenty of time to process this.  And trying to rush the process could lead you to decisions that you might regret.

I will freely admit that I doubted my love for my husband after his affair. But, after I had time to reflect, I realized that I hated the act, but still loved the person and we eventually saved (and improved) our marriage. If it helps, you can read my story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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