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Thoughts on love

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hikingout posted 5/25/2020 13:22 PM

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately and decided to come on and share some of these thoughts in the case they are helpful at all to fellow ws.

For most of my life I think I would classify myself as a bit of a romantic. I had years when I was more pragmatic than that but for certain I bought into the imagery of love as depicted in movies and in books. Love was affectionate feelings, passionate sex, all the whimsical things we believe in our youth.

Honestly for most of the years we have been married that image still fit for me. My h is very pragmatic but the ways in which I focused on his positive attributes and the effort I put in to pleasing him, and the easiness of our compatibility seemed to always give me those “in love” feelings.

But it’s always just been about feelings. As I have reflected about the past three years (it’s almost the end of affair season). I learned all the other glue. The sweat and tears that can go into commitment and have reflected a lot on why this particular commitment is important to me, and really to him. I put us in a place where we had to go through a lot of pain and hell, and that was really something we never seemed to go through before. We had businesses fail at the beginning of our marriage. I had a difficult pregnancy in which I almost lost our baby several times and then was deadly sick in the middle and prone to preterm labor and hospital stays at the end. We had major fiascos and major times of rebuilding before.

Nothing like the aftermath of infidelity. The first time it wasn’t us against whatever it was, at least not at first. The first time it ever felt like we wouldn’t make it through or see it through together. During any other period of turmoil the surest thing was always us. And you kind of wonder what creates that when one of us really didn’t understand the love part was in the getting through, the doing for each other, the looking after each other. I could only see feelings. The feelings were really just created by the way I looked at the marriage.

Until one day I decided to change the narrative. Weighing our story and what we had against some dream version to where I looked at the marriage differently. I didn’t value it - it was disposable. It’s hard to really look back and understand how flippantly that happened. I find myself now three years later after fighting our way back to wondering what wasn’t good enough about our story? Why did I stop seeing the romance in the way we loved each other? I mean I know my answers to where I was in my life, the how’s and why’s it all developed. A lot of it was pure mentality.

I say all this because so many of us arrive at this site. We think we are in love with someone else. We have gotten so deep in our narrative that we fully believe that up is down and fools gold is more valuable than the real thing. Love is worth fighting for but it takes a great deal of work to get it back, to get back all the ingredients of a healthy marriage for both people.

My husband looks after me in so many little ways. Today he wanted to make sure I had on my sunscreen. It’s an absolute miracle when we can find people who stand by us through all the good and the bad. And it’s truly up to us to inspect every nook and cranny about what we believe we are doing here - with them. With their hearts and their time. To honor such a miracle of someone who sees enough value left to rebuild and to wait for us to be worthy.

I would tell any newbie to really spend time analyzing what you believe love is. What commitment is. What it means to be a family. What it means to honor ourselves and our spouse. I don’t have nearly the answers I would like to have on the topic. But I do know the person who you have been sneaking around with doesn’t love you. They wouldn’t have pursued you so selfishly and brought this world of pain to you. And the same is true in reverse. There is nothing special about them or your narrative of them - because nothing beautiful comes from all the ugliness and disgusting ways the two of you behaved. An affair is two selfish people who only care about what it is they want at that moment. Look at the contrast of that and the marriage. Look at the ways you contributed negatively to your life and to your relationships. So many people end up taking steps based on those high feelings and truly there is never more quicksand you can stick your foot in.

I am not sure I am really illustrating al the thoughts I had that led me to this post, but generally speaking I think it was me reflecting on what a fool I was. And truly wanting the way Inlook at these things to continue to evolve and be healthy. To be vigilant of my thoughts and what can lead me astray. Maybe someone else can wrap a bow around it.

Lucky77 posted 5/25/2020 17:10 PM

I'll try and tug on this a little

what wasn’t good enough about our story? Why did I stop seeing the romance in the way we loved each other?

I've been thinking on comfortable love vs new, hot love. I get a chuckle about the Webster def of love. I'd say I have I have comfortable love. Def 1 of Webster is "1. an intense feeling of deep affection". I think the intensity starts to fade to comfort after a couple of decades. No need for the latest styles all the time. Wear what is comfortable and what you like and what feels good. I feel a warm spark for W now. As to "Intense" from Mr Webster I'll leave that for the new lovers. Although that's what pulled me into the A. The intensity. Like a bug drawn to a red hot flame.

How is established, mature, comfortable love supposed to feel? I'd venture an H that is checking in on you to be sure you get your sunscreen is in the ballpark.

forgettableDad posted 5/26/2020 01:50 AM

I've never been very good at talking about my emotions or expressing them effectively (even though I consider myself a romatic as well). But one of the biggest changes I've gone through with my therapist and the last couple of years is how I feel love.

I used to feel love as fire. A spark that ignites and burns. When that spark disappeared between me and my wife due to years of lying, I felt cold and afraid. That spark came back when I met and connected with my affair partner. And then that flickered... lol, I'm not sure how to describe it I guess. But for me, I found out that fire is fickle. And it required an external source which was always unstable.

As I said, one of the biggest changes. I feel love as an ocean now. It exists in and around me. It ebbs and flows and fills me. I can easily submerge myself in that feeling. I can easily share it with my wife and we can swim together :) The depths of it is far greater than anything a fire could achieve.

****
Affairs have very little to do with love. They're symptoms of deep personal issues and the inability to overcome those issues at the time (most usually because we're not even aware of them).

Snowyjune posted 5/26/2020 10:07 AM

Hikingout, thank you for this post. It truly struck a chord with how I feel I have changed post DDays.

Like you said, I have lived my whole life selfishly, as it was all about how I felt. I had never been able to move past that, to figure out why I felt a particular way, and believed that this "freedom" added a pretty je ne sais quoi sheen to myself.

Post DDays, in the last legs of complete destruction, even in the depths of hell, my BH still cared deeply for me, taking care of me. That's where I saw what love actually meant.
That's where I saw what commitment and respect for your spouse meant.

Love is commitments to each other, during the tough times. To respect each other enough to trash things out and kiss at the end of it.
Love is 100% trust in the other person, even when it's gonna be a bloody tough one.
Love is smiling and trying your best, even when you are flat out exhausted.
Love is seeing the best in your spouse, and sacrificing yourself for the betterment of "us".
Love is holding hands together in a storm.

It was truly sobering, to have the reality hit me, that I spent 2 decades living a superficial life, only wanting to feel flowers and rainbows, but never looking to put in effort to plant anything. Also, they were never enough and it becomes all consuming, and I ended up chasing the leprechaun into a black hole.
The affair was like the shiny tin foil that cuts into your finger while trying to get to the chocolate inside, but instead of chocolate, it's like a cocoa powder coated laxative.

Zugzwang posted 5/26/2020 10:41 AM

Wouldn't it be nice if marriage classes were a requirement for marriage? That we learn about the levels of a committed relationship? I mean I am not sure if I would have taken that seriously before getting married when you are at that romantic level. For unhealthy immature adults to even see that next level that the healthy ones just get to because they are much more selfless than the type that cheat. I just posted in R a link to education. Not sure if classes would work or not. Some just go into marriage thinking I need someone that fills me up and makes me happy. When the reality is...partnership. Though I really didn't have that romantic...fall in love with someone else type of affair. Honestly, I am not sure if even those that did really loved their AP or if they loved the APs lifestyle. The levels of a committed relationship though...I think it should be standard education here.

hikingout posted 5/26/2020 12:30 PM

Honestly, I am not sure if even those that did really loved their AP or if they loved the APs lifestyle.

For me it was neither. I loved the feelings I got from it. The highs. The feeling "special". All based on artificial/manufactured stuff. I gave him credit for things that he didn't deserve and likely wasn't part of him. He did the same. I wasn't special to him, he didn't even see me. And the same vice versa.

There was really nothing about his lifestyle, for certain. I know some times people do try and have affairs with someone who has far more than they do. That was not the case in my situation. I often think people like that probably experience the type of affair you have, because they are more calculating about what it is they want out of it. Whereas others the affair starts with some flirtation that might seem harmless but keep going back for more until they have decided to cross every boundary.

It does seem from the responses you guys knew where I was going with this even though I still don't feel like I have been able to really capture some of the things I have been inspecting. But, suffice it to say I think Lucky is right...love is saying "did you remember to put on your sunscreen" because it is having the highest intentions for that other persons well being and happiness. People who have affairs, like me, are doing the opposite. You can't have the highest intentions for another persons well being and happiness when you are destroying the other person, and their well being, and their sense of security and trust.

I have always said I was a good wife prior to the affair. I stand by that, I did sacrifice for him and our family. I did look after him and met my responsibilities and obligations. I didn't make everything about me. We always got a long, agreed on money, sex, and had similar sensibilities. But, I was lacking in ways neither of us saw. It got us through a couple of decades for sure. But, underneath the surface there was definitely wires loose, things that needed cleaning up, skills I needed to learn, and a higher self awareness than what I had. And, when the chips were down I didn't have a commitment to my own integrity that I thought I had.

I was surprised I decided to come back and post a lot of this to be honest. The quarantine has given me some new layers of perspective that I just don't know how to articulate. It has some to do with realizing what I almost lost, realizing what I did lose, and getting a broader sense of my attitudes and perceptions. I have used this place like a journal a lot since I have gotten here, a journal with a sounding board.

MrCleanSlate posted 5/26/2020 16:00 PM

But, I was lacking in ways neither of us saw. It got us through a couple of decades for sure. But, underneath the surface there was definitely wires loose, things that needed cleaning up, skills I needed to learn, and a higher self awareness than what I had. And, when the chips were down I didn't have a commitment to my own integrity that I thought I had.

I think for many WS we come to realize that we were lacking, loose wires, etc.

I was in denial about a lot of things, depression being one. I accepted a diagnosis after my A when I really started to open up to my issues.

In my case though, looking back (and my BW also saw it too) I was doing the ego kibbles for years earlier by always being the volunteer, coach, running to help my mom, etc. And my BW also she saw my depression building but she saw I was in denial.

Who knew where those behaviours were leading though....

Today she calls me out on all sorts of actions or behaviours she sees forming which helps me immensely. She really helped my stop my slide back into depression during Covid-19 by simply pointing out that I was starting to go down the rabbit hole.

Sometimes love is simply saying the hard truth to your partner. And sometimes it is gracefully accepting the hard truth and taking that to heart. That is mature love for me.

We both learned that we need to communicate. We don't rugsweep any issues anymore. It is a lot healthier way to live. I guess I'm talking more about M than I am about R, but it all really goes hand in hand.

My BW shows me what commitment and love is everyday. It is just that now I understand that and reciprocate. Only took me close to a half century of living to figure that out.

JBWD posted 5/26/2020 22:48 PM

Not sure if classes would work or not.

Was five years into my military career when BW and I got engaged. Officiant was a family friend from out of town so she asked us to at least meet with a chaplain to ensure we were somewhat informed. As an officer and a college grad, chaplain was so excited to see a couple over 20 years old he seriously took one look at us and said- “You got this!”
Proceeded to give us a point-out to Love Languages and almost laughingly told us about “I statements” as a technique.

Exactly NOT the kind of reinforcement I needed that I was “a natural” and that this stuff sustains itself on rainbows and unicorn farts.

I certainly could have taken any number of pushed boundaries as incentive to ask myself what the fuck I was doing... But I think we are trending in the wrong direction towards a culture that avoids work, especially if it is work that MAKES us feel discomfort. Covey talks about Character Ethic vs Personality Ethic, and the latter’s “quick fix” mentality certainly doesn’t lend itself to a life of reflection and questioning. Quite honestly just this kept me from a 12 Step program that MIGHT have been a critical enabler in deeper understanding more quickly and less self-deception and accompanying deception of my BW. Regret yes but not my path...

I find myself frequently catching what I think are excuses like this but realize that the responsibility we have is to treat everyone (most critically ourselves) with honesty. So there are things that WSs were blind to, I agree more and more on FOO playing part in that. But we as living sensing beings CHOOSE/CHOSE to ignore plain signs.

ETA: I was reflecting on this today and remembered BW stating that one of the things she wished for me was to find someone it’s easy with... Dunno if that’s ever realistic, tend to think not.

[This message edited by JBWD at 10:09 PM, May 27th (Wednesday)]

RedeemedSinner posted 5/28/2020 21:51 PM

One thing I’ve heard someone say and really changed my outlook on love and marriage is that love is a verb, an act or action. If we base it off of those fuzzy feelings, I think we are in danger of being mislead when things in our marriage doesn’t make us “feel” good. Personally I’ve learned to make it about the act of showing love to my wife and honoring her (now). Wish I would have known then what I know now. It’s not about me and how I “feel” it’s about sacrificing my wants and loving her by putting her first above myself. Made a big difference in me when I focused on just putting her wants above my own.

hikingout posted 5/29/2020 08:20 AM

I think that is right, redeemed. But I think there is a balance to be found here as well. I used to push down all my wants and needs and that ended up being just a big of a problem. Marriage is give and take, and compromise is an important skill. I was a giver to the point it got unhealthy and then it started coming from an inauthentic, resentful place. I wasn’t communicating what I needed, instead just trying to be some sort of stepford wife.

I do agree love is best experienced by doing, giving, considering what the other person needs. You have to balance that with Your own personal boundaries and getting things you need as well. The balance of that doesn’t come right after dday, but the equilibrium has to eventually return. For a long time after dday you really do have to concentrate on getting you both through it. I am only saying that you have to try and also practice personal boundaries and self care as well.

hikingout posted 5/29/2020 08:22 AM

I just read your other post. Keep focusing on what you said here. What I said is a concern further into the distance.

kairos posted 5/29/2020 15:08 PM

What is love? Baby don't hurt me. No more...

I joke.

Nice, sweet post. Moving into the 2-year post-dday timeframe here. Divorced. Dated a few here and there.

I've learned about love. In my own experience, it wasn't enough. She loved me. I thought I loved her, but my actions spoke differently.

I DID NOT LOVE MYSELF.

So, maybe, that's the starting... love oneself, so you can love the one you love. I agree it's a mix of commitment, action, and shared feelings. There's nothing better than knowing the one you love has been plotting to spend special time with you all day, and vice versa. But love is so much more.

Divorced now, but I look back fondly on the days when my ex-BW and I had that. And despite my dating life.... I look back and think, man, the thing (love) we sacrifice when we lack the courage to dig deep and not make the most selfish choice ever.

Again, excellent post. Love is important. It's worth exploring and better understanding.

[This message edited by kairos at 3:09 PM, May 29th (Friday)]

Hephaestus2 posted 5/29/2020 18:35 PM

How is it that an adult can be surprised that the initial burning fire of romantic love changes and becomes something deeper, more mature, and more profound?

hikingout posted 5/30/2020 12:51 PM

It’s a good question.

I don’t think surprised is what I was. We’d been married for decades. I knew the peaks and valleys and was always vigilant to work harder to get us out of those valleys.

I think maybe less aware of the human condition as we age. The ways we change, things that can become crisis without managing, suddenly being taken aback that I wasn’t as self aware as I thought. The affair was born not of my relationship with my husband but that of myself.

I think my reflection here is about gaining a different perspective after infidelity. The nativity of the path that would follow. The flippant way I was willing to throw away my family....and to echo some thoughts in love that may help a newbie to see that people can get very lost and find their way again. That the focus of love has to change but it can be done. And the love they think they share with ap is an illusion.

I consider myself a smart person with some good instincts and intuition. The fact I fell for it hook line and sinker shows to me that once you go down the path of choosing infidelity that you are opening a Pandora’s box of common psychological responses to that behavior. We are all different, our stories are different, but there are threads in common to unwind after. Also it’s why bs folk are able to accurately state things that are part of the cheaters handbook—- 8iys because of the common response.

Darkness Falls posted 5/30/2020 13:09 PM

I have come 180 degrees—I used to have the feelings, but not the commitment—now I have the commitment (only because we have children now) but not the feelings.

I don’t love my H. In fact, I dislike him intensely. I don’t wish him harm in any way, but I do wish he would just go away. I rue the day I met him. I am counting the years (unfortunately many) until my obligation to remain in this farce is over once my youngest is grown.

However, I do my duty. I try to be pleasant to him, and when I cannot, I close my mouth and avoid him. I take care of our children and clean the house. I go to work part time so I contribute financially (although it’s silly because childcare costs more than I make; we both know that I work so I don’t give up my career prior to eventual divorce). I have all the outward signs of commitment and love as action.

Yet, feelings-wise, I despise him.

Marriage works no better when love as an action is all that is present as it does when love as a feeling is. That’s my PSA for the day.

kairos posted 5/30/2020 16:41 PM

Darkness Falls, damn. Ouch.

That sounds terrible.

Darkness Falls posted 5/30/2020 16:46 PM

It’s not fun, kairos. My poor innocent children didn’t deserve this. If only I had really thought about remarrying him and not just looking at it as a way to a.) “redeem myself” from my infidelity 4+ years prior and b.) shut the ticking biological clock up.

hikingout posted 5/30/2020 20:02 PM

It’s true, the warm feelings definitely make it better. Maybe the answer is both need to be present, DF. I have found that sometimes the feelings ebb and flow but they do come back...sometimes there is no ebb and flow....

Hephaestus2 posted 5/31/2020 07:59 AM

How appalling for your children, Darkness Falls - to have one parent who despises the other parent, who rues the day they met, who wishes the other would go away, but who at the same time is pleasant. OMG

I cannot imagine anything as deeply disturbing and bewildering as to grow up in a household riddled with covert hostility. How could a child living in those circumstances be expected to have a healthy and happy primary relationship as an adult?

Why would "staying for the kids" appear to be a "good thing" under those conditions?

Darkness Falls posted 5/31/2020 10:54 AM

Hephaestus2, oh it’s not just one of us—it’s a very mutual feeling. And yes, we are as pleasant as possible for the sake of our kids—I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

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