Still love cheating husband
My husband and I have been married for 5 years, together for 10. For most of these years, I believed everything was great. Between the 6th and 7th year, I discovered that my husband had a fling - several of them. These were "girlfriends" he saw, some for weeks and some for months. I was pregnant with our third child when I found out. There were quite a few nights I spent alone and crying because he would not come home or call until the next day, once (during pregnancy) for 2 weeks. He claimed blackouts!
Anyway, recently we split up. This whole time (about 2 months) he's been telling me how much he loves me, and that he's going to counseling and church so he can keep his family. He said it is the most important thing to him and that it is I and his family that he wants - he's doing everything for us. He is seeing another woman, but says he just talks to her. I just found out! I feel as if my insides are being ripped out!
I've tried so hard to hold our family together (we have 3 daughters) by forgiving all his indiscretions and encouraging counseling for him. He is still asking me to let him come home, but at the same time, he is still seeing her! The deal was: He seeks help and I wait for him (not date). Not that I could, anyway. I'm so confused. I guess I just don't want to give up the dream or start over again at 35 with 3 small girls.
Why would I continue to believe in someone who has repeatedly cheated, lied, manipulated, and mentally abused me? How can I still love someone like that? Why do I think it could ever be better? Can you help?
Love means many things to many people and it is difficult to guess what it means when you ask "how can I still love someone like that". I think it's probably important, as you consider what to do in your situation, that you take some time to try to understand what you mean when you use that word.
Try to turn off your thoughts for a while and immerse yourself in your feelings. Then try to identify the feelings that would be absent if your husband were absent. Those feelings are probably what you are calling love. I would suggest that you then consider whether those feelings are directed towards the "real" man who you know has spent much time with many other women over the course of your relationship (which, of course, gives you a pretty good idea of your importance to him) or whether they are directed towards a "fantasy" man that you constructed during the time before you discovered his infidelities.
I'm guessing that you have two men in your head. One is the fantasy man with whom you thought you were having a relationship. This man you love (your definition). You are feeling "torn up" because you are trying to work through the pain of loss you experienced when you found out that the "real" man was not reciprocating your love. What you likely feel when thinking about the "real" man are probably anger, rage, humiliation and disgust. I do not think you "love some one like that".
Separating these two images (and the feelings that go with them) should help end your confusion. You will then be in a much better position to mourn the loss of your fantasy relationship (and that needs to be mourned because it is gone and can not be resurrected). Once you have "let go" of the fantasy, you can be much more clear-headed about what to do about the future and whether or not you want to have a relationship with someone who has "repeatedly cheated, lied, manipulated [and] abused" you.
For some reason, your husband finds life with you and the children convenient and he is, therefore, promising all sorts of things to get you to take him back. Is it possible for someone to change? Of course it is, but, since you can see, that he is continuing in the old pattern, it would, I think, be unwise to believe the words in this case. There is nothing "wrong with [you]" (except, perhaps being to generous). You are only 35 years old. That is not the end of the road! Neither is having three children. Look around for those who are available to support you and save yourself (and the children) from further abuse.
I hope this will be helpful to you. Good luck!
Jerry Button, L.M.H.C.
This question was answered by Jerry Button. Jerry is a psychotherapist, personal development trainer, workshop presenter and relationship coach practicing in Delray Beach, Florida. He believes that the key to quality of life lies in relationships. His approach to interpersonal and emotional problems is relational and psychodynamic. Jerry is experienced working with individuals, children and families and welcomes challenging opportunities.For more information visit: http://www.dynamicrelationships.net/