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Dear Chump Lady, She says she’s sorry…

Dear Chump Lady,
My wife cheated on me for several years. She’s full of remorse now and says she sorry, and we’re trying to reconcile. It’s like she was another person when she was cheating on me, and she’s back now. But who was she then? She says she never stopped loving me when she was cheating. She insists she has “always” loved me.
I don’t get it. Can people still love you while they’re cheating on you?
Totally Confused
Dear Totally Confused,
No. They cannot.
Let’s substitute cheating for “pushing you down a flight of stairs” and see if sounds less ridiculous.
“I know I pushed you down a flight of stairs, honey, but all the time I was watching you flail about, hitting the landing, and breaking your collarbone – I was loving you. Really.”
Are you buying it now? As you know, the pain of betrayal is far worse than the physical pain of bouncing head first down a flight of stairs. Could someone who risked your safety and well-being for a thrill be described as “loving” you right then? No.
But it’s a common trope that cheaters never “stopped loving you.” And we go through all sorts of mental contortions to make these two incongruous things – loving and cheating – fit together.
“Okay, I loved you. But in this kind of familiar way, like you love a brother or a really annoying roommate, sort of thing. But I was always in love with you.”
This ability to “love” you while cheating on you is often attributed to “compartmentalization.” Yes, I loved you. But then I was able to shelf it just long enough to fuck that other guy and put my wedding ring in my pocket. When I came home, shazzam! I loved you again.
It’s like “love” is this background noise they claim they feel the whole time. But it apparently isn’t a strong enough force to not make them cheat in the first place.
“I never stopped loving you” is something that cheaters like to tell themselves, to make themselves out to be Not So Bad. Betrayal is unloving. While she was cheating, she was telling herself things that gave her reasons to act unloving toward you. Excuses. And what she wanted – side dish fucks, ego kibbles – was more important to her than you were. If she had to push you down a flight of stairs to get those ego kibbles, she would do it. She was indifferent to the consequences (which I’m sure she thought would not happen) and indifferent to your pain.
Love is about connection. You have to be emotionally and spiritually disconnected from someone to be able to cheat on him or her.
You are trying to reconcile with someone who betrayed you for YEARS. For her to tell you that yes, she did not love you, and she callously betrayed you, would be the truth. And that is a LOT harder to overcome than copping to the lesser offense that she behaved badly, but “always loved you.”
To move forward you must accept that she did not love you when she was cheating on you. Can she love you now? Maybe. I suppose it is possible.
But she’s the sort of person who is capable of “pushing you down a flight of stairs” to get what she wants. Can you live with that?
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  • My divorce will be final this week. The conduct of my scum bag soon to be ex was so egregiously hurtful and damaging to me that at one point, I did not want to see my next birthday. He had so little respect and so much contempt for me that he barely hid what he was doing. I will never forget the look of arrogance and disgust on his face as I confronted him. He was like an unrepentant stranger to me.

    He cheated down with not only tramp sending explicit messages to his phone (an unmarried whore with 4 children living in a public housing complex) and several others. Since DDay, I have had a multitude of revenge fantasies and if I could have cut his throat and gotten away with it, I would have. I recognized we were through but this line of thinking and the fact that I blacked his eye and split his head when I caught him in another lie after he conceded “As God is my witness, I am telling the truth now” was all the proof I needed to leave or spend the rest of my life in an orange jump suit.

    What is crazy is that he is constantly telling me he “loves” me and begging me to take him back. Hmm? Was he loving me when he had strange tits in his mouth, his mouth below their waists and having sex with them while not using a condom? HE IS ABSOLUTELY BSC and an egotistical narcissist! IT IS SIMPLY NOT POSSIBLE TO BE IN LOVE WITH YOUR WIFE / HUSBAND WHILE COMMITTING ADULTERY. What manner of love is this? CRAZY! I just cannot wait for this to be over.

    Had an epiphany or dream while I was awake. “Dreamed” he was dead. I was not remorseful at all. A voice I didn’t recognize was heard saying, “He would still be alive if he stayed married.” You see, in the dream he had sex with someones wife. Loser.

  • Hi TotallyConfused,
    I hit upon your rather old post on Chump Lady. I am rather new to this forum, but like it a lot! It is exactly those words I need at times. I find her exactly to the point. I like her analogies; they are just the right antidotes to mindfuck the cheaters have managed to put us through!
    I just wish that you took the sane advice. What did you do in the end? If you have taken her in, despite the advice herein, have you taken enough precautions? What if after 2-3 years, this behavior recurs? For sure, it would be much more painful. But, what is sure to happen the next time is: She shall be more prepared with her resources. While you may be happily rebuilding the castle, thinking that your partner’s affair might have been a good thing to happen as it ignited passions again, blah blah blah…she must be preparing for what she would do, when caught next time. Please beware! A second chance is only good in a limited number of cases and should not be given to people with some basic character flaw. I tell it from experience.

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