A few weeks ago I did a post about compartmentalization. I think its important to talk a little about love too, in conjunction with the compartments. When I hear the question, “How can he do this?” from a wife it is often accompanied by, “he couldn’t love me and do this”. Most often, this is simply not true.

By and large the guys I work with honestly, genuinely do love their wives. They hate the damage they’ve caused and never intended to hurt the one they love the most on the planet. This was true for me too. I questioned myself most days, asking if I really loved Shelley. I knew I did, but I also knew my actions said otherwise. I was conflicted and confused. Ultimately, I started to question what kind of monster or psycho must I be to say I love my wife but continue to commit adultery.

Truth is, I’m not psycho, nor am I monster. I was and am in need of a Savior.

And the issue wasn’t whether or not I loved Shelley; the issue was that I didn’t know what love was. I had a really shallow idea of love.

I find this to be true for many of the guys I help. They love their wives, but their understanding of love is shallow, self-serving, and rooted in conditions. In fact, guys often tell me they feel like their wife’s love is conditional towards them, when in reality they are simply projecting their own dysfunctional notions of love onto their wives (if you’re a wife reading this, please don’t use this against your husband. Have a counselor help sort it out and unpack it).

Anyway, shallow love… I thought love meant nonstop acceptance, never feeling rejected. It meant the absence of conflict (or only on very rare occasions). I expected love to feel good, most of the time. And to feel safe; which translated into sharing what I wanted, when I wanted, without my wife being hurt, being upset, asking a ton of questions, or invalidating what I was saying. I thought love would mean I got my way a lot. That’s how it was in my house growing up as an only child. Love was supposed to equate to a lot of sex too; sex the way I wanted it, when I wanted it. And love entitled me to have a say in my wife’s weight, wardrobe and way of thinking. Need I go on?

I had no concept of the kind of love I think Jesus talked about. You know, that whole “lay down your life” thing? That was awesome when it was convenient and I ended up benefiting. On this short road of recovery, I’ve come to see that there is a more selfless kind of love; a deeper, more authentic, more messy, painful and joyful love.

 The next couple posts will deal with unpacking Love, as it is described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.


Watch for a post on the first couple attributes, Patience & Envy soon!

5 thoughts on “Love

  1. Jason,
    Your comments are so true in my life. After 15 months out from EMB I am beginning to get it…. The kind of love that “lay down your life” entails. Thanks for putting into words the shallow love that I brought into my marriage and the Jesus kind of love I desire and my wife deserves.

  2. Jason, as usual another insightful post. I would also add that our addiction deforms our view of love because of our self obsession.
    Keep me coming!

  3. My husband and I are recovering from the damages of sexual addiction. These past few months, he has really opened up to me and his honesty, words backed by action, and seeming change in attitude of heart have allowed me to start trusting him again and to have hope we can overcome this together and have a beautiful marriage. In one of his heart felt letters to me, he talks about love. This post of yours inspired me to share some of his words with you.

    My husband, Charles, wrote me this about love…
    ….If I had ever seen, felt, or known anything of love, never mixed it up, gotten it confused, subbed it with other things, if I wouldn’t have used the word so freely, “I love this; I love that”…
    I think what I am trying to express is this. My version of love or rather what I’ve given as love is fraudulent or at least off base. Not to say that I haven’t loved, I just don’t believe I have been successful at showing it.
    To me, you are love, real love. A gift and blessing from God, to be cherished, respected, honored and adored. Thus far I have fallen so very short of loving you as a verb, of upholding my word to you and to God. I love you. Every minute, every second, every hour of every day. But I do a terrible job of showing you. That’s just not acceptable. You deserve better. From here until the end of time, I am going to concisely afford you the effort of- and put in the work to make it so you can see and feel the love I have for you. You have shown me what true love is, it’s you. It’s constance and accountability, effort and patience, selflessness and self certainty, reliability, honesty, courage and the tireless ongoing perpetuation of being there for one another. No matter what. You are love. I love you. I hope this comes across correctly. I hope I expressed myself in a way that says, “I love you. You are deserving of a love more than I’ve shown. But I’m learning and I’ll get there.” ……

    • Hey Peggy,
      Thanks for sharing this. What an awesome letter!! That sounds like a man who is doing some work! It is so unfortunate that wives, like Shelley and like you, have been shortchanged by us. So many guys that struggle with this stuff really do love their wives, but we have to learn to show and express it. Thanks again!

  4. Thank you for sharing this. I did not know that a child could be so spoiled in their home that would cause them to have such high expectations of a spousal relationship. I suppose this is why there are so many divorces of people saying their needs weren’t met. Thanks for sharing and being open.

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