In this second blog in a series on healing from an affair (for the first one click here) Dr. Wall suggests that loving feelings are too shallow to make a marriage work. Your love better have more fuel than feelings to keep it burning.
Many of the people speed theire garmentes in the waie. other cut doune braunches from the trees, and strawed them in the waye. Moreover the people that went before, and they also that cam after cried saying: hosianna to the sonne of David. Blessed be he that commeth in the name of the lorde, hosianna in the hyest.
The Gospel of Matthew, The .xxj. Chapter, The New Testament 1526: Translated by William Tyndale: Original Spelling Edition, 2009, The British Library, London, England.
(For the purposes of simplicity, A is the person who had an affair, B is the spouse who didn’t have an affair and C is the person with whom A had the affair.)
A blog or two ago I suggested that asking WHY someone had an affair isn’t always very helpful because we end up hearing the excuses A said to A’s self and that whatever excuses A was saying to A’s self are a bunch of baloney. Just like it would only be an excuse if a murderer said he killed his mother so he could get her life insurance money or his inheritance from her. It doesn’t explain anything. There are millions of people who are standing in line to receive inheritances from their mothers and they aren’t even contemplating murdering their mothers. It wouldn’t even occur to them it is OKAY or even that it is an option!
So if you trouble yourself to ask why A had A’s affair you won’t get any answers you are going to like. Unless A answers that A was selfish and only thinking of A’s self, all the answers are going to seem pretty shallow and will just make you mad.
Then in our last blog I looked at how to heal from an affair once one has been committed. In that blog I suggested the quickest way to heal from an affair for both A and B is for A to never have another one. You might think this is rather shallow for me to say that, but if you were B you would be worried sick on two thoughts: That A had an affair at all and that how will I ever know that A won’t have another one! It is one thing to heal from the first affair; it is another thing altogether to have to deal with this crap all over again.
And if you were A and you were really honest with yourself, you would be worried sick how vulnerable you are to temptation and what do I need to do to assure my own self and B’s heart that I’m all in and that (eventually) B can trust me after all and will I ever even be able to trust myself?
For A to never have another affair I want A AND B to discover, sometimes for the first time, what true love really means. The Bible says in the last days that love will grow cold. It doesn’t say HOW love will grow cold. It only says that it will grow cold. Well, we must be in the last days, because with divorce hovering around 50% for the last forty years for the first time in the history of humankind, something must be really amiss. These kind of divorce rates are absolutely horrid and unheard of and unprecedented in all of human history and now they are so common that if you casually mention to any acquaintance of any sort, or, sadly, your own mom or dad, that you are having a marital problem, he or she will immediately tell you to divorce your spouse’s sorry butt, that you don’t have to take no crap and you are just settling and you deserve better and no one deserves to be treated that way. Divorce is the treatment of choice. Perseverance or hanging in there or working toward a goal never even comes up. Your happiness is your goal. No one considers the road to happiness might not always be the easy route.
The same philosophy that has led people to divorce and change spouses about as frequently as they do cars, is the same philosophy that has led people to have affairs. This is the same inner workings of the brain that has led to the rise in crime and the denigration of society and the poisoning of your own brain. This is the same philosophy that has ruined your life and is ruining everyone else’s life, too, and until we purge our brains of it, and our souls, too, we will well be on the way to being a scourge to everyone in our path, most of all ourselves.
To call it a philosophy is really a stretch because it is much more insidious than that. It is basically the idea, the thought, the tendency and proclivity for you and I to think that everyone else in our lives exists to make us happy, including God, and if God doesn’t get his act together, well, then, forget Him, cause I’m just not going to settle for a God that won’t treat me with the dignity that I deserve and if He won’t do what I want, well, then, screw Him, what’s He ever done for me? We treat our spouses the same way. We only love unless our spouse loves us. We only give unless our spouse gives to us. We’re only in a good mood if our spouse is in a good mood. Our love is only attraction deep, and attraction lasts about as long as a breath and then gout or gravity takes over and then whatdoyouhave? If your spouse would only stay married to you because you deserved it, well then, you better start saving for a lawyer, because there’s nothing you’ve done to deserve someone being faithful to you, let alone never having an affair on you and their heart only pining for you. This is the great pain of an affair: You deserve this and worse, because you couldn’t get low enough to crawl out of here if your sins were listed one by one and written in a book. Wouldn’t that be a sight to see? Either one: You getting low enough to crawl out of here or the list of all your sins? Either one would be enough for you to be humiliated forever, which, I think, is the whole point of Hell.
Everyone’s heart has gone astray. A, B and C. And all the D’s through Z’s, too. We all live for ourselves and our prayers only reach the ceiling.
So when I’m talking to A about what real love is I’m also talking to B and to me, too. And the love I’m talking to A and B about is a love that never grows old and stands the test of time. It goes beyond the here and now and touches eternity. It is a love that is so difficult that NO ONE can do it, not even me. So when I’m telling my clients about it, I’m really, in a way, inviting them to say in their hearts, there’s no way on God’s green earth or on white glaciers or the blue ocean, too, or even in the brown desert, least of all our carpeted den or our private bedroom, that I can love like that. I’d need a little help.
Because the love I’m talking about, that does NOT grow cold in the latter days, is a love that covers a multitude of sins. It is a love that does not seek it’s own. It is a love that protects. It is a love that bears all things, endures all things. It is patient. It is kind. It is longsuffering. Anything else is just a counterfeit, an obnoxious gong and a clanging symbol: It makes a lot of noise, but it doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t warm any one’s hearth, let alone your spouse’s, or even your own heart. You can’t get this love at the supermarket, or on iTunes and your iPod will never have enough memory to contain this type of love. This love is NOT about me, or you, either. It is a love that reaches out, even when you don’t feel like it.
Did you catch that? Love that grows cold is love that only feels. That is the great lie of our day, the reason we’re dumping marriages on garbage day. The shallow love that grows cold is love that has no fuel, no wood to kept the fire burning. If your spouse doesn’t make you feel good any more, dump his or her butt! Or have an affair with someone who finally taught you the true meaning of narcissistic, selfish love. I just love how you make me feel!!!! This type of love empties the stomach. No wonder this love is so shallow. You just spewed it all over the floor and we’ve got a mess on our hands. If there’s one thing an affair will teach you, it is that the only person more selfish in the world than you is your affairee. If someone were to say, you deserve each other, we’d all roll our eyes and go, you got that right. Don’t tell me you love each other. No. You selfish each other.
Because the love that does not grow cold ALSO keeps it’s promise!! Did you hear that? You made a promise when you got married. You said: Having THEE only! Just your spouse. That’s it. No matter what. I’ll give to you. Even in sickness and in health. Even if you can’t give to me, I will give to you. Even if you don’t make me feel good. That’s what you said.
But your love was shallower than that, wasn’t it? Shallower? Ha! It’s so shallow, you can’t even wade in your love. Nothing there but dust. Dry as dust or cold as ice. Pick your own metaphor. It won’t be far off.
No. If your marriage is going to last more than 7.2 years, your love better be more than feelings. Anyone can give your feelings a buzz if you will let them. It’s there for the taking.
Careful. If your love is that worthless it will scream out to you on judgment day. You say you can’t love like that? Me either. I had to search a little higher. Oprah’s god-within-you didn’t cut for me. I looked inside and didn’t find much that was worth worshipping. The Serpent was right: I know good AND evil. I think I need to concentrate on knowing God instead.
Stop making your spouse god. He or she cannot and should not make you feel love. That is NOT their job. Your job is NOT to worry about if your spouse is doing what your spouse is supposed to be doing. Your job is to worry about what you are supposed to be doing and you are suppose to be a loving spouse regardless if your spouse is a loving spouse to you or not. This is a love that won’t grow cold. You say you can’t love like that? Good for you. If you can say that, maybe you could get this…finally.
I’m writing this on Palm Sunday in Cambridge, England. I’m writing this on an historic day near an historic university. Cambridge University was 800 years old last year. The Queen even came to help celebrate. Eight hundred years? That’s pretty impressive. But this day, nearly two thousand years ago, Jesus of Nazareth road a donkey into Jerusalem to the praise of the masses. He made them all feel really good. They were so happy! They were throwing palm branches before him and shouting Hosannas to the Son of David!
That’s all well and good…on Sunday. But the pomp and circumstance didn’t last long. By Thursday, Jesus is lamenting that even his closest followers wouldn’t stay with him one hour. One hour? How about a week? What about a lifetime? How about eternity?
We all know what happened that Friday: The greatest thing and the lowest thing, all wrapped up into one. He bore our transgressions, so that our love wouldn’t have to grow cold anymore. He demonstrated his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, he died for us. He demonstrated love for us. It was real. You could see it. If you were there, you’d smell it. The taste of death was in the air.
Love that is only a feeling, lasts but an hour. And then they come see me. They can see Friday coming and they sense that their marriage will be dying on a cross and there’s no resurrection in sight. No. Your marriage doesn’t have to die. Your spouse doesn’t have to die, either. Or turn over a new leaf. Or finally reach out to you.
No. If love isn’t going to grow cold, YOU have to die. To yourself. Finally. You are not a big enough god to save your soul. One little heart attack, one little bit of cholesterol that decides to take a tour of your circulation system, one little bus, one little mishap by that driver across the lane and you are history, baby. Your god better be bigger than your feelings. It better be bigger than your spouse or your affairee. If your spouse is your god I feel sorry for you, your spouse and your kids. And if your affair is your god, Oh Baby! But if your feelings are you god, you won’t just be running with scissors. You and your cousins will be taking down society with you and we’ll all be in breadlines with no one left to make the bread, let alone harvest the wheat or serve the bread.
We’d all better have a god bigger than our bellies or our feelings or our spouses or our marriages or our kids or our jobs or our bank accounts or our country. Your god better be big enough for the celebration of Palm Sunday, the death of Good Friday and the victory of Resurrection Sunday.
Anything short of that and we’re all just spinning our wheels.
For the first blog on Healing From An Affair see:
Dr. Wall explains a very important step that must take place for healing after an affair.
For the third blog on Healing From An Affair see:
Dr. Wall continues his series on healing from an affair from the point of view of the person who had the affair. He looks at what true moral guilt is and what it is not.Check out these other blogs by Dr. Wall on affairs:
Dr. Wall debunks the excuses people give for having affairs.
Dr. Wall ponders the consequences of sex outside of marriage and concludes that the price is not cheap and NOT worth it.
On of the major steps to healing after an affair is confessing to our spouse.