I was reading an article over at Marriage 365 that Keelie recommended to me the other day and I got to thinking. The article outlined four steps on the road to recovering from an affair. I really appreciated the thoughts they outlined, but wanted to add one tweak.
The basic outline they established was
My main critique here, and it’s a small one because I really like the article, was the place “love” had in the outline. I would place love at the top of the process for a few reasons.
Forgiveness without love?
In my understanding, forgiveness comes out of love. A love that puts others first in the foundation for genuine forgiveness. With its unifying power, love is the very motivation for reconciliation. Perhaps I should back up and make a distinction in my understanding of what “love” even is.
“Love covers over a multitude of sins.” ~1 Peter 4:8
Love is a verb
I’ve emphasized for years that love is what you do. It’s not simply that feeling you get in your stomach, or the weakness in your knees. It’s not less than that (see below), but it’s not only that either.
Love has to be visible to be true love. It is seen in your actions, your body language, your touch. It is sacrifice, serving, and giving. Love that is only felt and not seen is merely sentimental.
Love is what you do. But it’s not that alone.
Love is an emotion
I used to fight this, but I’ve come to realize the incredible importance of this aspect of love. It is action, but it is feeling too. If you don’t have an emotional response to those you claim to love, something is wrong. Love without emotion is obligational drudgery.
When it comes to your spouse, there had better be some emotional fire. There needs to be passion, desire, and romance. It’s good to be googly eyed when you see him. It’s good to get a little light-headed when she touches you.
Be emotionally charged in your love. But don’t be emotional only.
Maybe love is first AND last
So, perhaps I’ve convinced myself that the list isn’t entirely wrong on it’s placement of love. If you mean love in the emotional sense – the warm fuzzies – then yes, it will likely be last. When trust is breached and vows are broken, the warm fuzzies turn to cold shoulders. And understandably so! These feelings may not return quickly. But they will return with time and commitment.
However, if you mean that visible, committed love that says, “I will choose to love this person in spite of how I feel right now,” then I believe that must come first. This is that stubborn love that is born of commitment and refuses to abandon the object of that love.
A new outline
My suggestion for those trying to recover from affair would be to commit to each other to work through all the difficulties ahead and to do so as a couple/team. Begin with stubborn, visible love with the aim of restoring heart-felt emotional love.
Maybe something like this:
What are your thoughts on this view on love, or how to survive the difficult process of recovering from an affair?
Once you find yourself working towards that last step of Passionate Love, perhaps my article on Simple Pleasures can help you make some progress.
Austin and Keelie have been sharing life together for nearly two decades. In that time they've gone from high school sweethearts to a family of five.
Austin loves making Keelie and the boys laugh whenever he can. Occasionally he writes things.