In this article Fr Paul Chetcuti explains how love and pain can live together, how a marriage can survive infidelity.
I’ve met a woman whose husband had an affair with another woman. She has two children. She forgave him. She had the capacity to say my husband’s betrayal won’t cancel my love for him. We call that forgiveness.
Both betrayer and victim suffer
Living with that suffering, the betrayal, means, that you will accept that you will be loving a man who has made that mistake. It doesn’t mean you won’t feel the pain of the betrayal anymore or that you will forget the mistake that has been done, but love can live, can cope with betrayal, if it’s truly love.
The same goes for the husband. He also has a big challenge to say the fact that there was a moment went I betrayed my wife it doesn’t mean I don’t love her or I can’t love her. He has to live with that burden, with the scar of the betrayal, but he is still capable of loving. He can still say I was stupid at the time but I still wish to be with her, to love her always and in everything. Now that he has made that mistake, it doesn’t mean that he has to throw away everything. It will be throwing away the trust I have in my capacities and my genuineness.
We love in an insufficient way
We love in a genuine and insufficient way. But it is still love. It is genuine. It doesn’t mean I’m a hypocrite as long as I admit my mistake. This was Jesus’ style. Peter betrayed him, but Jesus never told him “goodbye, you’re fired. Jesus asked him “Do you love me, with your betrayal?
We can only love each other in this way. The husband betrayed because he went with another woman. The woman betrayed when all she thought about was the children, the clothes she bought and forgot all about the husband, as if he don’t exist, because she was too happy with them. She wanted to be a fully dedicated mother and forgot him. At the same time can the husband blame the wife, can he say you didn’t love me because we had children? Maybe, she was unable to balance things out but it doesn’t mean she didn’t love him. It means that that’s how she could love at that moment as her priorities got mixed up.
Love can survive all failures
This means that love can survive all failures, as long as we do not reduce ourselves and others for our failures. It has to be a choice. If in your eyes I have become “a betrayer”, I have no chance. “Betrayer” will become my label and you will forget all the good that I’ve done, how I have helped you in different life circumstances. All that you have forgotten. What’ s left is only my betrayal. This is what happens when the definition of the person becomes the betrayal.
When I do this both on others and myself, both are mistaken. Love (love = God & God = love), that love, knows how to live with these failures. It’s what Jesus said when he was asked: “How many times should we forgive? “7 for 77 times . That symbolic 7 which means ‘always’. Indeed, if you love, don’t you always have to forgive? Love is not giving 3 chances and if you use them all you’re lost. But, many a time isn’t this want we all do because our love is limited?
The less strong are also capable of loving
In another case, a woman, betrayed by her husband a few months after her marriage is now living with another man. Can I say that the love for her present partner is not true? She will live a love which is not the love she wished for. She wished to love her husband forever. It is that intention which she had. But she couldn’t cope. And her husband couldn’t cope giving her all that love. It is two-way. She could have been stronger and said I love this man and I will remain faithful. I know people who have lived the rest of their life alone and raised their children alone to remain faithful to what has been promised. Some of us are strong to say it, some of us are not. But this doesn’t mean that the less strong are not capable of loving. Love and pain can live together.
Pain is always a deficiency, a limitation, a piece of death, a weakness. If I have a whitlow in my finger it’s a little death in my finger. A sin is also a little death of love, that’s why we say ‘mortal sin’. It doesn’t mean that if I had a heart attack and some cells have died, than all my heart has died. But those cells won’t heal, they have died. But with the ¾ heart that I have left, I still can do a lot. We all have, 3/4ths, ½, 5% of a heart given all the blows life has given us, but we can still love.
Published: February 2018