Monday, April 16, 2018

I need your input for the Betrayed Wives Club book, coming...soon


My dear wounded soul-warriors, I need your help. After literally years of struggling to put together a book for the betrayed based at least partly on this site, I've finally hit on an approach that is working beautifully.
It is part-memoir but mostly a resource book chock-full of everything a betrayed wife needs to know to survive the early days but also to heal long-term.
I'd love your thoughts/stories/comments/advice on the following topics:
What to eat in the early days post D-Day. How did you handle those mind-boggling days when you felt constantly sick. What did you eat? How did you survive?
Single best piece of advice you got/heard/took after D-Day?
Post-betrayal marriage contract: Have any of you tried this, either formally or otherwise?
Revenge affairs
Children of the affair (when the OW has a child that is your husband's too, or likely your husband's)
Biggest mistake you made on or after D-Day
Favourite nickname for the OW

That's it for now. I'm sure I'll be tapping you for more info in the days/weeks ahead.

Thank-you my wounded warriors. For everything.

Accepting Isn't the Same as Liking

I'm convinced we can't move forward from betrayal until we've accepted it. I can imagine you reading that line and having a visceral reaction. Accept it? your all likely shouting at your computer. I have to accept his lies? I have to accept his absences? I have to accept that this is okay?
No. That is not at all what I'm suggesting though I've little doubt that I would have heard it exactly that way back in my early days post-bomb-going-off-in-my-life.
I also know that I spent a whole lot of time cursing what had happened to me. I spent a whole lot of time rehearsing what I should have said or done differently to have created a different outcome. I spent a whole lot of time nursing my pain. Days. Weeks. Months. Maybe even a year or two.
And then, eventually, I realized that wasn't working. All the wishing that things were different, all the imagining that if I was different, if he was different, if we were different, if my parents were different – you get the idea – wasn't making a bit of difference in my life, except keeping me stuck in a state of wishful thinking. 
It wasn't helping me heal
What finally made a difference was accepting that there was no way, no how, that I was going to be able to undo my husband's cheating. This was my life and I'd darn well better figure out what I was going to do with it.
The whole nasty package had arrived at my door and it didn't matter that I didn't want to sign for it. 
It was mine.
But lord, it felt awful. Finally accepting that this was my life didn't feel good at all. It felt like defeat. It felt like failure. 
But that's what often gets in the way of acceptance. We think accepting what happened is the same as liking it. We hear those people who say "my husband's affair was the best thing that happened to me" and we think to ourselves, no way, no how. That's crazy talk. Best thing? You've got to be kidding me. It was hell. It knocked me on my ass. Nope. Not buying it. 
But acceptance isn't just "my husband's affair was the best thing that happened to me". Sometimes acceptance is a long deep sigh before signing up for a new class. It might be telling a close friend what's really going on in your marriage. It could include calling a lawyer and asking him to draw up a separation agreement. It might also be the resolve to finally stop looking at the Other Woman's social media accounts.
However acceptance looks in your life, I promise you it's a crucial step on your path to healing from betrayal. It might feel horrible. It might feel as though you're giving up, that you've abandoned any hope of having a better past. And to some extent, that's exactly what it is. It's about recognizing that there is nothing – nothing! – you can do or imagine or rehearse that will change what's happened to do. You might not want to sign for the package but it's there, at your door, and it's not going anywhere.
But here's where acceptance is a gift. It frees up all that energy that you've been using to try and rewrite your past for reimagining your future. It gives you the space and clarity you need to look at your life, right now, exactly the way it is, and take steps, your Next Right Step, toward a better future.  It reminds us that, as my friend says, all we can ever do is keep our side of the street clean. And that's all we ever need to do.
Acceptance doesn't at all mean that what happened to you was okay. It will never be okay. But it does mean that YOU will be okay. 
I recently heard Tim Storey on a podcast talking about how a comeback isn't the same as a go-back. A comeback, he explained, is the result of accepting where you are in life and developing a resilience, a way of moving forward. A go-back, conversely, is exactly what it sounds like: a backward look that keeps us mired in what happened.
We often need time to digest betrayal. Nobody needs to take immediate action. But when you realize that you've remained stuck, that you're living in some suspended state of wishfulness, then it's time to un-stuck yourself.
And acceptance just might be the solution. 

Monday, April 9, 2018

Why Cheaters Cheat

by StillStanding1

I was thinking again about why. Why cheaters cheat. Why they plow forward with the awful choices that end up inflicting so much harm on people they profess to care about. You’ve read my theory about there being childhood trauma and/or family dysfunction, because hurt people, hurt people. It’s a neat and tidy theory, that for my own experience, pretty much explains everything. It’s comforting because theories that explain everything and pack experiences or problems into neat little boxes feel like answers. And if there is one thing we want after D-Day, it's answers.
But I kept thinking, because affairs happen in good marriages, as well as dysfunctional ones. People cheat even when there is no obvious or identifiable trauma. My “answer” became less neat and tidy. While my theory addresses a sizable portion of the why, it doesn’t address it all. There is probably no single unified theory of the why. Curious, I went back and started re-reading Peggy Vaughn’s The Monogamy Myth. She goes into some other factors that I think are worth revisiting, because it may help give some additional insight.
Environment. I’m thinking particularly of work environments in this case. I know it was a factor for both my ex and myself. His old company, the one where the cheating happened, was a hard-partying, self-gratifying, entitled and “look at our glamourous NY lifestyle” crowd. There was a ton of fooling around among coworkers regardless of marital status. When it is happening all around you and everyone is indulging in “what makes them happy” and you are not mindful about your own soft spots, you may end up making choices you later regret.
Power and wealth. My ex experienced some wild success at that terrible company and I am 100% sure that the power and prestige went to his head. I am 100% sure that he seemed infinitely more attractive in his power suit, his crazy ability to sell and his prominent position with that company and that the person he ultimately chose to have sex with was probably not the only person to make an attempt at mate poaching. (I also am 100% sure if they’d had to put up with his farting while watching the TV in his grotty sweatpants on a Saturday night, he would have seemed significantly less appealing). And power is not always about big NY money and an Executive VP title. It could be a smaller, out of the way place where someone experiences relatively big success or has a large sphere of public presence and influence. Being a recognizable figure in a small town can have just the same effect on someone who is looking to have their ego stroked.
Peers.The people you choose to spend time with, especially if you are still a person who cares a lot about what other people think of you, can influence your choices. If the people our spouses choose to spend time with encourage drinking and flirting and maintain a “what happens with the guys, stays with the guys” kind of attitude, they may find themselves having their values (if they think about them) compromised over time. This erosion eventually leaks into their own behavior and choices. And peers can often encourage this bad behavior because subconsciously it endorses their own. If you hang out with assholes, you turn into an asshole.
Society. Our western society encourages lies and sneaking when it comes to sex. We’re not supposed to have it or enjoy it as a teen but we know that statistically most do. They just sneak and hide it. That behavior sticks into adulthood. There is a lot of shame around sex and who’s having it. When a person is hiding an affair from a spouse, they are continuing behavior learned as a teen. Society also encourages problematic views of gender, roles and sexuality, all of which play into problematic behaviors when it comes to dealing with and making healthy choices about sex.
Family of origin. I must go back to family of origin. Even in otherwise functional families, if a child was not ever challenged to think about the impact of their choices on others; if a child was perhaps doted on and indulged rather than having to face the reality that you don’t always get what you want, the individual may grow up to be entitled and focused on his own entertainment and stimulation, rather than a true sense of happiness and fulfillment. Maybe there was a lot of love but also some terrible examples when it came to boundaries. Bad boundaries can lead to some unhealthy choices.
And finally – Opportunity. Some people, when faced with the opportunity to cheat, do so without really thinking too much about it. It’s there. They are used to thinking in an entitled way about sex or “happiness” or they like how the attention makes them feel and down the slope they go. Because of the fairy-tale ideals we are told about marriage, many have never thought through how they would handle such a situation and so they act on impulse. They were not aware they even had to be mindful of keeping certain kinds of people at an appropriate distance.
Ultimately, (and in a much more inclusive theory) cheating comes down to environment and opportunity. There is a remarkable number of influences in the environment that set the stage for infidelity. There is a tragically large amount of opportunity in the form of people mindlessly responding to impulse and those influences. And finally, there is a society that endorses it, by glamorizing affairs and being titillated by it. At the same time the public decries it and silences those most impacted.
What makes the difference for us, here, is that we now know, fully, how painful this is. We understand the impact of all those environmental influences, factors and choices. Hopefully, if your relationship is on the mend, your partner is becoming increasingly mindful of the factors that influenced their choices and you are both working on negotiating what your relationship looks like moving forward. And if your relationship has or is coming to an end, you are armed with this newfound knowledge. I am no longer making assumptions about monogamy. It will be negotiated and revisited; what is ok and not ok with me made clear. I encourage you to do the same.


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