Wednesday, October 23, 2013

When you can't just "get over it"

Just as I think there must be a playbook for cheaters, I sometimes think there must also be one for husbands who stay in the marriage. It probably contains such lines as "You'll never let me live this down, will you!" Or "if you're going to bring this up every time you're mad at me, we'll never get past this." Or "I can't spend the rest of my life saying 'sorry'". 
Sound familiar?
One of the hurdles betrayed wives often have to clear is their husband's admonishments to get over it. It can be overt or, more often, subtle. But no matter, it's harmful either way. The thing is, we're trying to get over it. We want nothing more than to get over it. But, ultimately, we figure out that there really is no getting over it. We can get through it and get past it...but rarely do we get over it. 
It's not just a matter of semantics. To get through it, we need to process our emotions, to acknowledge the pain we're in, take steps to address the residual damage from betrayal. To get past it, we find that we've arrived at a place where we can accept what's happened and while few of us are glad for the experience, we can recognize that some good came out of it. Getting "over" it, implies leaping past all that damage to a new stage where our husbands are magically forgiven and their act of betrayal is never spoken of again. We get "over" the flu. We get "through" betrayal. 
A crucial part of getting through is exploring just how this has impacted us. We desperately need someone who can acknowledge our pain, who understands that each of us walks a different path, a different timeline. Someone who understands that betrayal changes who we are, and that we need to figure out who this new us is. It's one of the reasons I created this site. To give betrayed wives a safe place to process everything they're going through, with the benefit of the experience of those further along the path to healing. 
A therapist can be a lifesaver. Someone to help you examine the role you played in the breakdown of the marriage, without ever holding you to blame for your spouse's choice to cheat. My own therapist kept my head above water. But I've heard stories of therapists who, clearly, don't have a clue about betrayal. 
But there's another tool in your arsenal. It was a desire for a wise someone with whom she could talk – someone ideally who understood intimately the experience of betrayal having been through it herself – that prompted Laura S., a betrayed wife in California, to create the Infidelity Counselling Network, a free phone counselling service for betrayed spouses. Laura and I discovered each other on social media. Since then, we've talked personally and shared our stories. We've grown to appreciate and support each other's work, knowing how important it is to have that sense of community in the wake of betrayal. Her Infidelity Counselling Network has been busy training peer counsellors (who've been through betrayal themselves) to provide wisdom and support to callers. If you crave someone anonymous  with whom to share your experience, give Laura's counsellors a call: 650-521-5897, ext. 101.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Words to Live By

What does this quote mean for you?

"You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are too heavy."
~C. JoyBell C.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

More Evidence that Other Women Are Crazy

I've never declared war on the Other Woman. I know that not all of them are monsters. Some of them are young and naive (and perhaps have a not-quite-developed moral compass). Some genuinely don't believe they deserve better. I know of a couple who didn't realize they were the Other Woman. The moment each found out, they refused the title and walked away. 
But then I receive a letter like the one below, posted as a comment to my Open Letter to the Other Woman. And I'm reminded that some of them are bitter and self-righteous and able to rationalize (though irrationally) getting involved with a married man. Herewith, more evidence that some of these OW are downright delusional:
[Her copy is in italics. My responses are in square brackets]
If I was the other woman and you sent me this letter, I would think that your husband was right for wanting someone else. You came across in the letter as someone damaged, with possibly mental issues, who is lacking education and is unable to communicate diplomatically [Let's just start with your accusation that I'm unable to act "diplomatically"? So the OW gets to screw my husband but I'm called upon to "communicate diplomatically"? That seems a little unfair...] as well as unable to understand your husband's primarily needs [I assume you meant to type "primary", as in food, water, shelter, clothing, sex?] , and what was your responsibility and role and his role and responsibility in your marriage is. [I don't, in fact, lack education as you suggested in your second sentence. My education trained me to recognize a confusing, run-on sentence. It also trained me to recognize bullshit.]
You simply blame someone else who absolutely has no control over your communication skills, and your abilities to fulfill all of his needs and not just sexually but intellectually, and emotionally. [Just so we're clear, I'm not blaming her for whatever the hell you're saying I'm blaming her for in this, again, confusing sentence. I'm blaming her for knowingly sleeping with a married man. That's it.] You assume that the other woman knew automatically that he is married [she had dinner at my home so, yes, she knew he was married. And that he had three young children], but what if they communicated in business like manners [she mostly screamed at him about wanting a bigger office and larger salary], and talked over longer period of time, where natural connection and attraction took place over some time before either of them discussed the marital status? [Definitely NOT the case –  but I don't deny that it's possible to become attracted to someone without knowing he's married. But when you do find out? That's when you gracefully bow out until he's divorced.] What if your husband was captivated by her and that is his reality that he has to suppress because his wife is threatening him and making his life a hell? [Captivated? I'm guessing you read a lot of romance. And "threatening him"? As in, if you ever cheat on me I'll cut your balls off? Well then...maybe. As for "suppression", that's pretty much what we agree to do when we get married. Not that we won't ever be attracted to another person, but that we'll suppress acting on it because cheating damages a marriage and hurts the person we promised not to hurt. If we can't or won't "suppress", that's when we call the divorce lawyers.]
What if he did not tell you because he wanted to protect the other woman? [Part of it, sure. But more likely he's protecting himself. He wants his proverbial cake...and ice cream too.] How do you know that they did not discuss how to protect him but also protect her from you? [Probably did. Isn't that in the standard cheaters' manual? How to not get caught?] What if your husband is sacrificing his own happiness for the sake of children? [If he was "sacrificing his happiness" I'm thinking he wouldn't be having an affair. Don't you mean "sacrificing his wife's happiness"?] Do you care if he is genuinely in love with you or its not relevant as long as his your "husband" on the paper? [I'm baffled. What are you saying? If he's not in love with me, there's the door. And the divorce lawyer. Why cheat?]
Why do you think would matter to her if he was in your bed, if she was on his mind from 8 am when he texted her "good morning beautiful", went to work, kept communicating to her the entire day, went home and talked again until bed time at 11 pm? [I ask again, why stay married then? If this Other Woman means so much to him, give her the dignity of a relationship in the open.] Why do you think that your possessiveness [by this you mean my desire that he not sleep with other people?] of husband you don't even care about or respect ( unless he finds someone who does ) is a true love, and his affection and genuine care for the other woman is a fantasy? [Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but only 1% of affairs survive the light of day. So yeah...fantasy.] Cant you see how deluded your assumptions are? [Jaw hanging open.] Why do you believe that a husband can not POSSIBLY fell in love with someone else? [I don't believe that. I think some of them do. I think a great many more fall in love with the reflection of themselves they see in the Other Woman's eyes] Why would you want him to suffer and be with someone he feels obligation towards rather then genuine true love? [I don't want that either. Not sure where you're getting this stuff.] And why do you think that you should suffer with him too, don't you deserve someone who loves you and is captivated by you like he is with her? [Absolutely I do. Lucky for me, I got it in my husband.]
So every situation is different, every man is different, every woman is different, every wife is different, every husband is different, every other woman is different... [Every cat is different. Every pebble is different. Every raindrop is different. This is fun...] Not everybody does it for the reasons you assumed, not everybody is in the same category at all times, not all wives are angels, not all husbands are devils, and cheaters, not all other women are sluts. [Not all children like ice cream. Not all accountants wear suits. Not all cats have fur...] That's a shallow thinking and based on your letter, its clear that you do not love your husband. [Really? I kinda thought I did.]  If anybody is responsible for your marriage its you, and your husband. [Very true.] Leave other people alone and take responsibility for what you created. [Ahem...pot meet kettle. Please tell me you can see the irony of telling THE WIFE to leave THE OTHER WOMAN alone? How about she leaves married men alone?] And speaking of that, you created a prison cell out of which he wants to escape. [I did? No bars on the doors/windows – literally or metaphorically. And I wouldn't have this "betrayed wives" site if he didn't escape. He escaped quite frequently. Note to self: Install bars on doors/windows to prevent escape next time.]  And if he does not escape its not because he is love with security guard who keeps him locked and starved [have you seen my husband lately. Not starved!], nor it is because he likes prison cell. [Not sure any of us like prison cell. But, as noted, he doesn't live in one.] He does not care, it is perhaps because that is the only life he used to have and needs an extensive therapy to want BETTER for himself. [He did need extensive therapy to want better for himself. He was a very mixed up person who got involved with a very mixed up person. And he's thrilled that he's created better for himself and grateful for the chance to do so. But with his wife and family, not the Other Woman. Whether she's engaged in extensive therapy go create better for herself, I know not.] Some will pick up themselves and leave, many will be simply lost. It takes time to think like a free man and get used to true love and qualities in a woman he deserved. [I think what you're saying is pretty much what we say on this site every single day. Some of these guys are jerks who are incapable of a healthy, loving relationship. They will remain lost. Others will leave, though for the record, if they marry their affair partner they are twice as likely to divorce. Still others will do the incredibly hard work of rebuilding their marriage in order to deserve the woman they've hurt the most, their wife.] it's my turn. I honestly don't know what you hoped to achieve with this letter. I'm assuming you're in a relationship with a married man who has convinced you that his marriage is a "prison" and his wife is some sort of demonic monster from whom you need protection. It is remotely possible this is true. It is far more likely that this guy is a lying scumbag who doesn't have the balls to be honest with either you, his wife or himself. He's not treating you with any sort of respect. Secret texts and clandestine meetings are the stuff of fantasy and manipulation, not respect.
Affairs create devastation. I know you doubt this. You seem to have convinced yourself that we betrayed wives are hollowed out loveless people who only inflict pain, not feel it. I hope you'll read through the posts and comments here. The women on this site are lovely, warm-hearted people who are going through the worst pain of their lives. It's impossible to overstate just how damaging affairs are – to whole families, even friends. Betrayal affects our sense of worth in the world, our ability to feel safe, our trust in others. 
It really is as simple as not cheating. There are undoubtedly other problems in marriages that will either require addressing or, in many cases, result in the dissolution of the marriage. But to do so in a way that allows each party to move forward with dignity and worth should be everyone's objective, including that of the next person to get involved with either partner.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Funny Friday: Quote for the Day

"Whenever my husband is late coming home, I figure he's either having an affair or he's dead. I always hope he's dead."

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Do You Want a Happy Marriage? Or A Meaningful One...

There's been a fair bit of discussion on this site recently about the Other Woman. A few OW have posted their side of the story, and many betrayed wives have responded.
But it wasn't until I read this post by the thought-provoking Penelope Trunk that I had something of a eureka moment.
It's about the difference between happy and meaningful.
To some extent, our culture has sold us a bill of goods. There's much talk about happiness. The pursuit of happiness, or at least understanding happiness, has become something of a cottage industry. And if we're not happy, we're left to feel as if we're clearly doing something wrong. Happiness should be our goal, right? And for many of us, it is.
Trunk, however, backed up by considerable research, points out that happiness is empty.
Happiness is getting the job, not doing the job. It's getting the guy, not facing him day-in and day-out. Happiness is fleeting. Which is why, if we're asked, many of us kinda shrug and say, well, we're kinda happy. Or happy-ish. But a lot of us are thinking to ourselves, what is happiness anyway? Is this happiness? What does happiness look like?
What Trunk et al point out is that most of aren't so much interested in happiness...but in meaning. It's meaning that makes our lives worth living more than happiness. It's meaning that gets us up out of a sound sleep to rub our children's backs when they're scared. It's meaning that keeps us working on marriages even after the devastation of betrayal.
And where my eureka came in was when I recognized that the OW who have posted on this site are pursuing happiness. They think that it comes in the form of a man, even a married one. And they think that these men can't possibly be "happy" if they're seeking something outside their marriage.
And perhaps they're right. I think there are plenty of guys who feel a vague unhappiness and wonder if that feeling can be captured in an affair. But happiness isn't the point. Both sides are missing the point, which sets them up for an affair that generally only brings misery, with intermittant bursts of what they think is "happy".
If we're chasing happiness, I think we're doomed to disappointment. If we expect a "happy" marriage, what does that mean? An absence of conflict? Or is what we really seek a meaningful marriage? One in which there's a shared set of goals, a shared belief that the sum is greater than our parts?
Happiness is great. I'm all for it. But to make it a condition of commitment is dangerous. Happiness ebbs and flows. Sometimes life just isn't...happy. There are challenges with kids, with our health, with jobs, with the economy. There are the small things that get in the way, like who gets to decide how often the tile grout gets cleaned...and by whom. Sometimes there are big things that get in the way: addictions, family of origin issues, and plain old stupidity.
But meaningful? That's something that lasts. And that's something that too many OW just don't get.


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