Dating for Adulterers

depressedI’m feeling a bit depressed!

A bit powerless!

Is it possible/desirable for a company that encourages and facilitates adultery to openly make a financial fortune?

Will the stereotypical myths concerning adultery continue to ride rough shot over the painful truths of the consequences of such behaviour?

Is adultery just going to boom and boom and boom until it goes bust along with everything that might have been thought of as family values?

The bad news is that Ashley Madison plans to float on the London Stock Exchange this year. Meat market to stock market!  A dating site for married people wanting to have sex with someone other than their spouses, their motto is: “Life is short. Have an affair.” The web site offers guidelines in how to conduct adultery and advice on how to cover your tracks.

In 2013 Ashley Madison met with staunch opposition in Singapore but now have decided London is perfect for an IPO (initial public offering, the first sale of stock by a company to the public) because ofLondon Europe’s relaxed approach towards infidelity. (This is news to me! I thought that the French were possibly more relaxed – but the British????)  It aims to raise £135m in order to expand its international market.  It’s like a juggernaut travelling at speed in quiet suburban streets.  Just keep the kids safely indoors!!!!!

Depressingly, they already have 1.2 million UK people signed up.  This is equivalent to 5% of the married population.  It also has 34 million members in 46 countries around the world, and plan to winklaunch in Russia, Ukraine and the Baltic states later this spring.  Around 70% of members are men. I think this is a thorny issue.  Currently,  it would appear that some of the “winks” that men get, which prompt a paid membership in order to communicate with the available totty, are never returned because they’re fake. They come from Ashley Madison.

Just what are the ethics here? Noel Biderman, the CEO doesn’t see any problems.  He says that Ashley Madison is simply a platform; he didn’t invent infidelity and his site doesn’t cause people to cheat any more than divorce lawyers cause couples to split up. But what about all the personal trauma that is created in the wake of adultery?  What about the lying and cheating and betrayal that is integral to the act of adultery.  This is not a site for people in open marriages, this is a site for spouses who want to cheat!  This means that their spouses are left out of the equation.  They are denied the opportunity to make an informed choice.

How long can we as a society accept this behaviour?  Just because it goes on doesn’t make it right, no matter how many people engage in the activity.  Once upon a time rape wasn’t recognised in marriage.  This did not make it RIGHT.  What type of society do we want to live in?  When is the f***ing PAIN of the consequences of adultery going to become centre stage instead of the instant gratification of sexual relief?

Will Singapore be the only country to oppose it?

Image Credits: Figure Sitting In Question Mark by Master isolated images; London Tower Bridge Twilight by Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee; Gorgeous Young Bikini Model Winking At You by stockimages all via freedigitalphotos.net

Seeing the adultery differently

eyeUnless you change the way you see things, they will remain the same.

This kind of makes sense but is it just another simplistic platitude?  Is it one of those ‘positive thinking’ solutions that have nothing but optimism at its core?  I’m not saying that optimism is not a healthy disposition to have but it can’t be used in every set of circumstances, and at times it can almost feel oppressive when you are in the midst of a personal catastrophe.  As Santayana wisely notes, “contempt for mortal sorrows is reserved for those who drive with hosannas the juggernaut car of absolute optimism.” Adultery is a moral sorrow and therefore I don’t appreciate the sometimes upbeat optimism of thinking that my husband’s adultery might be the best thing that ever happened to me.  However, this does not stop me from trying to understand what happened, and maybe, just maybe, along the way I will change the way that I see things.

Just recently I read a book completely (or so I thought) unrelated to adultery.  What a revelation then when I found myself sitting up and underlining sentences that resonated with me in regard to two key aspects of my betrayal. The feelings that I try so hard to articulate plus my thoughts about my husband’s actions during the betrayal.  I found so many parallels to my experience of my husband’s behaviour that the book may have had a significant effect on how I understand him at the latter stages of his adultery.   For just a short while, I have managed to step outside my intimate involvement in what he chose to do and have looked at some events through a different lens.

Naturally, every case of adultery is different, but for me I had no idea or suspicion of adultery until he finished it and I was texted by the Pig Shit herself to let me know of their multiple sexual encounters.  This meant that during the last few months of their activities I watched my husband in what I thought was the beginnings of a nervous breakdown.  He had reached a kind of melt down.  Up until now I haven’t really given this period of time much attention but when I’ve thought a little more about it, in the light of my reading, I realise that he was having a wretched time of it.  The fantasy had started to evaporate and he had entered the adultery wastelands with absolutely no idea how to escape. Any mental fog about the joy in what he was doing had lifted and his regrets at what he had done had begun.  This was all before I was forced to discover the truth.  This is not any attempt to excuse what he did.  There is no excuse.  Nevertheless it is a different perception to the one that I have been holding on to which gives the Pig Shit far too much significance in what was going on.  Whereas any woman willing to have sex with my husband could occupy her role there is not a woman on this planet who can be the woman who I am to my husband.

The mind changing book that I’m referring to, is Drinking; a love story by the late Caroline Knapp.  I found her to have a wonderful way with words and an incredible ability to capture the discomfort of my feelings.  Her articulation about memories certainly reflects my memories about the betrayal and encapsulates my frustration with the recurring thoughts.  “Over the years I’ve come to think of memories as tiny living things, microorganisms that swim through the brain until they’ve found the right compartment in which to settle and rest.  If the compartment isn’t available, if there’s no proper label for the memory, it takes up residence somewhere else, gets lodged in a corner and gnaws at you periodically, cropping up at odd times, or in dreams.”  It will soon be three years since my D-day but memories remain which belie labelling.

Caroline also captures the atmosphere of my marriage at the time it was going on.  “The thing is, hints of distress are like air: you can’t see them, can’t hold them in your hand and subject them to proper examination.” There was no tangible evidence of anything wrong in our marriage but I was subtly aware that something was awry.

There are a number of parallels that can be drawn between alcohol addiction and adultery.  Consider attitudes to both.  They are both culturally determined or, at least, culturally reinforced and contain myriad contradictions.  The drinks industry presents a very glamorous and romantic perspective of drinking and puts ‘responsible drinking’ on a pedestal.  However bars offer happy hours to encourage drinkers to drink more, supermarkets sell it at knock down prices, and the whole act of drinking alcohol is totally normalised whilst the possibility of addiction and/or health problems are pushed under the carpet.   However as soon as the ugly side of alcohol shows its face, as soon as the drinker starts falling down and being sick in the gutter, as soon as violence and/or unsocial behaviour is  seen and as soon as there is an outcry about the increase in liver disease, all attitudes change.

Likewise, monogamy within a marriage is placed on a pedestal whilst adultery, everywhere in the media, is portrayed positively.  The informal code of silence that so called friends and family comply with reinforces the behaviour and acts as a normaliser for both of the people engaged in the adultery.  But what happens when things just disintegrate?  When the adultery’s toxic bile erupts into the marriage and betrayed spouses crumble and feel like dying and children face a family breakdown?  Then, attitudes change.  Betrayed spouses are no longer the unsuspecting victim, wondering what the problem in their marriage might be – instead they have to handle an anger which rises up so fiercely it threatens to burst them; betraying spouses are no longer able to juggle the complicity or control events and people; the third party becomes more dangerous and desperate than ever to poach the spouse that isn’t theirs; society prompts the knee-jerk response of kicking the betraying spouse out followed by divorce, double quick!  The rest, the wilderness that is post D-day is airbrushed out.

As for the actual addiction to alcohol, I couldn’t but help recognise some similarities in how I’d describe my husband’s behaviour.  I just replace alcohol with sex and/or Pig Shit and hey presto.  Whilst my husband was unfaithful he would go off into “some little room” in his mind and “pull down the shade”.  Engaging in adultery allowed a seductive “psychic flight” which allowed him to leave himself behind.  There’s something about long-term monogamy, about facing the everyday reality of married life that shows you that strength and hope comes from the accumulation of experience and gritting your teeth and communicating perceived problems even though it’s painful and you’re afraid.  When my husband decided to be unfaithful he was unable to do this because he had lost the ability to make the “distinction between getting through painful feelings and getting away from them”.

Adulterous spouses lead a double life.  What a wretched way to live your life.  I believe this was a major contributing factor to my husband’s melt down.  The conflicting stories that he told different people must have whirled around in the back of his mind “like an acid eddy” constantly rolling away, overlapping, melding into one another.” No wonder he couldn’t engage in meaningful conversations with me. It would be too risky, he might trip up.

Deception is an integral part of adultery.   My husband wove elaborate lies to me about what he had been up to in order to align his working arrangements with his adultery.  Lying to me in this way kept his relationship with me, in his eyes, intact.  However, this duplicity accompanied a slow erosion of his integrity “dramas spiral and twist; lies feed on one another”.  Our relationship became increasingly ill defined; he would agree that his feelings had changed towards me but would not provide any further information as to why or in what way.  He developed an “unspoken system of withholding details from me that provided a measure of distance between us” but also kept our relationship together.  Often, he didn’t lie so much as withhold information or manipulate facts.  I guess that this helped him to rationalise his behaviour and maintain an illusion of togetherness.

My husband’s stupid sexual escapades required such necessary falsehoods because they were critical to the maintenance of the fronts he was presenting.  His whole sense of reality was tied into the deception and built into his facades.  He was not in control at all.  He was deeply fucked up.  He lost control of the script.  Pig Shit was demanding more, I was demanding clarity of sorts.  His dual existence must have felt bigger than him, as though it had a life of its own.  “This is an exhausting way to live, plotting and racing and second guessing constantly.”

So it goes on.  He lied, he deflected blame and rationalised whilst the hole that he had dug for himself got deeper and deeper.  Denial, first of the adultery and then of the self – stretches to include more and more bits of reality, and after a while he literally could not see the truth or his role in the disaster that he had made of his life, could not see who he was, what he needed or the choices that he had.  During this period whilst juggling his adultery with his marriage I believe that his life took on a “deeply fragmented quality, with different personae emerging and becoming more distinct and more false.”  He did not stop.  It got uglier and he carried on shagging Pig Shit.  In the process he became increasingly isolated and lost, stuck in his own circle of duplicity and rationalisation and confusion, the gap between his facades and his inner world growing wider and wider.  My husband was “living in a state of self-imposed chaos, lying and hiding and keeping secrets and feeling trapped, absolutely trapped, in the whole mess”

What intrigues me is how low did he let himself go before he made the decision to stop the adultery?   How bad did things have to get?  The elevator metaphor is used with alcoholism and can serve adultery too.  The adultery elevator only goes in one direction – down.  The good news is that you can get off at any time after you’ve got scared enough or desperate enough.  It’s a choice – get off or keep going till you end up without your home and wife.  Hitting bottom is normally preceded by a long slow fall.  I think I witnessed this in my husband.  Finally, the “impulse to control, and to worry, abated.  Fuck it.  It’s like the deepest part of his soul just said that – fuck it – and he plunged, justification in his hand like a passport to self-destruction.”  He decided not to sleep in our bed and that was the final straw for me and I insisted that he left the home.  He kept on saying “I can’t be here”, “I can’t be here”.  I said I HEAR YOU – so go, leave me alone and I don’t care where you go.  He left me and went to stay with Pig Shit!

It was like he was semi-conscious of taking this plunge and semi-conscious of his determination to keep falling.  I think that abandoning himself to a woman that he was being unfaithful with felt like survival to him.  He actually told me that in his head he was thinking that by going to stay with her he could work on leaving her.  Go figure!!!!  I think he thought he was trapped in quicksand and any move would threaten to drag him down further so he just stopped struggling to be with me and resigned himself to a form of inertia.  Anyway, at last, reality set in and started to chip away at his denial.  He was stuck between his marriage and his adultery and now incapable of being honest.  He was in a mess.  He must have had a split within him and he had to deal with it.  He never stopped being in contact with me and within days he was begging to come home.  I didn’t allow him to return for another month.  I thought he was staying with a friend.  Had I have known at that moment in time that he had had an adulterous relationship and was now staying with the woman it would probably have been a very different story.

Almost three years post D-day we are discovering a blueprint for monogamy.  I think we both missed some crucial hand-out at some time in our lives that could have educated us on the demands of faithfulness in marriage.  Adultery remains everywhere still, but not in our marriage.  Not at the moment and hopefully never again.  Monogamy is a struggle and doesn’t happen by chance.  Sometimes long-term relationships become mundane at times, it’s inevitable but we have to make decisions that determine how we see ourselves from moment to moment.  We live in an adultery-saturated world; it’s simply impossible to avoid it, but the havoc it wreaks is absent.  Adultery is a struggle with self-loathing.  My husband’s self-loathing that compelled him to get involved in adultery and betray me does not vanish overnight.  He has a lot to do if he is to feel proud of himself.  It was my husband’s opting for the trappings of intimacy whilst shielding himself from its warmth that characterises the year of his betrayal.  I sometimes wonder if he was uncomfortable with our comfort together.  We certainly had a comfortable life before the adultery and we certainly experience and appreciate our comfort in our recovering marriage.

Personal growth is something that we actively choose and adulthood is less a chronological state than an emotional one in which we decide, through understanding our choices, to enter and maintain.  My husband’s decision to return home and to face the consequences of his adultery is I believe his first truly adult decision.

Adultery can only occur when integrity is absent

3Adultery involves three people

A betraying spouse, a betrayed spouse and a mobile bed object.  It takes place in a wasteland devoid of reality. For me, the betrayed spouse I have had to deal with a dual reality for the year in which the adultery took place.  A bit like a computer with a split screen. What my life was like during the year when I didn’t know about the adultery and my life during that year now that I know the sordid and disgraceful details of his behaviour.  My husband’s reality was the hubris that he could have his cake and eat it too, and for Pig Shit she believed that by acting like I didn’t exist I would disappear and she would be able to have my husband for herself.

As for all the adultery onlookers, the so called friends who encouraged and facilitated the adultery, they must have comforted themselves with a story that made his behaviour acceptable to them.  Stories which condone the unwritten social contract that supports the betraying spouse and mobile bed object but which compromises their relationship both to the betrayed spouse and to their marriage.

These types of morally questionable actions and human relationship scenarios act like battery acid on notions of integrity.  For my husband and for Pig Shit, inauthenticity and the fudging of integrity were a normal part of their relationship.  Instead of integrating, they did the opposite, they honestycompartmentalised.  They took things which were related and stuck them in separate, airtight compartments in their minds where they didn’t have to rub up against each other and cause any pain or contradiction. Compartmentalisation is painless whereas integrity never is.  So, honesty, loyalty and commitment are simply parcelled up and compartmentalised and kept separate from other compartments.  If you compartmentalise the fact that your ‘boyfriend’ is married and goes home to his wife, you can simply put that to one side so that it doesn’t bother you in any way. Because it isn’t integrated with the rest of your life you can then act sisterly to women friends whilst engaging with misogynistic betrayal of a woman just because she is married to the man that you want to steal.  You can hope that your father doesn’t betray your mother, that your daughter is not betrayed by her husband, that your friend’s husbands’ remain faithful and all the whilst shag a married man yourself.

My husband compartmentalised what he was doing with Pig Shit.  He would have to act differently with different people.  Remember who he needed to lie to, remember the lies he told in order to keep it compartmentalised.  Have a perfectly good relationship with me, knowing how much I value fidelity whilst also shagging a dirt bag sporadically in various motels and telling her he loved her as a way of ‘keeping her sweet’ so that she would always be available when he felt like additional sex!

integrityFor me, as the betrayed spouse, I have had different issues with integrity and it is this that makes healing so very difficult and makes moving on a slow process.  I have never been a compartmentaliser.   I have worked at accepting the tensions of competing and conflicting ideas and values and have sought integration in all aspects of my life both personally and professionally.  I value trust, loyalty, commitment, friendship and honesty and I have lived my life by these values.  I have never compromised where these values are concerned.  Now, I have the difficult task of integrating what did happen with what I thought happened and all of these values have been trodden on.  I have to be able to integrate what happened, no matter how awful,  into my narrative.  It is an arduous task.drowning  I liken it to an image of walking on ice.  I start walking on it on the date that husband met Pig Shit and it will end when I reach the date on which she texted me telling me that she had been shagging my husband.  My husband is already at this edge waiting for me.  The walk is slow and every now and again the ice cracks and I fall down. Down, down, down, down, into an adulterous event of some kind.   It takes a while to talk it through but eventually I get back on top and I’m walking again.

This is the price I pay for my integrity.

This is the price that all betrayed spouses have to pay when others try to destroy their integrity. But integrity will always raise its pretty head and although it requires a hell of a lot of courage the alternative is despair and I’m not going there!

Image Credits: Brick Wall Numeric by satit_srihin; Truth Sign by Stuart Miles; Honesty Concept In Word Tag by David Castillo Dominici; Sinking In To Water by koratmember all via freedigitalphotos.net

I am so fed up with adultery

boredBeing stuck but wanting to move on…

Not sure fed up truly sums up how I feel at the moment, but it’s a starting point.  To be honest, I’m finding it difficult to articulate to myself where exactly I am at the moment with regards to the healing of my marriage.  It’s a bit strange and unexpected but I’m struggling to navigate this part of my marital recovery journey.

I feel that I have crossed the most treacherous and turbulent seas (although I still get the occasional squall and I am fully aware that a storm could brew if my husband showed any signs of going off course) but I have a disturbing and developing sense that land is not visible and may not be for a while yet.  Sure, I’m a long way from when my journey started (2years, 8 months) but I have not reached home, of that I’m sure.

It’s like I have entered the doldrums.  This kind of sums up how I feel.  It’s an interesting metaphor. It suggests that I have reached a state or period of stagnation.  Equally it is an equatorial region of the doldrumsAtlantic Ocean with calms, sudden storms, and light unpredictable winds.  It is also noted for calm periods when the winds disappear altogether, trapping sail-powered boats for periods of days or weeks.  It is a region that provides the backdrop for Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner.  “Day after day, day after day, / We stuck, no breath no motion, / As idle as a painted ship / Upon a painted ocean”.

The intensity of our recovery has subsided.  I guess this is only to be expected.  Life goes on after trauma.  Our lives are going on, very differently from before the adultery, but on a much more even keel than the first couple of years post D-day.  I couldn’t realistically ask for more – I’m aware of this.  Pig Shit was dumped and from what I can see, totally forgotten by my husband.  His relief when I found out was palpable so he must have been keen to lose her.  I am still able to stop us in our tracks and say I want to talk more about the adultery and he always obliges.  These remain unpleasant encounters but rightly or wrongly I don’t feel obliged to keep my thoughts to myself.

We have lovely date nights (but then we always did, even through the adultery). We spend most of our days together and all of our nights.  We get on really well, like two friends (but again, we always did). We seldom argue except for the minor things that living together engenders.  My home is calm and peaceful.  He watches me like a hawk for my moods and can usually tell in an instant if it’s ‘Pig Shit’. We have regular sex (but again, we always did even through the adultery). So what is causing my feelings? Is this just part of the journey.  The rollercoaster taking a break?  Coming to it’s end?

Actually, it’s our sex that sometimes troubles me.  Not that I don’t enjoy it but sex was a major motivator for his adultery.  Just before the betrayal started he had starting watching porn.  I have asked him since, why he didn’t share that information with me.  I am broad minded and we have in the past looked at porn together.  His reply was that the porn he was watching would not have been acceptable to me.  I don’t want to know anymore but that was the beginning of the secrets that started to chip away at our marriage.  I asked if he watched porn with Pig Shit but he didn’t.  Well I don’t think the cheap motels have it on offer do they?  Another answer he gave to me when I asked why he went with Pig Shit was  because she was ‘different’.  No other reason.  Certainly not because he considered her better than me in any way – just different.  This different was obviously in her enthusiasm for sex whenever he called for it (like a porn star) and her bag of sex toys she was happy to have stuck in her (like a porn star).  Not to mention the adoration she must have given him.  Well you see, I can’t and won’t compete with this.

I know our sex has lost its newness.  He is not the only one who experiences this.  I know that to recapture those early exciting, tingling in my stomach feelings would demand someone new.  The difference is, my commitment to him has always included an understanding that long term sex is not the same as short term, new sex.   I believe that we make a deal and in place of the raunchy early stuff that we experienced before we knew each other so well we develop a more mature, more intimate and always respectful sexual relationship.

He now says that what we enjoy is all that he wants.  However, in the back of my mind is this awful nagging sense that he finds our sex boring.  You see, I didn’t have a clue when the adultery was going on so why would I have a clue now?  We still have regular sex and we also have times when we do things differently for each other but I have to be sure that sexual trickery (of the kind that is offered by dirt-bag women) is not something that will lure him again.  This realisation is helpful to me.  In writing this blog I now realise that I need to have a conversation with him specifically about this. I have discussed it amongst other things but have not explicitly made it a point of our growth as a married couple.  Maybe this will get the trade winds moving.

albatrossLike the ancient mariner I am stuck, in the doldrums and my albatross hanging around my neck is my husband’s adultery.  It is one of these contradictory aspects of adultery.  I carry it on my chest, even though the adultery had absolutely nothing to do with me.    Maybe one day the albatross will fall off my neck like it did for the ancient mariner.  I will look into the waters of adultery and all that I have learned from the horrid experience and maybe even find something beautiful, who knows!  Then, finally,  it will drop and I will be freed of the burden.

Worried Man Sitting On White” by Master isolated images; Yacht” by hinnamsaisuy

Monica Lewinsky – The Price of Shame

monica‘We have a shortage of compassion and empathy in the world’

Yes, that’s what Lewinsky said amongst other things in her recent TED talk.  Just watched it.  Had to.  Didn’t want to but foolishly compelled to hear what was said.  Needless to say I found myself spitting feathers whilst she received a standing ovation from the audience.  I saw one woman moved to tears.  WTF?Obviously she hasn’t been on the receiving end of marital betrayal.  All of a sudden, after a decade of welcome silence Lewinsky has reinvented herself as the patron saint of cyber bullying and is stunning proof that adultery can be rewritten for the other woman.  Lost weight, professional make up job and a melodramatised delivery. I doubt that Hilary would have either the motivation or recompense that Lewinski clearly displays.  Lewinsky addresses her own question as to why she is speaking out now.  She says it is because the time is right. I wonder who it is right for.  Hilary is at a major crossroads in her political career and whatever Lewinsky might want to be known for, primarily she will bring back the memory of sucking Bill Clinton’s dick to the majority of the world.  So Hilary and Chelsea, just when you thought matters might be buried the corpse of the adulterous horror story emerges from the stinky dirt.  Like a zombie that feeds from healthy flesh!

So, Lewinsky is now a paragon example of cyber bullying victimhood.  She can speak with experiential authoritywings because of the hell that she went through following her mistake to fall in love with her boss.  Yes, she really said this.  OK, so there wasn’t any social media then, but she had it bad.  Poor Monica.  She relates her experience to the news story of a young student who committed suicide after an illicit film of him engaging in homosexual activity was uploaded into the digital hemisphere.  Unless I’m wrong she seems to consider herself in the same way as someone who experiences racism or homophobia.  The fact that she made a choice, was the agent of her own activity seems to be forgotten or overlooked.  People don’t have a choice as to either the colour of their skin or their sexuality.  People do have a choice as to whether or not to embark on a sexual relationship with a married person.  She may have been young – 22 – but I don’t believe for one minute that she considered what she was doing with Bill Clinton was anything other than WRONG!  That she thought it was the romance of her life is either her retrospective rationalisation or she was as thick as shit!  She says that at 22 she fell in love with her boss but that by 24 she was dealing with the devastating consequences of this.  It’s as if she has become the only subject of this drama.  Bill, Hilary and Chelsea don’t even have walk ons in this dramatization.

The word adultery is noticeable only by its total absence.  She regrets her ‘mistake’ is the best we get but this is wrapped up in her narrative of heartbreak.  Oh please…..

She was branded a tramp, slut, whore, bimbo, that woman!  Yes, so?  She lost her reputation and her dignity.  I’m sorry Lewinsky, this means that you only feel you lost these things because you were found out and because it entered the world stage. Well, let me advise you that your dignity was lost the moment you crossed the boundary with a married man.

At the end she talks about humiliation.  Her humiliation naturally. She notes with reference to academic research that humiliation is a more intense emotion than either happiness or anger.  She felt that the slut shaming humiliated her almost to death.  Well sister, let me tell you, if you haven’t been able to work it out for yourself, humiliation is just one of the intense emotions that we as betrayed women feel.

Lewinsky believes that we have a world shortage of compassion and empathy.  Maybe, but lets start more at home eh?  Monica Lewinsky why don’t you show to Hilary and Chelsea some compassion and empathy and just leave the world stage.  You will always be the slut who sucked the dick of the president of the USA. You were able to speak at TED because you sucked his dick.  There are a million other voices that could talk more eloquently and more authentically about the terror of cyber bullying. You want to be a ‘solution’ to something but quite frankly in your search for a problem you have thought only of yourself, and your narrative.  You may have tried to wrap it up in a pretty little parcel but what’s inside still stinks.

Image credit: Wings by scottchan/freedigitalphotos.net

The Baggage of Adultery

luggageI sometimes feel as if I am needlessly carrying bags and bags of luggage around with me on the road to healing from my husband’s adultery.

Sometimes these bags weigh very heavy.  I’m not sure what’s in them and I don’t think I need to have them all with me.  I actually wonder if I might just throw them all away.  Well, at least get rid of those that don’t serve me anymore.  Learn to travel more lightly.    I also have a sneaking suspicion that some of these bags may not even belong to me.  Maybe I just picked up other people’s baggage on the way or possibly some people threw their luggage at me and I just accepted it?

I didn’t realise I carried so much personal luggage around with me but there’s nothing like facing the reality of adultery and being betrayed to realise what a Pandora’s box can be opened.  My husband’s rank stupidity has led to severely detrimental and far-reaching consequences for me.  I am an holding caseintelligent, well educated, resilient woman who has faced her fair share of tragedy and difficulty in life.  I have also achieved remarkable things in my life.  So why has my husband’s infidelity been able to rock me so badly?  Why is it proving so difficult to overcome and to move on?  I think it’s because it stirs up all the shit that I thought had settled.  Did I really think that I had offloaded all that unwanted baggage?  Yes, I think I did. Ha-ha joke!  I also realise now that this feeling of being weighed down is probably significant and I do need to learn how to travel lighter.  It is not just for my mental well being either.

Dr. Mario Martinez, a clinical neuropsychologist has conducted quite a bit of research into how our thoughts find biological expression.  He suggests that there are only three major archetypal wounds that cause us anguish.  They are shame, abandonment and betrayal.  He says that most people will have one or more of these wounds and they stay with us and influence the way we interpret events that happen to us. As a betrayed spouse I am confronted with a double whammy.  On the one hand, I little girl with casecarry around my own wound(s) as a form of luggage (possibly caused early in my life) but on the other I am faced with all three wounds as fresh cuts because finding out that your husband has been unfaithful inflicts all three wounds at once. Is it any wonder we can’t navigate our way through.  Is it any wonder that the early days post D-day are such a chaotic time.  All three wounds cause fear and pain but shame includes embarrassment; abandonment includes isolation; and betrayal includes anger.  Well, there’s three suitcases named; embarrassment, isolation, and anger.  Heavy loads.

He suggests that there needs to be healing fields created to resolve these wounds.  They are honour for shame, commitment for abandonment, and loyalty for betrayal.  Therefore, in our marital recovery process we need to establish a healing field of all three.  To heal these wounds and to get rid of unwanted baggage requires honour, commitment and loyalty.  I already provided this in our marriage so it is clear that it is my husband who has to work the hardest in creating the healing field.  And he is.

Another useful consideration that I’ve  found in Martinez’s work is his belief in the role of culture and how it shapes our realities.  We don’t develop in a vacuum.  Society bombards us with negative images of betrayed spouses and this undoubtedly has a measurably negative impact on how we view ourselves in this context.  That’s another item of luggage to carry. How others view my decision to remain with someone who cheated.

However, and like Pandora’s box, there is one suitcase that I do want to travel with and am happy tocase and balloons keep it close at hand.  It is called HOPE.  I will get through this. I will commit to my choice to stay in this marriage and between us we will forge a relationship that represents honour, commitment and loyalty. Nothing less will be acceptable to me.

Image credit: ‘Old Suitcases by nuttakit/ freedigitalphotos.net