Category Archives: Marriage

Adultery: Socially Tolerated – Individually Unbearable

It seems to me that adultery has become socially tolerated (the Ashley Madison hack provided a brilliant but missed opportunity to explore this phenomenon) whilst at the same time, at an individual level it remains unbearable.

Oscar Wilde wrote in his essay – The Critic as Artist – “As long as war is regarded as wicked it will always have its fascination. When it is looked upon as vulgar, it will cease to be popular.” Could something similar be said of adultery?  As long as adultery is viewed as erotic it will always have its fascination.  When it is looked upon as betrayal, it will cease to be popular.

Currently, the social tolerance of adultery rests on two complimentary assumptions. Firstly, the view that certain groups of people are able to comfortably commit adultery; educated, middle class married people who have the ability to hop into bed with other people and feel free of guilt and free of consequences.  Groups such as the London Bloomsbury set of the last century or the French for example.  We are led to believe that infidelity, for certain people, can be accepted and tolerated as a recognised aspect of their relationship.   These individuals, if it is to be believed, who experience painless sexual infidelity must have some kind of inoculation to protect them from the torment that I am enduring as a consequence of my husband’s adultery.  I wonder, does living amongst people who are blasé about adultery soften the blow of cheating in some way? Or, and more likely I suspect, is it a case of simply downplaying the jealousy, hurt, insecurity and anger felt by the betrayed spouses in order to justify the betrayer’s behaviour? Are the betrayed spouses coerced into censoring their emotions?  Made to pretend their pain does not exist?

Added to this pernicious perspective is a second common assumption, shared by Esther Perel, that adultery is everywhere, and as it has always been the case historically we need to get real and lighten up on our views about it and responses to it. Perhaps be more like the London Bloomsbury set or the French. She says her research has shown that people in happy marriages cheat so this suggests that “marriage is an imperfect arrangement”.  (But maybe it’s only imperfect for one member of that marriage; the one who wants to have their cake and eat it too!)  Along with Dan Savage, who believes marriages should be non-monogamous, Perel believes that there needs to be “new negotiations” around monogamy. No doubt these views will be espoused more expansively in her proposed new book ‘Affairs in the Age of Transparency’.  Perel suggests that an affair is an erotic experience and not just about sex.  It’s about desire, attention, reconnecting with parts of yourself.  About longing and loss.  She contrasts this with what she says is the American discourse which is framed around betrayal and trauma.  But you see, she’s getting confused with her discourses here.  What she is doing is creating a discourse of adultery from the perspective of the adulterer and choosing to juxtapose this not with an American discourse but with what in fact is the universal discourse of the betrayed spouse.  This is nonsense.  It is all part of the same discourse.  There can be no separation. The deceived spouse is essential to the act of adultery, and their perspective is as pertinent as any.  Betrayal and trauma is what the betrayed spouse gets smashed between the eyes with and this is NOT an erotic experience.  Betrayal and trauma is NOT about desire, attention and reconnecting with parts of yourself long forgotten.  But, without betrayal there can be no adultery! This is the symbiotic but toxic reality.

These two assumptions; that certain people are able to ‘successfully’ navigate adultery and that adultery will always be with us deny two important human aspects. One; the aching human desire for an enduring loving and trusting relationship, and two; the trauma that I believe is ALWAYS experienced by the deceived spouse as a direct consequence of the adultery. Michela Marzano in ‘Fidelity: Loving on the edge’ writes “Humans are happier when they accept boundaries, even though boundaries limit their behaviour and oblige them to give up short-term pleasures such as extra-marital sex.” Don Juan was not free. He was a slave to his drives and was unable to construct his life. Our desire for commitment is hardly discussed except as a cursory nod towards the romantic myth of the ‘one-and-only-soul-mate-for-me-on-the-planet’ which often culminates in a frothy and champagne flowing  wedding ceremony where everybody celebrates the loving couple’s commitment to each other.  Then waits.  Statistics tell us the unsavoury news.  Percentages are thrown around like late confetti, all suggesting that adultery is inevitable, divorce likely.  These data are highly flawed, as any close inspection will reveal.  There is no definitive research that indicates how prevalent adultery is or how often it leads to divorce.  Really, would we expect otherwise?

As for a possible inoculation against the torment of being betrayed – I just don’t believe it. If you love someone dearly and that person opts to remove you from being the central person in your life, how is it humanely possible to shrug this off?

Pamela Druckerman in her book ‘Lust in Translation’ provides an interesting window into how different cultures respond to adultery. From gay communities with men who trade a few minutes of pleasure for an agonising death from AIDS to the French President François Mitterrand and his mistress and illegitimate daughter, adultery is presented as a kaleidoscope of different activities, but “there are universals, of course.  Even in countries where people supposedly tolerate cheating, almost everyone is heartbroken to discover infidelity.” Married people the world over are devastated to discover their partners have been cheating.  As for the French, Druckerman states “French women are startled when I tell them about their international reputation for being laissez-faire on infidelity. ‘Would you want your husband to cheat on you’ one woman relied.”

Dig a bit deeper into any marriage where love still lives and if adultery has occurred then the trauma will soon become apparent. Even though Mitterrand’s affair has the French outward appearance of him appearing as a cultivated person, in reality it is far more complicated. It was a state secret for two decades.  His illegitimate daughter was publicly disclosed only fourteen months before his funeral.  In her autobiography ‘Mouth Sewn Shut’ she says that she was so traumatised by the need to ‘stay invisible’ she went into psychotherapy.  Her father’s adulterous relationship with her mother forced her to fabricate a counterfeit life.  Really, how can this be truly tolerated?  What emotional tyranny was employed here in the name of love?

In the Sunday Telegraph last week it was announced that Nelson’s spurned wife took love for him to the grave. “She was humiliated by her husband in the most public of ways, endured the scandal of one of history’s best documented affairs and weathered the indignity of being estranged.  But Viscountess Nelson, known as Fanny, was so devoted to Lord Nelson she wore a miniature of him until she died, a newly found work suggests.”

“Fanny has not been treated well by posterity, and suffered badly at the hands of her attention seeking usurper Emma Hamilton. She was not the icy wife as depicted but a woman of deep and highly charged emotion.”

Another sad tragedy of adultery can be found in the life of the American artist Georgia O’Keeffe. From reading her detailed biography by Roxana Robinson it is clear that she was a remarkable woman; talented and independent she would epitomise what would have been considered the bohemian lifestyle of the last century.  Yet she had no inoculation against the tormentGeorgia of her husband Alfred’s infidelity.

Alfred Stieglitz was married to Emmy when he met Georgia.  Apparently this marriage was not a happy one and had become sexless.  They had one daughter.  However, how their marriage was and how it was perceived by husband and wife can be speculated upon.  Emmy returned one day to find her husband taking explicit photographs of Georgia in their apartment.  She ordered them out and gave an ultimatum to Alfred to either  stop seeing her or stop coming home.  He chose to leave.  Emmy broke down and repealed her ultimatum but to no avail.  Alfred took his road to freedom and had the nerve to display traces of injury to friends and colleagues along the lines of he felt ‘kicked-out’!

The night he left he sent Emmy a note of apology which she kept all her life. She was enraged and humiliated and the divorce took six years.  So Emmy WAS tormented by Alfred’s infidelities.  This no doubt had a devastating effect on their daughter. A very difficult and distant relationship with her father and later, insanity.

However, and with a certain predictability, Alfred after marrying Georgia began a relationship with a woman who ensconced herself firstly in his studio and then in his love life. Georgia became aware of the daily letters and telephone calls that became a pattern between her husband and Dorothy Norman.  She wrote “The vision ahead may seem a bit bleak but my feeling about life is a curious kind of triumphant feeling about – seeing it bleak – knowing it so and walking into it fearlessly because one has no choice.” However, Stieglitz’s public betrayal of Georgia with Dorothy was a constant unspoken sub text between Alfred and Georgia and produced difficult emotional choices.  Georgia chose not to leave him but to accept his infidelity and respond to it by leading her own independent life as much as she could. Outwardly it may have appeared that the infidelity had no impact upon Georgia’s and Alfred’s marriage.

For Alfred and Dorothy, who was also married, the folie á deux developed over familiar lines. Dorothy wrote “I want to hurt or tear apart nothing”.  Her self-image was one of kindness and generosity and it did not allow her to admit that her behaviour might be damaging to others.  She professed bewilderment at her husband’s jealousy! “We never think of breaking up our marriages.  We are nourished by and nourish them.” Equally Alfred’s skewed logic of infatuation convinced him that his involvement with Dorothy was a benefit to everyone around him, including Georgia!

Georgia’s self-confidence waned as she watched herself replaced by Dorothy Norman. I wonder if it caused her to think about Emmy, Alfred’s first wife. Georgia’s subsequent mental breakdown caused Alfred both grief and guilt and he returned her to the centre of his emotional life.  His romantic involvement with Dorothy diminished from this time onwards.  Although she had seemed to stoically accept her husband’s infidelity, the price she paid was high.  Georgia was tormented by her husband’s infidelity. She was 46 when she acknowledged her need for reciprocated love.  She wrote “If the past year or two has taught me anything it is that my plot of earth must be tended with absurd care – by myself first – and if second by someone else, it must be with absolute trust – their thinking carefully and knowing what they do – it seems it would be very difficult for me to live if it were wrecked again just now”.

After Alfred’s death Georgia unleashed her rage at Dorothy at last. She informed her that her relationship with her husband was “absolutely disgusting”.

Adultery is a travesty of marriage. If one person favours infidelity as a way of improving their selfish life whilst the other favours monogamy and the sacrifices it requires, the only consequence can be torment of one kind or another unless the differences can be reconciled.  But, I consider them to be irreconcilable.  I don’t think, not for me anyway, that there can be a re-working of monogamy.  Social tolerance of adultery cannot be translated into individual tolerance.  People’s feelings are valuable things that should not be trampled upon.  I don’t know anything worse than betrayal for trampling upon people’s feelings.  There is no pain free adultery.

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Affairs: So What?

BLOOD BOILINGIt’s just relentless! 

Picked up the Sunday Times 12th October 2014 and in the Style supplement there is an article written by India Knight who wants to share excerpts from her new book ‘In Her Prime: Older, Wiser, Happier’.  A journalist, columnist, novelist and regular writer for the Sunday Times she has a fairly high-profile.  I think I once purchased one of her books on the art of shopping. She has published a book on how to lose weight by reducing carbs, other light non-fiction and a number of novels.  Her non-fiction books appear to be semi-autobiographical; what India would do, what India thinks best, what India has tried that has worked.  The excerpts from her book seem innocuous enough, in the main.  “Everyone I know who is over 50 and looks fantastic does yoga.  Just do it.  You can thank me later”.      She provides her 15 rules for beauty, (tips on eyeliner, Botox and blusher etc.) but then throws in, for good measure I suppose, her philosophy on sex and relations. “If you fancy someone, and they fancy you, then you should be pleased and excited to be naked in a bed”  Not exactly profound and I would normally smile at such things but I found it impossible because she goes on to imply that adultery really isn’t a problem in marriages and long-term relationships.  It makes my blood boil!

She begins by saying that she doesn’t intend to mount a defence of adultery but she “does wonder how much it matters to our hypothetical long-married couple”.  Well India, you don’t have to wonder – take a look at the betrayed spouses blogosphere sister – you’ll see how much it fucking matters!

Distilling her wisdom further she makes fleeting and glib reference to the pain inflicted by infidelity although there is no explicit mention of any particular pain that may be reserved for only  the betrayed spouse. Maybe she doesn’t know about this?   She goes on:

“As we have seen, the adulterer is partly to be pitied: they want proof that they’re still hot, which is sad, however you cut it, and maybe a teeny bit deserving of sympathy.  I’m not convinced that behaving as though you are in a soap opera – screaming yourself hoarse and showing your other half the door – is necessarily the sensible solution here.  Yes, lots of affairs are terminal – too many, if you ask me, because we’ve been conditioned to think that they’re the end of everything, rather than difficult but manageable like a broken limb or small head wound.  The odd blip – one or two (max) over a period of decades – is, if not quite excusable, then at least humanly understandable. What I’m actually doing is beating around the bush and trying to think of a more palatable way of saying, ‘Affairs: so what?’  Like many women, I might be inclined – through the benefits of being older, wiser and less judgemental – to think: “Stupid arse.  I am really, really pissed off and upset, but I think we can probably work it through”

Pleeeeeeeeeease!!!!!!!  When are people going to understand that it is not just the sex!!!!!!  It is Dangerthe betrayal, the lies, the secrets, the detachment, the breach of trust the crazy making time of being told that you are nuts and that nothing is going on and that there is no one else.  Finding out that the person that you loved and trusted the most was prepared to be dishonest and deceptive.

Maybe India Knight has not experienced this.  I wonder if she would be quite so glib if her partner began to deceive her.  Bit more than pissed off perhaps? Beware of  Karma, India Knight, it has a funny way of teaching you what you need to know at the right time in your life.  And here’s one person who will not be buying your book.

 

Image Credit:  Thermometer by Stuart Miles; Danger Sign by taoty freedigitalphotos.net

The Wasteland of Adultery

wastelandWasteland (noun)

  1. Land that is desolate, barren or ravaged.
  2. A place, era or aspect of life considered as lacking in spiritual, aesthetic or other humanising qualities; a vacuum.

This is the best way that I can describe what it feels like to be living in the aftermath of adultery.  I am the betrayed spouse and I have been walking around here the longest, but my husband is close by as is my daughter and friends and family.  Obviously there is also the Other Woman, Pig Shit, she’s in here somewhere.  It is a miserable and dehumanising place to be and I never expected to find myself here.  Do any of us?  Where did my husband think he was going?

I have no doubt that he thought he was going somewhere GOOD for him.  A place of lasvegasentertainment, dirty sex, fun and frolics that would be like a holiday for him.  He must have been feeling a bit sorry for himself.  A bit neglected? A bit resentful?  A bit unworthy.  It was OK at home but the fireworks had gone a bit.  He was worried he might be losing his mojo.  He wanted to go where circus monkeys performed for his delight.  He wanted to go where he was appreciated.  Somewhere different.  It wasn’t going to hurt anybody.  He felt perfectly capable of having sex at his convenience with a desperate and dull donkey whilst continuing as a loving husband to me, his wife.  Pig Shit was eager to enter this devil’s yard and made sure that she brought along all her sex toys and disgusting desperation for a man in her sorry little life.  Ask my husband now about his little Nirvana that he found living in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, England.  It might have been far enough away from London to be free from my presence but not far enough for him to escape from himself!!

What turned the circus to a wasteland?  Reality.  Yes reality.  REALITY! It was all a rotten and sordid illusion.  You can’t have sex (unless you’re paying for it) without having strings attached.  A woman who drops her knickers is expecting something in return.  My husband told her “I love you” to keep her sweet but she read far more into this.  For her story to work for herself she had to feel superior to a whore and the sex for her was in her dim mind a form of affection.illusion Gradually she started to pressure him for more. She said she wanted a ‘normal life’.  Seems to me that she wanted MY life!  Equally, is it really possible to lie, deceive and betray someone who openly loves and trusts you without it slowly eating at your inner core, your soul? My husband had thought so.  If anyone can truly like themselves whilst they lie and cheat then they are a worthless individual and very soon this is going to become apparent to them.  When did Pig Shit realise the illusion? When he didn’t make much effort to see her?  When he went on holiday with me? When he told her that he loved me?  Did his pathetic texts of undying love convince her that they were made for each other?  That they had a future together and that it was written in the stars?  Oh please!  How can you have a meaningful or genuine relationship with someone who has a spouse at home who they are lying to?  The problem is, once adultery is started, the road to the wasteland of everybody’s  life has started and trust me, there is NO way it can be avoided.

For all betraying spouses, take heed – the wasteland will look like this:

  1. You finish with your ‘other’, go back to your wife and nobody gets to find out about your time at the circus with your performing monkey.  EXCEPT you know.  It’s also possible that your wife has deep rooted suspicions that won’t go away.  She will have felt your distancing long before your affair became a problem to you and this would have eaten away at her self-esteem. You will have to live with this till you DIE.  Take the knowledge of your betrayal to the grave.  Know that your wife has been betrayed by the one person she thought she could trust more than anyone else in the world.  Add to this, the ticking time bomb that she might find out one day.  Add to thissecret the woman you have finished with.  Can you trust her?  Will she cause you trouble?  How will you live with your regret?  Will you do it again?  Because you can.  Because your wife trusts you and you like your little trips to the circus.  This is the life that you want to lead?  Do you feel dignified?  Can you truly hold your head up?  Do you think your friends are envious of your ‘exciting’ lifestyle? You are slowly and systematically going to destroy the light inside yourself and your wife (and your children if you have any).  Worth it?
  2. You finish with your wife and go off with your performing circus monkey.  It’s really going to be heaven isn’t it? Except now, you have what you had with your wife.  Responsibility, obligation, finance issues, sex with one woman.  Living with someone on a day-to-day basis is NOTHING like when you’re having an affair.  You might find her less accommodating now that she has you. The fog of the affair will start to clear. No more secrets to keep it exciting. clown No more wife as a safety net to fall back on.  What will you tell your children?  They’re not going to be thrilled with your newcomer.  You see, telling them that it has nothing to do with them doesn’t quite cut the mustard here.  You had been betraying them as well.  Why didn’t you leave their mum before you started to have sex with the monkey?  Your children are going to feel physically sick and they are going to have to walk two wastelands. Yours and the wasteland that is where you have left your wife and them.  It might look like you’ve escaped but statistics tell another story.  You’ll be SORRY.  You will regret what you did and you will have to live the rest of your life with the consequences of your choice of actions.
  3. You finish with the monkey and the secret of your affair is exposed.  You want to stay with your wife, you tell her that you realise that you have made a terrible mistake and that you just want to bury the memory of it all and work together at rebuilding your broken marriage.  Now, wouldn’t that just be perfect for you?  Well, sorry to disabuse you of any further illusions but this wasteland is going to be the toughest to traverse.  You are not going to be able to bury the corpse of your affair for a long, long time.  You are going to have to meet the wrath and the rage of the woman you betrayed over and over and over again.  You are going to have to say sorry, over and over and over again.  And over and over and overaaa again.  You are going to have to face your self and your choice of actions and you are going to see the disgust and shame that you have for yourself mirrored in the eyes of the woman who until this happened loved and trusted you.   Your guilt will threaten to crush you but it won’t be anywhere near as crushing as the experience that your betrayed spouse will have to endure.  Trust me, I’m an expert here!  It’s two years since D-day.  But time is not the important factor – it’s the work that you do that is key to leaving this wasteland behind.  I’m happy to say that we have been seeing green shoots of recovery for quite some time now.  We have laid fresh memories for us whilst at the same time working on what made him make such poor choices so that he can become the man he likes again.

green shoots Adultery is a miserable and soul-destroying activity and should not be wrapped up as anything else.  It is all smoke and mirrors.  It’s a circus of base instincts over integrity and honour.   There is no romance here.  The excitement is ephemeral.  All betrayed wives have to walk in this wasteland.  Some make the choice to separate and tackle the tough ground on their own, but this is no easy option and no less of a struggle than the others discussed above. I hate that I have been dropped into such a miserable landscape but I have no intention of staying here.  I am learning everyday something about myself and human behaviour and I am becoming brave and fearful.  May all the betrayed spouses who are locked in this wretched place find the courage and inner worth to know that there is a road out and it will lead to peace.

 

Image Credits: Slash And Burn Cultivation by pupunkkop; Ladder Leading To Rock Wall by Sira Anamwong; Vision Silhouettes Shows Key Hole And Protection by Stuart Miles; Clown by Africa; Cracked Ground Texture by criminalatt; Blooming by Carlos Porto; all courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Asking if there’s someone else is futile!

worryI’ve been giving some thought lately as to how I might have acted differently in my marriage knowing what I know now.  I’ve been considering how I behaved when I found myself married to a man who had become a shell of the man he used to be and beginning to question my own sanity.  I’m not talking about my D-day and after. I’m thinking about the period of time before this, the lead up to D-day, the time when the betrayal was occurring right under my nose. When I think back now (2 years since D-day) I recognise that for almost a year I was living in a state of constant anxiety.  I had a sense that my life was unravelling but could not locate the loose threads.  It’s as if I was powerless to do anything about it.  This is what I find disturbing.

It is difficult to piece together the jigsaw of that year of betrayal.  I can’t recall when it started.  I think that it must have been gradual.  I know that for his birthday I went to a lot of trouble to purchase him lovely things that he would like and designed a stunning card for him.  His jigsawbirthday is early November.  I haven’t noted anything but the day fell over the weekend so we would have gone to a restaurant to celebrate.  Everything was OK (I thought).  However, by this time he had shagged Pig Shit once.  Two days after his birthday he had his second shag (8 weeks after the first) and as a treat for him Pig Shit wore her Ann Summers black body stocking!  Funnily enough I took a day off sick that day.  This must be a sign of something because I so seldom take time off work.  In the previous ten years I had two weeks off, all at once due to an infection.  So, I wonder if our bodies sometimes try to tell us what we sense unconsciously!  It’s all very weird.

doubtSo when did I begin to suspect that something had changed?  I really am stuck here.  I know that I had started to focus on my work situation.  I had an opportunity to request a substantial severance package from the job I had had for 13 years.  My husband and I had discussed this and decided it would be a great opportunity to pay off our mortgage.  It meant a bit of uncertainty for me with regard to future income but I thought that together we would be fine.  These discussions started before he met Pig Shit, but by the time I signed the papers he was well and truly a liar and betrayer.  Added to this my employer did not make it easy and I was shunted around quite a bit which affected my self-confidence and self-esteem.  So I guess that some of the insecurities that I was feeling, I put down to this.

However, and creepingly, I started to feel a coldness from him.  Difficult to articulate but deeply felt.  Whereas he had always been kind and considerate to me, now his attitude was very cavalier.  Sex started to feel mechanical.  In fact everything that we were doing (on reflection) was on auto-pilot.  We’d been together for ten years so this wasn’t difficult except there was a hollowness in the middle.  Increasingly, I found myself weeping whenever we started a meaningful conversation and instead of him putting his arms around me he would just look at me, which made me feel terrible.

So, my questions started.  Can’t recall exactly when or how but I do know that they got increasingly demanding of him and increasingly tangled.  Previous to this we were not a couple to quarrel.  We have always found it very easy to get along with each other but now we were having arguments over nothing!  Unsatisfied with any of his responses I would just repeat the argumentquestions in different formats and obviously this was driving him and I nuts.  BECAUSE, the truth is, he did not want me to find out!  He didn’t want to be with Pig Shit in any type of relationship, he just wanted a dirty desperate pig on the side!  However, he was telling her a bunch of lies and keeping her sweet so that he could get his bit of booty every month or so!

On the other hand, I wanted DESPERATELY to know what was going on so that if necessary we could make plans.  I was so anxious.  In a couple of months I would have NO JOB.  Was I still to pay off the mortgage? He reassured me that this was the right thing to do.  Why did I just go along with this?

I continually asked him “is there someone else?”  I now realise the futility of that question.  As if he was going to admit it???  He would say, repeatedly “How could there be anyone else, I’m hardly ever away from home.  We spend most of our time together”  Of course this was true – we work together from home.  We have a fabulous loft space that we share.  He was seldom away from home and when he was he was always in touch with me.  I never thought for one moment that there would be a woman on the planet who would accept so little.  How wrong I was!!!!  I came to the conclusion that it must have been prostitutes but he was adamant that he would never pay a prostitute.  So I then started on me.  What was wrong with me?  He said that his feelings had changed for me.  Did he still love me?  Yes, but it was different.  In what way?  Couldn’t say, just different!   He said he found my questioning unbearable – that I was unbearable at times.

credit cardI came to the foolishly wrong conclusion that he was anxious about the reduction in our income.  I have always earned more than him.  So I reassure him that I will find work (I had planned to develop a freelance portfolio but thought if he was anxious it would be best to abandon that idea), but he pleads with me not to look for work but to develop my other options.  He was adamant that it was not a financial issue.  But… couldn’t give me a clue as to what the problem might be!

He goes on to book us a holiday which I’m not too happy about but he insists that the rest will do us good.  I foolishly agree.  Obviously, and unbeknownst to me Pig Shit is raging her end and putting pressure on him – so he is texting and ringing her whilst we are away.  It is just auto-pilot.  It was such an empty and lonely experience.  I wanted to weep all the time.  I would look at him and he would look away after looking blankly back at me.  Yet I still carried on.  I continued to ask what was wrong.  I begged him to explain what was wrong between us and he just would not answer.  It was getting worse each day.  But I still carried on.  Why?

The night that he broke down was a few days after my birthday.  My birthday is 5 days after Pig Shit’s birthday.  He had a photograph of them framed (a photograph he took of the both of them on their first shag-fest, in the gardens of the hotel they stayed at) and arranged to visit his mother in Derby as an excuse to see Pig Shit.  They went out for drinks with friends (our friends hahahaha joke) and then stayed at the friends cottage overnight.  Nice of our friends to facilitate the adultery.  He then had to be my husband for my birthday and it really wasn’t him.  He didn’t know what to buy me or what to do.  We went to a restaurant in the evening.  He had a day’s work so went off and didn’t even ask what I was doing that day.  I cried and cried on my birthday and actually considered cancelling the restaurant.  I didn’t and I don’t know why.  I think I was exhausted.

The night that he broke down was very strange.  It started with me talking to him about us and whether we should remain together (Durgh…. why didn’t I talk about this EARLIER!!!).  I openly said that if he felt the need to leave I wouldn’t stand in his way.  He just collapsed into tears saying how much he loved me and how important I was in his life.  We kissed and held each other and for the first time in months we connected.  It was my husband who I know and love so dearly.  That night we held on tight to each other, both crying.  By the morning that had all evaporated.  I left the house knowing something was wrong but lost.

That evening I found him sitting on our sofa telling me that he “can’t be here” over and over again.  I asked what he meant by ‘here’ – he didn’t or couldn’t elaborate.  I was exhausted and went to bed. Later, he came upstairs and told me he was going to sleep in the spare room.  I asked him why.  He couldn’t answer, yet again.  Some pathetic mumbling about needing some space.  As he closed the bedroom door it was like a set of scales dropping from my eyes.  For the first time in all that wretched time I started to think about ME.  Not HIM and not US but ME.  It was then that the runway lights just showed up.    It didn’t matter anymore what his problem was, I could not accept his behaviour anymore.  From that moment on, the tables turned completely and I began a personal journey that I am still on today.  At that time I knew nothing about Pig Shit and so my journey has taken a number of detours to handle the experience of adultery.  Nevertheless, I know that until I stood up for myself – fearless (remember, I was facing no job, no home as it would need to be sold and there wouldn’t be enough for us to each purchase a home, and no husband) and ready to walk away from a dysfunctional  relationship. I realised that if I didn’t actively do something to change MY circumstances I was heading for a life that I didn’t want.

So, what I would do differently next time is take this lead much earlier.  I would definitely not askchoices if there was someone else because that would be a waste of time.   If he was going to disclose he would do so  without my begging or asking. I would not waste time looking for clues as to what he might be up to.  The bottom line would be that I am not prepared to accept his behaviour in our relationship.   I would communicate, as always, and ask what he thought the problem was.  However, I would lay out my demands in terms of what I needed from the relationship.  If he could not step up to the plate and meet my demands then I would start separation proceedings.

I may be making this sound easy.  It wasn’t, it broke my heart to force him to leave but it was no worse than being treated so coldly and indifferently and it started to give me back my self-esteem.  I was worth far more than what he was giving.

It was clear that his strategy did not include disclosing his affair to me.  He was clearly distressed by it all and deeply ashamed and didn’t want me to find out.  He has told me subsequently that his plan was to slowly get rid of her. He had already started seeing less of her and thought he could wean her off of him without the danger of her telling me.  So, left to his devices, he would have just made my life even more of a living hell.  I can’t imagine how awful that would have been.  Plus I don’t think he was going to be able to wean her off because she was just too desperate.

When he left me he went to live with Pig Shit and her two teenage children.  Didn’t last long.  10 days was all he could muster and then he was on my doorstep begging to come home.  I didn’t let him return immediately, so Pig Shit got another couple of weeks of my husband.  I had thought he was having a midlife crisis so eventually took him back.  He still didn’t tell me about Pig Shit.  She did that.  48 hours later, she texted me.  Scorched Earth Policy.  What a car crash of a marriage!

 

Image Credits: Brain Thinking Conceptual On Green Chalkboard by samuiblue; Education by ddpavumba; Couple In Love Having Break Up by smarnad; Credit Card by Anusorn P nachol; Choices by jscreationzs; all courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

 

 

 

 

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

tough decisionThe Clash, an English punk rock band sang a song about this topic: ” Should I stay or should I go now?  If I go there will be trouble.  An’ if I stay it will be double.  So come on and let me know”. 

For me, this question got seared on to my brain at the same time as I found out that my husband had been having sex with another woman and it continues to burn but with decreasing intensity.   My first decision (immediately) was to leave.  My second decision was to stay.  My third decision was to leave.   I won’t bore you with the details but suffice to say I’ve lost count over the past two years as to how many times my decision has changed.  And of course, it may change yet again!

As far as I know my husband has only had one affair and is committed to recovering and repairing our marriage.  It is two years since D day.  I would prefer it if we could stay together but only as long as we retain a relationship that works for both of us.  The past two years have been incredibly painful but I am just beginning to feel some green roots of recovery: not so plastermuch for our marriage (still working on issues of trust) but for my self-esteem and sense of self.  I am starting to feel a separation from what he chose to do and the ensuing devastation.  For a long time I have felt totally embroiled in his mess.  And I think this separation from the affair has helped my healing and could have happened  irrespective of my choice to stay in the marriage.  As Peggy Vaughan says in The Monogamy Myth “It’s important to the healing process that a person recognise that personal recovery from the emotional impact of this experience is not determined by whether the relationship survives”.

What I do know, is I found advice early on from books and the internet which cautioned about making a decision too early in the process of recovery.  This is because the anxiety, stress and fear created by the devastation of finding out distorts our choices.  For me, I realise now (on reflection) that I would have also been too influenced by my old ideas about infidelity and other people’s well intentioned but uninformed opinions about the choice I should make.   The isolatedproblem is, I felt so ISOLATED.  I was in a maelstrom all on my own and the one person who would have helped me in any other set of circumstances was the person I wanted to just evaporate.  I wanted it ALL to evaporate – me as well!  I didn’t want it to be true.  I kept wishing that I would wake up and laugh at the horrible dream.  But it was all to get a lot worse before anything got better.    I think that this would be the case irrelevant of whether I stayed or not.

I decided to stay.  Perhaps it would be better to say that WE decided to stay.  I couldn’t repair our relationship on my own.  However, I do know that no one else could have made my decision for me.  I know that many consider me naïve to stay and maybe they will be proved right.  But they may be proved wrong.  Bottom line there is no clear wrong or right just multiple shades of grey. Of course I’m really vulnerable to the possibility of him repeating his behaviour but that is not my weakness I now see it as my strength.  I need not change my character.  I am opening up again and I will carry on loving him because that’s my choice.  Staying together is another choice and not necessarily related to my love for him.  My love for me is paramount.  I hope this doesn’t sound self-centered or egotistical because that’s not what it feels like to me.  I feel like I have gone to the depths of myself (I had no choice) and I have started to rise. On my own.

If he were to commit adultery again, would I leave?  I know too well from experience NOT to jigsawmake claims for myself in the future.  If I were to be devastated yet again, I would make a choice based on what I think would suit me best.  I’ve heard too many incredible stories of marriages that have sustained incredible turmoil and have become better relationships because of it.  In the end, my life, my loves.

eleA lovely quote from Eleanor Roosevelt on her recovery from the devastation of learning that her husband was having an affair with one of her trusted friends might be pertinent here: ”Somewhere along the line of development we discover what we really are, and then we make our real decision for which we are responsible.  Make that decision primarily for yourself because you can never really live anyone else’s life, not even your own child’s”

 

 

Image credits: Tough Decision Ahead Sign Displays Uncertainty And Difficult Cho by Stuart Miles; Heart Shaped Plaster by cbenjasuwanll; Team Solitary by Idea go; All courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

 

The myth of monogamy

no peekingIf we are to believe the statistics we have to recognise that lots of people are NOT monogamous and it is a very common practice for both men and women. So why, when it happens to us are we so unprepared? I have started to think that we are so conditioned to the fairy-tale idea of ‘happy ever after’ that when evidence starts to indicate anything otherwise we simply bury our heads in the sand or think that it can only happen to other people. I believe that we are all in a state of denial about how frequent adultery is and how devastating the experience can be for all parties involved. It’s like we don’t want to see the truth  because we don’t like the idea! But this is crazy making and I would like to suggest that this attitude is simply fuelling the activity and silencing the effects of the pain that betrayal in a committed relationship causes. We can no longer turn a blind eye.

In the media we see adultery portrayed, in the main, as a romantic and/or glamorous activity which completely hides the trauma of betrayal and the toxic effects of secrets on a relationship.  Alternatively, we read about celebrities when their adultery becomes public knowledge and their lives become a canvas for us all to paint our opinions on.    It is all pure soap opera.  On the one hand we want to read all about it, the details, the who and the where – on the other we want to see the betrayed spouse kick the cheater out.  Serves them right!  Moral outrage as a knee jerk reaction.  Seems it is OK if the adulterer does not get caught out.  However, if they get caught out we can only tolerate separation and divorce.  This is such hypocrisy and does not support the betrayed spouse in any way.

locked doorThe only way out of this mire of contradictions is to open the door to two things: 1) Recognise that monogamy does not just happen of its own accord, it is a choice that we make and it is a behaviour that we need to fully understand; and 2) Adultery does not necessarily need to be met with divorce – there are options that a couple can consider, and whether they chose to stay together or separate, the process will be easier if there is honest communication.  Staying together might be the BEST thing to do (if both want to try) but it requires a lot of emotional energy.  The betrayer will have to come to terms with why they have behaved in such a way and the betrayed will need the space in which to vent all their anger and rage in order to rewrite their understanding of their marriage and their spouse whilst the affair or affairs were going on.

key in lockThere can be no discussion about what was ‘wrong’ with the marriage or relationship until the adulterous behaviour is understood.  All marriages have their peaks and troughs, all relationships will have difficulties.  The choice to have sex with another person and lie to a spouse who should be able to trust you is not the solution for a marriage in trouble.  This choice denies the spouse the opportunity to have some say in the matter, and from my experience the worst part of infidelity was the time in which my husband was denying that there was someone else, NOT afterwards when I discovered the adultery.  Once you can understand the dysfunctional behaviour of adultery and why it was seen as a solution, then and only then can you talk about what might have been missing in the marriage.   Believe it or not – getting to the heart of these issues is what can create a stronger and much more intimate relationship.

Image Credits: No Peeking by Vlado; No Entry (locked door) by Poulsen Photo; and Key in Lock by Stuart Miles all courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

Why my personal story?

Isak Dinesen, the great story teller said “all sorrows can be borne if you put them in a story or tell a story about them”

I have decided to write this blog as a story to help me cope with the trauma of my husband’s betrayal with another woman.  The story really isn’t about him or her or the cast of characters that encouraged or facilitated the adultery – it’s about me.  It is also a love story.  However, it is not of the traditional sort.  Instead it is about how the nightmare of his betrayal has forced me to face myself and make me realise just how special my life is to me and how grateful I am to be alive in this wonderful world. I have fallen in love with life.  It is a tragedy that it took such an event to open my eyes but maybe that’s what genuine transformation requires.

I’m putting my story ‘out there’ because I want other betrayed women to know that there is real hope, no matter how dark it all seems.  It may be that like me you are able to work to recover your marriage or it may be that you need to have the courage to leave the marriage but whatever course of action, it is so important to understand that you will be OK.  I never thought I would be this OK again when I first found out and my world turned topsy-turvy but somehow I have managed to learn from the devastating experience. This blog is only my account of my experience and my tools for handling it along with large doses of personal opinion which you may agree or disagree with. I think of it as a journey and I have to be honest it has been a terrible uphill struggle at times.

However, the bottom line is that this blog is a part of my healing from the experience and it really doesn’t matter if it doesn’t get read by another soul.  I could not have started writing this any sooner than now.  It would have been an incoherent mess of anger, rage and resentment towards my husband and fury towards the woman who made the choice to have sex with my husband.

It is almost two years since I discovered the affair but it was of a year’s duration so I had a previous year of his withdrawal where he put a distance between us as a way of reducing contact and any discussion which might alert me to some factor of his infidelity.  During this time I experienced the gnawing pain of suspicion.  It hurt terribly like a creeping cancer that started to affect everything in my life.  I became anxious, uncertain and experienced a huge drain on my confidence and pride.  Afairs are crazy making and don’t believe otherwise.

Following disclosure I have felt like I have been placed in an industrial wash cycle. I have reeled from one emotional whirlwind to the next and have been deeply ashamed of my inability to control my anger and rage.  Everybody’s experience will be different but I think we can help each other by sharing our experiences and feelings.  When you discover that the person you love and trust has made a choice, without any consultation with you, to deceive and betray you by lying and cheating, NOTHING remains the same for you. But here you are, alone in the middle of a marital car crash, hurt, injured, in a state of shock and bleeding to death.  The trauma has only just began.  Betrayed wives need help.  We need a map and a toolbox to help understand the car crash that our marriage has turned into so that we can heal ourselves.