Tag Archives: choices

Inside The Adulterer’s Mind

who what whereMy lifelong best friends; the Five Ws and one H; a formula for getting the complete story on a subject. So, when trying to get the ‘story’ on my husband’s adultery I had these ready tools in my arsenal and have used them extensively over the years.  I have experienced no cognitive difficulty with establishing what he did, where he did it, when he did it, who he did it with and how.  Unpalatable that it is, knowing has proved to be very beneficial to me.  Not at the beginning I might add.  No, not at the beginning.  Initially, the truth burned like crazy through my head and seared into my chest where my heart convulsed under its toxic waste.  The nuggets of odious information would scuttle around the grey corridors of my brain, refusing to rest, tormenting me and provoking me towards either anger outbursts or sad shutdowns.  However, three years and counting since D-day, the truth has settled.   What I know no longer riles me (so much), it all seems a bit far away to be honest – in the distance – a bit blurred at the edges and I have no desire to look any closer.  As LP Hartley says in the Go-between, “The past is a different country; they do things differently there”. 

I’m pleased to say that my husband no longer lives there.

However, I still wrestle with the ‘why’. Don’t we all; the million dollar question?  For those of you familiar with my previous blogs you will know that I have stopped directly asking husband this question because he has been consistent in his inability to explain what seems to be, in hindsight, his insanity.  But the why will not subside. It’s like I’m Bluebeard’s last wife.  I have all the keys of the château.  I’ve opened most of the doors to the rooms which contain the loathsome and sordid secrets of his adultery but have not used the key to the one small room beneath the castle.  It’s like I shouldn’t  enter this room under any circumstances; I should walk away, but instead the overwhelming desire to see what the forbidden room holds presses me to look further.  Bluebeard’s wife discovers her husband’s horrible secret.  Is there a horrible secret that awaits me when I open the door?

It was Frank Pittman in his book Private Lies: Infidelity and the Betrayal of Intimacy who first alerted me to the crazy, warped way that adulterers think and act. I appreciated his detached view of the betrayer and the havoc that then descends upon their lives and the lives of their loved ones.  It resonated with my earlier and present understandings.

It should be apparent that infidelity can cause all manner of problems, some immediate, some generations later. One would think people would know that by now.  Nonetheless, every time people commit an infidelity and all hell breaks loose, they look so surprised.  Even after twenty-seven years as a psychiatrist and family therapist, devoting much of my time to cleaning up the emotional mess after other people’s affairs, I never cease to wonder at the naiveté of people going through it.

I love it when he says “The dictionary says an affair is a romantic or passionate attachment typically of limited duration. I want the implication here of unreality, enchantment, illusion, and impermanence.”  Yes, yes!  Apparently, some of the adulterers he has come across don’t think their affair is wrong as long as it is kept a secret.  The fact that it is kept a secret denotes that it is not an act of hostility and is not intended to hurt one’s spouse.  Oh yeah, really clear thinking here.

Would you believe that politeness was a reason for male infidelity? She came on to me, it would have been rude not to.  Yeah, more clear thinking here!

My fascination (although not an accurate term – obsession, more like) with why husband would do what he did when he was in a really good marriage with me doesn’t subside. I sort of get why people, desperately unhappy in their marriage, might make a decision to commit adultery as an exit strategy. The frog seeking its next lily pad before departing the current one!  I am not for one moment suggesting that this is acceptable, it’s just that I see a why. But what if an exit strategy is not the motivation?  Our marriage only went sour after the adultery had started, but even then he had no intention of leaving me.  We had a good marriage.  We enjoyed each other’s company, got on really well, had regular sex and talked about growing old together.  So why, the reckless decision to risk losing everything he had built with me for sex with someone who clearly meant nothing to him?  It is clear that my husband had the impulse to commit adultery and have sex with another woman but the existence of this impulse is not an explanation for why he chose to act on it.  His flawed judgement and subsequent decision to commit adultery was an outcome of his way of thinking at the time in which the opportunity for adultery presented itself.  In my opinion it was faulty thinking.  He did not act in his own best long term interests.  He did not weigh up the costs and benefits of committing adultery; costs and benefits that would impact upon him and his life drastically. So what exactly is faulty thinking and can it be corrected?

Firstly, my husband’s faulty thinking can be described as irrational thinking. Husband did NOT think about his love for me, his future tied to mine,  our hopes, or my feelings.  He did NOT weigh up the huge risk he was taking.  But this is not unusual.  It would appear that we are barking up the wrong proverbial tree if we believe that when it comes to making important decisions, when it truly matters, people think carefully about their options.  This is a suggestion made by a new branch of psychology concerned with economic behaviour; behavioural economics.  Although it has been around for a while, it is only since the recent economic crash in the west that its ideas have taken root.  People have wanted to understand why so many bad economic decisions were made on such an alarming scale.  I desperately want to know why so many bad relationship decisions are made on an alarming scale.  There are some analogies to be made.

Secondly, from the theories of behavioural economics, in particular, Dan Ariely’s suggestions in ‘Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions,’ we would be advised to understand that  all ‘humans engage in actions and make decisions that are often divorced from rationality, and sometimes very far from ideal.” Further, “it has become tragically clear that the mistakes we all make are not at all random, but part and parcel of the human condition.”  Over a period of twenty years he has looked at what really influences our decisions in daily life (as opposed to what we think, often with great confidence, influences them).  Some of his findings might be worth considering in regards to the rash decision my husband made to commit adultery.  Maybe, there’s an element of truth when husband says to me he really doesn’t understand what influenced him to embark upon such a destructive activity.

Encouragingly, Ariely says “Once you see how systematic certain mistakes are – how we repeat them again and again – I think you will begin to learn how to avoid some of them.” For me, it’s a bit like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted but nevertheless, if the ideas can go some distance in understanding the irrationality of adultery and or help to ensure that future decisions are weighed more carefully, then it’s a worthwhile detour, don’t you think.  The simple but compelling idea that we are all capable of making the right decisions for ourselves needs dismantling.

Seemingly, most people don’t know what they want unless they see it in context. We are always looking at things around us in relation to others and this can mislead us enormously. Having a less educated and less cultured woman flirt with him, chase him, with a promise of dirty pussy would flatter my husband enormously and would be in stark contrast to what he experiences with me as his wife. As much as we have a successful marriage it is also an intimate, long term relationship that has had to weather the trials and tribulations of life together as well as the joys and pleasures.  Equally, novelty disappears, it’s inevitable. But, if we don’t think about it carefully enough, we don’t realise that our perception is being shaped in this manner.  It may have seemed to him that he had a magical connection with Pig Shit instead of realising that the enchantment was limited to his surrounding circumstances. However, making relative judgements is the natural way we think and unfortunately once we make our choice, albeit a disastrous one,  it leads to what is called arbitrary coherence; the choice, once established is repeated because the choice has shaped what we are willing to do and how willing we are in the future.

So, some arbitrary ‘lets-find-a-motel-room-and-shag’ event becomes coherent in its repetition. It manages to create sense from non-sense.  Each subsequent activity reinforcing what went before.  It would seem that our first decisions resonate over a long sequence of decisions.  So, are we nothing more than the sum of our first, naïve, random behaviours? For some people, yes!  However, we can actively improve on our irrational behaviours by becoming aware of our vulnerabilities; we need to pay particular attention to the first decision in what is going to be a long stream of decisions.  How I see it, is husband did not perceive how his first decision, upon meeting Pig Shit  was so crucial; he should have given it a lot more attention than he did.  I am hopeful that he would now.

There also appears to be a lure for something that is free and easily available that leads to making bad decisions. It might be the case that someone even gives up a better deal and settles for something that was not what they wanted because they were lured by the free. I know that Pig Shit was easily available.  I know that husband had to do very little to have her perform her sexual monkey on a stick practices.  As Pittman so aptly states; “Affair choices are usually far more neurotic than marriage choices. When one is chosen to be an affair partner, one should not feel complimented.  The most important characteristic of such affairees is their immediate availability.” However, with adultery it would be wise to remember Woody Allen’s comment “The most expensive sex is free sex”.

I am intrigued by the concept of social and market norms and the potential crossover in adultery. Ariely says that if kept on their separate paths, “life hums along pretty well”.  Using sex as an example he suggests that we have it free in the social context where hopefully it is warm and emotionally nourishing, but there is also sex on demand and that costs money. (More of a male pursuit I think).  He goes on to say we don’t have spouses coming home asking for £50 tricks or prostitutes asking for everlasting love.  Maybe not, but what exactly is the sex in an adulterous context? In the case of Pig Shit and no doubt thousands of other desperate dirt bags, she WAS giving tricks but asking for everlasting love rather than cash (Woody Allen was right). I would also hazard a guess that Pig Shit worked a lot harder for her so called non-monetary social norm than a prostitute would have done for her market norm.  However packaged, it is clear that adultery is a transactional arrangement and both social and market norms can be seen to be operating – causing life to stop humming along nicely for everybody involved.

Emotional states also influence decisions. Decision making under sexual arousal (a ‘hot’ state) is not the same as decision making in a ‘cold’ state.  In a cool state we are able to set goals and intentions but in a hot state these just get blown away, put off for immediate gratification.  In fact, it appears to generate a Jekyll and Hyde split in the person.  “Every one of us, regardless of how ‘good’ we are, under predicts the effects of passion on our behaviour”.  Who thinks about risk in a highly emotional state? Did the thought of easily available pussy arouse husband so much that he became Mr Hyde? Unless we understand how we might react in an emotional state, we will not be able to predict our decisions.  In a cool state we would claim to be able to control sexual impulses, but once the arousal has started, what then?  The results of studies suggest that it is easier to fight temptation before it arises than after it has begun its lure.  In other words, avoiding temptation altogether is easier than overcoming it.

Looking from one emotional state to another is difficult. Husband is no longer aroused by Pig Shit.  Together we have looked at it ‘cooly’ in all its sordid nastiness and this examination in cold daylight does wonders for the unreality, enchantment, illusion and impermanence that Pittman discusses.  However “to make informed decisions we need to somehow experience and understand the emotional state we will be in at the other side of the experience.  Learning how to bridge this gap is essential to making some of the important decisions in our lives”.  Husband has certainly experienced the emotional state at the other side of his adultery.  It’s a shame that he had to go through the act of adultery to get here.  However, I think that as long as it is remembered it will help him to make better decisions for himself in the future.  “Resisting temptation and instilling self-control are general human goals, and repeatedly failing to achieve them is a source of much of our misery.”  Pre-commitment can help with the delayed gratification of a long term emotional and intimate relationship. I now understand this pre-commitment to monogamy to be a continuous aspect of marriage that needs to be regularly revisited and discussed.  Monogamy can never be taken for granted.

Another aspect that behavioural economics addresses is the ways in which having options distract us from our main objectives. Pig Shit certainly distracted husband from his relationship with me his wife. Metaphorically, we humans are inclined to keep doors open.  I think the adulterer could be easily accused of keeping his doors open (whilst keeping the betrayed spouses doors as closed as possible).  You see, commitment is in fact a closing of doors.  However, it would seem that humans find dealing with options difficult.  “We feel compelled to keep as many doors open as possible, even at great expense”, because we just can’t commit ourselves!  Open doors suggest options but the result of keeping many doors open is extremely stressful (something we don’t recognise) and we can be guilty of pursuing irrational worthless options!  As Erich Fromm wrote in his book Escape from Freedom; in a modern democracy people are beset not by a lack of opportunities but a dizzying abundance of them.  “We are continually reminded that we can do anything and be anything we want to be.”  Ariely goes on to note the tragedy of keeping as many doors open as possible; “we fail to realise that some things really are disappearing doors, and need our immediate attention”.  We turn to go through a door and find that it is no longer there.  My husband’s disappearing door was our marriage.  The consequences of not deciding what doors to close and what to keep open can be devastating.

Expectations are also an important component in making decisions. What does the adulterer expect from their adultery?  “If you tell someone upfront that something might be distasteful, the odds are good that they will end up agreeing with you – not because their experience tells them so but because of their expectations.”  What are people told about adultery upfront? That it will devastate their life beyond imagining? Or that it is just a bit of harmless sexual fun, an affair with an exciting mistress, a secret to keep to ensure that the spouse is unaware, and an entitlement to happiness?  When Frank Pittman’s clients show surprise at the mess that they’d created for themselves, what exactly did they expect the outcome to be?  In order to reduce the attraction of adultery, I would suggest that peoples’ expectations need to be rooted in the reality of its consequences.

Then of course, finally, there is character.  This is something that I have been exploring in more depth and have been deeply influenced by George Simon and his book Character Disturbance, but for now I will remain with Dan Ariely to consider why people are dishonest.  What is it that holds some people back but not others?  Honesty cannot be overestimated in our lives.  From Plato onwards, honesty has been viewed as something very big and a moral virtue in nearly every society.  Apparently, moral reminders are the key here.  “When we are removed from any benchmarks of ethical thought, we tend to stray into dishonesty.  But if we are reminded of morality at the moment we are tempted, then we are much more likely to be honest.”  Imagine the scenario when husband met Pig Shit.  What if his friend, instead of encouraging and facilitating the adultery (removing ethical benchmarks) pulled him to one side and said that what was happening was WRONG, and he would not condone it (a reminder of morality) might husband have been inclined to be honest?

If religious, maybe you could read the religious texts, if not, maybe you could sign your name to a promise to act with integrity, but Ariely doesn’t think this necessarily is the answer, and let’s be fair husband signed up to monogamy not so long ago!   Instead, “another path is to first recognise that when we get into situations where our personal benefit stands in opposition to our moral standards, we are able to ‘bend’ reality, see the world in terms compatible with our selfish interest, and become dishonest.”  Recognising this weakness would be a step in avoiding the situations that foster dishonesty.

Stretching an economic understanding to a relationship issue is not always straightforward, but I’ve found illumination in the process as it’s forced me to think outside the conventional adultery box. When addressing dishonesty with finances, it would seem that people find it easier if the monetary reward is one step away from the cash itself.  Greedily grabbing a wad of cash is viewed more dishonest than a cash transfer.  “Cheating is a lot easier when it’s a step removed from money”.  So what might make adultery a lot easier to engage with?  What does it need to be a step removed from?  Clearly, it needs to be a step removed from spouse betrayal.  I suspect that the dishonesty of adultery is easily rationalised when it is removed from what it is doing to the betrayed spouse.  No wonder we feel silenced, our experience is what adultery wants to be distanced from.

In its behavioural analysis, behavioural economics suggests that we are pawns in a game with forces that we don’t comprehend.  We are not always in the driving seat in ultimate control of all our decisions and the direction of our lives.  Although this is how we’d prefer to view ourselves , in reality there are a lot of ill perceived forces that influence our behaviour and these forces we tend to either underestimate or ignore.  “Visual illusions are illustrative here.  Just as we can’t help being fooled by visual illusions, we fall for the ‘decision illusions’ our minds show us… By the time we comprehend and digest information, it is not necessarily a true reflection of reality.  Instead it is our representation of reality, and this is the input we base our decisions on.”  But, although irrationality is commonplace, we are not helpless.  Once we understand when and where erroneous decisions are made we can try to be more vigilant and force ourselves to think differently about these decisions.

I guess, in part, much of what we believe is rooted in our own philosophies and I realise that I am developing a fresh personal philosophy to take me forward in my life with a husband who betrayed me. I can believe that there are good and bad people, figure out how to determine who is good and bad and then only be with the good people (husband excluded) or believe, in the light of theory that all people can act in ways that are not in their best interests and make decisions on a whim that can threaten their wellbeing and that of those they love.  Understanding this it means work needs to be done to constantly reflect on our thinking.  Husband needs to be much more mindful of the decisions he makes and when he is likely to be vulnerable.

And me? Well, I’m quite good at making decisions.  Maybe I have a more developed character than my husband? Certainly, my decision to stay and work on our marital recovery was one reached at length.  It was not a rash decision.  I am also doing the best I can to heal from the trauma of his adultery.  Part of this involves healing from the feelings of helplessness that I experienced during my husband’s adultery and subsequently, post D-day.  Helplessness is one of the most alien feelings that I have ever had.  My blog is my attempt to help myself.  As the psychologist James Pennebaker’s research has repeatedly shown “the active and conscious process of trying to make sense out of difficult, confusing, and even traumatic events can help individuals recover from them.”  Interestingly, he gets his patients to write their reflections in a journal.  “This means that even when external events make no sense, we can benefit from our own attempts to make sense of our world”.

Slowly, but surely I’m making sense of the part of my life that was lived down the wretched rabbit hole of adultery, although to mix my metaphors, I remain in the small room beneath Bluebeard’s castle, so my quest for why continues.

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Anger and Letting Go of Adultery

Is it possible to view anger positively?

Is letting go an essential aim in the healing process?

angerContinuing my quest for a fuller  understanding of adultery and looking at sources not directly related to the issue I have found two, totally unrelated books, that have enhanced my perceptions with regards to anger and to the notion of ‘letting-go’. When first confronted with the reality of my husband’s adultery I raged like I have never raged before.  I became like one of the Furies in Greek mythology; a female spirit of justice and vengeance. They were also called the Erinyes (angry ones). They punished their victims by driving them mad.

Although far less angry than I was (it has been almost three years since D-day) my memories of my anger remain with me and I won’t forget how they threatened to engulf me.  Equally, the anger has not gone away, it remains a burning ember.  The metaphor is apt.  Burning embers can glow very hot, sometimes as hot as the fire which created them. They radiate a substantial amount of heat long after the fire has been extinguished, and if not taken care of properly can rekindle a fire that is thought to be completely extinguished and can pose a fire hazard.  Being told to ‘let go’ can re-ignite the anger!

Although it is nearly three years since the discovery I have not been able to let ‘it’ go, although let goincreasingly I am becoming confused as to what ‘it’ actually is and what letting ‘it’ go might actually mean.  I remain deeply troubled that someone I loved and trusted could betray me, cheat and lie.  I am troubled that his adultery was normalised by ‘friends’. I am troubled by how women treat other women so cavalierly. I am troubled by how the trauma and tragedy that is a direct consequence of adultery is swept under society’s carpet. I am troubled by the web sites of the Ashley Madison kind.

If letting go is forgiving and forgetting then I resign myself to a life of holding on.  The best I have achieved is acceptance and in order to affect this I have needed to firstly bring it all in.  Bring in every nasty detail of his actions. Make a diary of the events and align then to my journal of that time.  Gather pictures of Pig Shit, find out about her sorry life.  Go to the depths of my own emotional barrel and examine my deep rooted insecurities.  Read and read and read and then read some more about adultery and infidelity and betrayal. Go on to the internet and find the experiential stories of other people’s adultery.  Share the trauma and pain.  Contribute to the kaleidoscope of fear, anger, hurt and hope.    Learn to recognise what my body does when I think about the shitty mess that my marriage became.  Maybe, one day in the future I will have this sense of letting go BUT maybe it can only be let go of when the time is right.

“There are times in life when people must know when not to let go. Balloons are designed to teach small children this.”  Terry Pratchett

Interestingly I have reconciled my anger and letting go (or not letting go) by putting together two quite separate ideas.  One is the idea proposed in the book ‘The Anger Habit’ by Carl Semmelroth and Donald Smith who suggest that anger is a kind of insanity in everyday life, with the hallmark being loss of self-control.  “Most of what is commonly seen and labelled as anger (aggressive tigerlanguage and overt attacks), as well as most of what is experienced as anger (angry thoughts), are really habitual behaviours.”  If, as they suggest, anger is a habit then it is something that I can have control over.  But this is rather contrary to our common assumptions of anger which considers anger as a force that drives our behaviour and dangerously builds up if not released.   “The resulting manoeuvres which aim at countering, deflecting, and releasing anger… wreak havoc on people’s lives.” This view of anger suggests that angry behaviour is involuntary and results in a chronic struggle among people and/or within people over their behaviours and feelings.

This book suggests an alternative view.  Instead of thinking of anger as a force they consider it to be information.  The feeling of anger tells us information about our self and the world around us.  It is aninfo indication that we are making a transition from distress to attack.  It is this transition that they label the anger habit and it is something that we have learned and practiced over our lifetime.  However, if we recognise the gap between distress and attack we are in a position to control our response.  We have the opportunity to choose our behaviour, whether to attack or to consider other solutions.  In order to have other solutions to consider we need the appropriate information to make that deision.

“It may be strange to think about your own anger as a warning signal about what you are about to do.  But seeing anger in this way is the first step to preventing anger as a habit. It is our blindness to angry feelings as information that makes it so easy for us to view anger as out of our control”.

Whilst reading this book I became aware that their antidote to the anger habit is something that I have been unconsciously applying whilst dealing with my feelings of anger around my husband’s adultery.  The antidote is quite simple: seek information in order to make more informed, better choices!  For me, when I first discovered the adultery my anger turned my distress into attack.  On many occasions I felt totally out of control.  However, over the years I have done a lot of work whilst my husband has done all that he has needed to do in order to manifest his renewed commitment to our marriage.   My work has addressed two issues; understanding the universal concept of adultery, and examining my feelings of self-worth.  It helps to know that I am not on my own, that I am not insane and that you don’t have to be in an unhappy marriage for adultery to occur.  It helps to know that being the OW is a wretched business no matter what ribbons and bows might be attached to the idea.  It helps to know that many people deeply regret their adultery.  It helps to know that his adultery had nothing to do with me or our marriage but was rooted in his emotional immaturity and lack of personal boundaries.

I still feel angry, of course, but I do not blindly attack any more and I am aware of the need to take care so that the embers do not ignite.  Having accumulated all this information on adultery I feel quite an authority and this helps when listening to others whose views are not compatible with mine.  It has given me a quiet confidence.  But this has not been easy.  I have travelled down some very dark alleyways and have not always been sure that I’d find my way home.  I think adultery cuts you to your core in a way that you’d never expect, and facing this despair has been life changing for me.  I have reflected upon what might be deemed to be my obsession with adultery but after reading the second of my books, Gillian Rose’s book ‘Love’s Work’ I am able to better understand the method that may lie in my madness.

hellActually, it was my second reading of Rose’s book. The first reading was in 1996.  Reading it in 2015 in my current personal context the book offered so much more.  The theme that runs through her book is “Keep your mind in hell, and despair not” a phrase attributed to Staretz Silouan, an Eastern Orthodox monk of Russian origin. The book offers an autobiographic and philosophical perspective on life and love, and knowing that she wrote it with the cancer that would eventually kill her at the age of 48 adds a melancholy to her erudite and scholarly work.

For Gillian Rose, denial and unexamined suffering are the two main reasons for unhappiness.  “It is the unhappiness of one who refuses to dwell in hell and who lives, therefore, in the most static despair”. There is no letting go of emotional stuff here.  Instead it is a full embrace of that which threatens to annihilate us.

“When something untoward happens, some trauma or damage, whether inflicted by the commissions or omissions of others, or some cosmic force, one makes the initially unwelcome event one’s own inner occupation.  You work to adopt the most loveless, forlorn, aggressive child as your own, and do not leave her to develop into an even more vengeful monster, who constantly wishes you ill.  In ill-health as in unhappy love, this is the hardest work: it requires taking in before letting be”.

You see, she has summed it up for me.  I have made my experience of my husband’s adultery my own inner occupation and made it my adopted aggressive child, preventing it from becoming a bigger, more frightful monster in my head.  This activity has created an accumulation of knowledge and understanding of adultery which has offered me a sense of grace and turned my personal into a universal experience.  This in turn has provided me with what Semmelroth would describe as an antidote to my anger habit.   However, whilst I keep my mind in hell I am aware that I want to remain a good human being and to be this I have to accept my continuous vulnerability.  This will never go away.

“To be a good human being is to have a kind of openness to the world, an ability to trust uncertain things beyond your own control that can lead you to be shattered in very extreme circumstances for which you were not to blame. That says something very important about the condition of the ethical life: that it is based on a trust in the uncertain and on a willingness to be exposed; it’s based on being more like a plant than like a jewel, something rather fragile, but whose very particular beauty is inseparable from that fragility.” Martha Nussbaum

Image Credits: Angry Calendar by Stuart Miles; Hand With Butterfly by Salvatore Vuono; Dangerous Angry Leopard Tiger by khunaspix; Shattered Face by hyena reality; all via freedigitalphotos.net

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The other woman’s hatred for the wife

can of wormsAdultery’s Can of Worms 

I can think of no better way to describe my experience of adultery than of opening a can of slimy worms and having to live with them.  My advice to anyone who has yet to have had the bad fortune of adultery in their lives is NOT to venture near this can and certainly NOT to open it.  If you do, you’re gonna regret it, so you better forget it!!!!  Trust me.

You see, it’s not just my idiot husband’s behaviour that is in this can.  It’s also the skank of the other woman and all the other individuals who conspired with their adulterous behaviour.  It is also all the issues that the experience dregs up from the bottom of the emotional barrel for me.  It is also the societal  values that I seem to notice more and more which  romanticises adultery at the expense of the pain incurred by everyone.  It is also about how women behave to other women and whether I am wrong to expect more from my own gender.

I do not condone any woman who willingly has an intimate relationship with a man she knows to be married.  I don’t condone it but over the last few years I have explored the motives.  Basically it is either utter selfishness or utter desperation or a mixture of both.  If a woman hasshadows no concerns about the impact of her behaviour on another woman and her children then she will happily behave in a way that hurts another.  Whether this in itself gives her some form of joy I wouldn’t like to guess.  Whatever it is, it’s an aggressive form of behaviour.  Equally, if a woman has no life of her own to speak of and desperately wants a man in her life then maybe once a month or whenever, a bit of sex dressed up as love and intimacy is better than nothing at all.  Better than the lonely feeling of being on the shelf, undesirable and  untaken.  Does her cruel behaviour stem from envy of those women who do have a partner, who have what she feels she deserves.   Envy and aggression are not often linked directly to female behaviour  because I suspect it is because they are hugely undesirable traits for a woman to have.  There’s probably a lot of denial going on.

Whilst the behaviour of the other woman might be well documented in various places, I have sought a more comprehensive understanding of difficult and shameful female to female relationships.  This is because as well as exploring Pig Shit’s behaviour towards my husband and towards me, I have been trying to come to terms with the behaviour of a woman who I thought was a friend, of sorts.  This woman (Reptile) was the girlfriend of one of my husband’s old school chums (Dork).  We saw each other at couple’s events and actually went on holiday together as a foursome, travelling around France.  I had no reason to believe that she did not like me in any way and I had no reason to think that I might have offended her in any way.  She always seemed most pleasant.  However, it was she who introduced her friend Pig Shit to my husband on a night when I was at home in London.  After drinks in a bar they all went back to Reptile and Dork’s house.  When my husband left he tells me that Pig Shit followed him to the door and they had a snogging session.  (classy eh?)

Now, what was the Reptile’s response to this?  (I probably need to point out here that both Pig Shit and Reptile had a husband betray them and leave them for another woman) Did she tell her friend not to go there because he was married and it might all end up a terrible mess?  Clearly not!  Instead she and her boyfriend ‘normalised’ the adultery in a most perverse manner.  They not only actively encouraged it, they facilitated it by allowing them both to stay overnight and shag in their spare room.  I now know that there were times when I sat talking to Reptile, being nice to her and socialising, when she had the knowledge that my husband was shagging her friend.  Did she enjoy this?  Why did she choose to stab me in the back in such a manner?  She could have made her excuses and not come along, but then she would not have been able to gloat.

The irony of all this is that whilst the Reptile and Dork were encouraging and facilitating the weddingadultery of my husband with Pig Shit they were making arrangements for their own wedding!!!  Surely, this must make bad karma for their marriage. I had made a grand fuss when I found out about the proposal, squealing with delight and wanting to know how it all occurred.  The thought of my enthusiastic response now makes me feel sick.

On one occasion, we were at a restaurant and an announcement was made that my husband was to be their best man.  This was not done quietly.  Dork did not approach my husband and ask if it would be possible bearing in mind his two timing situation.  No, in the middle of the evening, Reptile stood up with Dork and announced their plan.  I applauded the idea and was very happy for everyone.  When I look back now, I wonder what she was thinking.  Was she expecting my husband to take me to the wedding and have Pig Shit there as well?  Was she hoping that my husband and I would have separated? Was it all a cruel game? The thought just horrifies me.  Husband says that he could feel the noose tightening and was going to arrange for us to be on holiday as soon as he knew what date was going to be set for the marriage.  Further lies and deceit to hide the mess he’d gotten himself into.

When my husband chose to dump Pig Shit the Reptile gave her my mobile telephone number so that she could inform me of their adultery.  I also know that a couple of days were spent trying to find out from others where my husband was.  Dork was not involved in this but the Reptile was.  I suspect that she was the one who wanted me to know exactly what had been going on in the hope that I would not stay with him. I felt that there was a panic between my husband dumping her and the text two days later to spill the beans.  It was as if they were terrified that he was going to remain with me. I get a sense that Reptile was very instrumental in the adultery and later disclosure.  Clearly she wanted me to know that my husband had been unfaithful. She was not prepared to act as if nothing had happened once my husband dumped Pig Shit.  She could play nice when she knew I was being silently betrayed but could not play nice if it meant that my husband and I were to carry on ‘as normal’.

Once the truth came out and the shit hit the fan my husband severed all contact not only with Pig Shit but with Dork as well.  As he is part of a big group of old school chums all the blokes in this group have been wiped out of our joint lives.  Two of them were happy to sit and have drinks with my husband and Pig Shit, Dork and Reptile, further normalising their behaviour.  The rest of them probably knew but did not have any involvement.  They are collateral damage.  I never want to see the Reptile again as long as I live.  Now she has to live with the consequence of her choices.

What makes women so hostile to other women?  Why is it done so secretly and spitefully?  Is there not enough misogyny in our world for women to try to behave better to each other?

I think some of these answers need a very deep analysis.  Phyllis Chester an American writer, psychotherapist, and professor emerita of psychology and women’s studies at the College of Staten Island wrote a book in 2001 entitled ‘Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman’.  It’s a troubling book but it raises a lot of uncomfortable issues that I think we as women need to consider.  She makes a number of interesting observations.  Firstly, we need to realise that women are sexist. We have “internalised the prevailing misogynistic ideology which we uphold both in order to survive and in order to improve our own individual positions vis-à-vis all other women”.

Secondly women can be aggressive.  Whereas men are often openly aggressive in direct and dramatic ways, women are seldom physically violent, instead they act indirectly and the targets of their aggression are not men but other women and children.  Indirect aggression is aggressionanonymous aggression.  Girls learn from a young age that a safe way to attack someone else is behind her back, so that she will not know who is responsible.  However, aggression in females is a taboo subject and often suppressed by being systematically ignored.  Labelled as irrational, hysterical or bitchy.  Girls also view aggression more negatively than boys do and so tend to deny it even to themselves.  But the danger is that if girls are trained to say that aggression is wrong even whilst continuing to be aggressive then they may be learning to disassociate themselves from their negative behaviour.  This capacity might prove resistant to the acknowledgement that is required before recognition and change can occur.  If a woman pretends to herself that she is kind to other women when she is not, she will have no reason to learn how to resist her aggressive  inclinations.

Pleasingly Chesler reports that most women do not hate women; only some do.  “The data indicate that women who are hostile toward other women don’t feel good about themselves.  They have lower personal self-esteem, optimism, sense of self-efficacy, life satisfaction, and higher objectified body consciousness compared to women who are not hostile to other women.” Sums up most Other Women, no?

Thirdly we need to acknowledge all aspects of female behaviour.  The book argues that we must free ourselves from the bonds of ‘inauthentic niceness’.   Recognise that we have real power over each other.  Women are not innocent of the betrayals they commit but their ignorance of what’s going on and why robs them of the power to act otherwise.  However, it is impossible to malicechange one’s behaviour if it is not named first.  We need to acknowledge the shadow side of female to female relationships to each other, not only the sunny side.  If a woman treats another woman inhumanely, cruelly or sadistically, she needs to understand how powerful, painful and paralysing the effect is.  Naming and acknowledging this is the first step.  It has got to become easier for women to talk about how other women have hurt them and how they might have mistreated other women themselves.

We are competitive but we deny even to ourselves that we envy or compete. We cannot insist that we are all sisters or that we are the kinder gender, this would be foolish and self-destructive.  We need to understand the process required in order to respect and not violate another woman’s boundaries.  It begins with being able to maintain our own boundaries first.

I have been hurt by two women and although I recognise it was my husband’s choice to betray me I must be able to hold them accountable for the harm they did me.

Image Credits: First Time In School by Vlado; Aggression by Sujin Jetkasettakorn; Wedding Ring by Boykung; Malice” by rattigon  all via freedigitalphotos.net

Recognising Marital Recovery

whereWhere are we now?

“Where are we now? The moment you know You know, you know” David Bowie

It was our wedding anniversary yesterday. Husband took me to lovely hotel, had a fabulous romantic evening and came home this morning. In so many ways we are where we have been for most of our lives together. Happy in each other’s company. We are a lovely couple, I don’t doubt that for one moment. However, we are also, in many ways in a very different place. I know that he betrayed me for a bit of skanky sex with a woman who meant nothing to him. I know that in order to do this he distanced himself from me and became a very different man to the one I fell in love with. So, when I look at him now, I sometimes wonder if he will ever be that detached man again.

However, the whole miserable adulterous crap heap does seem to have changed him for the better. It’s like he has returned as the man I fell in love with but now is totally committed to us. It’s strange but I thought he was committed previously. How would I know any different? Now I know that I was blind to his immaturity. I projected my beliefs and values on to him and after a few years forgot to touch base with him.

But I can’t yet say that I have changed for the better. I have changed. I look at the world of romance and couples so very differently now. I can no longer be entertained by the romantic comedy genre. At the hotel yesterday there was a middle-aged couple who were all over each other. Touching, hugging, kissing. The man got up at one stage and returned into the hotel (we were all in the grounds of the hotel, it was a lovely sunny day) and was missing for a good while. I turned to my husband and said “he’s probably ringing his wife, getting that task out-of-the-way so that he can get on with the woman he was with”. Cynical eh?

Several times during the course of our stay I did bring up Pig Shit. Not in an angry or confrontational way because I certainly didn’t want to spoil our time but in a more resigned way. He did ask if we could not talk about it as it was our anniversary but I could not oblige. You see, the whole mess may have receded in the past few years (nearly three years since D-day; four years since adultery commenced) but it remains nestled in our marriage and I cannot ignore this. Our anniversary seemed an appropriate time to bring up Pig Shit. The adultery could have stopped us from ever celebrating any further anniversaries.

What I did realise over the course of yesterday is that we have a strong marriage. Incredibly strong! It might not follow the script that I had written for it and it has certainly included characters that have subsequently been banished from our lives, but we are together. We can talk about Pig Shit and the betrayal. We can share memories from before the adultery and we can share the fresh memories that we have worked hard to create since D-day. We can look forward to a future together and whatever that may bring our way. Good and bad.  My husband has finally grown up and it is a very welcome attribute. Before the adultery I thought my husband loved me. Since the adultery I know my husband loves me. Qualitatively these are worlds apart. I like this one much more.

Where are we now?

TOGETHER

Where are we now? Where are we now? The moment you know, You know, you know. As long as there’s sun. As long as there’s sun. As long as there’s rain. As long as there’s rain. As long as there’s fire. As long as there’s fire. As long as there’s me. As long as there’s you.

Image Credits: The Five Ws Signpost” by artur84/ freedigitalphotos.net

How does the Other Woman do it?

crazyPsychopathological behaviour – that’s how! 

Since August 3rd 2012 I have been swamped by questions about why my husband chose to shag someone else whilst married to me.  The answers have done little to satisfy my curiosity.  Bottom line it would appear that my beloved husband could not keep his dick in his pants when offered easy pussy in the shape of the woman who I have come to affectionately call Pig Shit.  What I also know is that it was his choices that threatened our marriage and tangled me up with a female who I hate with a vengeance.  You see, I’m not just angry at him.  I’ve had three years of venting my spleen at him which I think gives me some recompense for what he chose to do to me, to us.  Equally, he has done everything that I can think of to make amends (of course he can’t turn back the clock!), so our full recovery is not dependent upon him doing anything beyond what he is doing; instead, I think it rests with my ability to keep going through this shit until I reach the peace that I seek. However, this shit is not only about him and I – it’s also about a nasty third person trampling over my life.   However, I don’t know how to square the circle here.

The dominant response to adultery is to address the flaws in the character of the betraying spouse.  OK, we’re doing this.  And it’s tough, tough love at work here. However, for me there’s a problem with thinking of the extramarital affair as strictly my husband’s fault.  Such thinking leaves Pig Shit without motivation.  She is perceived as a mere victim: vulnerable, naïve, and gullible.  She meant no harm, so she does not deserve my or society’s condemnation.  Why is there such failure to hold the other woman accountable for her actions? My husband’s infidelity was the product of two individuals’ needs; it could not have developed just out of the needs of my husband.

I know that my anger for Pig Shit is destructive for me and for my marriage.  But this knowledge does not help me deal with it.  I sometimes scream at my husband to show anger towards her, especially for her decision to text me with details of her adulterous relationship with him.  He always responds in the same way by telling me that it was his fault entirely that this occurred and that him getting angry at her will only hinder him in dealing with my anger towards him.  He says that she is dead and buried to him.  Under lead!  He deeply regrets what he did and he feels an absolute cretin for what he subjected me to for the sake of a bit of different pussy.  However, he repeats that he if could have behaved like a grown up adult none of this would have happened.  Of course, he’s right.  I know that, I’m not stupid!  However, this does not stop me from trying to understand why Pig Shit, or for that matter ANY woman, would willingly choose to embark on a sexual relationship with a married man cherishing a blind hope, built on the flimsiest of foundations, that it will eventually lead to a lasting and meaningful relationship for themselves.  By simply being available sexually whenever the betraying spouse is available they believe they have the magic formula that will enable them to steal the husband that they have set their sights on.  Pig Shit used to say to my husband that all she wanted was a ‘normal’ life.  More likely she wanted MY LIFE!

For me, there is something deeply disturbing about a woman seeking a permanent, exclusive relationship with a man who is already someone else’s husband. Perhaps more than disturbing, it’s psychopathological!  There’s more than a touch of misogyny here.   A woman willingly using sex tovits snare a man who is married to another woman demonstrates a hatred or dislike of women. Misogyny can be manifested in numerous ways, including denigration of women, violence against women, and sexual objectification of women. Pig Shit denigrated herself.  She was at my husband’s beck and call for sex, his free time determining when, where and how long they could be together.  Obeying all the rules of ‘dating’ a married man she never contacted him directly, just waited for his text or call.  Of course, being patient in this way allowed her the opportunity to become the ‘victim’ in the story. She never got angry or cross with him. She believed he was her ‘alpha-male’.  She allowed herself to become a sexual object, bringing along all her dildos and sex toys from the first meeting onwards.  She allowed herself to be perceived as manipulable and as an instrument rather than a person.   As long as my husband said the magic three romantic words she was the princess in the story rather than the pussy in a pedestrian act of infidelity. For her romantic fantasy to take full shape I was inconvenient at worst, dead at best.   Her behaviour to me, a married woman was violent.  She may not have been hitting me physically but she knew what she was doing and what she was hoping for.  She was vicious to me when he dumped her.  When she lost her link to my husband she was threatened by utter psychological dissolution.  This feeling must have justified her action in doing whatever it took to hold on to him. I think this terrible betrayal of one woman to another is yet another aspect of adultery that gets eclipsed in the romantic narrative of adulterous relationships.

I find myself in an unhealthy, one-way, warped and unwanted mental relationship with Pig Shit.  She has become part of my life because she shagged my husband and wanted him to leave me for her.  It’s like I am united to her by some strange bond.  She and my husband together dragged me into their snake pit of a relationship. Even though the snake pit has been long torched, its toxic embers remain.  eyes openI believe that Pig Shit and others like her are blind to their own unconscious motives. What perverse psychology made her feel good about herself for shagging somebody else’s husband?  When did it start to make her feel neglected, humiliated and used.  Was she just mentally very slow and ignorant about the power imbalance that occurs once infidelity is in full swing?  Pig Shit’s character clearly has a masochistic dimension.  She must have become painfully aware at some point (i.e. when we went on holiday together) of just how low a priority she was in comparison to me, his wife.  Waiting in the wings, month after month playing the understudy, more alone than if she had no relationship because of her aching hope that he would be there for her if she really needed him.  Because he ‘loved her’. (puke!)

Pig Shit had a previous adulterous relationship with a married man who lived nearby.  This one lasted three years.  I think that this made her impatient with my husband.  When he told her that he was going on holiday with me she couldn’t retain a calm response.  Instead she said “I knew this would happen”.  She was most upset.  Of course, she knew this would happen because she had been the Other Woman in her previous relationship.  This is one messed up woman who needs psychological help.  Not a pat on the back and poor, poor you, what a bastard to do this to you.  All men are bastards!

“Once feminists agreed that competition for men was self-destructive, we believed we would go on to better relationships between women and between women and men.  This new code of honour would work to the advantage of us all.  To act with honour in this manner would reinforce our solidarity.  Women would no longer be willing to be ‘other women’.  Men would be on their own”. Susan Koppelman

Let me share my romantic fantasy with you.  On the fateful day when my husband met Pig Shit he let her know that he was very flattered by her attention and sexual proposition but advised her that he would not commit adultery.  Pig Shit replied, no, of course, she had not realised that he was married.  “I fully understand and respect you for this; you are a fine and honourable man.  Your wife is very lucky”.

Image Credits: Crazy Girl Cross Eyed And Pulling Her Ears by Stuart Miles; Vitamins Crazy by holohololand; Matured Woman With Eyes Wide Open by stockimages all via freedigitalphotos.net

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

Staying after Adultery: The Road Less Travelled

clearing in woodsA long time ago I read a book entitled ‘The Road Less Travelled’ written by M.Scott Peck.

I woke up today thinking about the phrase and wondered if this might be an insightful way of describing the process by which I am working to accept my husband’s infidelity.  The title actually comes from a lovely poem by Robert Frost entitled ‘The Road Not Taken’.  The last verse is: “I shall be telling this with a sigh, Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference

Just over two and a half years ago I had a choice of roads to take in my life following the revelation that my husband had been unfaithful to me.  I could take the well worn and highly encouraged road that leads toroads divorce or opt for the road I had no idea about and which no one I knew was able to suggest; the road of marital recovery.  I took the latter and it has made all the difference.  I remain married to my husband and together we are building a different, more honest relationship that I hope will lead to a decent joint future for us both.

Fortunately, through all of my reading and research about the subject of adultery I have managed to create an effective navigational tool box to help me on this difficult road. Equally, thanks to the web and some wonderful bloggers I have discovered many fellow travellers. The road continues ahead of me and I know that there is no turning back.  There would be nothing to return to.

What has struck me as ironic in my thinking about Peck’s book, is the fact that although he may have been deeply insightful he was also an utterly flawed human being. The ideas that he proposed for a good life were interestingly absent in his own life. Amongst his chaotic personal choices, until impotency stopped him, he was a serial adulterer whose wife of longstanding left him and divorced him a couple of years before he died.  The Guardian newspaper’s obituary for him in 2005 described him as a ‘pop psychiatrist who ignored his best selling advice’.

solutionNevertheless, I still find his four rules for the road less travelled a useful tool for understanding not only the camber of the road that I’m on, but also for helping to shape some meaning and purpose out of my actions.  Peck begins the book  with the stand alone observation; ‘Life is difficult’.  There is no escaping this truth.  Therefore in order to deal with these difficulties it is important that we face the pain of solving the problem head on.  It is through these actions that life can become more meaningful.

So, for the road that I am on (along with my husband) there are four principle rules to follow:

Delayed gratification; the ability to resist the temptation for an immediate reward and wait for a later reward. Generally, delayed gratification is associated with resisting a smaller but more immediate reward in order to receive a larger or more enduring reward later. This is a rule that my husband did not follow when he made a choice to betray me.  He has learned from his bitter experience that his going for an immediate gratification has threatened the more enduring reward of remaining married to me and sharing our lives together.  For me, I think I felt initially that going for a divorce would be an instant reward.  Perversely, the idea of divorce made me feel righteous and the high ground would have helped me to disassociate with the shame of his behaviour.  In divorcing him I would have divorced myself from the squalid and sordid mess that he got himself embroiled in.  In taking the road less travelled I have resisted that immediate reward (and I’ve since found out that even had I divorced him I would need to take this road because I would still need to make sense of it all in order to heal and to move on) for what I believe will be the reward of an honest and open relationship that treats love as an action rather than an emotion.

Acceptance of Responsibility; the ability to accept responsibility for one’s own decisions.  “The difficulty we have in accepting responsibility for our behaviour lies in the desire to avoid the pain of the consequences of that behaviour. Whenever we seek to avoid the responsibility for our own behaviour, we do so by attempting to give that responsibility to some other individual or organization or entity. But this means we then give away our power to that entity.” My husband has accepted full responsibility for his behaviour.  He has not blamed me or anything in our marriage for his decision to commit adultery, or the other woman, or his friends that facilitated and encouraged it.  I have accepted responsibility for my choice to stay and work within the marriage in order to recover our relationship.  There has been no gun to my head and even though my husband has had a significant impact on my decision, the decision remains mine and I will accept the outcome whatever shape that might take.

Dedication to truth; basically, a commitment to honesty, both in word and deed.   This includes the ability to modify opinions and views when exposed to new information discordant with the old view. Peck also suggests that this encompasses genuine self-examination, and a willingness to be personally challenged by others, and honesty to oneself as well as to others.  We have both embraced this rule wholeheartedly which has required a lot of soul searching between us.  Uncomfortable and hugely unpleasant at times but it has been cathartic in many ways.  My husband’s  view about adultery has changed in the wake of the awful consequences and I have changed my view that the only solution to adultery is divorce.

Finally: Balancing; this is the ability to reconcile multiple complex, possibly conflicting factors that impact upon important decisions for self and others.  This without doubt has been a huge ask along the road I have been travelling.  Anyone who has experienced betrayal knows  first hand the full spectrum of  devastating thoughts  that threaten to drown them.  Adultery contains so many conflicting factors and also calls into question the notion of any shared reality.  This remains the most difficult component for me personally because  I am the betrayed spouse which means I was taken out of the equation at the very start.  No matter what my husband feels about all the contradictions and mental fog, he made a decision that he was in control of.  I think that that in itself provides a certain balance for him.  My equilibrium was turned inside out and I have had to work very hard to remain upright and dignified on my journey on this road.  I have also needed to redefine my ideas around love and to break from the idealised romantic notions. For Peck, love is not a feeling but an activity; ‘love is as love does’.maze

“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.”

Image Credits: ‘Choice Road’ by Iamnee; ‘Solution Concept’ by David Castillo Dominici; 3’d Man At Maze Shows Challenge Or Confused’ by Stuart Miles; all via freedigitalphotos.net