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Securing your own life mask before assisting other passengers


We have all heard that in-flight message as we are preparing to take off on an airplane.  At first it sounds quite counter-intuitive and selfish to suggest that before we help another passenger, even our own child, that we take care of ourselves first.  After all, society always praises those that help others without consideration of their own safety or circumstances, and here they are asking us to do the opposite.   The fact is, however, that you are much more effective to others when you yourself are taken care of.  You are a better help to more people, and can save more lives if you take a moment to help yourself, and strengthen yourself.  That is what my blog post today is about, in part, as it connects to a big bold move my husband made this week.

I blogged last week about my feelings around my husband’s parents having no idea what happened in our marriage, and the fact that he had fathered a child with another woman.  

The truth is, I have ALWAYS felt a great deal of guilt about them not knowing.  I too, am a parent, and I would want to know if my son was going through a hard time, if his family was in peril, and if I had a secret grandchild.  Keeping this information from them seemed so selfish, but in the early phase of my recovery (the first year at least), I couldn’t invest the emotional energy in worrying about them, their needs, their feelings, or even what was “right”.   My marriage was faltering, and I needed to put on my own oxygen mask and take care of myself before I could consider helping others, or doing the right thing by them.  I had to come first.

As my healing journey has progressed, and I no longer need the spotlight focused on my own needs, I have started to give a lot of thought to those around us.  As my husband’s shame has also subsided over time, and as he has been forced to reveal the truth to others due to the OW’s vengeful behaviours, he has come to realize that his actions won’t necessarily be criticized, and that people do support him, and us.

I sat with my in-laws this week, as we were celebrating my husband’s birthday.  I watched them play with the grandkids, marvelling at the littlest thing that they do, asking questions, trying to be involved.  I saw how the small pleasures of just watching my youngest son in the bathtub brought great joy to my mother-in-law, and made her feel a part of something.  Watching this woman enjoying her only three grandkids, I also felt exceptionally guilty that she has a grandchild she doesn’t know about.  Now, I am not advocating that she needs a relationship with the child – far from it – but I was simply guilt-ridden that we were controlling a knowledge of her life that we have no right to control.  She has every right to know that she has kin.  Keeping that from her felt like I was playing G-d, and I felt guilty.

I have three sons.  I have never had, nor will I ever have a daughter.  My husband is an only child, and had no sisters.  His father often talked about how much he had wanted to have a girl, especially when were were growing our family, and I kept birthing boys 🙂  I think that being a male, and having a male son, he longed for the feminine, the delicate, that something sweet.  The OW had once emailed me antagonizing me over email about how unfortunate it was that I wasn’t able to give my husband the daughter that she was.   It’s funny now, in retrospect, that her tone implied something broken in me that wasn’t broken in her because she bore him a daughter.  Does she not know that the male sperm actually determine the gender of a baby, not the woman?  Anyway, since this isn’t a biology lesson, I digress… Knowing how much my FIL wanted a girl, it felt even more inappropriate for me to hold back the information that he actually HAD ONE in his lineage.  Once again, we were playing G-d with the information we withheld.

After my blog post about secrecy last week, my husband became upset.  He thought my post was ill-timed, as it was the day before his birthday, and for whatever reason, the post upset him, as if the material was new to him and came out of left field.  Rather, it was information we have discussed many times, and spending time with his mother the day prior had unearthed the feelings of guilt again.  I posted because the guilt was fresh and the topic relevant to what I was feeling at the time.  It wasn’t a way to lash out at my husband the day before his birthday…in fact I don’t think I lashed out at all.

When he read my blog, he angrily said that he would tell his father this week, and his mother the next.  I knew it was his anger talking, but I said “good”, because whether he was angry or not, it was the right thing to do.

He had a belated-birthday dinner with his father two days later, and I reminded him before he left the house of his intention to tell his father.  I wasn’t sure if he actually would, and truthfully, I assumed deep down that he would return home later that night with an excuse for why tonight wasn’t the right night, and a plan to delay this talk to a “better time”.  To my surprise, when I asked him about it the next morning, it turns out he had told him.  The two of them sat at dinner, and my husband revealed to his father that he had had an affair with a crazy woman, and that it has produced a child.  I was completely surprised that he had told him, and simultaneously completely proud of him.

I think it is always hard to own a mistake.  I think it is even harder when the mistake is of this magnitude, and harder still when you are telling someone whose relationship you value, and whose approval you bask in.  My husband is an only child of two divorced parents.  He is the golden child to both, and they hold him in very high esteem.  Now, it must be reiterated that my FIL was a serial adulterer.  He had several mistresses over the years of his marriage, and while his marriage ultimately disintegrated, he will tell  you to this day that his affairs were caused by his wife.  It was her lack of respect for him.  It was her lack of spontaneity.  It was her lack of sexual attention.  It was her lack of trust in him.  It was her lack of ___________.  Regardless of what it was, it was HER FAULT.  She was likely fed this information as well, when the affairs became known to her, and it likely stunted her healing.  In fact, she has never healed, and it has helped shape her.

My husband didn’t want to tell his father.  Perhaps he was afraid of falling from grace with his dad.   Perhaps, as he told me, he was worried about his father blaming me, as he had blamed his own wife over the years.  Perhaps he was worried that his father would now want a relationship with the child and the OW, and that it would open the door to a connection between our family and the OW.  Whatever his worry, he took the step in telling his dad, and from what little I know of what transpired and was said, it was positive.  Being a cheater himself, I don’t think he could ever find fault with his son, or see him as faulty.  If anything, he may blame me, or make assumptions that I am not a good wife, or that I don’t meet his son’s needs.  Truthfully, it doesn’t at all matter what he thinks.  His father hasn’t liked me since we were married almost 13 years ago, and I haven’t seen him in almost three years.  I could not care less what interpretation he holds, or what he thinks.  It doesn’t at all change what I know to be true.

I am proud of my husband for taking that step.  At first, I thought that the unburdening by telling his family was a step in the path of MY healing. I now think that it really is a step in the path of HIS.  He attended the “Man of Honour” weekend in May, and they talked about integrity and character.  How can you be a man of character and integrity while holding information from others that is their right to know, just to save yourself?  After all, on March 19th, 2010, he confessed his affair to me with the preface that he could no longer allow me to live my life not having the accurate truth about my own life.  He felt it was wrong to hold back information of this significance from me, and that he felt guilty watching me live my life blind to the information.  How was this different from his parents then?  Was he not holding a secret from these others who also had a right to know that they have a grandchild?  Was that not considered important information that they have a right to know?   It felt the same to me.

For now, he hasn’t told his mother, and I am still hopeful that he will be able to find a way to tell her that won’t compromise her health or cause her to suffer a mental decline.  It is one step at a time, but I think they are steps in the right direction, and for that I am proud of him.

 

Support from one's father

Support from one’s father

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Comments

  1. My partner finally told his mother and sister about the child. (He told his father when we first found out.) All of them were incredibly supportive of us as a couple, and I hope that in the future we will be able to tell others. I just don’t like living under such a big shadow of secrecy. Especially when it came to his parents because the OC is their only granddaughter! They’ve absolutely accepted the OC as part of the family even though they may never get a chance to have a real relationship with her. I’m so glad they know now.

    • So you have the OC in your life? We’re visits just timed around grandparents not being around to know? That’s great that there can be some “normalcy” in an otherwise abnormal situation. I’m glad you found support!!

      • Everything is still in early phases. My partner and I have seen the OC a few times, but the grandparents haven’t had a chance yet. They don’t live locally. However they’ve expressed an interest in being as active part of her life as is possible, given the circumstances. The OW has been opening up to our presence, so hopefully down the line there will be some normalcy and we’ll be seen as just another modern family with odd relations.

      • And how do you feel having to see or share your family with her?

      • How do I feel about having to see the OW? In my case the OW doesn’t seem to be crazy. She is just incredible stupid and shallow. She is a prime example of an underachiever and even without the added addition of having slept with my partner, I despise her for being a waste of human skin. I don’t really want anything to do with her; however, I have blood relatives who are just as useless who I have managed to have a civil relationship with, and for the future I foresee her falling into the same category as them. I will smile when I see her, nod when she blathers on, and then dismiss everything about her because she is completely worthless. I have a faint hope that becoming a mother will mature her, and that she may one day seek forgiveness for the pain she has caused me, but I doubt that will happen. So I will just accept that she is so emotionally stunted that she is incapable of accepting responsibility for her actions, and I will pity her. I’ll work around her for the child’s sake, and hope that the child grows up to be a better woman.

  2. I understand how you feel about being a part of his secrets and keeping information from others….information that they should know. My step-son is not my husband’s son, but he doesn’t know that. My husband always said he’d tell him when he was 15, but he’s 19 now and still doesn’t know. My husband’s reasoning was that he didn’t want to do anything to upset him and possibly cause him to not be able to focus on his education and getting his life in order with school and a career.

  3. Oh this is timely ! I was just addressing my own dilemma about this on another site. My husband’s parents are both deceased but he has a brother who has two children. I told my husband he would have to be the one to disclose his 14 year adultery and the two children they planned and have together. I have addressed the outrageous and hubris of their controlling the reality of me , our family and all who have known him over all those years. Co workers who worked with them as he hired her and then made her his partner ….nothing suspicious about this …Their adultery began something like a year before that hire . She was a complete stranger who solicited him in a restaurant while me and our three children had to stay behind to finish a big addition to the house we thought we would always live in . His promotion not only added more work but more play apparently !

    The people closest to him in all aspects of a normal social life , relatives , friends all have had their realities controlled about who my husband is . It also now gives me pause to wonder who knew and how that effected their attitudes about me and what I might have had to offer in terms of my sharing about Jesus Christ with most anyone I had any reason to interact with. Maybe those who reject the Lord felt sympathetic for a husband so ‘strapped ‘ with someone of faith and morals!

    He certainly chose to make an alliance with someone of the complete opposite pole of morality and any of the values that WE had had and he had insisted were his own. Jekyll and Hyde could not have manufactured any better smoke screen for the viewing public!

    On one level I too hate secret keeping of this magnitude If you ask anyone they will tell you I am self exposing of things probably more than necessary with the attitude of wanting to be helped in not deceiving myself or missing any area that accountability would be helpful in shaping my own character.

    However I have spent a lifetime it seems trusting people too easily without a lot of demand for their proving their character. I had thought I did a pretty good job of vetting my husband before marriage just for this reason. He did not function as the deceiver he became so good at before some key ‘game changers’ in our marriage…Our first child, a new job with a big responsibility, and his mom’ s death …additionally his rejection of our Lord due to the failure and dissolution of the ministry we had been involved in . He simply seemed to reject his faith with the excuse that the people who claimed the Lord were reason enough to reject GOD . I don’t think that will stand up at the throne but that was one of his justifications for exiting the faith and tossing all of the moral values we had both been learning , growing and practicing years prior.

    Keeping secrets is awful and I know it makes me feel ‘stuffy’ around my heart but I also wanted HIM to do the duty of confessing to those of his own family himself . My family had to know because I was tired of always allowing them to think it was ME that was the reason for the distances and silence that our little family seemed to keep from them. My parents were both deceased so they did not have to deal with this . My brother and his wife know and have been supportive but their many years of disrespect for the faith that I have been walking in for so long makes them difficult to ‘lean ‘ upon and so it is enough that they know the reasons for all the ways this man’s life decisions have brought about the many years of no particular effort to plan family visits.

    I think your husband is courageous to tell his dad and I wonder how his father’s life of infidelity brought about how he dealt with it.

    The fact that his parents were divorced and that his mom’s life has been so deeply wounded by a man who would not take responsibility for his choices is telling also . How sad that the excuses his father has used to justify his own lack of integrity is STILL being laid upon his wife. The Bible actually lays the condition of the wife upon the husband . He is the one told to be responsible for his wife’s emotions and heart …when he defiles or damages it she will become whatever he sees and so HER countenance is the ‘fruit’ of his own ‘labor’ …If a husband sins against his God and his wife …he will give account . His wife has her own orders but this outcome in her is NOT from her own lack of effort no doubt. Sorry , the word says that a man who goes into a strange woman lacks understanding …now we can see what that means more and more .

    Anyway when you husband takes this kind of ACTION it is a good thing. It also provides some of the ways a good character will take responsibility for the protection and provision of the wife”s heart and brings about the kind of respect most men feel they should be entitled to without having done anything to gain it …This is not the way ANY venue in life works but they expect it should be their due …due to many of the ways scripture is taught out of context and godly ORDER.’

    Now I am ‘preaching ‘ to the choir no doubt. I so agree that this secrecy for the spouse piles on more responsiblity to the wife in such a case . I do not want to be the ONE to tell about his escapades because I still want to keep my marriage in a state wherein I will not be the ‘bad guy ‘ in terms of my husband…Something like ‘her husband’s heart safely trusts in her’ from Proverbs 31….Though his revelation of how deceitful the OW has been and manipulative has left him with the attitude that he does not want ANY relationship with ANY woman including me .

    Time will tell I guess. We are more like boarders since he eats , and watches TV with me and our children but retreats to sleep upstairs. His life is still pretty much all about him though I often think he thinks he IS being ‘sacrificial ‘ in the aspect he goes to work everyday to pay the bills.

    After 32 years of waiting for him to ‘have time’ for US …and bowing to his every desire for whatever he has wanted …while STILL expressing things that were being left undone as gently as I could from the wisdom of how to inform him of what HE was missing out on now I feel that he is taking his poor choices out on me as if I did something to cause him to go off into such a large sinful lifestyle. NO I did not. He has NO ‘handholds’ on me for why HE did this.

    Anyway sorry I have tended to rant . I just cannot imagine what will be the outcome when and IF he ever comes clean to his family .He hopes to die before he has to deal with this with anyone else.

    This is sad …I remind him that he still now has two young children who he felt he needs to be ‘there’ for ..which is random …but he is trying . Our grown children are still in need of their father as well . This sort of view of people and especially children in such a DETACHED way reduces people to ‘objects’ …which is just what seems to be going on in our society more and more …sadly

    Anyway give yourself a big hug for your endurance and courage to share this with us on here…and give your hubby a hug for his having done the difficult task of confessing to his parents.

  4. Sorry I’m late to reading this post. I went & looked up Chump Lady. She’s not so bad. I like what she had to say. She’s a realist. I see these other blogs & forums where these betrayed spouses have had 2, 3, 4 or more DDays & have chosen to stay & I just shake my head, like WTF are you doing? Are you mental? My sister’s husband cheated on her several times & after the 2nd time of forgiveness it was hard for any of us to support her. How do you respect someone who doesn’t respect themselves? And who am I to judge right? Well it has happened to me, that is why I judge. I’m a “3 strikes your out” kind of person. My ex cheated on me twice that I knew of & when I suspected a 3rd time, I didn’t even stick around to find out for sure, I bolted & it was the best decision of my life. Also, I don’t know why so many women focus on sabotaging the OW when you can use the OW as a great tool. A tool to find out information as well as unlocking the mysteries of what a piece of crap your husband is or can potentially be. I thanked the OW’s in my sitch. They saved me thousands of dollars in what I would’ve spent in private investigator & decoy fees. I eventually was fortunate enough to see the bastard for who he is & got out. Ten years later he is now remarried with a new child. (Not even to any of the OW’s) A totally new clueless female…that poor girl. I am friends with him on Facebook but you could never even pay me money to go back to that. My DDay is definitely a celebration day. A “thank your husband’s mistress” day! After all, I do them a brand new life I never dreamed of.

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