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Inside the mind of a mistress


I’ve just spent an hour sitting at the computer watching You Tube.  While seeking out some resources for a member of my local support group that I run, I came across a Dr. Phil episode whose topic was “Inside the mind of a mistress”.  As always, I was intrigued.

Thoughts and comments always welcome.

Parts one and two:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1ekYBdSNz0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CuPFcODpEfU

 

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Jumping on the betrayed-wife-bashing bandwagon


I get it…when people are from different sides of an argument, it is hard to see and accept the other side’s views.  With infidelity, like any other highly emotional and charged topic, it becomes even harder.  I struggled a great deal and did a lot of work in order to be able to see and understand my husband’s affair through the eyes of his mistress.   And, although I have made the efforts to see her point of view and appreciate her struggles in the outcome of disclosure, I still nonetheless see her as a crazy, mentally-ill individual who isn’t deserving of any of my pity or time.  Seeing the other side doesn’t mean joining the other side, and abandoning your views.  It is simply about OPENING YOUR MIND TO THE POSSIBILITY THAT ANOTHER SIDE EXISTS.

As a betrayed wife I can completely understand the anger that a betrayed wife feels in the wake of an affair discovery.  I can understand the trash-talking that happens when you find out that another woman slept with your husband, was impregnated by your husband, kissed your husband, gave free blowjobs to your husband, stroked your husbands ego and all other parts that needed stroking, flirted with your husband, made plans with your husband, etc.  While this trash-talking can get a little intense and sometimes over the top, what I don’t understand is the trash-talking that comes from the other side.   Now this blog’s readership is comprised mainly of betrayed spouses who go online looking for someone who can relate. But, there are also readers who have themselves been mistresses and who un-apologetically admit to seeking out and taking pleasure in coaxing a man into the bedroom and out of a marriage.  They have their own forums, and their own blogs like this one where they ask for and receive support for the pain they go through when an affair is revealed (especially if the husband returns to the wife, leaving her and all the promises he made behind).  I get it, there are many people hurt in an affair, but that is for another post, so I digress…

Where was I?  Oh right…I understand the trash talk from betrayed wives to mistresses, after all, they engaged willingly with a man they knew were married (and for sake of argument I am not referring to those who perhaps had no idea the man they were sleeping with was married with kids, a dog and a picket fence).  What I don’t understand is the trash talk that comes in the other direction; the mistresses who trash on the wives, and blame us for their situation.  The mistresses, upset at how things didn’t go according to “plan” and then hate us for fighting for our marriage and our family.   That makes no sense to me, and yet sites abound with women who were the “OW” in a relationship and who lash out at the wife, putting her down, telling her she wasn’t enough to keep her man, capitalizing on her low self-esteem in the aftermath of the affair and taking the cheap shots when she is down.  Who does that?  Better yet, who does that when the situation was started by them, and they are the ones in the wrong?  It’s like cutting someone off in traffic and then flipping THEM the bird…

A further "Fuck you" to the betrayed wife

A further “Fuck you” to the betrayed wife

 

While “most” mistresses expect married women to become angered when the affair is discovered, strangely they don’t allow us this reaction when it does happen. It’s like we are expected to just shutup and take it.  And, when we call other women out on their behavior, we are called “bitches” and “overly emotional” and “hysterical” (the ow in my husband’s affair called me this many a time) and “overreactive”.  The irony is that if the tables were turned, they would behave in EXACTLY the same way.  But, in order to understand and appreciate that, these women would have to put themselves in our shoes, something that exhibits EMPATHY, and is something that I feel many of these women lack, which is exactly why they participate in these things in the first place.

Last night, while perusing my CNN app on my phone before bed, I came upon an article by Peggy Drexler, writing an opinion piece about Arianna’s blog “She’s a homewrecker”, where betrayed wives post lurid details and sometimes call out and name the women who were involved in affairs with their husbands.  This journalist essentially called this retaliation “bullying”, and claimed that women tearing down other women is horrid when the husbands are getting off scot-free.  I’m sorry?  My husband got off scot-free?  I don’t think so.

To say that this journalist doesn’t get it is an understatement.  Where on “She’s a homewrecker” does it say that betrayed wives have absolved their husband’s of their responsibility for the affair and opted to place sole blame on the mistress?  It doesn’t, yet this is what the author has implied.  Funny, because she says “it takes two”, so if she follows her own argument, she sees fault lying on both sides, but yet fails to see that betrayed wives, while choosing to out the mistress in public, is likely lashing out at her husband as well.  The difference is that the husbands return home, while the mistresses run deep into the woods, back into obscurity, pointing fingers at the wife, returning to the rocks from under whence they came.

Once an affair is disclosed, the mistresses scurry like rats abandoning a sinking ship.    Husbands come home to face the music.  Mistresses escape down a fire escape.  How are betrayed wives to express their anger and disappointment when one of the parties recedes into the darkness?  Yes it takes two, but the husband’s payback is something most don’t see, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen.  Wives out their husbands, embarrass them, pay them back for the shame and hurt in many ways.  The difference here is that they have ACCESS.  With mistresses, many betrayed wives don’t even get a name, let alone an address, workplace or cell number.

Peggy write:

Although sleeping with a married man is of questionable morality — and that’s, of course, assuming the woman is even aware the man’s attached — the job of staying faithful belongs to the man who took the vow. And yet on “She’s a Homewrecker,” the men get off largely scot-free.

OMG if I have to hear this argument again, I will spit.  The vow argument?   Yes, he took the vow, but when a woman knowingly sleeps with a man she knows is married, why is she off the hook?  Why is Drexler so keen on letting her be?   Has she herself been the OW in an affair.  One must wonder.   So the breaking of the marital vow falls on the husband, yes, but marriages are contractual agreements, if you will, between a man and a woman.  In business, when a third party violates or interferes with an existing contract, they are said to be committing Tortious Interference.   Tortious interference, also known as intentional interference with contractual relations, in the common law of torts, occurs when a person intentionally damages the plaintiff‘s contractual or other business relationships.  An example of tortious interference  is when “false claims and accusations are made against a business or an individual’s reputation in order to…[break a contract].  Funny, I seem to remember stories of the OW telling my husband how much I must not love him because I don’t dote on him like she would.  I also recall her mentioning, after having stalked me at my car, mentioning how pathetic women are who have my hair style and drive the kind of car that I do.  She found any angle to put me down in his eyes, trying to compete with me by trashing me to him.  Based on the example above, if this were a business, she would be guilty of tortious interference.

So why is it that business contracts are better protected against trolls than marriages are, when they are the foundation of our family lives?

Drexler also writes:

Despite this, the “homewrecker” still must pay, and does, in the form of having her name, details of her life and no fewer than six photos of herself splashed all over the site.

This is payback?  Really?  It doesn’t come close, in my opinion.  OK, so her name and reputation are compromised.  So are mine.  But is her family compromised?  Is her deepest and most intimate relationship violated?  Are the lives of her most vulnerable and cherished family members (paralleled with the children of a marriage) destroyed?  Are her foundations of trust shattered?   No.  I would EASILY take the shame of having someone post about me than what I’ve been through.  Seems like a cake-walk Peggy, and to compare the two is ridiculous.  It is the LEAST of what they deserve.   And don’t say that the husbands get off scot-free because, my dear, they don’t.  My husband has paid dearly, both emotionally at almost losing his family, financially at being sued on false charges for the purposes of extorting money and the child support he is willingly paying.   On the other hand, the OW has been successful in coaxing my husband into bed,  getting pregnant on purpose, and choosing to have the baby she wouldn’t otherwise have had, and having that child MORE THAN COMPLETELY PAID FOR.  She doesn’t pay for A SINGLE THING RELATED TO THAT CHILD because her child support check is enormous.  Sounds like she is basking in it…no?  I haven’t posted to “She’s a homewrecker” but I don’t admonish those who have.  In some cases, with mistresses running for the hills and leaving the husbands to absorb the damage, they leave the betrayed wives no other choice because they simply don’t take the honorable route: apologize, express remorse and beg for forgiveness for the damages you have caused to an innocent party.  It’s what we teach our children in grade school.   I guess these women missed that class.

I will be penning a response to Ms. Drexler on this article.  I hope you will too.

 

How brazen of her


***This post is being misunderstood and so it behoves me to put this disclaimer at the top so that the same misunderstanding doesn’t continue.

This post and the analogies it outlines have nothing to do with the wayward spouse’s choice, their decision making,
or explaining their behavior. This post, is instead about YOU the betrayed wife and how society and often the OW and her posse of supporters ridicule you for standing by and fighting for a your marriage instead of us just handing them our husbands. The analogy isn’t meant to describe his actions or the why…it’s about YOUR choices and the why. Please read from that point of view. And for what it’s worth, no, I don’t believe wayward spouses are victims…****

Imagine if you will a mother, any mother.  Her hair can be any colour.  Her body type can be thin or not.  Her hair can be curly or straight.  It doesn’t matter really, what she looks like, all you need to know is that the only thing she has ever wanted to do was to be a mom.

I am going to call this mom Cara.

Cara struggled for many years to have a child.  After many failed attempts, she finally hears the news her heart has been waiting for.  She has been blessed with a child.  She pours everything into being a mother.

At first, parenthood is a struggle.  The learning curve is steep and there are bumps along the way.   Cara makes her share of mistakes, but she is doing the best she can, and learning as she goes.  After all, parenting doesn’t come with a manual.

Like any mother, Cara is invested in her child, often at the expense of herself.  She sacrifices a lot for her child, and her life has certainly changed.  She puts so much into this child, and would give anything to see her grow up healthy and strong.  Certainly Cara is also human, and sometimes isn’t always the best mother, and doesn’t always make the best choices, but she wakes up every morning, still dedicated, still trying, and ever hopeful that this creation of hers will succeed.

One day, shortly after her 10th birthday, Cara’s daughter fails to come home from school.  A search ensues and no one can find her anywhere.  She has essentially disappeared.  Her mother is frantic, and sick with worry.  All of the years flash before her eyes.  All of her firsts, all of their struggles, all of their successes and good times – Gone.

After several weeks, her daughter is located.  It is discovered that Cara’s daughter had been kidnapped and held by a childless woman who wanted to have a child, and tried to claim Cara’s daughter as her own.   For many years, this woman too had tried to have a child and was not successful.   Desperate, she soon gave up the dream of having her own child in favour of simply stealing someone else’s.  She made a plan, and decided that she would seek out a child of her liking, and then when the timing was right, would abduct her, claim her as her own, and raise the child.  She gave little or no thought to Cara’s heartache.  She completely disregarded the pain and torment she was putting Cara and her family through because her needs came first.  Social conventions of right and wrong were cast aside, and morals thrown out the window.  “She” was the only person who mattered here, and her happiness was paramount to all others.

Once the identity of the abductor is known, Cara fights tirelessly to get her daughter back.  She cries herself to sleep at night, worried that she has lost the precious creation she has cared for and nurtured all these years.  She starts each day in the darkest place imaginable, but with the desire to fight and find her child once more.  The abductor ups the ante and starts sending Cara messages, taunting her, telling her how much happier her daughter is with her, how much she resents her mother, and how she should just move on and let her daughter go.  Cara can’t imagine her daughter ever feeling that way, and the words simply don’t fit with the experience and the relationship Cara knows to be true.  Confused and paralyzed with fear, anger, resentment and worry, she gets up each day trying to get one step closer to her child.   All the while struggling, Cara maintains a brave face for those around her.  She has been told by the abductor that if she says anything to anyone that her daughter will be harmed, so she puts on a brave face every day, and no one knows the inner struggle she faces each day.   While colleagues and family are busy making demands of her, disrespecting her time and overloading her, she cries out on the inside that none of them would do this, if they “really knew what was going on”.  They wouldn’t dare pile this on her.  But they don’t know….so they do, and so it continues, until one day Cara’s daughter escapes and comes home.   Tearful and full of regret, she confesses to her mother that she made some poor choices, against her better judgment, and that due to her actions, she put herself in harm’s way, and in a situation where she was vulnerable, and then the unthinkable happened, and she was taken.  Cara is just relieved to have her back.

Within a few days, threatening letters and emails start coming her way.   Letters from the abductor threatening to repeat the abduction.  Threads of doubt and uncertainty are planted within Cara’s mind that her daughter will leave willingly, having favoured perhaps the other woman’s lifestyle, her home, the material and shallow possessions.  Cara is blasted as a sad and pathetic woman, a horrible mother, a selfish person who doesn’t deserve to have a child.  No matter all of the time and work invested in her child, she is told that she wasn’t good enough, that she has failed as a mother, and that her daughter, in time, will once again disappear.  Cara lives every day in fear that this may come true.

The letters become more personal, more vindictive, more hateful.  Cara can barely hold it together while her self esteem is being ripped apart by this woman, and the one thing she most preciously loves is being threatened to be ripped from her once more.  Cara is told to give up. Cara is told to let go.  Cara is mocked and laughed at for still trying to hold on to her daughter.  She is called ‘selfish’ for wanting her back. She is mocked for fighting for her, all while being told she deserves this horrible pain because she wasn’t a good enough mother, that her years of sacrifice weren’t enough…she is ridiculed for continuing to fight.  She is threatened with being outed in her community as a “bad mother” who lost her child due to negligent parenting and poor standards.

Reading the above story, do you agree that she should give up?   Should she fight?  Should she let go?  Should she watch years of her life and the legacy she has worked hard to create disappear?  What would you do if something you have created and nurtured was suddenly ripped from you?

Would we, as compassionate human beings ever mock her for fighting for her child?  Would ever condemn her for her daughter’s disappearance, saying that it was due to sub-standard qualities within her?  Would you tell her she deserved it?   I highly doubt anyone, seeing a woman fight for her child, would ever give her anything but sympathy and understanding.   After all, entire communities rally around and support parents when their children are stolen.  So the question becomes…

Why don’t we do this for marriage when an OW tries to take our husband for their own?

Why are people quick to condemn the wives for the their husband’s “disappearance”?  Why do we place the blame for the situation that occurred on something inherently faulty with the wife?  Why do we, as wives, get sucked into the emotional trap laid out by the OW to make us feel fragile, threatening us with him leaving again, or repeating the same behaviour (once a cheater always a cheater, take him back and you’ll regret it).

Why are wives told to “give up” and “let go” and “move on” and then made to feel ridiculed when they fight for the thing they have passionately cared for and nurtured:  their marriage.    A marriage, like the raising of a child is painstaking work that involves care, commitment, sacrifice, and mistakes.  No parent is perfect, and no marriage is perfect.  After years of devotion, sacrifice and time, why would anyone expect a mother to hand over her child?   Why do OW’s expect us to give up, let go, and move on and then mock us when we fight for what IS OURS, what we’ve worked for, what we’ve sacrificed for, what we created?   Is it different?

Doesn’t it seem sick and twisted that a woman, incapable of having a child of her own by conventional means should opt to create a situation whereby she could weasel herself into a family and walk out with one stolen?  Wouldn’t we call that criminal?  Why then, do we see OW’s walk into marriages, identify weak and vulnerable spots and coyly take advantage of them for their personal gain such that they steal a husband from his wife?   Is that not criminal also?   Instead it is labeled as “human nature”, or made the fault of a wife who wasn’t enough.

Obviously, the above story is designed to set up a parallel yet distinct story.  Parenthood and her desire for a child is paralleled with marriage and one’s desire for a marriage and partner.  The learning curve of parenting, the lack of a manual and the fact that we aren’t always the best, but do our best as parents, is paralleled with doing our best as a spouse when we are learning as we go.  As a woman who sacrifices everything for her child, so too does a woman for her marriage.  This story and its presentation was designed to present a scenario whereby a character gains empathy for being put into a devastating circumstance in order to see how an outside observer might react to  her situation.   Empathically or judgmentally?  With compassion or with hatred?

So why is it expected and understood that a woman would fight for her child, and not expect her to do the same for her marriage?

***This blog post is NOT making the kidnapped child analagous to the cheating husband.  No one’s husband was kidnapped, and this post isn’t intended to equate a betraying husband with someone captured against their will.   This was a choice HE made, sometimes with her help, sometimes without.  What this post IS designed to do, is to show the parallel between the reactions women have for salvaging what they love deeply***

What do you think?  Discuss.

Sometimes it all feels worthwhile


Since March 2011, I have been pouring my heart out on this blog. I originally started the blog as a means to vent my feelings. I’ve always enjoyed writing, and it was my way to release the feelings that I so often kept bottled inside. Pretty soon, as the blog started to acquire devoted readers, I started blogging not only for myself, but also for them. I wanted my struggle to be something that beached out and touched others who are going through something similar. Knowing how I controlled websites for weeks in the aftermath of my husband’s discovery, I wish I had found something, someone story, something that I could relate to, that would give me hope, or illuminate a path.

Some people scoff at the idea of putting such personal details out there into the blogosphere. I do not identify myself, I do not identify the other woman, and I don’t identify my husband. Our privacy is completely protected, but our story is very real, and it is not her story alone. Whatever learned over the years is that many readers share my circumstances. We may not all have another child in the mix, we may not all have a psycho stalker other woman. But we do share the devastation of having lost our marriage, and the security in what we once thought it was.

I never know on a given day how many people this blog reaches. I know I have many devoted followers who have signed up to receive regular updates each time I make a blog post. Whether you subscribe to this blog, are whether you simply stumbled across it once and never returned, I am thankful for your visit, for your time, for your ear.

I received a comment yesterday on the blog that I wanted to share. Not every reader will troll through the comments section of each blog to delve further into the feelings of other readers, but some do. In the event that you don’t, I wanted to bring to the surface this particular comment, because it touched my heart. It reassured me that not only are people listening, but people are finding a blog helpful. The blog, I story, is providing hope for those who are just starting their journey, or who are well on their way.

Here is what she wrote:

Dear friend
I know you’re probably thinking ‘who is this woman calling me friend?’. I can reassure you that I am no crazed cyber stalker, just a woman who found out 4 months ago that her husband had an affair. I have spent hours in the interim period trawling the Internet trying to find answers to the questions that have plagued me since that day – September 25th 2012, the anniversary of my mother’s death coincidentally. I came upon your blog just a few days ago and read your recent one on deal breakers. After reading it I decided I needed to read the entire blog from the beginning to see what had happened to you. Firstly, I am so sorry that you’ve experienced such trauma. Secondly, I would like to thank you for your insight, your honesty, for sharing your pain, for your humour in times of great heartache, but mostly for giving me some perspective, some clarity and most of all some hope. I have learned more from you by reading every emotion that you have felt, I have felt every emotion for you and with you, than any of the books on healing after an affair has taught me. My husband is half way through reading your blog also and I have seen him in tears on many occasions – we both have. It’s allowing him to see things from my point of view without the tears and the anger that always come when we talk about it. There were many parallels between our experiences. I had my own disturbed stranger invading my world, sending me letters, making me look over my shoulder when hanging out the laundry. Then a so called ‘friend’ decided she would cause us more anguish and meddled in our marriage when we were already going through such heartache. She tried to split us up and created more bad feelings between us. I then found more indiscretions with regards to my husbands ‘other life’. A horrendous year culminated in the death of my father on New Year’s Eve. I was already grieving over the death of my marriage as I knew it, but now have to deal with the death of my father – as of today the funeral has not yet taken place. I have laughed with you, cried with you and sympathised with you. I know we don’t know each other but I just wanted to say thank you so much for all you have written here and that maybe calling you a friend over steps the mark but in the words of a kind, caring, compassionate woman “remember that there is always someone who cares about you and wants the best for you. I am one of them.” Stay strong x

I wanted to publicly thank you so much for commenting, for sharing your thoughts with me. It is heartwarming to know that this blog has reached you, and others, and provided some source of comfort during these horrendous times. In a weird way, knowing that my experience, my struggle, my journey, and my subsequent digital journaling here of the events has helped, almost makes the journey worthwhile.

Dealbreakers


When something traumatic happens to us, our world shatters.  What we knew before is now changed, and we question what we ever saw as “truth”.  Many of us struggle with the idea of what we could have possibly “done” to have “deserved” what happened to us.  The simple truth is that none of us brought upon ourselves the circumstances that led to our suffering, and we aren’t karmic collateral damage.  We are victims of the unfortunate and stupid, careless and hurtful actions of someone who vowed to protect us.

Today, while at the support group that I lead for betrayed spouses, we talked about our respective “deal-breakers”.  Each of us took our turn sharing what, for us, would be the ultimate deal breaker in our recovery.  For some, it was that their wayward spouse seek and attend therapy.  For others, it was that the wayward spouse grant the hurting spouse the opportunity to seek and receive support from others outside of the marriage.  For me, it was an interesting question to ponder, as I don’t think I ever had one dealbreaker.  For me, having the affair was supposed to be the dealbreaker.  I was “supposed” to walk away from my marriage, kick my husband out on his ass, and get on with my life.  Wasn’t that, after all, how I said it would be when he and I would talk about infidelity?  Isn’t that what I had vowed I would do?  Why then, did I not do it?  What was my dealbreaker???

In the wake of my husband’s affair, the deal breaker became whether he was going to support me or not.  Would he blame me?  Dealbreaker.  Would he find ways that I led him to, and threw him into an affair through my actions, our marriage, or my lack of je-ne-sais-quoi?  Dealbreaker.  Would he refuse to listen to me when I cried, or deny me the compassionate ear, the receptive shoulder?  Dealbreaker.  Would he tell me that I raise the affair too often?  Fail to look inside himself at what he was lacking and how his own issues led him down that path?  Restrict me from seeking support, prevent me from telling those I needed to, deny me the right to be angry, pick on him when I needed to, or just cry spontaneously in every-day moments becoming embarrassed by my reaction?  All dealbreakers.   I came to realize, as I drove home from the support group, that I have no ONE dealbreaker.  They were ALL dealbreakers.  For me, the dealbreaker was in preventing me the opportunity to be a victim, and to play that out in whatever way I needed to at the time.  I needed my husband to give me complete permission to say, do, seek anything that I needed at any time in the name of supporting me as a victim of his crime (an affair is not a mistake, after all, it is a CRIME against the marriage – thank you Anne Bercht).  If my husband had not allowed me to complete immerse myself in whatever I needed at whatever time, in order to allow me to wallow in my victim role, it would have been a dealbreaker for me.   I needed to be a victim, and I needed  him to honour that need, and to allow me to play that role.  It played out differently from day to day, but I needed it, and he gave me that.

The truth is, my husband completely owned what he did, and never made an issue of me seeking what I needed.  The only “restriction” he ever placed on me was the decision to talk together about who I was going to tell, and to be mutually comfortable with the idea of doing so.  I came to realize that by announcing my husband’s infidelity to anyone who would listen, I was bringing embarrassment to him, and I needed to be careful of who I told.  I had told a few friends, but I haven’t told all of my friends.  There are some couples that we hang out with who have no idea, and would likely be shocked.  I didn’t want to cause my husband pain and suffering, and so I chose to respect his privacy, and we would decide together who “needed to know”.  His parents don’t know.  Our neighbours don’t know.  Many of his colleagues who are close friends don’t know. The good news is that I no longer NEED to tell them, the way I once thought I did.  I don’t need the support anymore.  I do feel, sometimes as though I am living an unauthentic relationship with them, with them not knowing this significant story in our lives, but there are many things we don’t know about one another’s pasts, and we can still be friends.  Maybe some day we will feel the need to tell them, and we will decide that together.

Going forward in my healing, I had to make the choice to continue wallowing in my victim role, feeling sad, helpless, pathetic, sorrowful and pitied, or whether I wanted to stand up, shake off the past, and learn from it with my eyes on the future.  Was I going to be defined by this?  Would this become the headline of my life?  I didn’t want this to be the most defining thing that had ever happened to me.  I didn’t want it to be the most significant (albeit in a bad way) thing that had ever crossed my path.  I wanted to be a victor in my life, not a victim.  I have influence over how my life will turn out, and although I can’t, and could not at the time, control my husband’s behaviour and choices, I do control mine.  I chose to be a victor in my life, and to no longer be defined by this horrible trauma that had been dumped in my lap.

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Was does being a victor look like?  Well, for some of us, it will mean having the courage to leave a spouse who isn’t supportive, and who isn’t remorseful, and who refuses to face his actions.  It will mean harnessing the courage to be on our own for the first time in a long time.  It will mean standing up and starting over. For others, it will mean facing the task of rebuilding our marriage, despite the obstacles that lie ahead, living with the constant reminder in your face, and choosing to fight for something we feel has value left.  For all of us, regardless of whether we keep our marriage or let it go, it will mean finding a new “us”.  Many of us get so caught up in who we are as a spouse, that we forget who we were as a person before we became a couple.  It will mean having two feet solidly on ground, and no longer being lulled into the false sense of security that comes with the belief that “this will never happen to me”.  We now know that that is a lie, and it does not serve us.  Perhaps being a victor is choosing to live our lives to the best we can, with or without the one we married, in the hopes of finding true happiness within ourselves, through activities we enjoy, friendships we cherish, and new skills we want to learn.  Perhaps being a victor just means standing up, after being kicked down by this trauma, or waking up every morning with a willingness to give this day our best shot.  Sometimes we will win at the day, and other days we won’t, but we will have tried.  Maybe that is being a victor.

And so the question:  What is YOUR dealbreaker?

The key to my heart: A tale of forgiveness


It is a New Year, a new beginning, a fresh start. How will you write this chapter of your life? You have 365 pages, and today is day 1. What have you done to move your story forward, to propel yourself toward happiness? Are you stuck? Do you feel lost? Or are you in a place of contentment? Do you feel you are settling for what you have, and if so, do you have the courage to reach out and grab that thing that eludes you? Is this your year? Is this the year it finally comes together? Are you ready for the wonderful things that are coming your way? I hope so 🙂

As 2012 drew to a close, and with the golden rays of 2013 on the horizon, I offered my husband a gift. Not only was it a gift I had never given him, it was a gift I have never given anyone. I forgave him. I’d made the choice to forgive him some time ago, but wanted to tell him in a way that was meaningful to me. At first I thought I wanted fanfare and streamers, fireworks and hoopla. But as it drew closer, I just wanted something quiet, something personal, something warm.

I sat down to write my husband a letter this week. I wanted the letter to represent the emotional journey that I have been on over these past 2 years and 9 months (and let’s not forget the extra 15 days tacked on there either, it has been a long road). I wanted to take him on the journey with me, or at least the Coles Notes version, transport him briefly through the experiences that I have had in healing, and the ways in which he has helped me to heal. I wanted to thank him for all that he has done, for being a good man and for always putting my need for support above his need for shelter, for listening, for answering, for sitting in the shit with me (and this blog documents that there has been a lot of shit). I wanted to share my appreciation for all that he has done in this journey, and to convey to him that he has been my hero. I sat down, and slowly started to write, and when I was done, I had the following letter, which I am publishing for you all to read, which was presented to him last night.

One thousand and twenty days ago, you held my heart in your hands and crushed it, slowly suffocating the life out of me. As I sat there across from you on the sofa, trying to comfort you because you were crying, you pushed me away, and told me that you needed to tell me something. You told me that I deserve to live my life with full knowledge and awareness, and that I hadn’t been doing that. You then proceeded to tell me that my deepest fears were true, and that you were in a relationship with another woman, and had been for some time. As my stomach hit the floor and the room started to spin, you told me that she was pregnant with your baby. The floor fell from beneath my feet, and I stood paralyzed on what was left of the small bit of earth that I was perched upon.

The man I thought I knew stood before me, but he was gone. His familiar gaze now gave way to empty eyes that stood emotionless in front of me. I allowed the words to penetrate, but I could not respond. I felt completely paralyzed. I just sat there and listened to you, and for the first time in my life, I wasn’t sure whether I was real or not, whether I was in a dream, or whether I had just died. The truth is, a huge part of me died that day, and that part was the part I call “us”. “We” were no more. We were just “you” and “me”, because the safety and sanctuary that was “us” had just been violated and torn apart. It lay there, broken, hardly recognizable, and the only thing I wanted was to put it back together again. The only thing I wanted was for you to tell me that you were kidding, that it was some prank, to shake me awake. I wasn’t asleep, and you weren’t kidding, and this was to become my new reality.

When I awoke the next morning, for a fraction of a moment, I was certain I had dreamt it, and felt a lightness I can’t explain. It was like nirvana, but then I remembered that you were not with me in bed, and it had not been a dream, and that moment of serenity imploded. I woke up to the broken reality that would become my new “normal”. “My husband cheated on me with another woman, and she is having his baby”. The words tasted bitter in my mouth, but they would become my new mantra, repeated daily in my head for months and months and months, and years. I heard it in songs, I saw it on TV, reminders were everywhere. It was a new reality I had not invited, but which I was now forced to contend with. The phrase “life isn’t fair” suddenly had a personal meaning. I wasn’t sure what I had done in my life to deserve it. Was it karma paying me back for some horrible misdeed? Was I simply a cosmic collateral damage in the universe? Was I a bad wife? Had I gained to much weight? Was I no longer attractive? Had I “lost it”, and by “it”, I mean everything you used to find of value in me? Why was she chosen? Why was she better than me? Why did you pick her? Why had you done this to me? Why was I now having to pay the price for your bad decisions? Was I unlovable? Was I unworthy of being loved the way I needed to be?

As I spent my days dragging along the floor behind me a drawstring bag, carrying what was left of my self-esteem, I was inundated with hurtful emails from the woman who claimed to be so caring and understanding, so warm and personable. She took what remained of my self esteem, and held it tightly in a vice grip, dipping each piece of what remained into the acid that came through her words. Her words confirming my deepest fears: “I am ugly to him, I am fat to him, he laughs at me, he chose her, he is only staying for the kids, he never loved me…” She hand-plucked each one with deft precision. It’s as if she had lived inside my head, and knew exactly which buttons to push, and she pushed them with a satisfying and demonic enjoyment, her every move designed to wedge the knife deeper into the still bleeding wound. And when it would seem that she hadn’t done enough, she went in for the kill: She told me that due to words that I had spoken, due to action I had taken, that she had made the decision to keep the baby. She took the worst possible outcome (having the baby), and made it the result of something *I* had done, as if it was decided by me. No, instead it was to be my punishment for having fought for my marriage. I either lose my husband to her, or I keep my husband, whose love I don’t even trust anymore, he gains a daughter, and I gain a 22-year child support sentence. It was the ultimate lose-lose, and I felt like she held all the cards. I was broken, and death seemed more palatable.

Although I had my suspicions that something was wrong, I trusted you, and felt you would tell me if anything was really wrong. When you assured me everything was fine, I allowed your words to quench the fears I had, and the slate was wiped clean each time. The trust I had in you far overcame any fears, and I knew I could just trust, and I did just that.

I never snooped in your emails, and I never checked on your phone calls. I didn’t monitor your texts, and I didn’t have you followed. I had no reason to doubt what you were telling me. I didn’t have to investigate anything on my own, because you summoned the courage to tell me, and for that I am thankful. Although you do say that you were pressured to tell me, and had no intention of ever telling me, and were only doing so out of duress, I can tell you that I would have fared far worse had I learned it from her, so I thank you for telling me quietly, in the privacy of our own home, far away from her evil. Thank you for not letting me find out any other way. Thank you for being a man, and telling me to my face, despite the shame that such a moment brought to you. It is a shame that I can’t even imagine, and something that I would not have had the strength to do, had the situation been reversed. Thank you for being strong enough to do the right thing.

In the weeks that followed, you attended marital counseling with me. You attended regular weekly sessions, and faced head-on the shameful situation of having your mistakes placed on the table for open commentary and evaluation. You watched me cry and break down, witnessing firsthand the carnage that you created in the one you professed to love and protect. But you kept coming, and didn’t complain. You didn’t back down, you didn’t refuse, and you didn’t stop.

You took the time to look deep inside of yourself and your situation at the time, with the guidance of our counselor with a desire to learn what had led you there. Thank you for seeing the possibility of there having been a lack of something within you, something broken, something that needed mending. Although I do own my share of any marital breakdown that resulted in your inability to feel that you could come to me with your feelings, I also understand that your decision to have an affair was yours alone, and wasn’t something you did as a result of me, or our marriage. You had plenty of healthier alternatives to deal with your situation, but made a bad choice. I don’t think it makes you a bad person, and I don’t define you by it. Thank you for trying to find what it was within you that enabled this situation, no matter how painful, and for having the strength to examine it. Thank you for being strong enough.

You listened to me gripe and complain incessantly. You watched me hurt, and you listened to me ask the same questions over and over again. You answered them honestly, whenever there was an answer, and struggled to give me comfort, even in times when there wasn’t an answer to give. You placed all of your cards face up on the table, and gave me the truth at the speed at which I needed to hear it, not at the speed at which you were willing to face it. You followed my lead and proceeded at my pace, even when it was uncomfortable. Thank you.

You allowed me to start writing a blog to express my feelings, in the hopes that publically sharing it, that I might gain support from objective others, and also possibly help others in the process. You didn’t stop me from making public our struggle, and I agreed to protect our anonymity. Writing the blog has been a great triumph for me, is something that I enjoy, and which has brought me a great deal of support. It has also helped others. Thank you for giving it your support, and for being a faithful reader, and my first subscriber.

You never made it my fault. You didn’t blame me, or equate any of my inadequacies with your choice. You didn’t deprive me of support, and never denied me the opportunity to talk about it when I needed to. The door was always open, and you always made room for me, and you didn’t shut the door on me, or tell me I was raising “the affair” too often, was asking too many questions, or was being “unreasonable”. You tolerated my teasing and rubbing your nose in it, when I felt I needed some “payback”, and you took it without anger or disdain. Thank you for not retaliating and allowing me this momentary feeling of satisfaction. I sometimes needed it.

You allowed me to tell certain friends about the affair, and gain support from them, even though them knowing was embarrassing to you, and shone a light on your shame. You put my need for support above your need for secrecy, and I thank you.

You willingly attended the “Healing from Affairs” weekend with Anne and Brian, and never once questioned the purpose or need, nor the cost. You made the arrangements, attended, were a full and willing participant, and enjoyed a weekend that brought us closer together and for which I will be forever grateful.

You allowed me to attend the “Take your life back” seminar with Anne and Brian last month in November, taking charge of the kids to allow me to experience a weekend with other betrayed spouses, and the healing that comes from that. You didn’t stop me, you didn’t suggest against it, and you made it easy for me to attend without guilt. Thank you for that support, and for that gift. It, combined with the previous seminar, the learning and the introspection has helped to bring me to the place I am today in my healing, coupled with your support and care. Thank you.

Thank you for helping me to heal, and for acting as my healer in this journey, taking on the weight of my load when I didn’t think I could do it anymore, despite also having your own load to carry. Thank your for your patience, and for never asking me to “move on”, or “get over it already”. You accepted the repercussions of your actions as a burden you were willing to bear as a result of your actions, and you allowed me to do, say, or feel whatever was necessary, as a result, without making me feel stifled, or stupid, or judged. Thank you.

Throughout this journey, you have proven to be my hero. You have tackled situations that I don’t feel that I would have had the opportunity to tackle if I had been the one who had the affair. You have graciously stepped into the shameful places you needed to go. I know that I would not have had the ability to tolerate the constant nose-rubbing, the shame, the embarrassment and the constant exposure of my errors. You did, and for that, I recognize you as the pivotal reason for my healing, and the biggest force, outside of myself, that allowed me to heal in the way that I have.

I now have greater insight into how your affair came to be, and I no longer wish to hold it over your head, or to make you feel remorseful, or guilty. I know that you are remorseful, and I know that this has been your life’s biggest tragedy. It has been mine as well. Instead, I want to help heal you also, and move forward from this tragedy together.

When we first sat with our marital therapist, at our first marital therapy appointment, he told me that the end goal of affair recovery was to seek and grant forgiveness, and that forgiveness could only ever be considered once I felt as though you had stood in my shoes. I remember feeling such torment at the idea that I was to be expected to forgive you. “Forgiveness” was not the F-word that I had in mind, and wasn’t something I was prepared to consider. Last spring, at the end of the seminar with Anne and Brian, you were asked to write a letter, asking for forgiveness. I appreciated the letter, its heartfelt contents, and your genuine request for forgiveness, but I simply couldn’t grant it. I felt badly, like I was expected to. I wanted to, but simply couldn’t. I loved that weekend, and the feeling of togetherness that it helped to reinforce, and I did not want to forgive you simply because you had asked me to, or to comply with the programming of a seminar.

In the weeks that followed, I didn’t want to forgive you simply because I was running on a “post-seminar high” or trapped within the memories of that weekend. Instead, I hoped that the moment that I offered you forgiveness would be more genuine, and coming more from inside of me, not because you were asking, and not because you were programmed to request it. It needed to be real, and it needed to be heartfelt and pure, and it needed to come from me.

I was never ready to forgive you because of what I thought “forgiveness” meant. I always thought that forgiveness was the act of ‘excusing’ someone for what they had done. I thought that it meant ‘condoning’ someone’s actions, and finding something ‘acceptable’ in those actions. I thought that it meant ‘pardoning’ them from their responsibility, and telling them that what they had done was “alright”. I could never come to a place where I believed any of that to be true, and I felt that to ask me to forgive was to deny me my right to be angry, to feel betrayed and to claim that someone had wronged me. I thought that forgiving meant that I could no longer claim to have been betrayed, or own that, and that it took the value of what I was feeling away. I owned those feelings and I didn’t want to lose them. They were the expression of my broken heart, and they weren’t ‘wrong”, they weren’t ‘pardonable’, and they certainly weren’t ‘acceptable’. In speaking with other betrayed spouses, and those who have been hurt in other ways, I learned to define my own meaning of forgiveness, and this one felt better. It was to be the definition that I would then strive towards.

Forgiveness, as I now see it, is the act of letting go of the “better than” attitude that I was able to hold over your head because you had had the affair, and I had not. It was the decision to not see myself as a “better spouse” and to let go of the comparison. Being a spouse isn’t a contest to be won, and we aren’t on opposing teams. Forgiveness is the conscious choice to no longer hold your actions over your head, and to no longer engage in behavior that accentuates your shame, or which holds your actions under a microscope with the intention of helping me to feel better at your expense. Forgiveness is the choice to let go of the victim mentality, and to no longer be defined by it. Forgiveness is making the choice to see that you were a man who made a series of bad decisions, but not to see you as a “bad man”.

1020 days ago you broke my heart when you disclosed that you’d been having an affair. 2 years and 9 months, and 14 days ago, my life changed completely, and my reality was irreparably altered. These 145 weeks, these 24,480 hours, these 1,468,000 minutes, these 88,128,000 seconds have been the most painful, but also the most transformative of my life.

I do not condone what you did. I do not accept what you did. I do not pardon what you did. We both know that if you should find yourself on this path in the future, that the outcome will look very different from this. But, I trust with every fiber in my being that we won’t find ourselves in this place again. I trust that you will talk with me about issues which render us vulnerable, and that we will work towards fortifying our relationship and making the necessary steps towards keeping our union safe from any outside threats. I trust that we will actively work at strengthening our marriage, and no longer fall to the path of least resistance, the easy-way, the “comfortable way”, and I agree to work outside of my comfort zone and work at the ways that I can be a better spouse to you, going forward.

And so this New Years, 1020 days after you broke my heart, I find it mended. It will always hold the scars, but you have helped me heal in a way I didn’t think would be possible 1020 days ago. I thank you for being my hero in this, and I would like to offer you my forgiveness.

To honour this step, I wanted to offer you something as a symbol of forgiveness, so that you could carry something with you as a reminder of our story, and where we are. I tried for weeks to determine what that would be, but then realized that it was too personal a choice, and you needed to be the one to make it. I will let you decide what you would like that to be, if anything at all. For me, I purchased a Pandora charm for my bracelet: a heart shaped lock with a small golden key. This is highly personal for me, and symbolic of where we stand because 1020 days after our tragedy began, you once again hold the key to my heart. I love you.

Welcome to my new beginning.

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Debunking the myths of infidelity: revisited


Through the comments section on the previous post, I linked to one of the first posts I had ever made on the myths of infidelity. Many have emailed or commented that they enjoyed it, so I thought I would repost it in case it is timely for any of this blog’s readers.

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In both my reading on the topic of infidelity and in my casual polls taken among friends, it seems there are many myths that come with the territory of infidelity. Some of these myths are held by women, some by men, and some by both. Some are held by mistresses, some by wives. I’ve learned a lot this past year, and thought I would go over some of the more popular myths that exist and debunk them.

1. Affairs only happen in unhappy marriages.

While this does tend to be the reason why women cheat, it doesn’t usually apply to men. Men who live in very happy, sexually fulfilling marriages have affairs. For women, this is hard to understand because we equate love with sex, and if he is having sex with someone else, he must not love me. Believe it or not, this isn’t true. I wouldn’t have believed it a few years ago, if I hadn’t been on this journey myself. I am sure his affair partner felt that he loved her. As a woman, her paradigm is to believe that sex=love and so he must love her. False. He did, by his own admission, tell her he loved her in the midst of an orgasm, something he immediately regretted as the blood flowed back to the brain that has the higher functions of reasoning and intelligent thought. Idiot. I digress…

Women who are unfaithful have usually already fallen out of love with their partners, and have emotionally disconnected. For many women, then, they feel they can justify their behaviour because to them, the relationship was already over – even if he didn’t know it yet.

Men have the ability to compartmentalize sex and love. The two can coexist together, as they do when a man loves his wife, but they need not coexist all the time. Men can have sex with a woman for the sake of the physical release it will bring, and nothing more. Men don’t have to find her beautiful (although it helps if you have something nice to look at), and they don’t have to find her intelligent. If you are the mistress, and your relationship isn’t a deep emotional connection, but just sex, then chances are he isn’t looking for you to satisfy his need for intelligent conversation – you fulfill a very basic need- sex. That’s it. You might as well wear a t-shirt that reads: “Have Vagina, will travel”.

2. Men cheat more than women.

As a society, men tend to be more outwardly sexual in nature than women, so we have an easier time justifying men’s behaviour when they stray, and assuming that they do it more often. Men’s brains are very different from women’s, and they are hardwired to sexually pursue QUANTITY, while women look for QUALITY.

While the stats for infidelity may be tipped slightly more in favour of men, it is the REASONS for the infidelity that differ. Women cheat because they are no longer satisfied in the relationship. What was once a satisfying relationship has lost its glimmer, and it is safe to say that most women who cheat have already emotionally abandoned their primary relationship. With men, this is not the case. Men can be completely satisfied in their relationship, having frequent and great sex at home, and still take the opportunity to get a little more on the side, if the opportunity presents itself, and there is a low likelihood of getting caught. He may be getting fine dining at home, but a little dessert would also be nice….especially if I won’t gain weight.

One key thing to realize is the different ways in which men and women view sex, and how these views allow them to cheat for different reasons. More on that in a future post.

3. An affair is about sex.

An affair involves sex, but it is usually never ABOUT sex. People don’t seek out affairs to get more sex, or to have better sex. Sex is simply the natural progression that happens when someone seeks out a new relationship with someone of the opposite sex. For men, sex is like a sport; something you enjoy that invigorates you, makes you feel energized, potent, alive. For men, there need be no emotional connection whatsoever, and it has very little, if anything to do with love or emotion. We’ve all heard someone say “He’ll have sex with anything that has a pusle”, and for many men, this may very well be accurate. Men simply need an outlet, and who it is, or what she looks like has little bearing on why she was chosen. Men don’t need love for sex, or sex for love – they need sex for sex. Whether you are beautiful or smart won’t really matter….whether you are sexually available at the time will have much more of an impact.

So, if affairs aren’t about sex, what are they about, and what purpose do they serve?

Often times, men report that it wasn’t the sex that made them stray. It wasn’t the beauty, intelligence, warmth, compassion, or personality of the woman he strayed with. It was something about how he was FEELING while he cheated, and how the other woman made him FEEL when they are together. The rush and the exhileration of knowing that they are doing something forbidden causes an endorphin rush, which amplifies and creates a rosy glow (can you say rose-coloured-glasses?) over the entire relationship. She probably showers him with compliments, boosts his ego, tells him how smart he is, how powerful he is, how strong, fit, and capable he is…something that perhaps his wife doesn’t do as much as she used to now that their relationship has settled into a comfortable pattern. Just like women need and want continuous feedback that they are valued, men also need this, although most won’t admit it. They want to be told they are attractive, sexy, a great lover. In marriages, however, we settle into a pattern of comfort and security and no longer shower each other with these compliments, even if we DO feel them. I guess the difference is that when women need to hear it, we find ways of encouraging our lovers to tell us, while men feel foolish doing so. So, if a man is feeling needy for that kind of attention, he may never provide any clues. So keep the compliments flowing…that is even more important than being sexually available – it tells him he’s important to you, that you love him, and that he still ignites that spark for you.

4. If a man is having an affair, it is due to a deficiency in the wife, aesthetically or sexually, and the mistress is seen as superior in these areas.

While this will always be the case for SOMEONE, it isn’t the case most of the time. As per the above answers, men aren’t looking to improve upon anything, and having sex with the mistress didn’t mean there was a competition in his mind between the two. Just like sex and love are mutually exclusive, so are the wife and the mistress. So, if your husband cheated on you, it doesn’t mean he didn’t and doesn’t love you. If you are a mistress to a married man, just because he is having sex with you does NOT mean that he loves you or wants to be with you long term. You’re scratching a temporary itch, and yes he is having sex with his wife and enjoying it, which brings us to the next myth:

5. A married man engaged in an affair isn’t having sex with his wife.

This is completely false, although I am sure most mistresses would like to believe it. Most affair partners are shocked to discover that the man they thought they were ‘stealing’ and ‘one-upping’ from the wife is actually engaging in regular sexual activity with her. In some cases, he may be having more sex with his wife than with the mistress – she just doesn’t know it. Married men sleep with their mistresses and return home to their marital bed every night. They snuggle in with their spouse, they say “I love you” before rolling over, they hold each other in their sleep. In fact, because an affair boosts a man’s self esteem so much, many have reported returning home from their rendez-vous with invigorated, excited, and ready to make LOVE to their wife. Therein lies another main difference….he fucks the mistress, he makes love to his wife. It makes sense because that is what each relationship is based on – casual meaningless sex vs sex for love.

Now that isn’t the case in ALL extra-marital relationships. Some marital relationships may very well be on the rocks, and a man MAY turn to a mistress to satisfy the sexual needs that aren’t being met at home. But, this isn’t ALWAYS the case, and certainly wasn’t the case for us. We are very much “in love”, exchange kisses each morning before we part ways for work, affectionately greet each other when we return at the end of the day, find reasons to tell each other that we love one another, exchange playful sexual advances like we did when we were dating. But, I would wager a bet that his mistress wouldn’t believe it if he told her. In fact, he DID tell her, and she didn’t believe it. She accused him of being delusional, and then painted her own story that matched what she wanted to believe.

My husband made every attempt to paint a very clear picture for her about what this was for him. “This is only about sex for me”, he’d said. I was shocked to hear him say that because this isn’t something that I ever would have imagined him saying. My husband is one of the most emotionally sensitive men that I know, and he very much equates love and sex….when it is between US. “I love my wife”, “I love my children”, “I love and want my family”, “I don’t love you”. All of these comments were met with resistance. Resistance to believe that it could be true, when all of the signs she was seeing were pointing to the opposite. I can’t blame her for thinking that – she is a woman and we equate sex with love…and that belief gets both the mistress and the affair partner into trouble inside their own minds when evaluating the affair and what it really meant.

In Shirley Glass’ book, “Not just friends”, she writes: “A distraught wife said to her husband, “How could you do this to me? You always looked down on those men who had affairs and broke up their family.” The husband replied…”I was always committed to you. I never once intended to leave you.” She was enraged. “What do you mean you were committed? How could you be committed when you had sex with another woman?”. He answered, “It never meant anything” (Emphasis added)

6. If a married man is having sex with his mistress, he must love her. If he isn’t having sex with his wife, he must not love his wife. He has chosen the mistress over the wife.

If I have learned any ONE great truth out of this whole year of discovery, it is that the differences between men and women are staggering. We are so vastly different, and the ways in which we see and evaluate relationships is remarkably different. We can’t evaluate a relationship with a man through OUR eyes, because our eyes are female. The opposite is true for men. We simply aren’t hard-wired to understand it from their perspective. Sometimes it takes a crisis to propel you to a place where you are forced to look at it, examine it, and understand it, and for that I am thankful to have had that opportunity – it has been life-changing.

When I first learned that my husband had had an affair, my initial thought was “he doesn’t love me anymore”. For women, sex and love go hand in hand. Women want to feel love in order to have sex (prostitutes and manipulative mistresses are the exception…but even then, deep inside they long for a loving connection too). If we feel love, we will have sex, so if a man has sex with us, it means he loves us – right? Wrong. Men have sex for sex. It has nothing to do with love or emotion. Men have the ability to compartmentalize sex into its own category, and love and emotion are not required. A man can have sex with you without feeling an ounce of love. A man feels no guilt about engaging in loveless sex because the two are mutually exclusive. This is why he can have sex with the mistress and still LOVE HIS WIFE.

Once I learned and understood that he was capable of separating the two, it became much easier to understand his perspective and regain the faith that he may still love me. There was a chance for us after all.

7. The mistress must be more attractive/smarter/more fit/more beautiful than the wife.

This is rarely the case. In all of the reading that I have done, rarely is the mistress more beautiful than the wife. Sometimes she is younger, but usually not prettier. Because women fret about their appearance, and because we know men are visual creatures, our first fear is “he found someone prettier than me”. This is rarely ever the case.

When my husband first made mention of this woman at work who was now working closely with him, my first comment was “oh a blonde woman working with my husband, should I be worried?”, said with a smile. He replied with: “Oh goodness no, absolutely not, she isn’t even slightly attractive to me”. Now, of course you are thinking “well he told you that at the time because he was DECEIVING you”, and I would agree, except that he still says it now. When we talk about what led him to being with her sexually, he is stunned that he ever strayed towards her. He doesn’t find her physically attractive or sexually attractive, he has no memory of what she looked like naked except for the fact that she had breast enlargement surgery and corrective surgery for inverted nipples. He remembers these things because he found them odd, and yes, my husband prefers natural breasts thank you. The sex was “nothing special”, “not very good”, and he doesn’t remember any details about the actual sexual interactions they had together.

According to Shirley Glass, in her book “Not Just Friends”, she states that “outside observers will speculate unfairly and ignorantly that the betrayed wife must have been inadequate in the bedroom.

8. Once a cheater, always a cheater

This is one where there is no absolute answer. Heck, there isn’t an absolute answer to ANYTHING, but this one is truly variable. Because men cheat for various reasons, the things that keep them cheating or not also vary. If a man is incapable of fidelity, and has an inability to commit, then yes, he will likely re-offend. When the infidelity is the result of a deeply seeded problem within him, it will take time and commitment to reversing it. If it was an unfortunate set of circumstances that led him to make choices he normally would never make, or if he was in some way coerced or assisted by the affair partner into starting a relationship, that’s different.

When a man makes a pledge towards honesty, confesses the affair, and lays all of his cards on the table for scrutiny and examination, he has taken the first step towards earning back your trust. Instead of more lies and covering up, he has chosen to tell you, and that is a good start. When he chooses to enter therapy in order to better understand himself, you, your relationship and why the relationship was vulnerable to an affair, he is showing an interest in identifying and fighting the demons that led him down the affair path. When he listens, when he cries with you, when he takes responsibility for what he has caused and feels true remorse, and when he puts himself into your shoes to feel what you are feeling, and to grasp the intensity of the pain that he has caused, you can now say that he truly GETS IT. I would venture to guess that someone who knows the pain of infidelity from the other side, and who respects and loves the person to whom he is married, will not want to hurt her that way again…especially if he wasn’t aware, at the time, of the impact his actions were having.

Men can cheat once and never again. Some men are serial cheaters. Not all men.

9. Men initiate almost all affairs

Obviously in cases where the wife is the cheater, this doesn’t apply. This response will be directed to married men having affairs. I think it can be true that men will seek out an affair, but I don’t believe that a man wakes up one morning, and says “Today, I am going to seek out a woman whom I can engage in an extramarital affair”. It isn’t as much a CHOICE as it is a CIRCUMSTANCE they find themselves in. Men who find themselves in affairs, sometimes do, not because they were actively seeking it out, but rather a set of circumstances presented themselves in such a way, at such a time when a man was vulnerable to an affair.

In our case, my husband did not seek out his affair. He was ‘befriended’ by a woman at work, who soon became privy to the emotional turmoil he was going through. Casting herself as his “friend”, and as his “ativan”, she justified her overly-caring behaviour as part of her ‘loving, caring, compassionate nature’. Looking back at it now, my husband sees her approaches disguised as ‘friendly banter’ through a more informed lens, and feels conned. Interesting when the betrrayer also feels betrayed.

My husband’s mistress set her sights on him early, and he was a target. We are convinced that if it hadn’t been him, it would be some other high-earning professional in his office. She set her sights on him, knew what she wanted, and made it happen. She knew men love sex, so she outwardly professed to “never getting enough to be satisifed”, and how she would have sex “8-10 times a day if possible”. She catered to his male side, and painted herself as “every man’s dream”; sexually available, sexually interested, and no strings attached. Unless you define a purposeful pregnancy which resulted in a baby, an attempted collapse of your family, manipulative threats toward your family and professional mobility, and a monthly child-support payment “no strings”, you’re right on. Women who see what they want and go after it are very easily capable of igniting an affair with a man, as long he is in the right place from a ‘vunerability’ standpoint.

10. Infidelity means the end of a marriage.

I, and countless other women are proof that this is not the case. Don’t get me wrong, this is the hardest road I have ever traveled, and I’ve logged many miles soaked in tears, but I will survive this, and our marriage will be better because we’ve been through it. A compassionate and understanding husband who takes responsibility for his actions, open and honest communication, marital therapy to assist couples in communicating effectively and filling the potholes which made their marriage vulnerable – all of these things assist a couple in rebuilding the trust and intimacy of their marriage. I am sure at one point, or maybe even at many points, I considered our marriage to be “over”, unsalvageable, irreparable. With time I am starting to see that this affair, his infidelity and this crisis may simply be a catalyst for a new beginning.

“I never stopped loving you”


This post comes on the heels of an earlier post, where I discussed how a husband can have an affair, and claim to still love his spouse.  It’s crazy making, right?

As I mentioned in the above-linked post, this was something my husband used to say to me all the time when I was hurting.  He knew I felt unloved in his actions, so he reassured me that he had never stopped loving me during his affair.  It made me sick to my stomach, and almost hurt more.  Was this his twisted idea of what LOVE is?  Is showing love to me going out and creating false email addresses designed to sneak around behind my back?  That isn’t love to me.  Is showing me love going out and finding pleasure in the arms of another woman?  That isn’t love to me.  Is showing ME love, buying a hotel room in order to penetrate another woman, while I struggle at home to get the kids home from piano lessons, get dinner made, homework checked and kids washed and ready for bed?  That isn’t love to me.  But for him, it meant something different.  It meant that he had merely compartmentalized her, and kept her and their relationship in a separate box from the one in which the rest of his life resided.  He was able to open that box and visit it, and then when he was done, he could close the lid, and open his usual box.  They were never open at the same time, so when he was in one box, the other was out of mind.  Although, I would wager a guess that while I may not have come to mind while he was with her, she certainly came to mind when he was with me, and that is because she posed  continuous threat on our relationship, something I could never have done to them, as I was in the dark, kept in a box, with the lid on tight.

Nothing would infuriate me more than my husband saying the words “But I never stopped loving you”.  It was like a kick to the midsection.  Left me breathless and confused.

One day, as we drove back from therapy, on the way to picking up our children, he said it again.  I screamed at him in the car, trying to help him understand that those words are empty and hurtful, not helpful as he had hoped they would be.  He wanted me to say “Oh!  I understand you did this, but you still LOVED me throughout, so I should actually be happier about this than I am!”  That wasn’t my reaction.

At the end of my rope, as we drove, I tried to help him see it from my perspective.  I had to find a way for him to see my position on this.  Seeing my position meant standing in my shoes, and since I hadn’t cheated on him, I had to take him on a mental journey through part of my experience.

Now, he was driving at the time, otherwise I would have asked him to close his eyes.  Instead, I asked him to vividly picture the words I was going to convey. It needs to be said that in my line of work, I work alone.  I do not have employees or colleagues, and I work for myself.  And so I began:

“There is a man I work with.  He is tall, muscular, athletic and fit.  He makes me laugh, and has a great sense of humour.  He and I have been working together for about 6 months, just he and I, in my small office space.  He and I, spending so much time together lately, have been sharing more and more details of our lives with one another.  I have learned about his family.  I have learned about his likes and dislikes, and he has learned about mine.   Our friendship has grown stronger over the past few months, and we have taken to grabbing lunch together on most days, instead of splitting up and resuming work at the end of our lunch.  He has opened up to me a great deal, and shared some very personal details of his life.  I too have shared details about mine.  I think he appreciates the reciprocation, and it helps us as colleagues to open up to one another, as it makes us better work partners, not just strangers who have to be there, but want to.  A few weeks ago, while we were having lunch, his hand brushed mine, and I didn’t pull it away.  He turned to me, to gauge my response, and we looked at each other and knew.  The attraction that had been building between us over the past months was unavoidable.  As he looked into my eyes, we both felt it.  Moments later, I felt our lips touch, and we were kissing.  It was the passionate first kiss that everyone remembers.  My head was spinning with the excitement, as it had been years since I’d had that experience…” I looked over at my husband as he drove, and his brow was furrowed in either intense concentration on the words, or he was angry at being put through the exercise, or the content was bothersome.  I couldn’t tell, so I continued.  “Before long, I found myself wishing we were somewhere more private, where I could fully and completely express myself and my affection for him.  I asked him if he wanted to get a hotel, and he agreed.  We agreed to meet there, and take separate cars so that we were less obvious, in case we ran into someone we knew, and I needed to be available at 3:30 to pick up the kids from school.  I wouldn’t have had time to return him to his car back at work, and vice versa.  I fantasized throughout the entire drive about what was about to happen.  Would he find me attractive naked?  What did he look like naked?  Is he a good lover?  ‘Of course, he must be’, I thought, considering his sexual energy.  The traffic could not move fast enough to satisfy my hunger, and soon I had parked the car, and was running into the lobby.  He was already at the desk, making the arrangements.  He had obviously driven faster than me.  He must have been as excited as I was.  We hurried through the check-in process, giving fake names, and a credit card number.  As soon as the plastic key card entered his hand, his eyes met mine and he smiled.  This was really going to happen.  We rushed for the first available elevator. Truthfully, I would have taken the stairs to the 21st floor, it didn’t matter, but thankfully, it only took seconds for the elevator car to open.  Speed walking through the hallway, he held my hand tightly.  His hand was sweating, and I could feel his rushing pulse.  It matched mine.  We fumbled clumsily with the key card in the lock, and finally the door opened.  We crossed the threshold and the door slammed shut behind us.  The next moments are a blur as we peeled off one another’s clothes with an excitement that I had long since forgotten.  Revealing his body to me, and mine to him, we became ever more excited, and he kissed me.  Before I knew it, we were on the bed, his gentle caresses on my neck.  What followed was the most amazing and extraordinary sexual experience I’d ever had…”  I looked over at my husband driving, and his knuckles were white on the steering wheel, his jaw clenched, and I continued. “He gave me the most intense and body-consuming orgasms I’d ever had, over and over again, until we both fell onto the bed together, in a breathless and sweaty pile, our hearts racing, and our bodies satisfied.”

“So, tell me”, I asked of my husband while he drove, “where exactly in that situation was I loving you?”.  My husband’s eyes filled with tears, and he finally understood.  “I wasn’t”, was his reply.  “I was never loving you or showing you love in those moments, if I was doing something so selfish with someone else like that.  I wasn’t loving you at all”.

My husband got it.  He never again told me “I never stopped loving you”, because he realized that while he may have never stopped FEELING love for me, for those moments that he was deceiving me, he wasn’t LIVING his love for me.  For the first time in our recovery, my husband stood in my place, and felt the horror of what I was feeling.  Knowing that the pain and anguish he was feeling as a result of a made-up imaginary exercise had caused him such hurt, he knew that mine must be so much greater, and at that moment, he felt what it felt like to stand in my shoes, and the ugly view I had from where I stood.  From that moment, he invested himself in SHOWING me he loved me, and it has made all the difference.

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How could he do this to me, and claim to love me?


Often times,  I hear betrayed spouses say “How could my spouse have done this to me?”, and “S/he must have known this would devastate me, how could s/he do this on purpose?”, or ” S/he says s/he never stopped loving me, despite having had an affair.  How do you love someone and simultaneously hurt them so deeply?  How is that loving??”

Those statements are familiar, not only because I have heard them time and time again from wounded spouses, betrayed by their partners, but also because I too have asked EACH ONE OF THOSE QUESTIONS at one time or another.

The pain of infidelity brought on by a spouse’s affair has been described as one of the worst emotional traumas that a person can experience.  If you just caught yourself debating that statement in your mind, and posing death as a more painful trauma, you’d be close, but wrong.  In death, those left behind, except in the case of suicide, know that the person who left them did not do so on purpose.  In an affair, the person who suffers the loss is caused to suffer due to the purposeful actions of another, worse still by the person who vowed to protect their hearts forever.  It is a truly indescribable loss and betrayal that you simply can’t fathom or appreciate unless it happens to you.  When someone causes you to suffer such pain on purpose, and with intent, the damage is really immense.

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Of course, upon discovery of the affair, the first thing we wrestle with is the dissonance that arises when we consider that this pain was caused intentionally through the purposeful behaviour of someone we love, and who purports to love us.  “How can someone love me, and do something so ugly to me?”.   The simple fact is, affairs are completely selfish acts, where the person embroiled in the affair is NOT thinking of you, the pain their actions will cause you, the consequences of their actions, or whether they should reconsider in light of your feelings.  They are motivated completely selfishly by the benefits that the affair brings THEM.  For the time being, the world is revolving around them, and for a brief time, you do not exist.  Hurtful to think, but completely true based on the many reports from wayward spouses who report their experience. Affairs satisfy an emotional gap left open by vulnerabilities in the wayward spouse’s world.  Passed up for a promotion, the loss of a parent, a recent move, addition of a new baby into the home, these experienced, not dealt with and perhaps even minimized in the mind of the wayward spouse, grow and are soon tenderly placated and soothed by the adoring and admiring words of another, who reflects back to him/her the reflection of themselves they wish to project.  The affair partner, then, becomes a mirror to the wayward spouse, reflecting back only those positive qualities in themselves, and none of the stressors and reality that come with real life.  It is a fantasy and it feels really good.  It feels so good in fact, the wayward spouse starts to seek it out, the thrill like a drug, the  fringe benefits well worth the effort to cover it up and hide it.  Who the affair partner is, what s/he looks like, how they perform in bed, what they say and do don’t really matter – it’s how those things made your partner FEEL that made the difference, and I can guarantee that while they were deep in the throes of self-esteem-seeking, they were not thinking about you, your pain, the possible outcome.  They were selfishly only thinking of themselves.  It is akin to a drug addict, who just needs a hit – the tunnel vision showing them only the drug, the finish line, the goal.  Everything else falls outside the line of focus, at least for now.  So, when a spouse says, “I wasn’t trying to hurt you”, s/he probably wasn’t.  What s/he WAS trying to do was unhurt themselves, and you were collateral damage.

One of the things that used to drive me INSANE in the wake of my husband’s affair was that he used to say “I never stopped loving you”.  Knowing that my husband had been intimate with another woman made me feel as unloved as a human could possibly feel.  I had no value, no worth.  I wasn’t worth loving if he chose to do that to me.  I was unworthy.  Claiming that he never stopped loving me felt like a slap in the face each time he said it.  He’d say it with a expectant tone, as if I would hear it and magically understand that he was right, and I shouldn’t hurt over it.  PARDON ME???!!  How do you claim to love someone so deeply while thrusting your penis into another woman?  How do you love me while creating false email addresses to hide your tracks and telling the other woman that you love her?  “How is that loving me?”, I’d thought.  He would explain it as “compartmentalization”….that he had an ability to put me and our family out of his mind completely when he was with the other woman.   When he’d start to feel guilty, he would justify why he deserved this, why it was OK, and even why he thought I would be ok with it (yes, he rationalized that one).  He wasn’t thinking of me while he was with her. He had his phone turned off, and he was disconnected from us.  It was weird to consider that notion, because part of me wanted him to be thinking of me, and the other part didn’t.  If he was thinking of me, then I held at least an equal share of the OW’s power, I’d think.  However, if he was thinking of me, it also meant he was doing this to me with willful knowledge of me, consciously.  It was a lose-lose, and I hated it.  It was only once I had the opportunity to sit and talk with Brian Bercht of Passionate Life Seminars, and his description of what was going through his mind, that I realized that it was possible and that my husband “may” be accurately describing his experience, and not lying about it.  That was a big step forward for me.

It is hard to imagine, but our husbands don’t think of us during every moment of every day. I like to think that he does, and often play the playful “Did you think about me today?” game when we finally connect after work over the phone or in person.  Of course, then I want to know how often, what he thought…he just can’t report that because he doesn’t remember and just doesn’t think of me as often as I would like to think that he does.  He certainly wasn’t thinking of me when he was seeking her out, and if I popped to mind, I was rationalized away pretty fast.  It is amazing what the mind can do, and what you can allow yourself to do, and focus on, at the expense of all else.

We would like to think the pain the affair would cause US would have been a deterrent to the affair.  It simply isn’t.  The pull towards filling whatever that gap is, is so strong, that it trumps all things.  It is pure selfishness, unbridled.  They seek only to satisfy themselves, without thought or consideration of other people.   It’s the same reason why knowing that sex can lead to STD’s and unwanted pregnancy doesn’t stop horny teenagers from engaging in unprotected sex – the urge to fulfill their own immediate need blinds them, and their tunnel vision shows only the reward, not the sacrifices along the path.  It is the same situation that arises when one, addicted to food and what the food represents for them, gorges themselves with it, knowing full well that it is making them sick.  They do it anyway, because for the time being, it feels good.  The guilt will come later, but it will be rationalized away…”that’s the LAST time…”, or “I just needed it this one time because…”

Nothing set me off more than when my husband would say to me “I never stopped loving you”.  It was such a slap in the face, in the aftermath of the affair.  How dare he put a tender word like “LOVE” into his affair?  How dare he equate loving me with betraying me?!!?  It made no sense and would anger me incessantly.  He just didn’t understand why I would become so enraged when he’d say that.  He really believed it to be true and was trying to make me feel better.  So why wasn’t it working?  My next post will highlight how I showed him through a simple exercise why, and why he never said those words to me again.  Loving me was no longer part of that equation, and showing me how he loved me from that day forward was going to make the difference.

Stay tuned.

Rebuilding Trust after an Affair: A guide for the Wayward Spouse


Trust is nothing more than ‘proven behavior over time’.  When an affair devastates a marriage, trust is completely broken.  How do you go about restoring trust in the aftermath of one of the greatest devastations a person can inflict?

First and foremost, if you are going to confess an affair to your spouse, you might as well tell him/her the ENTIRE truth.  I told my husband in the wake of the discovery of his affair that I wanted all of the information on the table.  I wanted to know who, when, where, how often, what, and most of all, WHY.  That last one was the one that took the longest time to unravel, and truth be told, it isn’t often one that the wayward spouse even knows the answer to….until they do the work involved in uncovering what made them seek a relationship outside of their marriage, and that takes time, introspection, and therapy.

The most important thing for me, in the initial days, was the reassurance that I wasn’t going to be knocked off of my feet again.  I lost all footing when he confessed his affair.  I hated the feeling of helplessness that brought, and I reasoned that I would rather know the truth, no matter how devastating, in one fell swoop than receive the truth in small doses, each time being knocked to the floor.  I reasoned I was already on the floor, you might as well throw it all at me, because once I get up, I don’t want to be knocked over again.  So, you may as well give your spouse what they need to know, if you are even going to admit to your wrongdoings.  There is no point in half-way.   Either you tell them, or you don’t.  Obviously, it is better if you do, but my point is simply that trickle-truth (truth that trickles in slowly, one drip at a time) only results in a reduction of trust when you slowly confess to things you earlier denied.  Laying your cards on the table face up, and doing so early will win you major points.

A betrayed spouse is going to have tons of questions.  How many questions s/he has depends on the person.  Some people crave to know every last detail, while others are satisfied with less.  I, for one, wanted ALL of the details.  I didn’t like knowing that my husband had a little window of life that I didn’t have access to, or know about, and I wanted as much information and knowledge of his affair as he had….as she had.  Whether you ask for the gory details earlier in the process or later, remember that you are responsible for the information that you receive.  Do not ask a question that you are not prepared to hear an answer for.  If you can imagine hearing the worst case scenario and you feel incapable of handling that truth, perhaps it is best to wait on that particular question, but table it for another time.  Answering all of the questions that a betrayed spouse has shows honesty and a commitment to the process of healing. Showing patience for his/her constant re-hashing of details, and perhaps even asking the same question again and again is necessary.  We repeat the questions because our brains are trying to synthesize all of the information.  Repetition allows the information to penetrate to an area where we can then understand and deal with its content.  Just like children, it helps us learn to repeat.  It also helps us to test answers against prior responses to gauge truthfulness, but it isn’t USUALLY done on purpose as a test…that is just a side bonus 🙂

Owning your mistake, amidst such shame is not an easy task.  I don’t think I would have the ability to do it.  I am not strong enough of character to manage that, I don’t think.  Having your mistake brought up again and again is hurtful to the one who has betrayed.  Not only because the wayward spouse needs to re-examine his/her flaws under a microscope again and again, but because s/he needs to see his/her spouse struggling with the information, hurting, and trying to piece themselves back together again.  You cannot rush a healing process. It is a process…and it isn’t a straight line.  In fact, some days you won’t remember the last time you took a step forward as it seems each time you do, you take three backwards.  It is frustrating, but stick with it.  Invite the betrayed spouse to ask questions, and be patient with him/her.  For me, asking a lot of questions made me feel needy and burdensome.  I worried that if I asked too many questions, my husband would find me unappealing, and leave me.  Of course, that was when I still believed that the reason he’d had the affair was because I was unappealing in some way and that it had something to do with me. It wasn’t until much later that I learned (through repetition and re-exposure to the idea) that it had NOTHING to do with me.  Be patient.

Actions speak louder than words.  Show your spouse that you are committed to their healing.  Attend marital counselling and DO THE HOMEWORK.  Attend individual counselling also.  Give your spouse password access to your phone, your emails, your text messages and your voicemails.  Give your spouse complete access to check these as they need.  You need to be an open book now, at least for a while.  Don’t be surprised or angry when you feel s/he has looked through your personal communications.  After all, it was your actions that landed you here in the first place, and you haven’t been a stellar example of honesty.  Regain trust by removing all doubts by providing complete and unrestricted access.  Tell your spouse when you will be late, and provide your whereabouts.  Take pictures to prove your plans, if needed.  Your spouse is going to be on hyper alert for a while.  Offer these things before they are requested, it goes a long way towards showing you can be trustworthy.

What you say and what you do are two different things. They should both be the same, but one weighs more than the other.  Words are simply words.  Actions speak. In fact showing us through behaviour will carry more weight than telling us the same thing ten times.  Maybe more.

That brings me to the reason I made this post in the first place.  While standing in the Chinese Theatre in Epcot Centre at Walt Disney World a while back, I came upon this plaque on the wall:

 

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