Press Enter to End It

16 Apr

blogging womanIn 2010 when I was pregnant with my youngest daughter, Dot, I belonged to message board of other moms-to-be who were to give birth in the same month and year. We shared baby images, prenatal test results, coupons for diapers sales, etc – the excitement of new babies arrival bonding us. After our baby’s were born we shared tips on colic, the ease or difficulties of our varied deliveries and then we proudly displayed our baby’s newest achievements and milestones. Sometimes we shared our fears and our frustrations with our in-laws, work situations and yes, our spouses.

When I first suspected Green’s affair I didn’t tell anyone. I pushed down the fear because frankly I didn’t want to believe it. The night before I threw Green out I was frantic, emotionally and physically spent, and a pacing nervous wreck. I had no where to turn. So I turned to this same mommy message board, I summoned the courage to actually put my feeling’s out there and to share my heartbreak with the ‘world.’ I posted about my suspicions, the cold things Green was saying to me, and I admitted my fear of the unknown, of making him choose and knowing that he might not pick me. It was scary and I nervously waited for the responses to roll in. In a few moments those fearful feelings were dashed away when I was overwhelmed with the tremendous outpouring of advice that came in. Never had a post of mine gotten so many hits or comments! Perhaps it was the train wreck imagery of a shattered marriage but EVERYONE had an opinion. And for 99.9% of the advice I received most shared the same sentiment of angry and disgusted vitriol –

blameTHROW THE BUM OUT! YOU DON’T DESERVE THAT KIND OF TREATMENT!

FORGET HIM! GET A GOOD DIVORCE ATTORNEY & GET EVERYTHING!

THINK ABOUT YOUR GIRLS. DO YOU WANT THEM TO LEARN THAT MEN CAN DISRESPECT THEM? GET A DIVORCE & STAND UP FOR YOURSELF!

I was empowered. I was now vindicated. I knew I was right in preparing to throw Green out. In reading those posts I found an identity beyond that of a victim. This was my opportunity to control what had up to know been outside of my control.   And then I came across one post, from CheriMD, solitary in her stance in defense of marriage, and it has stayed with me ever since, she wrote,

OK… I am not one of the divorce advocates. If it comes down to that so-be-it. However, if it were me its ok to cut ties with him for now. Let somebody else take the kids to him and let him visit if he wants. Let him get a good, real understanding of what it is like to be without you. Then after some time- give him the chance to see you and see what he does… thats if you still want him. Being away from him can be the best therapy for you both and it might make your marriage stronger in the end. However, you cannot appear unaffected by his cheating and lies, and you can’t just let it go because if there are no repercussions then you can’t expect any change from him. I say work on your marriage. I say try. Let him see consequences and after some time let yourself forgive and learn to trust again. I think you owe it to your kids to try to see what is really going on? But if it ends up in divorce you shouldn’t feel bad because you tried.

It always stuck me as odd that amongst three pages of posts this was the only one that defended marriage. It was the only one that advocated taking time to heal, forgive Green and see what the deeper issues were. Now I certainly don’t regret confronting Green. I don’t regret making him choose. I do wish I had done it differently. The way we ended things that night he left was so terrible with its anger, cruelty and disrespect that I still can’t think about it without tearing up. It would go on to set the stage for the rest of the next 6 months of further pain, deceit and emotional abuse from both of us.

internet loveI guess what I am wondering about is why there is such a quick rush to always advise to end a marriage that has been rocked by infidelity. Is it impossible to change a cheater? Is it impossible to find forgiveness? Is that renewal of love so hard to find? Will the trust be gone forever?

Or is this just more bad marriage advice tangled up like any other, found on the internet, an easy option to those who never lived the experience of infidelity in a marriage that seemed safe, secure and loving. Advice from people who can easily toss aside a broken man who turned to destructive behavior when he should have turned to his wife and is that the kind of advice I wanted? I don’t know. I don’t blame them. They gave me the courage to find my voice. My marriage is still recovering and I don’t know if this time next year I’ll still be married. I do know now that last year at time time I never thought Green and I would reconcile. I was consumed by this negative thinking and the pain of Green’s actions. I never thought Green would share his remorse, admit his guilt and take responsibility for doing the single most destructive thing he could possibly do to me and our family. But I never stopped loving him. And I am on this path to recovery from infidelity because of that love for him and the love for my family.

Starter Wife writer, Gigi Levangie Grazer, in her article, Wasbands and Wives: 7 Reasons to Stay Married shared an anecdote about her regret in divorcing her husband.  I’ll end with the story because it makes me pause and I offer it to other confused wives who don’t know if divorcing their unfaithful husband IS the answer for them. She writes,

In the midst of our separation, our family therapist, a cancer survivor in her 60s, who’d been practicing for many years, gave me sage advice, which I was too angry or blind to accept. “Wait until the kids are launched,” she told me. “Who knows? You may even find yourself in love again, with your husband.”

I chose not to take it. A big part of me wishes I had.

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6 Responses to “Press Enter to End It”

  1. zenpoppy April 17, 2013 at 5:28 am #

    Yes i always felt that people jump to divorce too easily. I can’t speak to when infidelity is present, since that’s a big betrayal. But in relationships without infidelity, I’ve seen a lot of divorces that needn’t have happened if they just hung in there. I feel sad when I think about the state of marriage today. It’s not some game that people can give up when the going gets tough, but so many do (again excluding the marriages with infidelity and abuse here). There are these new theories about being open, polygamorous and so on, and it’s just so ugghhh to me.

    From a child’s perspective, I will say that my parents went through some rough spots when I was a teenager, and I wondered then if they were better off apart. Now after so many years when things are stable, I’m so glad they stuck it out. It gave me a stable home ground,enabled me to feel more confident and I’m grateful they have each other as companions, it takes some pressure off me as well.

    Was your husband the one who initiated the reconciliation?

    • Flaca April 17, 2013 at 6:54 pm #

      Yes its interesting and sad. Marriage seems highly disposable to lots of people. I know my husband thought that. His parents divorced and his mom had another child without being married. Marriage wasn’t a strong institution in his environment. In my home it was the opposite. My parents are very traditional and while they too had rough patches… I have gained a huge appreciation for their willingness to stick together. Because they survived they are much healthier physically and financially than their peers who split up and divorced. They are super great grandparents.

      Our reconciliation was and is mutual process I don’t think there really was an initiation in so much as we organically came back together after some time apart. In our separation I was adamant that we try to stay civil and friendly even if he was a jerk to me. I wasn’t gonna let him make me be the evil bitter ex to validate the narrative that he used to begin his affair. Even when Green would say and do super shitty things to me I would try to stay calm and think, don’t sink down to his level. Don’t fucking let him change you. Yes I slipped up a few times but I never lied to him or purposely screwed with him. I stuck with a strategy of “killing him with kindness.” I think eventually he realized he screwed up big time, that I didn’t deserve this treatment and that his affair partner was bat-shit crazy and just very damaged person. Our home is a fixer upper and he offered to keep working on the house with me. Gardening and DIY’g projects saved our marriage, I think.

  2. TLM April 18, 2013 at 11:24 am #

    Well, I might be able to offer some insight into where people who advise “Throw his cheating ass out!” are coming from. My father was an remorseless serial cheater. More than that, he was a ninja-master at blame shifting and manipulating people. Even as a child, I found it astonishing how he could make just about anything everyone’s fault except for his own. He doesn’t have this diagnosis as far as I know, but I suspect he’s probably NPD. Anyway, after my mother found out about his first affair (because the shameless skank-nasty ho had the nerve to call my house) she chose to stay with him and try to repair the marriage. With another sort of man, maybe this would have worked. But it was a lost cause with Dad because he didn’t possess the emotional maturity, the conscience, or the capacity for empathy that is required to make counseling effective. (He still doesn’t, by the way.) Dad never could stand the thought that someone–anyone, really, except for his wife and children for some reason–might think badly of him, so when they went to marriage counseling for the first time, he told the therapist the reason they’d come to see him was because they’d fallen into a rut and needed some advice on how to get back on track. In the entire 60-minute initial consultation, he didn’t say a single word about his affair. Two more counseling sessions, and it was clear to my mom he didn’t intend to say a single word about his affair either. Counseling stopped after that because it was obviously a waste of time. They stayed together, but what followed was 12 more years of marriage to a bullying, selfish, lying, entitled narcissist. When I was a senior high school, my mom just couldn’t do it anymore and divorced him. I felt nothing but relief. Not sadness, not regret, not fear, not anything but relief. He filled the home I grew up in with so much toxicity, misery, and emotional abuse that I was glad when he was finally gone. So when I see the question “He cheated; should I leave?”, based on my life’s experience, my gut reaction is always “Yes! Get the hell out! Save yourself!” Because I have seen first-hand what it’s like to live with an unremorseful cheater. A marriage isn’t worth it if its robbing you of all your self worth.

    Now I do understand that not every cheating spouse is like my dad. I also know that if a spouse is truly remorseful and willing to do whatever it takes to fix things, a marriage can not only be salvaged, but thrive. Unfortunately, the memory of those 12 horrible years is bigger. When I think of it, I feel almost desperate to spare another person that sort of pain if I think my words could make any difference (usually they don’t, but I still feel compelled to try). So I guess my point is I don’t think it’s that people consider marriage disposable as much as an attempt to look out for a fellow betrayed. It might not be the right advice for your situation, but it’s well intended.

    I should also say, though, that based on what you’ve shared so far, your husband has already done more to demonstrate remorse, accept responsibility, and try to repair what he broke than my father ever did, so I think you have much to hope for. Wishing you only the best!

    • Flaca April 18, 2013 at 4:56 pm #

      thanks for your comments. i often think of how this will affect my girls. they are very young and as such know nothing. my oldest knows that her father left and that we contemplated divorce but doesn’t know why. all i told her was that, “daddy was being grouchy to mommy and he had to live somewhere else.” still makes me tear up thinking of that moment.

      i wonder if i am doing them a disservice by trying to save this marriage. to save my husband because that is what he says he wants now. that is tempered by the love for my girls – future wives – who might one day have to endure this betrayal. i would never want this for them.

      today my husband and i made & survived our first marriage counseling. i was surprised at how well he did. frankly he got in a lot of trouble at work for attending (they dont know the specifics) but it meant a lot to me that he finally PUT ME FIRST. and he asked the therapist for another meeting. so we’ll see.

      thanks for your comments, your perspective, as a daughter who endured this is very valuable to me. best wishes to you & your mother.

  3. betrayalsurvivor1981 May 9, 2013 at 9:36 am #

    1) “My parents are very traditional and while they too had rough patches….I have gained a huge appreciation for their willingness to stick together. Because they survived they are much healthier physically and financially than their peers who split up and divorced. They are super great grandparents.” – Flaca

    2) “i wonder if i am doing them [my children] a disservice by trying to save this marriage. to save my husband because that is what he says he wants now.” – Flaca

    Flaca,
    Your first paragraph above described my now-deceased parents to a tee! That’s the upside. The downside was that I felt like the “black sheep” of the family (no pun intended, as I’m African-American) when my xH ran off with one of his APs, leaving me pregnant with our third child, making me the first to get divorced in my immediate family. My mother, whom I loved dearly, was NOT the “warm & fuzzy type.” She didn’t make me feel any better about my circumstances when she frequently “reminded” me: “I told you not to marry that damned bastard in the first place!” Thank God, my father was not judgemental and he helped me TREMENDOUSLY to survive the entire devastating ordeal.

    As for your second statement above, Flaca, I often hear betrayed wives wonder the same thing pertaining to their children. My feeling IS and HAS ALWAYS BEEN that it takes a helluva lot more strength & tenacity to hang in there and fight to save the marriage than it is to divorce and to not even try to rebuild. (This is my belief IF—and ONLY IF—the wayward spouse is remorseful, wants to remain married to the betrayed spouse, and is willing to work with the BS to rebuild the marriage!)

    PLEASE ALLOW ME TO CLARIFY: If a spouse is physically abusive to the other spouse, the abused spouse should “get the hell out of Dodge” as fast as she can, whether she has children or not—but ESPECIALLY if she does have kids! My xH regularly used me as a punching bag. If my self-esteem hadn’t been in the toilet as it was back then, I would have had the fortitude—and the good sense—to leave HIM before he ever got around to abandoning me and our two sons & unborn daughter! Under ABSOLUTELY NO circumstances do I advocate or encourage “hanging tough” and trying to maintain a marriage when your ass is being used for batting practice!

    I’ve received much flack for my opinion over the years, because some people MISTAKENLY believe that I’m saying divorce is easy. As one who endured a horribly painful and bitter divorce myself, I KNOW FULL WELL THAT DIVORCE IS ANYTHING BUT EASY—whether infidelity is involved or not! That said, I believe that, though divorce is horrific and nightmarish (as well as VERY hard on children), “hanging tough” is TOUGH AS HELL, and is EMPOWERING for kids to witness this “toughness.” It shows children that life is NOT GOING TO BE A BED OF ROSES for them in ANY aspect of their lives—whether infidelity will be in their marital future or not; and that quitting makes it easier to quit the next time, and the next, and the next, etc. QUITTING IS CONTAGIOUS.

    Keep on “hanging tough,” Flaca. You Go Girl! 🙂

    xoxo 1981

    • Flaca May 9, 2013 at 11:36 am #

      thanks 1981, i appreciate it. i agree divorce is not easy. neither is staying. for now, i feel like staying is working for us.

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