In my last post I wrote about Betsy, Green’s aunt (through marriage) who is going through a divorce due to her husband’s infidelities. Unlike a lot of other cheating husbands, Eddie, Green’s oldest uncle is a cold hearted jerk. He is unrepentant, is arrogant, has a million excuses about why he chose to cheat on his wife instead of dealing with his issues.
What I am struggling with is how do I respond to it. As someone who has ‘been there and done that’ should I reach out to Betsy, let her know that I understand what she is going through? Or should I shut the hell up? I am surely no expert on healing after infidelity but I do empathize with her. Being a betrayed spouse is an awfully lonely place to be.
Honestly, she and I aren’t very close although she is my favorite of Green’s aunt’s because she is very nice, super friendly and just generally a good person. (Seems like all us betrayed wives are, huh?!) Truly though, in a lot of ways Betsy and I are lot alike. Daughters of Latino immigrants, bucking the Catholic tradition of marrying young and having loads of children instead we went to college and were in many case the first in our families to emerge as driven professional women. Finally I guess we were greedy… we wanted it all – a good career, a loving husband, great kids….. And then, whoops, in come comes infidelity!
Seriously though… this family of Green’s is messed up. His dad cheated on his mom. This same dad was an absentee dad. All of the men and women in Green’s fathers side of the family had marriages end in infidelity. Even his Grandparents. Yikes. Before our own dealing with infidelity it was something that bothered Green. He of course would turn out to be a hypocrite. I told Green, once, in the midst of a fight before we had reconciled that he was just like his dad – a liar, a cheat, and dead beat dad who abandoned his kids for some good times. I know that comment hit him hard when I said it. I don’t regret it. Green needed to hear that said out loud.
So… back to Betsy. Sorry about that… triggers and all.
I just wonder if I should reach out to her. My situation is a bit different from hers. My kids are little. Her kids are grown. Green and I are trying to reconcile and move forward. Eddie seems intent on moving on in the divorce to be free to be with his girlfriends. Betsy doesn’t seem interested in reconciling and seems OK with that as a resolution. Well at least she seems like she is keeping it together.
Besty has most of the ‘family’ support… well except for Granny Imelda, her mother in law and Eddies mother, who is sticking by her cheating son. She even banished Tamara from the family Thanksgiving next week because Tamara wouldn’t exclude Betsy from the wedding activities. None of Betsy’s and Eddie’s kids are invited over to her Christmas dinner because they stopped speaking to their father when he stopped speaking to them for taking their mothers side in the divorce (Jerk face won’t move out of the house because he wants her to sell… she refuses.) Jeez, there is nothing the evilness of the mothers of cheating sons! Drives me nuts! We are not attending either function in solidarity with her and her children… Green’s cousins.
I just remember that a little bit ago, over onRescuingmymarriage.com, the writer (I don’t know her name) speaks about Lifting the veil of taboo on the subject of infidelity. I agreed with a lot what she wrote.
I am proud of my marriage surviving infidelity.
Yes, we’re not fully healed but we’re not dead either.
Like a cancer the disease knocked us down… but I for one got back up.
However, no one wants to hear that success story in public. To greater society surviving and overcoming infidelity is not something we promote. Why not?
I feel sometimes, when I hear people discuss infidelity, that they discuss it in black and white.
- A marriage/relations either ends or it doesn’t.
- If the marriage/relationship ends the cheater is snickered at and the betrayed is seen sympathetic, but yes, they are a victim.
The characters involved are often always very shallow.
- The cheater is a scumbag.
- The betrayed is sympathetic but 1) he/she must have not satisfied the cheater in bed, 2) the betrayed must have been either a wimp or a shrew and/or 3) they were never REALLY happy because “infidelity doesn’t happen in good marriages.”
Those who have never had to endure infidelity sure have it easy. I know I used to look at it through the same black and white lens. Marriage is unfortunately not a land of unicorns and rainbows… it’s hard.
That being said, I don’t want to reach out to Betsy and say, “Hey suck it up… I did! This can be fixed!” Because clearly in her situation it cannot. I do want to be supportive, however. I want her to know that she is not alone and that I don’t see her as a victim, I don’t see her as anything but as an amazing person who happened to have lost the faithfulness of her husband who at one time, I believe, truly and deeply loved her. I want to validate for her that this ended marriage is not Betsy’s fault. Eddie is flawed, immature and narcissistic. Betsy made no mistake in marrying him. Her children and granddaughter are NOT mistakes. Eddie, instead, made THE mistake of not reinvesting in his marriage when he sought validation outside of it. He is further making it worse by taking out his guilt on his kids and his wife.
But then there is my risk. If I tell then I risk her hating Green. I risk her thinking I am a victim or weak. I risk that she might tell others and on that side of the family, Green’s father’s side, they don’t know that we were even separated much less on the verge of a divorce because of his infidelity! (Yeah, we hid it very well.) It was just so painful I don’t know that I could deal with again. We lost a lot of friendships over this and several relationships are damaged forever. Family, my relationship with my mother in law, is very strained because of her taking Green’s side. This risk of not talking about it… to protect myself, to protect Green… seems like such a load of crap. What am I hiding from? I did nothing wrong. Well, according to some of my trolls (and “friends”): reconciling with a cheating spouse is wrong, makes me a bad wife and makes me a bad parent.
So now what? Do I reach out to her? Do I not and just wait for her to say something… to respond if she needs help? Like I said she seems to have it together. Her career is strong and I think a good distraction for her. She is close to kids and grand daughter and they seem to have rallied to her side. But they have their own lives, too. I remember the overwhelming loneliness of the time Green and I spent separated when I did not believe we would survive his infidelity. My putting the kids to sleep. Skipping dinner because I didn’t want to feel like a loser by eating alone. The hollow feeling of an large empty house. Imagining Green being with her. My empty bed. His filled with my replacement. It’s a terrible feeling.
It’s just such a crummy situation. Infidelity shouldn’t happen to anyone but least of all, it shouldn’t happen to good people.
You’d think for those of us who survived it… we’d get a little pat on the back, right? Some reward. Some praise.
Instead of pity and shame.
- Dr. Ruth Says If You Cheated On Your Spouse, ‘Keep Your Mouth Shut’ (huffingtonpost.com)
- Cheaters Use Cognitive Tricks to Rationalize Infidelity (scientificamerican.com)