Friday, October 26, 2007

Surviving an Affair (Article)

Why is it that the people who give the most advice oftentimes need the most help? A friend of mine is married to a psychologist. According to my friend, who we’ll call Lois for the sake of this article, her marriage of eleven years was on the brink of divorce. From the outside looking in, they appeared to have the ideal relationship. He’s successful and intelligent, and she on the other hand is beautiful, ambitious, and very smart. Together, most would consider them to be a power couple. So what was the problem? Let me start by stating that while he attended graduate school, Lois supported them financially. She postponed pursing her own educational goals for the higher good of their family. As part of the “big picture”, Lois thought that this short-term sacrifice would reap a lifetime of benefits. During the early stages of the marriage she noticed, and elected to ignore, signs of a character scarcity.

First of all, he was the result of an extramarital affair, and resented his mother for it. Unbeknownst to Lois, she was the target of all that dysfunction. The actions of his mother instilled in him to distrust women, because he thought of them as sexual objects. He criticized Lois for the way she dressed, which caused her to become self-conscious about the way she looked. Her despondency caused her to have a love affair with food, and she packed on twenty pounds in three years.

Just when she thought that things could not get any worse, she discovered that he had a pornography addiction. To add insult to injury, he blamed her lack of passion towards him for his problem. He said, “I like my woman to sizzle. I want her to be hot for me.” Becoming shut off and secretive, he refused to give Lois the passwords to his e-mail accounts and limited her access to his computer. Infidelity signs hit her like a ton of bricks, but she continued to second-guess herself. It was not until he guarded his cell phone that she admitted that he was probably cheating on her.

Suspecting that her husband was unfaithful, she sought refuge in confidential conversations with her mother-in-law about her feelings. She found comfort in knowing that she was not crazy, and that someone who loved them both validated her concerns. Since this was the second marriage for both of them, they had a vested interest in making the marriage work. Regardless of how painful it was to stay, neither one of them wanted to leave.

Still in love with her husband, Lois was devastated when she found out that her husband had been keeping in contact with an ex-girlfriend. In addition to that, while he took business trips, he frequently had the company of other women. Hurt and angry, Lois retaliated. Even though she knew it was not right, she wanted revenge. She wanted to hurt him as badly as he had hurt her. Before she realized the depths of her own betrayal, she conceived a child with another man. Her conscious would not allow her to deceive her husband any longer, so she confessed to all the sorted details of the extramarital affair.

As one would expect, he hit the roof. In fact, they separated for a while. His pride had convinced him that he could never accept the baby that his wife shared with another man. It was not until a close friend reminded him that the most significant relationship in his life was with his stepmother, the woman his father had betrayed. Working through the pain and mistrust, they faithfully attended marriage counseling, and renewed their vows. They realized that after everything was said and done, they loved each other. Sure, they encountered judgment and criticism from family and close friends, but they realized that they had a love so strong that it could withstand even the toughest, most trying test. Most people could not fathom staying in a marriage with a spouse who conceived a child with someone else.

Lois quickly admits that she works extra hard to reassure her husband that she is committed to their marriage. For example, she answers her cell phone whenever he calls, she calls if she is running late, and gives him relevant information when she goes out. She realizes that it is a lot to go through, but she feels their marriage is worth it. Open communication and accessibility are required to heal their relationship. As for him, he extends the same courtesies. They share an e-mail account, and both have access to each other’s alternate e-mails and voice mails. Lois insisted they share a cellular plan, and have one bill coming to the house. The arrangement seems to work for them. Three years has passed since their marriage was on the rocks. Their daughter is amazing. She’s absolutely beautiful, and she has doting parents. Lois and her husband established visitation rights with the biological father, and they clearly let him know that his presence is solely for the child. When he picks up or drops off the child, Lois and her husband designated a close family friend as the contact person. This helps minimize contact between them and the biological father. Any conversation between he and Lois is usually quite brief, and pertains strictly to their child.

In conclusion, real love never fails, and is unwavering. Despite the criticism and shame, Lois and her husband silenced the critics through their commitment. Having a love so strong has enabled them to have a rich and fulfilling life. Neither one of them brings up the past to cause the other pain. Maturity has taught them how to love, and how to disagree without being disagreeable. Come to find out, Lois’ husband has health problems that left him sterile. Now he considers his little girl to be his angel, because she revived the love he and Lois thought they lost.

Copywritten by Dwan Abrams

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