This weekend I wrapped up reading I Love You But I Don’t Trust You (I can’t recommend this book enough). My thoughts swirled as I went through the ways that Husband #2 betrayed me, and I him. I’m going to flesh those two areas out over the next couple of days because it’s very profound and helped me to see what really happened to the two of us.
To start with his side, I just couldn’t figure out why he didn’t trust me. I never cheated on him, unlike his two previous wives. I never bad-mouthed him to my friends or talked about him behind his back. I made it a point to speak up when there was a problem (yes, I realize that I could have approached him differently). But from where I sat, there was never a major betrayal. I was his supporter, his partner, and his friend.
From my vantage point…
But there lies an inherent betrayal. When you get involved with someone, you are the unintentional target of every betrayal they have experienced in their past. Guilty by proxy. I thought the two of us thought alike because we were similar in our backgrounds: we both had spouses who cheated. But what we wanted from each other to calm thoughts of mistrust was vastly different.
So when I started my new job and made friends in a somewhat male dominated field, he wasn’t happy.
Way back in 2002, I started at a new company and was assigned to a special project team. There were only two women on the team at the time and the other one was located in an office 6 hours away. The majority of the meetings and discussions fell on my shoulders as the on-site person. When it comes to work, I’m happy to help others and, in return, coworkers help me. You know the saying about giving someone the shirt off of your back? That’s how I am at work. And because of it, I have a lot of goodwill built up with the team. They would do things for me because I would do things for them.
Step back even farther and you’ll see a young Deja growing up surrounding herself with the guys, doing guy things, and just being more comfortable with the uncomplicated company of the boys.
Back to the new job… It was not lost on Husband #2 that I was mostly working with men. I’d come home, tell him funny stories about work and mention “Jim this” and “Mike that”. To me, it was nothing. To my husband who lost wives to other men, it was everything.
Husband #2 got jealous. He thought I was starting down the road to cheating. I got upset and defensive because I felt he was trying to change me into someone who shut out contact with anyone who was male. How was I supposed to do my job if I couldn’t talk to men on my team? Husband #2 got even more upset which led to fights.
A little background on Husband #2 to help understand: His first wife had an affair and threw him out of the house. Two decades later, Husband #2 had an emotional affair with a coworker. His second wife found out about it and proceeded to have her own affair. Shortly thereafter, that marriage ended.
I’m sure he felt that he was (reasonably) presenting his vulnerability and I was (unreasonably) beating him up…. let the fun ensue!
Looking back now, I can see where his attacking me for my general friendliness was his way of saying, “I’m scared that you’ll hurt me the same way my last two wives did.” His jealousy was caused by very real situations from his past and he did not want to go down that road again. My telling him to “just trust me. I love you.” wasn’t doing the trick. I knew I wouldn’t cheat on him ever. It’s not in my DNA. But my vow wasn’t what he needed to hear. Thinking that we wanted the same thing was causing a problem.
From my side, his fears were irrational and I (wrongly) treated them as such. Is it any wonder he doesn’t trust me?
I know I can’t go backwards but I’ve figured out what to do going forward if this ever happens again with another relationship. The next time I’m presented with someone else’s fears I’m going to view them as an opportunity for bonding.
I’m not going to lie to you, I may be thinking the person appears completely bonkers and I may get defensive when they accuse me of being something that I’m not. But now I’m older and wiser. And New Deja can let go of the defensiveness and get to understanding and acceptance – which is something we all want deep down inside. It won’t cost me anything to change stance and say, “I understand what you’re saying and I understand why.”
Then, once we’re open with each other, we can work out ways that I can reassure the other person and show them that I’m not the same as relationships they’ve had in the past. Slowly, that other person can see that I don’t deserve to get punished for the sins of others.
Ah, maturity! Why can’t we learn this stuff when we’re 20?
Tomorrow I’ll spill about how my past hurts led to Husband #2’s epic relationship fail.