I guess my battle cry for women going through divorce and separation is to stop the name calling and hate towards the “other woman” and turn that energy into why your marriage failed.
When I separated from my now ex-husband I remember a very good friend of mine telling me to be prepared and that people feel the need to take sides. And my good friend was right, people did seem to take sides. At that time, I was in too much turmoil and financial instability to think much about why people, who were on the outside of our relationship, would freely judge me and decide who was “right” in the marriage and during the separation.
I felt like a failure. I felt like I failed my husband and my children. I had an affair in the last two years of my marriage. Long before I had the affair I had an unstable and unloving relationship with my husband; a person I had tried to love for 17 years to no avail.
As I write this, I can just imagine women saying, “Just leave the marriage! Why even cheat? If you are that unhappy, get out!”
As a stronger person now I would say right back at them, “Why did you not leave your marriage? Why did you stay with someone who was abusive or lazy or cheated on you?” We both probably stayed for the same reasons; our children and trying to hold onto a sense of family for our children.
Only in this past year have I even told others that I had an affair. Mainly because I remember when I first separated and I was looking for some support and advice and could find nothing. There was no article, no website, no anything that talked about someone like me; a good mother, an educated person, caring and compassionate who cheated on her husband. There was plenty written about men who cheat and abandon their families but nothing about a mother who cheated and was trying hard to keep her family happy and together after she left the husband.
Since joining an online divorce support group I feel the need to discuss infidelity from my viewpoint. I guess I find myself a little incredulous that so many women either divorced or in the process of divorce are brimming with anger towards the “other woman”. I am not saying they are not just as pissed off at their soon to be ex-husbands but there is vile hate towards the other woman.
Maybe it is easier to hate on the woman than to really look at the reasons why the marriage went off into the ditch in the first place. Unless the other spouse is an alcoholic, drug dependent, an abuser, etc., most marriages fail because of the actions, or lack of actions, of both people.
Insert cries of: “Well then just divorce them! Don’t go have an affair!” In a perfect world comes perfect decisions. In my imperfect world of depression, chronic illness, and death of my mother on top of a dysfunctional, loveless, and crappy marriage comes imperfect decisions like adultery. “Well, that is all an excuse. There is NEVER an excuse for an affair!” Some of the woman in my divorce group type over and over again. “No,” I tell people, “these are not excuses but rather explanations of why it happened. Loneliness, depression, anxiety, a spouse telling you that everything wrong under the sun is your fault all take a huge emotional toll on a person,”
Does it matter what the reasons are behind someone having an affair? I think it does. If the cheater and the one cheated on do not give a hard look at those reasons then the healing can not start and the next relationship is doomed before it begins.
I guess my battle cry for women going through divorce and separation is to stop the name calling and hate towards the “other woman” and turn that energy into why your marriage failed. I know my marriage essentially failed because my husband gave up a long time before I had the affair. He gave up on sex, he gave up on talking to me, he gave up helping to maintain our household, and he gave up on being a father and it left me as a lonely, overwhelmed, and depressed person. Enter another guy who thinks I am pretty and interesting- and wham! My judgment went out the window that was left open by my ex years earlier.
If I had better self-esteem, stronger self-image, healthier thoughts I would not have cheated. That is my goal today; to never get that low again, to never de-value myself like that again, to never accept less than what I need and deserve in a partner.
An affair is very painful for everyone. I think that the road to healing is better paved with introspection than outward hate, but that is just my opinion.