The Miserable Death of Innocence
Written By: Mark Smith
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This week I offer you an anatomy of a marital affair. This isnít one clientís story, but a collection of stories rolled into one fictional account. If you are married or in a relationship I encourage you to read this column with an open heart and mind, knowing that this could very well be your story some day. Good people have affairs. Lonely disconnected spouses who arenít getting their needs met are at great risk.
He clung to her so desperately, like a child attached to his motherís leg. She offered acceptance, admiration and sweet waves of liquid love that washed over his soul like healing power. She listened, she hugged his heart of hearts and she wiped away his many tears. He was now willing to give up his entire life to be with her.
He was a lost soul searching for his place in the world. He dragged her around the country in his addictive quest for a sense of family, a sense of direction and some clue regarding true meaning. She worked hard and she never once questioned him. They were an efficient team.
Once the kids came their lives took different paths. He threw himself into the niche in life that he had finally thankfully discovered. She melded with babies, seemingly losing most of her self. Intimacy, energy, passion and depth were sorely missing but neither of them noticed Ė it was all about diapers, bottles, Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers and screaming children. They looked like a perfectly normal healthy happy family.
She was trained to be pragmatic, to see the world in black and white. She was keenly aware of his faults and failings. She never saw or mentioned his many wonderful strengths and gifts. He was to be put on notice, criticized, and punished. Her love was saved for a man who could only earn it with near perfection. Grace, forgiveness and gentleness were not within her. She ruthlessly punished herself and he would also have to live up to those standards.
His soul was empty but he didnít know it. He longed for touch, approval, admiration, romance, intimacy, depth, creativity, flirting and hot sex but he couldnít put that into words. He was vulnerable but he didnít know that either. He was a straight shooter who had always done everything the right way.
Then SHE walked into his life. She was movie star gorgeous and there was sexual tension between them at first glance. They slipped into the deepest most emotionally intimate relationship that he had ever experienced. The sex was incidental. It was awesome, but their affair was all about the talking, the e-mails, the urgent IMingís and the hungry phone calls. He was so starved that he lost all control. Of course it wasnít long until he got busted.
He was eventually able to scrape his new lover off his soul, but by then a great deal of damage had been done. His wifeís focus was completely set upon his wicked transgressions rather then resting upon the underlying causes of the marital distance and emptiness. She was not able to forgive. She tried to glue the marriage back together with great sex and counseling but the gapping hole between them just grew wider. In one of their last therapy sessions she said that it seemed life he was just waiting around until he met another woman.
You see this coming, I know. Of course he met HER again. This HER was different but she was exactly the same as the first. The sad, struggling little marriage held together by the tape of the kidsí needs and the glue of blind old habit was blown into a million bits. She felt as if her heart was cut from her chest and thrown away as if it were garbage. Even though this HER experience quickly turned out to be an ill-timed, complicated, painful bucking mare that threw him to the ground dazed and wounded, the damage was done. They mucked around for a while with the concept of reconciliation but they both knew that she would never allow him anywhere near her heart ever again. All the therapists in town could not put Humpty Dumpty together again. Many people can forgive, some can not. The key to forgiveness is shifting the cheated upon spouseís focus away from their role as a victim and onto their unresolved family of origin issues which contributed to the marriageís demise.
Divorce is tragic. No one ever plans for it. It is a slow and miserable death. But it is what so many of us live through. And it is certainly not the end of the world. New beginnings, new adventures, new relationships and new paths are available to be explored and built upon.
Guard your marriage my friends. It may not look like it right now, but is a treasure. You had BETTER fix it now (in therapy) if there is a dangerous amount of distance in your relationship!
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