Waiting for Divorce Papers on our 16th Anniversary
submitted by Sandy M.
We were cleaning up our game of checkers, our daughter beaming with pride as the conqueror, as you first laid eyes on your new conquest across the dark bar.
I slipped her Strawberry Shortcake nightgown over her head, as you discreetly slipped your wedding ring into your pocket.
"Come on sweetheart, let's go brush your teeth," I coaxed, as you flashed Her your most coaxing smile.
I looked into our daughter's beautiful brown eyes- your eyes- and talked about plans for the next day, as you looked into Her eyes- brown? blue? green? and planned your night with Her.
The learning curve for partners finding out about their mate's deceptive sexual behaviors is steep indeed.
When we stop and consider all that a partner has to learn just to survive the betrayal trauma, it's rather staggering. Then, generating all of what's necessary to move from barely surviving to finally entering more ease and well-being, however long that takes, it should be enough to invoke awe in anyone privy to that partner's experience.
As I contemplated all this today after a client's session finished here,
I thought about how far this client had come and how much grace she had acquired after learning how to survive in the hostile territory that her husband's repeated betrayals and manipulations had landed her in.
I got to thinking how fortunate I was to witness her soul-deepening process.
It hasn't been even a tiny bit easy for her; partners stories never are.
In trying to shed light on the most common questions our readers and clients ask, we often find "Big Themes".
This week we will explore one such big theme, the "Why do I stay?" question which partners often ask themselves at different points along the way: right after Discovery, and if the shattered trust in the Betraying Partner is not being met with earnest efforts demonstrating remorse and repair within some time after Discovery.
Anger, hopelessness, despair, panic, rage and other "dark" emotions can hijack our nervous systems whenever we are overwhelmed. Those who have struggled with betrayal trauma know this territory all too well.
Overwhelm can come due to a new discovery about our mates' secretive sexual behaviors, it can overtake us when we witness a natural disaster such as an earthquake, widfire or hurricane or it can be due to a political system in distress or transition, as what just happened here in the United States as well as recently in Britain.
I think it's worth taking note of, that no matter which half of the country (USA) one currently feels aligned with, that still leaves roughly half the population that is angry, feels resentful, disappointed, etc. In other words, there is a lot of activation in the environment, regardless of whether your side "won" or not, or whether you participated in voting or not.
The difficult fact is, we now live in a super-charged climate that has the ability to dysregulate our emotional systems whenever we have to interact with the outside world.
So how do we do that without insisting on isolating ourselves inside our own tribe of like-minded others?
Many of us today feel that we are witnessing the true underbelly of our country's deep misogyny, racism and bigotry. Many of us believe that we are indeed living in a good ole boy's club, much as we might have fantasized that we were actually living in a progressive melting pot.
Most importantly, many of us in the past months have felt that we are witnessing toxic masculinity at it's worst, something that every reader here has been exposed to in a most personal way- in their own relationships with men who engage in narcissistic sexual pursuits outside their primary commitments. NAMING it is an essential first step towards our healing.
Many women who have come in or written to us today are in utter despair. But it's important to remember:
We as women aren't going ANYWHERE.
If anything, we will use any divisiveness we encounter, any infringement on our rights as women, any reinforcement of the worst gender stereotypes....as steels against which we will sharpen ourselves. There is much work ahead of us.
Note that the article in link below contains sexual descriptions that may be triggering. If this is an issue for you, you may want to avoid the article.
"I have had a number of divorce cases where pornography has been at the centre. The couples still want to be together, but their sex lives have been distorted and destroyed." - Dr. Ann Olivarius
For many of us counselors, coaches, pastoral care providers, psychologists, and other treatment providers who work with men and women in relationships broken by chronic infidelity, our work requires us to learn how to help our clients navigate through the litter field of infidelity and sexual compulsion, back towards health and integrity.
As part of that, our training and on-the-job experience usually entails a peripheral learning about the netherworld of the sexual exploitation industries: pornography, stripping, prostitution, etc., since our clients have usually habituated themselves to this realm of commodified sexuality.