Should an affair mean the end of a marriage ? In one of my all time favourite films “love actually” which for those who’ve never seen it (shame on you) explores the many number of ways love exists in our lives through following the stories of several different human relationships.
In one particular story which is that of a married couple struggling with the aftermath of an affair, Emma Thompson who plays a married middle aged wife and mother discovers her husband is having an affair when she finds a necklace in her husbands coat pocket at Christmas that she soon comes to realise is not destined for her.
When confronting him about the necklace that she didn’t receive she asks him as she’d asked herself “ is this just a necklace, is this sex and a necklace or worse still is this love and a necklace “ he responds by saying he’d been a classic fool falling for the charms of the office secretary who is young and pretty and clearly impressed with the thought of having an affair with the boss.
Does she forgive him, we don’t quite know but she certainly is incredibly hurt by her husbands betrayal telling him “ you’ve not only made a fool of me but you’ve made the life I lead foolish” its a gut wrenching scene in the film and you can empathise with her pain and anguish.
For anyone who’s ever been on end of a betrayal its like being run over by a bus, I don’t think its necessarily the act of the physical betrayal with the other person that hurts as much as the betrayal of what was shared between you and your partner, the disregard of the shared trust, connection and the life that you’ve shared.
When people disconnect with their partner in the desire to connect with lost connection their need for reconnection can be very overpowering , its like having an itch that desperately needs scratching, when you are so disconnected from what makes you feel whole the desire and need to reconnect can take control of your senses , and the question is, is end- ing a long term relationship or marriage as a result of this often misguided betrayal justified ?
In this particular film Harry, the adulterer played by the late Alan Rickman is clearly experiencing a loss of connection to his youth and vitality and the attentions of an attractive and youthful employee offered a much needed source of nurturing to his fledging ego.
I personally think this comes down to circumstances, should a drunken kiss with a work colleague at the Christmas party be judged differently to a two year affair with your husbands or wives best friend or is a betrayal a betrayal regardless of the circumstances ?
An infidelity is a betrayal but its what the betrayal tells you about the person who has committed it that holds the most relevance , was the drunken kiss at the Christmas party a silly mindless moment where alcohol took over the reigns and you suddenly felt like you were 18 again getting carried away in a moment of pure abandon or was the kiss the result of six months of flirting and unleashed passion coming to a hiatus ?
Ask yourself what is the story? when did it start ? what is the story telling you?
Making the decision to forgive a person’s betrayal is best done by trying to separate the person from the person’s actions and then trying to understand why that action occurred. What they did will always be a betrayal of your shared trust but does the deed warrant complete condemnation of the person ?
If the disconnection occurs and the betrayal is known and singular surely it would need to be judged differently to a serial betrayer ? How are those stories different and do they dictate that a different approach is used ?
Dealing with the betrayer who may actively disconnects to allow themselves to find new connections elsewhere tells a very different story to that of what could be justified as a moment of madness.
I think serial betraying demands more questions of not only your partner but of yourself, are you prepared to keep forgiving this person ? what does the forgiving mean in terms of you compromising your self esteem and values ? what is this story telling you? why does your partner constantly feel the need to disconnect ? What is it telling you about your partner that you don’t already know or if you do know what is it telling you about how he or she is managing that aspect of their personality ? at this point I think you really have to look closely at your role in the relationship, are you facilitating these disconnections, are you prepared to compromise your life to facilitate a person that has no regard for your commitment to the relationship ?
Relationships require a lot of hard work, time and commitment but you make a choice to try and make it work and trying to make it work means exactly that, striving to do some- thing that may not always necessarily come easily.
I totally support divorce for couples that have exhausted their desire to try but whilst the desire is there then you owe it to yourself and the relationship to give it your best.
So make your decision as to what feels right but please do it for the right reasons, whether that be staying or going, if you stay then you must try to forgive the person, don’t waste your time trying to forgive the deed because why should you, it was a betrayal and should remain as that but if you stay you must try to commit to forgiveness and not resentment or punishment of your partner because that is in itself is equally destructive to the relationship as the infidelity was; remaining in resentment and retaliation is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
If you decide that you can’t forgive you must go with the responsibility that you chose to go, its your decision and you must deal with the consequences either way, its a big decision to end a marriage and you must consider the implications but have the conviction to not fear them.
I wholeheartedly believe that you will make the right decision if you listen to your instinct, what do you know is the truth of the relationship ? what is your truth ? and to stay or to go, either way requires a huge commitment to the future, its not running away its just making the decision as to which outcome will bring you closer to living a life where you can be truly peaceful and content.
“Try to know the difference between your fears and your instincts, check in with your body. Fears will make you feel “tight and anxious. Instincts on the
other hand make you feel sharp, clear and empowered to act. Your instincts can be found in the place beyond the tightness, deeper within your core, deep- er within your spirit. Your inner wisdom is an instinct that will guide you out, like an infallible com- pass , when you feel lost “
"Its not you its me" - lets start to look at the reasons for why people really have affairs ......see next blog !!