As one blogger wrote, there were multiple reasons why Hillary lost the election. One of the reasons listed was that she stayed with a “cheater” and people judge this as a weakness.
Obviously judging others’ motives without knowing their story, is not an admirable trait. Although we all judge as it is needed at times, to come to a solution, wrongly or rightly, judging people as “weak” because they stay in a marriage is a kick below the belt.
In general, people who went through the trauma of infidelity, resulting in separation, divorce, or in doing the work , judge less as they know the many variations and the differences between the narratives and they know all about the heartache and the fear, the bitterness and the anger. As one friend pointed out to me, she perceived marriage as a life long commitment and although not openly hostile, she judged people for giving up too easily. This was before her husband left her after 25 years of marriage.
I do know that decisions on leaving or staying are not taken lightly. Sometimes a spouse is given no option when their partner indicates to want to leave without discussing issues when they arise, leaving their spouse in the unknown. This is very sad and extremely hard as one made the choice without talking to the other and without trying to work on the relationship. Often a third person is involved and this makes it even more infuriating for the loyal spouse as they were left in the dark.
Infidelity in all its ugly forms happens in bad marriages but also in good relationships. In case of the former, it might be an exit strategy. Not a nice one, but nevertheless a final one. That infidelity occurs more often in good marriages is difficult to understand. The fact however, that those who are betrayed experience it as traumatic, is indicative of the severity of the consequences. That infidelity is common and near equal for both genders, does not make it easier to deal with.
As most loyal WP bloggers know, the stories vary. How many times did a spouse cheat, in what ways, what were the consequences, how long has the cheating spouse been lying, is the betrayer remorseful and willing to do the work, or is the betrayer leaving the spouse for the OW? When “working on the relationship”, who is doing the work, and what does it mean to work on the relationship? Are the goals met, or are there deal breakers. Is the disloyal spouse prepared to meet their spouse’s needs and is there total transparency and honesty? Is it words only or also action?
Even when a couple decides to work on reconciliation there is no guarantee that “they are going to make it”. Most couples talking about their experiences state that it takes years and that progress comes and goes with good days and good weeks, followed by a set back. There is no magic solution and no quick fix, whatever the circumstances, this is trauma work. The couples who make it, trust each other, respect each other and meet each other’s needs. None of this is possible without regular open and effective communication.
There is no answer to the question “how can you mend a broken heart” (I checked the lyrics), but a few things I do know: There is never just one reason why a relationship breaks down and this means that to build a relationship up again, all of these underlying issues need attention. The other thing I know is that when spouses both say that imagining separation would make them more miserable there is hope and when trust and respect are present, and couples talk about their needs, they have a chance to rebuild and to make it better.
Why do people stay: Simply because staying is less painful than leaving and there is more goodness than pain. I hope that all who are working on their marriage will be able to say this year that their spouse is their lover, partner and friend.
I hope for all who left the relationship that they will grieve less and are capable to place their energy in something that makes them intrinsically happy.