Don’t be angry with me, those who are the “betrayed”. And, don’t get too excited, those who are the “betrayer”. It never is the case that a broken marriage is the cause of infidelity. Never. The cause of infidelity is flawed character, and lacking the fortitude to do the right thing when nobody else is looking. Period, end of story. Sorry betrayers…you have to find a way to own your choices and do something about it.
“That being said”…(which precipitates a conversation u-turn)
Before experiencing the trauma of infidelity, there existed a broken marriage.
I existed in a broken marriage before I became the victim of infidelity trauma. I existed in a broken marriage when I became the victim of infidelity trauma. Our marriage lacked communication, empathy, fun, mutual respect, and on it goes. Our marriage had hallmarks of mental illness and unresolved childhood traumas. Our marriage was short on intimacy and long on isolation. By the time infidelity came knocking, the marriage was not well.
This part of our story is so odd. Prior to the affair starting, we had a wonderful summer. We worked together side by side on a project together building a retaining wall. It was hard work, but we accomplished this together. We had beers on the wall, holding hands and swinging our feet, chatting away at the end of the day. It was the best summer of our marriage for years.
Something changed in October. He went back to work. When he did, it was as though he was a different person. I couldn’t get his attention to save my life. As the winter came, it blew cold air between us. We just weren’t a functioning couple anymore. I was angry with him most days, for how little he helped me with the household stuff. He was angry with me most days, and I’m still not quite sure why. We argued and argued, and after awhile we barely spoke.
Then his high school girlfriend reached out, and that’s all she wrote. Yuck.
While we work on recovery from the affair trauma, it is really clear we need to work on marriage recovery. We don’t communicate well at all. We are both “peacekeepers”, but neither of us are “peacemakers”. We keep the peace by keeping our feelings to ourselves. Yet, there is no peace when there’s no communication. There’s only isolation and disconnection. The feelings don’t get worked out. It’s like being stuck in reverse, wheels spinning, smoking tires, going nowhere, with a clenched jaw.
How could we recover from the affair just to stay in the same broken marriage? That would be an utter waste of time and effort and suffering. It’s tempting to lump them both together, but they are completely different topics. Recovering from what we’ve experienced as a result of his infidelity are dramatically different conversations than those about repairing a broken marriage.
The lessons of the last couple weeks are…
- We’re both in recovery — not just me. Both.
- Affair recovery is different from marriage recovery, and we need it all.