– “Doctor…I can’t believe my husband cheated on me—after so many years of happiness.”
Laura X. is a mild-mannered, attractive businesswoman who has been married for more than twenty years and has always bragged about her caring husband and good teenage children. In her latest visit to my office, she looked very distraught and whispered hesitatingly, avoiding my gaze. She confessed to me that she found out that her husband was having an affair with his secretary.
Infidelity in couples is almost as old as the world itself, perhaps only slightly less than the famous bite to the apple that triggered so much passion and eroticism in human sexual relations. Even though in our supposedly modern societies this issue has lost some of its more edginess, we still react with anger and frustration when we learn that our “significant other” was not faithful. The majority of couples still expect to engage in a monogamous relationship and avoid philandering.
Women are particularly vulnerable to the extreme disappointment and hurtfulness of infidelity as they usually are the most committed part of the couple. The ones that strive “to make it work.” They make countless big and little sacrifices to share their lives with another person. One of the more damaging collateral effects of this emotional frustration is the surge of second-guessing and guilt feelings in the aggrieved party to the conflict.
Laura X. asked herself if she was not really at fault for his transgression because she felt that she might be dedicating too much time to her household and had little spare time for her appearance. We always found her attractive and well groomed, without any sloppiness in her body and mind. We had to chat extensively with her to assuage her that it was not her fault at all. It was solely his. We must dispel these toxic feelings of guilt because they can affect the patient’s mental health.
One of the greatest disappointments we had in our childhood was the separation and divorce of our parents at a very early age in our maturing process. Eventually both my brother and I recovered. But we could never overcome a certain disdain for our father—who we loved and respected—due to the fact that he certainly had a clandestine relationship when he was still married to our mother. Oftentimes my dear mother Gladys wondered aloud if it wasn’t her fault that he had an affair; a few times even my grandmother Yolanda scolded her for not being more vigilant with her spouse.
Did I miss any of the signals? How could I be so distracted with my obligations to abandon him? Did I forget to use nice perfumes? Or sexy clothes? Did I abuse of the “headaches excuse”, eh? Perhaps it’s my fault too…Perhaps his fault is not as grave at it seems… The tremendous reservoir of feminine empathy can even sugar-coat the most egregious behavior. As Friedrich Nietzsche, a tough appraiser of the dark complexities of human behavior, once said: “the victim takes the whip out of the torturer’s hands and starts to strike himself.”
Self-flagellation.The ultimate indignity borne by the abused.
When they separated, our parents were barely in their thirties; both my brother and I chose to live with our mother. We stood firmly by her side and consoled her when she wallowed in her grief. We reminded her that it was our father’s fault. Not hers. Raising two children with limited financial means and with no family around entailed personal sacrifices that she squarely faced with stoicism and courage. Muchas gracias Mama!
What do you think? Please tell us.
Don’t leave me alone.
9 thoughts on “Is it really my fault?”
Good morning Dr. Sahib:
It is in fact a sad commentary that we humans, sometimes, play our part very disgracefully just impinging on the canons of fair-play and even trample the confidence of others which others repose on us and when it happens between the spouses, it is all the more disheartening and disconcerting. The tragedy is compounded when this happens between couples, after spending a fair amount of period of their life (20 years) together with teenaged children from this marriage – an unfortunate one!
In the instant case, the husband exhibits his unfaithfulness towards his spouse by having an affair with his secretary – just forgetting the vows taken at the time of their marriage and without realization what would be the condition of the ill-fated wife and he teenaged children. A longstanding marriage had gone down the drain because of the infidelity of the husband. This insensitive person had made a body-blow to the sacred institution of marriage by his acts of omission and commission – seemingly knowingly, saying goodbye to all the canons of natural behavior and fair-play.
The reason for being unfaithful is quoted to be wife not paying too much attention to her outlook and giving quality time to her spouse. This is a specious argument as she had to look after her business too. She must be playing back the gains from the on-going business for upkeeping the house-hold. But this factor was not taken care of by the husband. The lady in question should not be, in any case, be held responsible for this transgression.
Your example in the case is quite relevant and should be taken with a pinch of salt.
We ought to learn one or two lessons from the write-up since we should all take care that the relationship between the husband is built on the edifice of confidence between the couples and once this confidence is broken everything else remains mere broken promise and, broken family fabric thereby causing irreparable damage to the family as an institution.
WITH WARM REGARDS
Good morning and thank you very much for this enlightening commentary, my spiritual friend across the oceans. You have made an excellent exposition of the major issues with marital infidelity, which is not by any means to the sexual aspect of a couple. When trust between the partners is broken in a marriage, everything starts to fall apart, piece by piece; the damage is greatly potentiated if there are children in the middle of the fight. Young people need a home full of comfort and safety far from the rest of the maddening crowd. If the members of a couple cannot live together, it is best to seek some alternative arrangements. I’d love you to discuss the issue of “moral relativism” that has done so much damage to the minds and spirits of our supposedly “modern” societies in an upcoming article in your page. A knowledgeable and friendly medical instructor (born in New Delhi and trained in the USA) confided to me over a cup of coffee we shared in a New York City hospital ward that the expatriates returning to India had a hard time to re-insert their American-born children due to their impertinent sassiness and lack of respect for basic civic values; the elite public schools did not want them and they had to place them in private ones, dishing out a lot of money. Is it still true, my friend?
A big hug. Arrivederci!
Good morning Dr. Sahib:
Your commentary on the subject is really understandable The damage which any misunderstanding causes to the lives of the spouses and the children is endless. Rightly so, to the children who are sandwiched without any fault of theirs.
In the modern societies, the less said the better. In our rural areas or villages, there are very few divorces as compared with the metropolitan cities – the families which call themselves more civilized and modern in outlook are actually not much advanced in their civility or morality. Breaking relationships is abdominal and while the reason is based on immoral standpoint it is obvious inhuman. I shall be writing on this after sometimes. Right now I am writing about DHARMA.
The case you have mentioned about the child born in USA and the problem in admission in Delhi. It is a fact that people have to shell out a lot hard earned money to get admission in prominent schools in Delhi. There is always dearth of civic values consideration in our modern societies and we have to live with all the drawbacks.
With warm hugs and regards
Good morning caro Il Chiaro and thank you for your great commentary. Yes, rural families are derided as “backward” but if keeping the best traditions and values of our cultures is “not modern enough”, then that’s why we are millions of citizens who steadfastly refuse to accept all the media impositions of Globalization. Prime Minister Modi is right. Premier Mateo Salvini. As far as President Trump is concerned, well, that’s a different story altogether…I am looking forward to reading your article about Dharma. A big hug. Arrivederci!
GOOD MORNING DR. SAHIB
Thanks for your most appropriate commentary.
I shall be publishing the write-up tomorrow with implication of following ADHARMA to our life as you had told me to write. Adharma is antithesis of DHARMA lifestyle.
Thank you my friend.
All separation is painful, even more so if there are children involved. The root of infidelity is varied. The only certain thing is that the confidence of the couple is violated and the separation is better. The one who commits it hurts, hurts and destroys the couple. There can be no martyr. You can be proud of your mother because she had the courage to take them out on her own. and surely he had to draw strength from weakness to achieve it. Greetings.
Good morning, Happy Sunday and thanks for your nice commentary. Ciao!