***This post is being misunderstood and so it behoves me to put this disclaimer at the top so that the same misunderstanding doesn’t continue.
This post and the analogies it outlines have nothing to do with the wayward spouse’s choice, their decision making,
or explaining their behavior. This post, is instead about YOU the betrayed wife and how society and often the OW and her posse of supporters ridicule you for standing by and fighting for a your marriage instead of us just handing them our husbands. The analogy isn’t meant to describe his actions or the why…it’s about YOUR choices and the why. Please read from that point of view. And for what it’s worth, no, I don’t believe wayward spouses are victims…****
Imagine if you will a mother, any mother. Her hair can be any colour. Her body type can be thin or not. Her hair can be curly or straight. It doesn’t matter really, what she looks like, all you need to know is that the only thing she has ever wanted to do was to be a mom.
I am going to call this mom Cara.
Cara struggled for many years to have a child. After many failed attempts, she finally hears the news her heart has been waiting for. She has been blessed with a child. She pours everything into being a mother.
At first, parenthood is a struggle. The learning curve is steep and there are bumps along the way. Cara makes her share of mistakes, but she is doing the best she can, and learning as she goes. After all, parenting doesn’t come with a manual.
Like any mother, Cara is invested in her child, often at the expense of herself. She sacrifices a lot for her child, and her life has certainly changed. She puts so much into this child, and would give anything to see her grow up healthy and strong. Certainly Cara is also human, and sometimes isn’t always the best mother, and doesn’t always make the best choices, but she wakes up every morning, still dedicated, still trying, and ever hopeful that this creation of hers will succeed.
One day, shortly after her 10th birthday, Cara’s daughter fails to come home from school. A search ensues and no one can find her anywhere. She has essentially disappeared. Her mother is frantic, and sick with worry. All of the years flash before her eyes. All of her firsts, all of their struggles, all of their successes and good times – Gone.
After several weeks, her daughter is located. It is discovered that Cara’s daughter had been kidnapped and held by a childless woman who wanted to have a child, and tried to claim Cara’s daughter as her own. For many years, this woman too had tried to have a child and was not successful. Desperate, she soon gave up the dream of having her own child in favour of simply stealing someone else’s. She made a plan, and decided that she would seek out a child of her liking, and then when the timing was right, would abduct her, claim her as her own, and raise the child. She gave little or no thought to Cara’s heartache. She completely disregarded the pain and torment she was putting Cara and her family through because her needs came first. Social conventions of right and wrong were cast aside, and morals thrown out the window. ”She” was the only person who mattered here, and her happiness was paramount to all others.
Once the identity of the abductor is known, Cara fights tirelessly to get her daughter back. She cries herself to sleep at night, worried that she has lost the precious creation she has cared for and nurtured all these years. She starts each day in the darkest place imaginable, but with the desire to fight and find her child once more. The abductor ups the ante and starts sending Cara messages, taunting her, telling her how much happier her daughter is with her, how much she resents her mother, and how she should just move on and let her daughter go. Cara can’t imagine her daughter ever feeling that way, and the words simply don’t fit with the experience and the relationship Cara knows to be true. Confused and paralyzed with fear, anger, resentment and worry, she gets up each day trying to get one step closer to her child. All the while struggling, Cara maintains a brave face for those around her. She has been told by the abductor that if she says anything to anyone that her daughter will be harmed, so she puts on a brave face every day, and no one knows the inner struggle she faces each day. While colleagues and family are busy making demands of her, disrespecting her time and overloading her, she cries out on the inside that none of them would do this, if they “really knew what was going on”. They wouldn’t dare pile this on her. But they don’t know….so they do, and so it continues, until one day Cara’s daughter escapes and comes home. Tearful and full of regret, she confesses to her mother that she made some poor choices, against her better judgment, and that due to her actions, she put herself in harm’s way, and in a situation where she was vulnerable, and then the unthinkable happened, and she was taken. Cara is just relieved to have her back.
Within a few days, threatening letters and emails start coming her way. Letters from the abductor threatening to repeat the abduction. Threads of doubt and uncertainty are planted within Cara’s mind that her daughter will leave willingly, having favoured perhaps the other woman’s lifestyle, her home, the material and shallow possessions. Cara is blasted as a sad and pathetic woman, a horrible mother, a selfish person who doesn’t deserve to have a child. No matter all of the time and work invested in her child, she is told that she wasn’t good enough, that she has failed as a mother, and that her daughter, in time, will once again disappear. Cara lives every day in fear that this may come true.
The letters become more personal, more vindictive, more hateful. Cara can barely hold it together while her self esteem is being ripped apart by this woman, and the one thing she most preciously loves is being threatened to be ripped from her once more. Cara is told to give up. Cara is told to let go. Cara is mocked and laughed at for still trying to hold on to her daughter. She is called ‘selfish’ for wanting her back. She is mocked for fighting for her, all while being told she deserves this horrible pain because she wasn’t a good enough mother, that her years of sacrifice weren’t enough…she is ridiculed for continuing to fight. She is threatened with being outed in her community as a “bad mother” who lost her child due to negligent parenting and poor standards.
Reading the above story, do you agree that she should give up? Should she fight? Should she let go? Should she watch years of her life and the legacy she has worked hard to create disappear? What would you do if something you have created and nurtured was suddenly ripped from you?
Would we, as compassionate human beings ever mock her for fighting for her child? Would ever condemn her for her daughter’s disappearance, saying that it was due to sub-standard qualities within her? Would you tell her she deserved it? I highly doubt anyone, seeing a woman fight for her child, would ever give her anything but sympathy and understanding. After all, entire communities rally around and support parents when their children are stolen. So the question becomes…
Why don’t we do this for marriage when an OW tries to take our husband for their own?
Why are people quick to condemn the wives for the their husband’s “disappearance”? Why do we place the blame for the situation that occurred on something inherently faulty with the wife? Why do we, as wives, get sucked into the emotional trap laid out by the OW to make us feel fragile, threatening us with him leaving again, or repeating the same behaviour (once a cheater always a cheater, take him back and you’ll regret it).
Why are wives told to “give up” and “let go” and “move on” and then made to feel ridiculed when they fight for the thing they have passionately cared for and nurtured: their marriage. A marriage, like the raising of a child is painstaking work that involves care, commitment, sacrifice, and mistakes. No parent is perfect, and no marriage is perfect. After years of devotion, sacrifice and time, why would anyone expect a mother to hand over her child? Why do OW’s expect us to give up, let go, and move on and then mock us when we fight for what IS OURS, what we’ve worked for, what we’ve sacrificed for, what we created? Is it different?
Doesn’t it seem sick and twisted that a woman, incapable of having a child of her own by conventional means should opt to create a situation whereby she could weasel herself into a family and walk out with one stolen? Wouldn’t we call that criminal? Why then, do we see OW’s walk into marriages, identify weak and vulnerable spots and coyly take advantage of them for their personal gain such that they steal a husband from his wife? Is that not criminal also? Instead it is labeled as “human nature”, or made the fault of a wife who wasn’t enough.
Obviously, the above story is designed to set up a parallel yet distinct story. Parenthood and her desire for a child is paralleled with marriage and one’s desire for a marriage and partner. The learning curve of parenting, the lack of a manual and the fact that we aren’t always the best, but do our best as parents, is paralleled with doing our best as a spouse when we are learning as we go. As a woman who sacrifices everything for her child, so too does a woman for her marriage. This story and its presentation was designed to present a scenario whereby a character gains empathy for being put into a devastating circumstance in order to see how an outside observer might react to her situation. Empathically or judgmentally? With compassion or with hatred?
So why is it expected and understood that a woman would fight for her child, and not expect her to do the same for her marriage?
***This blog post is NOT making the kidnapped child analagous to the cheating husband. No one’s husband was kidnapped, and this post isn’t intended to equate a betraying husband with someone captured against their will. This was a choice HE made, sometimes with her help, sometimes without. What this post IS designed to do, is to show the parallel between the reactions women have for salvaging what they love deeply***
What do you think? Discuss.