Why is infidelity such a taboo topic?
Why are we all so keen to portray marriage as perfect bliss, with no problems?
Why are we so ashamed to admit that there are issues like this exist in a marriage?
Because I consider myself to be completely healed, I can say that I no longer feel the need to obtain support from others by telling them my story. I don’t seek out others to tell in the hopes that they can offer me suggestiions, a shoulder to cry on, and ear to listen…I just don’t *need* that anymore. And, although some of my friends know of our situation, most don’t. I can say that in my desire to seek support, I feel that I did tell the wrong people. Most of the ones I told aren’t in my life anymore, mostly because we weren’t such good friends, I suppose. In some cases, learning of the affair pushed some away, either because they couldn’t handle the fallout, my constant need to talk about it, the way it monopolized the conversation, or all of the above. Once I started to notice that those that knew were dropping off, I started to become more prudent in who I told…until I just didn’t need to tell anyone anymore. I can now keep it to myself, but should I have to?
It’s interesting to me. Over the last couple of years, my husband and I have befriended a couple through our children who were once at the same school. We started to hang out with them socially, and really enjoy their company. From time to time, the topic of infidelity has come up, as they have shared stories of work colleagues and other friends whose marriages have fallen victim to an affair. In talking with them, not having once shared our story, I detect judgment from them about the topic. I can see quite clearly that they both are very quick to support the betrayed, and vilify the unfaithful spouse. They both seem to be of the same opinion that an unhappy marriage should be exited before a new relationship started (I agree), but they also both seem to think that an unhappy marriage is what leads to affairs, and if you have been following my blog, or doing any reading on the subject, you will know that it’s not that simple. While I appreciate the fact that their feelings on the matter support ME in MY position as the betrayed spouse, I also know that we could never tell them because it would jeopardize our relationship. They would likely harbour very negative feelings towards my husband, and if we told them now, they might feel betrayed themselves, knowing that we’ve discussed the topic together and never once told them that we have intimate knowledge about infidelity, having been there ourselves. I have to say, though, that I do feel like a fraud not being able to share such a significant story of WHO WE ARE as a couple, with another couple that we are becoming close friends with.
I made a comment on Facebook the other day, about a mistresses as I watched the trial of Dr. Martin McNeill unfold, on trial for allegedly killing his wife Michelle in order to start a new life with his mistress Gypsy Willis. My sister in law chimed in that married men who have affairs are the absolute scum of the earth. I can’t help but wonder what that dinner conversation would look like if we told her that her brother in law, who both appear to hold in high regard, was guilty of that very thing? Not only that, he fathered a child with his mistress and is paying child support for the next 19 years? I think they might have coronaries right then and there, and given her comments, I can imagine it might cause a rift, so we remain quiet.It makes me sad when I think of how many of us are forced to stay quiet about these issues because we feel threatened to lose others around us if we tell? It’s like a shameful secret that no one wants to talk about. But, it is also a catch 22: The less we talk about it, the more secret and taboo it becomes, so the less we talk about it. As someone who has been through it, who walked through to the other side, and who understands affairs so much better, I don’t feel shame in my story. I feel pride. My prior feelings of shame came from the belief that my husband’s affair was a refection of me as a bad wife, a bad lover, an incompetent partner, a lesser woman. I now know that to not be true, so I do not feel shameful. I would also venture to guess that my husband no longer feels as much shame as he once did because he now knows that his affair doesn’t reflect on him as a globally bad man. He has taken the steps to make the proper amends and done the work. Shouldn’t he feel proud? Shouldn’t we both? So why can’t we talk about it? Because we will lose friends and family…and that makes me very sad.
I try to live with authenticity. I thrive when I have fewer more intimate connections with others. Part of that intimacy is openly sharing the deepest parts of oneself with those you trust and care about, and I can’t have that with some that I would like to. I have to wonder how the taboo of infidelity could ever be lifted? I often feel like I am living a lie. And, considering how prevalent infidelity has become, and that MOST of us will experience it at some point…shouldn’t we be talking about it?