Thursday, April 9, 2009

Infidelity and Elephants...

Infidelity is an amazingly all-too-common occurrence these days.

It's almost "cliche".

I see it all around.
I hear about it.
I lived it.

And so did my current husband.

And while we both lived the same lives ironically around the exact same time, once married to people we thought we trusted, it was our spouses who were out living lives of their own. Lives that neither of us knew anything about. Until, of course, they were caught.

And let me make the important point that this post is NOT a "beat up" post on those who may have made such choices. BELIEVE me, I sure as hell am in no place to judge anyone else in this world. I've walked way too many roads in the world of marriage and divorce.

Even my therapist of years ago used to tell me all the time how unbelievable it was that I wasn't the one who went outside my marriage to find companionship and intimacy back then. My response was always, "Are you KIDDING ME? I work full time, have two kids and already have one man in my life that I can't figure out. WHO THE HELL has the TIME and ENERGY to cheat???"

And of course with infidelity there are always two sides to each and every story. I believe there is never only one person to blame in such occurrences. Not that those of us "cheated on" can take accountability for the "external" actions our spouse has taken, but there are steps and communication issues and maturity levels and personal upbringing situations that sometimes are like elephants in a room when looking at an individual marriage with a magnifying glass.

Many times we have no idea that these elephants even exist until it's too late. And sometimes you may never even know an elephant was there at all.

I've obviously had my share of elephants. And I've owned a couple of them myself, which I never knew existed until a new therapist was able to guide me through the process.

I realize it's a personal subject, however I think there are so many angles of interest in the world of infidelity. Children. Inattentive Spouses. Egos. Lack of Intimacy. Fear. Childhood. Upbringing. Careers. Narcissism. Our own Parents. Inabilities to Communicate. Needs. Desires. Time. Lack of Time.


Knowing that we've both walked a similar path and carry a similar injury from our pasts, my husband and I have always promised to be honest and respectful of one another in times of uncertainty.

Our deal is to always turn "inward" towards one another versus "outward" towards others. And when things go a few days, or a week long at most, in that so-called "un-comfort zone" between the two of us... we agree that it's then time to call it out.

And it all goes back to the notion of egos and how being human is about seeking approval. It's instinctive. We need it. And we admit to each other that if there's a period of time in our marriage where we are not making each other feel good, feel proud, feel strong, and feel beautiful then the attention could easily come from others at some point. Intentional or not.

And that's an elephant I'm not lettin' in again.


Kritta22 said...

Gosh makes me think about elephants that I have.

Going to have a chat with the hubs!

Unknown said...

I'm glad you figured out the elephants and left them behind in the past. There are elephants in every relationship just like you said and if we don't call them out and greet them they just keep getting bigger.
Great post today Sue!

K said...

Wow, I'm so impressed by such clear, rational thinking! This post is great and you have written it all so clearly and openly for us. I have already read it twice through and I think it would benefit a lot people out there.

Rachel Sue said...

I loved this post. Those elephants have been creeping around this house, and I've caught a few, but I wasn't quite sure what they were. Now I know . . . And I know what to look for.

Susan said...

Thanks Ladies... this is a very personal post for me. And Kim, the "clear, rational thinking" comes from years of an amazing therapist trying to figure out why I failed at marriage. ;)

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

Thanks Susan again for a great post! I think the hardest part of a marriage is to always remember to keep your spouse first priority in your life so that Elephants aren't born in a marriage...and life has an easy way of making that hard for us.

With infidelity there are many reasons people choose to do it...for me, I agree with you, but through watching many couples go through it...I realize it's mostly because their selfish and anytime that quality takes over in a marriage (because we have to remember ourselves a little so that we who we are isn't completely swallowed up) an "Elephant" is born!

"Cookie" said...

Wonderful post! Makes you think about things....big or little that you need to take time and work on.

Jan @ Struck by Serendipity said...

I've been there with my ex-cheating bastard, too. This is a great post. Good point about not even knowing some of the elephants exist.

Swirl Girl said...

I remember doing this team building exercise when I got paid for my work....We had to imagine ourselves being an elephant in a house built for giraffes and vice verse...Much like a marriage - it is a constant work in progress.

MakingChanges said...

Interesting post for today since I was thinking of a ginormous elephant that I brought into my marriage. Hubby now knows about it and I have been in therapy for years trying to deal with it.

I think honesty, no matter how hard it is to be honest, is the key. Hubby and I are even closer than we were before once I was able to talk to him about my issues.

He, likewise, had a TON of issues that I didn't know about until after we were married. Together we have worked on his, also. And, again, we drew closer to each other through this!

Thanks for sharing!

The Blonde Duck said...

Wow. I can't even imagine cheating.

Heidi said...

It's amazing how simple it is--we all want attention, love and approval. And, amazingly, we tend to withhold those things from the one we are meant to love the most. Like you said, we often don't see it until it is too late.

Anjeny said...

Another great post Susan. Thanks for sharing.

Susan said...

You have all seen the funny side of Susan from her posts at Life Is Too Short Not To Share(If You havn't, you need to check it out!). Now you all can see the intelligent, inciteful side of my amazing wife and best friend(those are just a few of the many reasons why I'm in love)...Nice post baby!


Susan said...

I swear I didn't pay him to do that! Thanks honey.

MakingChanges said...

Ummm, Susan, how did you get him to read your blog???? I don't think my hubby has a true appreciation for the blog world because I can't convince him that I am actually very funny, intelligent, and brave when I blog.

The Crash Test Dummy said...

What? Potato dude cheated? ;)

This is a great post. You always make me think. In fact tomorrow my post comes out in response to your last post about potatoes. Maybe I should add something in there about elephants before it hits the press. ;)

I am really sorry about what you had to go through with a cheating spouse. Thanks for sharing with us your insights and experience. I really appreciate your honesty.

Melinda said...

I'm seriously impressed, you took a very touchy, sensitive subject and said it so well! Thank you for sharing and helping some of us hopefully avoid a little of that! :)

Susan said...

Youngblood - I think he secretly reads it most of the time at work... but to be honest, he helps me with lots of the content! He's good at snapping pics of people or things he knows I'd LOVE to make fun of! New hobby for us.

Crash - Yes, sadly to say, potato intertwined with others. Thankfully, I have found my new man who I proudly refer to as Kobe Beef. Prime!

wendy said...

Hmmmmm, I have some deep thoughts about that. don't think I can share them though. I have an elephant breathing down my neck.