A journey through infidelity

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Portrait of Gwen Randall-Young•  There comes a time when the pain of holding on becomes worse than the pain of letting go. – Unknown

I am thinking of two similar client cases that demonstrate the struggle that can emerge when there has been infidelity in a marriage. I will blend them into one.

It starts when she meets a man with whom she thinks she can have the life she never had as a child. She is full of love and the desire to create a happy life together. Her inner child craves a sense of belonging and the feeling she really matters. He is drawn to her nurturing ways and her unconditional loving. His inner child looks forward to a life with a woman who cares about – and for ­– him in a way his mother never did.

They are in love with high hopes and both are good people with good intentions. However, with the passage of time it becomes more of a one-way relationship: his way. He wants to spend time with his friends doing things he likes to do. Even if he does spend time with her, it has to be doing what he wants to do.

She notices he does not seem interested in her needs. She starts feeling as she did when she was a child. She was expected to take care of things, but nobody cared about her. This is not what she thought it would be. She wants that feeling that was there in the beginning – the feeling he really loved her and cared about her happiness.

She wants to have a happier relationship so she decides to talk to him about it. He doesn’t know what she is talking about. He thinks everything is fine. She points out the behaviors that leave her feeling alone and unimportant. He gets defensive: “Oh, so now I’m not allowed to see my friends?” He takes her statements of concern as criticisms and attacks back.

He not only makes it impossible to talk with him, but she realizes the things she is asking for – more of an emotional connection, more time together and working as a team – are not really things he wants. She is unhappy because she feels stuck and he is unhappy because she is not happy with him.

Eventually, he becomes grumpy and impatient with her, even mean. Then, in time, she finds he has been having an affair. She feels betrayed and heartbroken and he walks out so he can be with his new partner. Her world collapses and she feels abandoned.

Strangely, even though separated, he still maintains contact with her. He tells her he loves her and cares for her even as he is with someone else. He wants it all to be okay. He wants to be friends. Her inner child, who is lost and confused, holds on to him. She just cannot cut him out of her life. He likes this. It makes her miserable, but she feels that to cut him out of her life would be mean. She is not used to standing up for herself. It may take months or years for her to realize she is being played. He does not want to be the bad guy and he wants to be able to manipulate her around the terms of the divorce.

When she finally tells him she wants no further contact, she begins to take her power back. She wonders why it took so long. Difficult as the process was, it was one of bringing her wise adult to care for her inner child. And next time, it will be her wise adult and not her inner child that chooses her partner.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, “Deep Powerful Change” hypnosis CDs and “Creating Effective Relationships” series, visit www.gwen.ca

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