We’re in the 21st century, and like all things now, attitudes have changed. As we human beings latch on to new morals or lack of them, one thing is certain - the institution hardest hit by these changes is that of marriage.
Gone are the days when “Till death do us part” was the cardinal rule, only broken under extreme circumstances. Divorce was unheard of, and the few divorcees that were known, were spoken about in hushed tones, the way you would a leper, lest it rubbed off on you.
Going by the various radio talk shows, infidelity is now a normal occurrence. I learned this the hard way when my lawfully and wonderfully wedded wife started acting cold towards me.
She would constantly pick fights, creating issues where there were none. I had listened to the radio show ‘Busted’, where errant spouses and their transgressions were laid bare for everyone that cared to listen.
I had a feeling that my wife was cheating, and so I enlisted the host’s help to nab my otherwise prim and proper spouse, and nab she did after a short make-believe story.
As the spectacle unfolded, I could imagine the chuckles and muted laughter from the listeners, but deep inside, each one of them must have been probably thanking the good Lord that it wasn’t them in that situation.
When infidelity happens within the confines of marriage, it is usually a betrayal of the worst kind.
Various feelings course through your body and soul. Initially I was in denial. It’s difficult to believe it when your spouse cheats on you.
Once the realisation sinks in, feelings of rejection and inadequacy set in. You are not sure whether to blame them or yourself.
My self-esteem took a mighty tumble, and the fact that the infidelity could have been common knowledge to everyone but me only served to make me withdraw into a cocoon.
Once the initial self-loathing subsided, the feelings turned into rage that I’d never felt before. This is the stage where revenge comes in, something that people handle differently.
For some, the adage that ‘two can play that game’ takes prominence. It is common to see spouses break all rules by shamelessly cavorting with others who clearly are not their significant other.
Others take this a bit further and decide that the best course of action is either to end their lives or physically maim the errant partner in a way that they’ll always remember.
I toyed with this thought, but fortunately, sanity prevailed.
Once I survived the cacophony of feelings that assailed me, I tried to figure out whether there was anything I could have done differently.
This soul searching enabled me to honestly assess whether I drove my wife into another man’s arms, or whether I was an innocent bystander.
Did I fulfill my obligations as a husband? Did I fulfill my conjugal duties? Did I shower her with the love and care she deserved? Had I been too demanding and critical of her? Would I be willing to forgive if not forget? If you can honestly answer these questions, then you are on the road to recovery.
Before getting on this road though, she too had to answer some questions. Was she remorseful for her actions? Was she willing to change? Was keen on saving our marriage?
Children are usually the casualties in a broken marriage, were we ready to subject them to this? We both weighed all these factors and decided to give our marriage another shot under the watchful guidance of a professional.
From my experience, seeking a counselor’s help unearths the issues undermining the marriage. This is the only way to get past the baggage. If you manage to do this, it will open a new chapter of understanding and trust rebuilding. Of course, I haven’t quite forgiven her, but I am on my way there.