Saturday, July 30, 2005

We're just friends ?

Hi,

My name is Maria. 4 months ago I found out my husband cheated. I thought I would die I am still in a lot of pain. but my question is they have stayed friends. Has this ever happened and whose to say that this wont happen again? They both swear it wont. They both feel remorse for what they have done? They said they were both caught up in the passion but never thought for a minute that they were hurting someone else in the process. I have been married for eighteen years and have 4 children with him and am still very much in love with him. But I have a hard time dealing with him and her being friends. I'm suffering health ways because of this. They have destroyed my life. and I cant seem to get out of this state am in. Please help me.

My response:

Maria, if I could get a dime for every time I hear the, "we're just friends" schlick, I could buy those Ping golf clubs I've been looking at, PLUS accessories, PLUS a membership to the most exclusive country club in town.

Here's what "we're just friends" may mean:

"I don't want to talk about it. Go away. Don't bring it up again. I don't want to address your concerns. I don't want to acknowledge your pain and hurt. Leave me (and her) alone. I can't handle talking to you about this. I don't know how to talk to you about this". (It may mean he is naive or lacks relationship skills.)

So... don't take that phrase literally.

And, allow me to guess what happened. I would bet my old golf clubs that the two of them had less than stellar sex. It most likely was a dud - a big fat DUD. Great expectations but the follow through left them cold as ice. And, that relationship will probably fade like fog in a hot sun.
Remorse? When they never had a clue such an act would impact anyone else? Doesn't sound like he suffers from great compassion or emotional awareness. Remorse sounds like a good word to cover up the fact that it didn't work.

Actually, Maria, I would guess that you are the one in the relationship that carries the sensitivity and compassion. Are you the conscientious one? The one who has worked so hard to raise your family, keep things together and is typically aware of the others' pain and questions?
And now your body is crying out with pain because it is tired? It has personal needs that are being ignored? It is weary of carrying HIS (and perhaps those of your children) anxiety and fears? And all this, while he plays and tells you it's no big deal! gggggggrrrrrrrrrrr!

So, Maria, here are some possibilities for responding to "we're just friend."

Laugh hysterically and walk away. Or, Say, "Hmmmm, that sure is weird. You have sex with all your friends? Tell me what other of your friends have you done? You think having sex with your friends is no big deal?" Or, I'm not as stupid or naive as you seem to be about this!"

Or, confront the underlying message: "You don't want to me to bring this up? You didn't think this would bother me? You want me to condone and forget about what happened?"

I also suggest you begin to reflect on your personal needs and begin experimenting with ways to get them met. (Be prepared. He will notice and he may not like you caring for you!) Uncover the "true" Maria a little more, so she can breath with less stress and tension. I think you probably know what I mean.

And, Maria, remember, you have not lost your integrity or self. They have not destroyed you. They have injured themselves. This is your opportunity to redesign your life and relationship in ways that honor you and your family in greater ways.

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Monday, July 25, 2005

An internet affair

Dear Dr. Bob,

I have been married for 10 months now. I met my wife playing spades on the internet then we started talking on the phone for hours and hours until I left CA. and moved to TN. with her we have a good relationship but now she spends so much time on the internet thats making me worried and i don't like it when she talks in IM's to strange guys or gets too close online with them. What should I do? the only thing we fight about is that I asked her many times not to get close to guys on the spades games and she tells me i'm being jealous she hides her computer so i can't see what she is doing on their. All i hear is her typing on it in games you click the mouse not type as much as she does she was under her screen name on my computer so i looked at her mail i saw something thats is bugging me very much i saw that she had been talking to this guy and was telling him that she was going to call him when i go to work what should i do?

My response:

As Yogi Berra once said, “This must seem like deja vu all over again.” It certainly appears that her behavior now on the net finds some parallels with how your relationship with her started? And, of course, you have a right to be concerned – here she goes again!

You describe behavior that could be labeled “addictive.” Her focal point becomes these relationships that generate excitement, intrigue and fantasies? She seemingly can’t keep her fingers off the keyboard? Other parts of her life take a back seat? And, she denies that she has a problem or minimizes her activities – she’s not doing anything wrong!

Please understand that usually, beneath this minimization, are some guilt and shame and a part of her that is truly looking for something else. And, you want her to find that “something else” with you…not in a series of net/phone “romances.”

Confronting, pleading and arguing won’t work. She will resist, retreat to her keyboard and you will feel increasingly frustrated and alone.

I suggest you start with a tactic I call, “problemize.” Periodically make comments about the problem(s) you see. MAKE SURE you use words, tone of voice and body language that convey acceptance, concern and lack a tone of judgment, condemnation or a sense of superiority.
For example: “Does it ever seem to you that you are going through the same thing now as when you first met me?” “Do you ever stop to think what impact your net/phone relationships will have on our relationship?” “Do you ever think there is more to life than meeting someone on the net?” “You must get a ‘high’ out of these relationships?” “I wonder what you are REALLY looking for?”

I wonder what I eventually will do with this.” “I wonder if you will always be looking?” “
Get the idea? Leave a question in your voice. Open the door for her to talk and explore. This is your first step. If, over time, her actions persist, begin to think about what you are willing to tolerate and what actions you may need to take. But, first, “problemize” and see where that goes.

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All About Cheating