Tag Archives: Divorce

Open Marriage: How Taboo!

A couple is tanning on their deck by the pool…

The husband turns to his wife and says, “Darling, I just had an idea! Wouldn’t it be marvelous if we could have all the delicious sex we can get with anyone we want and still be peacefully married? Imagine what hidden away fun we could have while we live in the comfort of our mutual love, respect, and understanding, surrounded by our cherished family and the comforts we took so long to build (like keeping the boat we have docked in the Caribbean in one piece instead of losing it in our divorce!). What do you think of that?

… And she would turn back to him with a surprised delight on her face and say, “Oh, darling this sounds great! I can finally stop salivating over our pool boy Hank and quell the longing I have always had for your best friend Pedro! …. Ahhh what a splendid idea! As long as I get to spend time with you as well to feel your love and support and do not wind up lonely and bored while you are OUT. Which of course I should not, because only boring people are ever bored!”

“Yes, darling, we would still keep our Saturday date-cultural-excursion-night, and the Sunday with the family. Except for, perhaps, an occasional get away… and let’s keep my friend Pedro out of it too.”

“Of course darling, as long as you stay away from my cute cousin Kate, other family members, and any of the kids’ friends’ parents!”

“Sure sweetheart, and you would please keep off any of my business associates, golf club members and other connections who might not understand our arrangement, and will simply think I am being disrespected by my charming wife!”

“Sure darling it will be our best kept secret!”

At this point they both smile, take a deep breath, ease in to their lounge chairs, take a sip of their drinks, close their eyes, and keep on smiling with their eyes closed, imagining all the future possibilities they just unleashed.”

How idyllic …

… Or would she be thinking: “Is he out of his mind? Why is he asking me for that? Does he not love me? Is he really bored with our sex? Am I bored with our sex? What is in it for me? What will the Richards think of us? Have we lost touch? Is this the end of our marriage? Will he get bored and leave me after he has all that delicious sex somewhere else? Will it save our marriage, because he will still come back to me? Why should I let him? What will he do if I tell him NO F**KING WAY?!”

Wow… with all those questions it does not look so carefree anymore. After all, if she says NFW, would he proceed with his end of the bargain without her consent? Or will he stay put like a good boy, if mommy says NO?

Consider this scenario:

A man comes up to his friend with a proposition to have a sizzling threesome.

The man to whom it was offered, inquires with curiosity, “Really? Who is going to be in our threesome?”

The first man replies, “Well, for now it is just you, your wife and myself. Is it not HOT?”

The husband replies in dismay, “NO way! I am out!” The first man shrugged his shoulders and says, “Ok Bill, we are crossing you out, then!” 🙂

One lady who told me, that she and her husband had a very simple arrangement. Every time he had sex with another woman, evident by being gone for the night, he had to give her an expensive gift or $500.00 in cash (which ever greater). I was surprised to hear such a DEAL, and shocked even more to hear that the husband would honor this arrangement! Wow, I thought, they are really open minded. I could not resist asking, “Do you not get upset at him for sleeping with other women?” She said with a wicked smile, “Well the gift or the cash offsets it nicely!”

Another arrangement I hear often, “I like girls and my husband lets me have my lesbian affairs on the side, and he does not feel threatened by them.” Another WOW from me, “He really is a good husband! He really trusts you! And who is he sleeping with in exchange for such a perk?

………

One glorious example of an open marriage I have seen, was with a couple who were married for over 20 years. Will call them, Sara and Jerry.

They decided that they did not wish to divorce, and opted for an open marriage instead. They really loved, cared and enjoyed each others company, their children and family. The only thing they could not do with any enthusiasm was to get excited with each other in the bedroom.

So they decided to try an open marriage. Since there was no animosity, they arranged it with the same loving care and consideration they had for all the family business. They were mindful of the children and gentle on the family. They were convinced, their arrangement was both sensible and practical. Sara converted one of their close friends and a common face around the house and on family vacations, a recent divorcee himself, Carlos, to the role of a lover-guest. Her husband needed more variety so he would simply “travel on business.”

They would go on vacations around the world together, like a group of chummy friends/family. Perfect? Was there friction? Should there be? Carlos actually enjoyed being immersed in the middle of such a “surrogate family.” Perhaps the children thought he was just a nice uncle.

Was it perfectly easy and fun for all? Was it adventuresome and exciting? Sure sounds like it was.

I got this story from the perspective of Carlos. He, being the close friend of the family, really loved them. It almost sounded that he went into the arrangement “to help them out” sort of. It seemed that they, Sara especially, were giving him much needed support in his divorce as well. This, naturally has gotten them so close that sleeping together seemed like just a natural next step. He almost cried telling me about how the love he felt from them towards each other would overwhelm him.

He described a moment they were together on a vacation and he and Sara would be in bed in their room, hearing how Jerry would stumble in their shared suite in the middle of the night with a couple of tipsy and giggling girls. Sounds so taboo… Did they just lay there and listen to those three enjoy themselves? Would they join in? I mean, once you are that open minded, where do you draw the line?

I drew the line when I got freaked out when Carlos invited me to join them on one of their “get-a-ways.”

“Will you be bringing me as your friend? What will Sara think of that? Will I have to sleep with the two of you?” Needless to say he withdrew the invite. I guess, I was not open minded enough. 🙂

Is the concept of an OPEN MARRIAGE an oxymoron like the possibility of having “fat-free-bacon”? Or is it like having your cake and eating it too? 🙂

MARRIAGE is an agreement – so people can make it anything.

It would require both partners to have TOTALLY open minds, BLIND trust, and UNCONDITIONAL love that goes BEYOND jealousy, it seems. Otherwise, jealousy will eat them alive!

What are the rules or the etiquette of an open marriage agreement? (It would be funny if marriage vows included check-box options: [  ] Traditional, or [  ] Open). However, I will not surprise you if I tell you it is not a standard form.

Will this OPENNESS make the marriage more exciting, more bearable or just another name entry in the book? Check your answer: A, B, C or all of the above.

Could the open marriage be a miracle cure to keep a marriage, without being forced to cheat and lie?

Oh goody, goody… Here, the possibilities are endless if husband and wife agree to have their own separate sexual experiences. Will they talk about them to infuse their sex with the new excitement? Or will they keep it all to themselves? Will they get in bed with each other with a refreshed desire or it will seem dull in comparison to the juicy philandering they had on their own? Will their relationship get stronger or weaker?

The proof would be in the pudding; if this arrangement does not work, it will surely put them on the fast track to divorce or years of self-validated cheating; or if they can make it work, they must have accepted the terms of the agreement!

Why Do People Cheat? The Bitter Truth Revealed!

Why do men, and for that matter women, cheat?

Lets first define the term CHEATING as engaging in sexual play and love affairs behind the other spouse’s back.

The very purpose of marital commitment is to be romantically and sexually dedicated to only ONE person – your spouse. The contract clearly states: 100% fidelity on both sides, for the duration of the marriage, which is supposed to last a lifetime. Therefore, tolerance for infidelity, or CHEATING, is a 0%, clear and simple. Why would anyone agree to get married if they wanted to sleep around in the first place?

Well, either the terms or the principle of the contract have changed, if we consider the latest statistics, from FOX news:

The percent of self-admitted cheaters among men in the United States is 70%, with our women trailing no so far behind at 50% – 60%.

These people have “admitted to cheating at some time over the course of their marriage.” What does that mean?

They all cheated at least once, but some could have cheated 100 times (with the same person or with different people) – we do not know. Most likely, they would do it more than once, since the hardest thing in any good-feeling-mischief is getting started.

Apparently, an overwhelming majority find the temptation to explore sexual encounters or even long term affairs outside of marriage, at one time or another, irresistible. Should we, in the name of political correctness (where we support all weakness), rename these people? Instead of cheaters, should they now be “monogamy challenged” or “secret sexoholics”?

OR, do we rename marriage itself, as “an official long term affair we can call family, with the potential of creating children, and the intent to acquire the mortgage for the house with a white picket fence, and possibly a dog, or a cat”?

Before we take any drastic measures…

WE REALLY NEED TO KNOW WHY PEOPLE CHEAT.

Maybe they are not all “dogs” and “sluts.” Maybe they have a good reason. We must hear them out!

The simple answer would appear to be: they need more lovin’, better, and more exciting sex then what they are getting. So the question then begs itself, why are they not having more sex with their chosen spouses? Why are they, 70% of the husbands and 60% of the wives, looking outside the marriage for sex? Are they not supposed to LOVE each other? Even if the overlap of these numbers at the far ends, at least 30% of the cheaters are each others spouses! Is sex with a stranger more interesting than with your LOVED one? Is this still not a huge risk and a logistical bomb ready to explode their marriage? Why do they take such a risk? Is it worth it?

At least the women here have some excuse because their husbands are either the 20% with the erectile dysfunction (as the latest stats claim), or are cheaters themselves.

Ideally, spouses should give and get a 100% satisfying sexual experience to and from each other! After all this is the ONE person they chose to LOVE and to HOLD in the state of marital bliss till death do they part!

This assumes they love and adore each other, their sexual appetites and interests match, and that they have great communication and trust in the bedroom.

One would think so, but unfortunately, while shopping for a perfect husband or a wife, so many factors blur our vision: their stability, income, image, commitment, romance and so many other pieces, have to fall in place to support your happily-ever-after plan. Sometimes banal or taboo details such the exact sex preferences fall off the cart and get lost in the euphoria of the moment where happiness seems inherent in the union itself.

When it comes to cheating, the stance is unequivocal, – the CHEATER is the devil incarnated and the CHEATED is the holy martyr. But is that really always so black and white?

A lifetime is a LONG time… and once the fairy dust settles and reality sets in, everyday banal necessities take over. Now we find out that he wants HOT creative dress up sex twice a day and she can only really orgasm after an hours of some very creative stimulation and they both get easily frustrated. She asks but don’t you just love me for who I am? Why should I dress up? And he says you cant possibly expect me to lick you for an entire hour? Both questions are selfish and stupid – YES I LOVE you, and yes this is what it takes for you to love me back! That is why they call it a “sex performance”: you must create and orchestrate this experience for full mutual satisfaction! Otherwise, why bother?

They both would say, “but LOVE should come easy, what is wrong with this picture?”

No. Love does not come easy or hard. It takes what it takes! And if you truly love someone and are willing to move mountains for her/him, you better learn to please them no matter what it takes.

Get creative and full heartedly enjoy the game. Put on costumes or learn to work with your tongue for an hour or whatever it takes to make them happy! Because if you will settle for just the superficial wife/husband “duty,” eventually the flame between you will start to fizzle out.

How long will anyone be happy about getting only a halfway satisfying meal, especially since you are already getting bored from eating at the exact same restaurant every time? Therefore don’t be so dismayed or surprised to find out when your partner, eventually, looks for someone else who would be willing to go the distance.

What woman would say, “Well, between my job, the children, the very important PTA meetings and my church… I am not willing to make the effort to stay in shape, to constantly kindle the enthusiastic flirtation, to muster all the getup and then to make the time to perform with my husband the acts that would take him to the state of ecstasy he desires?” A woman who is either somewhat selfish, does not really love her husband, or who is not getting the pleasure she needs out of her husband or sex in general.

The same would be true in reverse. What kind of a man would say, “I am too busy at my important job and I make so much money to make you happy. I am so tired what else do you want from me? I am not willing to make the effort to stay in shape, to constantly kindle the enthusiastic flirtation, to muster all the romance and then… to make the time to perform with my wife the acts that would take her to cloud nine?” A man who is either selfish, does not love his wife or the one who is not getting the pleasure he needs out of his wife or sex in general.

You may retort, “How can you say SELFISH and DOES NOT LOVE…? Of course they do! They take care of so many things for each other and the family – is this not love?” Yes of course it is, but it is secondary to loving her/his body directly and fully. After all, you can reprioritize and get a lot of people to help you do a lot of tasks, but this one is the only one you must do yourself! Put it on your to do list, up there in the top three. Or is this the one you are willing to push off to someone else?

You will say,  “By golly I would NEVER…!” Really? Really? Well, if you are not doing it yourself you are inadvertently giving it to someone else! Your spouse may be a very patient, loving and nice, but you can’t expect them to be a saint! Are they not entitled to live their sexual fantasies? Or are they expected to sacrifice their life to conform to only your desires? Who died and made you the queen or the king?

So the person looking for a sex fix on the side means one of THREE things. That their partner is NOT ABLE, NOT WILLING, or NOT ASKED to give them the sex they desire. Here is the break down of the causes and the effects of each.

1) CAUSE: Their partner is NOT ABLE to perform (entirely or to the right level) due to an illness or a health condition. Or that their spouse is not interested in sex because they are too tired, a workaholic, an alcoholic, a gambler or obsessed with something else.

EFFECT: It would seem that the spouses of the ones who are not ABLE should almost automatically get the license to get their sex on the side. If they do not get it at home they should get it somewhere, they did not sign up for vows of celibacy with their marriage. And they must love their partners and their family a lot, since they do not want to leave them despite their short comings.

2) CAUSE: Their partners are NOT WILLING to give them what they want. It means that either their partner is not a good match for them in their passion, sex tastes or is not willing to go the distance. They could be asked by their partner for that-very-kinky-thing, but they “don’t get it.”

EFFECT: While the unwilling partner can’t be forced to engage in the sex they do not themselves want or need, the other partner is feeling rejected and unsatisfied. The “unwilling” partner might be happy with what they get and assume that what they do in bed is perfection already, or is at least plenty good enough!  This type of response is only a slap in the face to their spouse: a luck of understanding, respect or LOVE. So if the frustrated spouse finally decides to find the willing contributors to partake in his/her sex fantasies are they really to blame?

3) CAUSE: The other partner is NOT WANTED, not desired and not called upon (not at all, or not all the time). This can be either due to the fact that LOVE and attraction are no longer there. Or the spouse just needs to experience OTHER partners for variety and excitement beyond what they can possibly get with their spouse.

EFFECT: In the case that the attraction is no longer felt and the desire is all gone with either of the spouses, the sex ceases completely. In such a sexless marriage everyone seems to be left to fend for themselves or go their separate ways, because no one is getting it.

In the case that the spouse gets all the sex he/she wants from their partner and then needs some more variety on the side – this seems to be the really licentious outbreak giving all cheaters the bad wrap.

So as we can see it really takes TWO to TANGO! Therefore, when they say, “Oh, he cheated on me I am so outraged!” Really?.. NO Really? Have you not seen it coming, or were you deluding yourself in the peaceful bliss of DENIAL?

Mary’s Story IV: Life and Love Have No Guarantees

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Mary’s identification with the role of a victim is only delaying real healing, causing her unnecessary suffering and possibly validating her bad choices, which will only complicate her life in the long run. Just because he, perhaps painfully, realized one day that your body does not excite him anymore or his desire is gone – does not change who you are, does not make you less attractive or make someone at fault. Inversely, the way he has come to feel now does not make him a monster. Even if Mary is right in thinking that she is well deserving of his affection, he can have another opinion and is entitled to his choice, no matter how much this pains her. After all, he can’t be required to sacrifice his life to be marooned in bed with a woman who does not make him happy for whatever quirky reason that might be.

The story, the mistakes, the promises, the “he said, she said” – none of this is important. We will need to let go of our own sob story, eventually, to get rid of it, to just drop it like an unnecessary burden.

“What will I say instead? How will I explain myself to people?” she might say. Well, when she is ready, this will become self evident. She most likely will not even talk about it from the get go; she will have other priorities. But if it comes about she will simply say with ease, “I am divorced.” No need to validate it. No narrative necessary. If the person persists and says “Oh no. What happened?” She may shrug her shoulders smile and say “Life happened” :)! This is real freedom and real victory because you are not ashamed anymore; you are not attached to the negative tag of the “divorcee” taboo. You are allowing yourself to be who you are – there is a real power in that!

Often times, it is really true that there are no guarantees in life, love, and marriage. Instead of “till death do we part” the marital vows should really say “until we are no longer happy and can’t put up with it.” This would be a far more realistic slogan. Why would a woman or a man sacrifice years of their life to raise children and support each other without such a guarantee? The only possible answer is because it meets our current goals at the time,  and we decide that we want to have a family and children with this person, hoping for the most positive outcome: A great and loving partnership for life. But no one can be 100% certain, and no one is entitled to it. What do you think ? If marriage came with this type of warning, would people would do things much differently? Not really, because from how they feel at the time of marriage, they would not be able to foresee any trouble – only their future life together will tell.

Maybe, if no “Happily Ever After” guarantee were so rosily promised in marriage vows, people would be more careful when making huge sacrifices. How often does a  woman sacrifice her career in order to build a family? If she knew that she would be left alone twenty years down the road, would she be so eager to make these sacrifices? 

Making such sacrifices almost never pays off in the long run. The other party is never quite happy enough to justify the sacrifice you have made in the first place.  The cost of giving up the opportunity of a lifetime, or of letting yourself get hopelessly out-of-shape, or losing your self-image entirely in favor of becoming only Mr. or Mrs. So-and-So, is rarely ever worth it.

If someone’s “Happily Ever After” is not guaranteed, and they do not begin their married life expecting absolutely security, perhaps they would have hedged their bets in the first place. Perhaps lived more fully in the moment, and not for some far-off reward. After all, should married couples see themselves as all that different from live-in girlfriends and boyfriends, who are only together to relish in each other and supposedly stay together solely out of pure love and free will? Certainly things get a lot more complicated in marriage, but the main reason for staying together should be the same in both cases. If we recognized the core principle of any relationship as giving and receiving love fully today without any guarantees, and commit to treasuring and treating each other better on daily basis – not taking each other for granted, as a lifelong sold-into-slavery piece of property – this approach would improve our odds in marriage!

Mary’s Story Part III: The Text Files

Another aspect that struck me at the party was that Mary was clutching and checking her phone with a dead serious urgency, as if one of her children was taken hostage and she was waiting for the ransom text. What she was really doing was avoiding being at the party in the environment of other seemingly happy families. She was escaping to somewhere else, constantly looking for some validation from her social networks. Maybe she was thinking, “My husband should not have left me, we should have been here all together like the other ‘normal’ families.”

I have been there myself. She feels embarrassed ashamed and lonely. Interestingly enough, the only ‘complete’ family that was present at the party was that of a birthday boy. The rest of the guests were accompanied by only one parent, a mother or a father, whichever was the case. So why was she the one feeling awkward? Because she was not there alone by her choice! Because she was hurt and was blaming her ex for her discomfort. The remedy she was using to alleviate some of this pain was her precious phone – her outside online connections. They could have been anything from a pleasant and fun distraction, to flirting, to even an on line text/chat date, or, if she really wanted to be a bad girl, a sext for all we know! What she craves and what she gets is a stream of constant attention in the form of the messages, texts, winks, compliments and come-ons from various online dating and social sites.

Going through this stage, one can get addicted to such an escape. An easy way to test if you are already addicted in this fashion or not, is to try to see if you would feel at ease turning your phone off for just an hour on a casual weekend. Try this and you will know.

Eventually, she will distance herself from the pain she feels, and will start to let it go. Once she starts to feel at ease with her single status and freedom, she will be on her way to the adventures of her life. After all, that dull married life she described, with one date a year on their anniversary, does not by any means sound exciting. Then she could let herself feel the seduction of a new romance, lust, the excitement and passion of a first kiss. Get carried away, meet new people, explore new interests. The important thing, I think, (Mary of course might disagree with me) is to not aim or recreate the same boring, abusive, or neglectful relationship she just got out of. There is no way back; we can only go forward.

Regardless of how open-minded or adventuresome Mary is, she is looking for that special someone who will give her what she thinks she needs. She is, ultimately, looking to heal her self image, her hurt ego. She is looking for love and companionship (and perhaps also to add another nail to her ex’s coffin). By the way, never go for an affair or a relationship because you just want revenge – you simply will not enjoy it.

What is important? I hope she understands that the new man or her new circle of friends should love her for who she is and should make her happy. She must be able to choose the real person who will make her happy, and not chase the mirage of a new prince charming, who will be on an even bigger and whiter horse. Is she really ready and in the right state of mind to find her perfect match? Would she recognize him once she meets him?

She impressed me as a smart cookie. I hope she will figure it all out in time.

Mary’s Story, Part II: What Could Have Been, and What’s Next?

In the course of our conversation, I told her that I was in a similar boat. “Yes,” she said, “It seems my whole circle of friends with whom we shared the wave of bridal showers and weddings, are now all going through this turmoil.”

We both shared a sight followed by silence. There was nothing left to say. We connected. We shared. Her story touched something deep in me. It echoed my own story and probably so many others with its open-ended hope and underlying sadness.

It got me thinking, how could it have gone differently? What will the outcome be? Is there a rainbow at the end of this tunnel?

Do we ever know what the other is thinking? How is he/she feeling? Are they honest with us? Are they even honest with themselves? How much are we supposed to or are willing to sacrifice to keep the union together? Is it worth it in the long run?

These questions can have very unique answers for each family. One thing is certain: It is a very hard decision to be carefully weighed out. In real life, though, there are storms of hate, love, passion, regret, jealousy, betrayal, all of which cloud our judgment. We can act impulsively and make numerous mistakes. Yet we also have a huge capacity to forgive and forget, it seems.

I tried to rethink her situation and compare it to other possibilities. For example, as rough as it might have seemed at the time, her husband made a bold move by leaving. He could have just chosen to live a secret double life (like so many others do), with this other woman perhaps, hidden away from Mary. Would Mary, in this scenario, have been just a disconnected wife raising her kids in an empty shell of a relationship? Would her husband be able to play well on both fields? Would she become aware that she was being shortchanged?  If he stayed, would it have been more gentle, less cruel? Would those two statistical years of an affair lifespan pass and would he return to his wife with renewed love and dedication? Or would he only proceeded to have his next affair?

By leaving, he cut off a lot of future possibilities of keeping the family together. He must have been either very unhappy in his marriage or crazy in love at the time, or both. What is done is done. (That is not to say that all could not possibly be forgiven if there ever was a will and enough love to do so.) Well, the story did not turn out this way: Mary did not take him back.

He cut the rope and, ultimately, has freed them both to boldly explore, in the open, other relationships, to find interesting people who might bring them joy! They might also get burned, but alas, this is the nature of freedom. One thing both of them need to do first is to really free themselves from the luggage, the guilt and the shame of a “failed” marriage. They need to become whole happy people again, then a myriad of opportunities will shine through.

As my divorce lawyer ones told me, “What have you got to lose? You will be free, and the world is your oyster.” I was too unhappy back then to appreciate the wisdom of her words. I just thought in the back of my head, “My life is ruined and she is after my money.”

Divorce is not just an end. It is a beginning. This could be a dream come true in a way: Finding a mate for life, working hard at being married, putting up with all kinds of sacrifices while creating a family, not being your own main priority anymore. You have done that, been there.

Now, you can relive your youth, be really wild, enjoy all life has to offer. Why not? You can! The only thing you really need to do is to stop seeing yourself in a negative light! Stop carrying that burden! Throw it away for God’s sake!

An Intriguing New Friend: Mary’s Story (Part I)

I met a woman yesterday at a kid’s birthday party. I’ll call her Mary. Mary came in with two beautiful daughters, who were seven and three years old. She impressed me as a tall, shapely, attractive woman, wearing a sexy opened dress, but with a slightly sad and disconnected expression. I immediately separated her from the others, because she did not have that peaceful look of the mother-hen spending a pleasant afternoon sitting out at a kid’s party. Her rather reveling dress and constant clutching and typing on her phone were dead giveaways. She must be having an affair, I thought.

After the party was over, it came as a nice surprise that the very woman I was so intrigued by happened to need a ride home with her girls and just happened to live in my neighborhood. I gladly offered to get her home, and asked how she got to the party in the first place, since it was quite a far shot from our hood. She declared, “My ex husband drove us here, but he would not take us back.”

As soon as we settled into the privacy of my car she literally spilled out her story. She went right into an unprompted monologue. “I am divorced, you know!” In her voice I felt the urgency; she needed to share, to get a shot of relief, support, and validation in my eyes.

Her tone reminded me of a confession at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, very a matter of fact, somber, and regretful, as she continued with no interruptions:

“He had an affair. This was three years ago. Imagine, he left me only four months after I gave birth to our second child. I was in a very vulnerable state. I gained a massive amount of weigh. I was 200 pounds, bloated from the childbirth. I had just returned to work then, and I was really stressed, still breast-feeding my daughter and even my best friend’s son (his mother did not have any milk). I was breast feeding at home and pumping at work. Then, he just walked in one day and said he did not love me anymore, did not want to live with me, so he packed his bag and left.

I was devastated, at first, as I tried to understand what happened. What have I done wrong?”

At this point, I felt a chill going down my spine as I remembered this time in my own life… after the birth of my first child. Moving around in a daze without sleep, pumping at work, driving home in mad traffic – it was hell! This became merged with the stress of a separate instance in my life, some years later, when my husband declared that his life did not turn out as he envisioned, it was all my fault and as a result, he HATED me! My heart was going out to her.

She continued:

“Later, in a few months, I got a glimpse of a text message on his phone and I finally pieced it all together – he left me for a woman working in his office. The office, that I worked so hard to help him get off the ground, and the very woman whom, ironically, I myself helped to hire. He is a such-n-such-professional, and the other woman clearly only wanted him to get the partnership in the business. I myself was, at one time, going to go for a graduate degree, even passed the prerequisite exam, but he discouraged me! He said, ‘We do not need two professionals in one family.’

“Now, he owes me everything! Of course, I am ok now, just a few months after he left, I was already in a relationship. I have friends, my life is better now. I have a lot of options now. I can go on vacations with kids and without kids. When we were married everything was monotonous, dull and only about the children. We went out on a date only once a year for our anniversary.

“His affair ended, by the way. She threw him out. He crawled back to us after two years. Statistically, affairs last two years on the average, (she looked at me convincingly and divulged knowingly.) He wanted to try to get back together ‘for the sake of the family,’ and even moved back into our apartment. It lasted a week, then I kicked him out! The damage was already done with the kids and in my heart when he left. By then we had become strangers. Not only was I not at all attracted to him, I could not even stand him in the house. Now, he lives alone; he rents his own apartment three blocks away. Now he realizes that no one really needs him and he is bored and unrequited. Now, he is all about children and family. I kept all the friends, they were all on my side (she said this with especial personal pride) and he is all alone!

“It has been three years and, get this, we have not finalized our divorce yet. But it is really over of course. He is just scared to pay out a big chunk for my portion in the business, so he is just dragging it along. It is ok I guess,” she concluded. “He pays me sufficiently now and he is really helping me out big time.”

She finished with a reassuring crescendo. Who was she trying to convince? Me? Herself?

As she laid it all out, she seemed to be almost on an autopilot. She has probably told this same story before so many times, to friends, neighbors and even perfect strangers willing to listen.

Why is she doing this, you ask?

She thinks everyone can see her problem, and she feels a compulsion to defend herself from their “judgment.”

She thinks it is her mission to convince all others that she she is really 100% right, and that he (her ungrateful, cheating, monster of an ex) is 100% to blame. And from the first glance, and according to the canons of the marital laws, it would certainly seem so. If we try to look deeper, no one knows the whole story, except maybe their therapist. In a family break up, and even a betrayal, there is no right and wrong – no winners and losers – there is just a story of two people and their lives. Somewhere they lost it, perhaps got lost themselves – this is life. No use crying over spilled milk.

You will say, “Well, this woman has told you exactly that – she is fine! She is better off now!” Yes, but I did not ask, and did not need to hear the gory details in order to support and accept her. She does not have to defend herself or hide behind a tower of her story which seemingly protects her while it keeps her hostage. I want her to free herself from her own judgment.

How It All Got Started

I was a career mom, very family oriented and dedicated. Very selfless really, as far as the proportion of time I dedicated to myself, as opposed to dedicating to pleasing everyone in my family, from the smallest details to the largest challenges, in order to make their life easier, fun and amazing every day. I saw myself as a champion mom and a creative and resourceful you-can-have-it-all woman, building my happily-ever-after scenario. As far as my career was concerned, I was at the top of my game after a decade as a branding and packaging designer, a fine artist and a business entrepreneur. As far as family life was concerned, I was raising two active boys, while looking forward to having a third one and working on plans to build a big and beautiful house.

Sounds perfect… but it has all come to a screeching halt. What has gone wrong? My marriage has fallen apart. But why? How? What have I done wrong? Why was I not warned? Or was I warned and missed the memo? How could this have happened to me? Is he the worst man on earth for doing this to me? What to do next? These are the types of questions I have spent the last three years pondering from various angles with diminishing anguish. Changing my perspective brought me towards enlightenment.

The realization of our marriage being on the brink of a full catastrophe was evident after some dramatic events which escalated over a few months, with roots and signs going back years– possibly even all the way back to the day we got married, 16 years ago. It probably happens in other families and it might have similar cocktails of the negative factors such as: loss of love, disappointment in self and the spouse,  hate, shame, infidelity, middle-age crisis, jealousy, depression, feeling trapped, lonely, and a variety of other factors such as financial, health, and other life circumstances. The condition seems to be like a land mine in which one spouse has been getting ready to explode and the other one, possibly quite unaware of this taking place or seeing it from a different perspective, is slowly but surely about to step on it. Once it explodes, their world will shatter and one will be the instigator and the other will, inevitably, feel like the victim of the blast.

When I finally stepped on this land mine, I got blasted with an explosion of abusive language, demeaning me and likening me to an evil piece of trash, who, according to my husband, ruined his life. His campaign could be summed up by a slogan – I am not happy, it must be all your fault! I HATE YOU – YOU ARE A FUCKING BITCH!

Was I in shock?..  YES.. Devastated? Of course.. Lost? Very much so. It took me a while and a lot of therapy to separate my self and my self-image and self esteem from my marriage and status. This journey of rebuilding myself after 18 yeas as a separate being – reorienting my dreams, needs and wants away from my husband and our previous life patterns – felt like a rebirth. I really had to ask myself: Who am I? What do I need and want? What makes me happy? I, a woman of some ripe age, had no idea. Sad, but true. I had to start somewhere. And I decided that starting by pushing off the lowest point to climb back up was the only way to go. I was faced by the statement that I HATE YOU – YOU ARE A FUCKING BITCH was the reward I got for 16 years of dedication, love and endless energy I poured into my husband. I helped his career and life gave him children, never complained, was always positive, evened out his explosive temper, and yes took his abuse. I did it for the sake of the family, or at least my idea of one.

With all the uncertainty around me and so much confusion and hurt, fear and anger – one thing was certain: I am NOT a FUCKING BITCH! The question remained whether I should become one! After all, my other life strategy led me to a dead end. I tried to examine the meaning my husband put in to this statement and what I would associate with it, trying to understand myself and who I am.

At first came this image of an uncompromising, glorified selfish bitch with gluttonous self indulgence, no human values, and no human worth. Well, this certainly was not me. In my mind, I was quite the opposite. I was selfless. Now the real question was why? Why was I so selfless and why did I not get the recognition or the gratitude I was expecting? It took time to get to some answers and I tried various strategies, from family counseling to creative outlets, some more impulsive than others. I was taking chances.. I was making bold changes… I was going to get to the bottom of my own motivations and nature. I was going to finally look myself fearlessly in the face and deal with who I really am, not who I thought I was supposed to be for the sake of others.

I tried on the FUCKING BITCH role, then the fabulous bitch role, went through several stages and came out on the path of enlightenment as a “fabulous being” — As an someone I truly felt I was on the inside, after stripping off all the layers of pain, past hurt, unrealistic goals, fake confidence. On this road, I do not see myself as an example, but maybe as  a guide who has made it out of the dark situation and wants to share the experience with other women in similar situations and give them support and hope, if I can.  This has motivated me to start the Fiona Fab Club and friends! This is the place for the women (and men too!) to support each other in being themselves, coming out strong and in control, being labeled BITCHES if the world is not ready to deal with us and being OK with it! This is the club and the channel for us, speaking candidly to each other, accepting ourselves as we are and facing our challenges together.