A BROKEN TRUST: INFIDELITY
Two weeks before the birth of our son, the most dreadful thing happened: I discovered that my husband was having an affair. I had suspected it, but in every way possible I did want to believe it. However, what I had been denying inside became a reality; I was face to face with her and my husband. She didn’t belong in his arms. I did! My arms were empty and so was my heart.
“There was anger, screaming anger, which would not stop. I was angry at myself, at God, at the world. I screamed until I couldn’t scream anymore. I just did.”
There was anger, screaming anger, which would not stop. I was angry at myself, at God, at the world. I screamed until I couldn’t scream anymore. I just did.
Being pregnant made the situation more difficult. I felt ugly as it was, and I knew I wasn’t going to get any prettier. I kept thinking, “If I wasn’t pregnant, he wouldn’t be having an affair with another woman.” I was filled with guilt: Was this my fault? I felt like a “nothing.” There was no energy, joy or “life.” There was a death, a numbness, inside of me and outside of me.
WISDOM FOR THE CAREGIVER (from Mary)
*Everyday, for months a special friend would call and ask me two questions:”I’m here. Do you want me there?” (Sometimes I would ask her to come and be wioth me because I felt so alone and lonely.) The second question she would ask each day was, “What can I pray about for you today?”
“You carry the baby, and I will help you carry the hurt, and we will give them both to God”
*This friend would say, “You carry the baby, and I will help you carry the hurt, and we will give them both to God.”
ADDITIONAL WISDOM FOR THE CAREGIVER:
*Don’t ask for all the juicy details. Ask yourself: What is my motive for asking a particular question?
*Practice the Caregiving Basics: 1. Listen. Help them tell the story. Help them express their emotions. 2. Pray. Pray before you visit. Pray during the visit. Pray after the visit. 3. Respect the Grief Journey. Whenever someone loses someone or something important to them, they will go through a grieving process. Grieving takes time–lots of time.
*Practice strict confidentiality.
*When the person seems to be immobilized by depression, suggest that she or he write a “to do” list for the day. Then work alongside the person to accomplish the tasks.
*Invite the person to participate in a physical activity/exercise with you. Walking and talking produces healing–so does an intense tennis match, etc.
*Encourage the person to become involved in a class or support group on codependency, self-esteem, or assertiveness training.
*Read and perhaps share the following book with the person: After the Affair, by Janis Spring (New York: Perennial, 1996). How can partners help themselves through the shattering crisis of an infidelity? The author addresses this and other crucial questions such as: Why did the affair happen? Once love and trust are gone, can we ever get them back? Can I–should I–recommit when I feel so ambivalent? How do we become sexually intimate again? Is forgiveness possible?
*Check out other books and resources in the Caregiving Handbook, The Compassionate Congregation, pages 175-178