A friend of mine, I’m going to call her Annie, lived with her boyfriend for four years before they decided to get married. They had a fabulous fun wedding and four months later she caught her new husband cheating on her. She was so hurt, humiliated and angry that all she could think was of was to ask for a divorce. They sold their house and went their separate ways.
I saw Annie recently, three years after her divorce, and we talked about her ex-husband. She said she regretted not having given their relationship a chance. She thought she should have talked to him and tried to figure out why after just a few months he needed to give his attention to someone else. Was the commitment to much of a weight? Was he/she feeling insecure about still being a desirable man/woman?
I have just recently returned from a business trip in Brazil. While there I reconnected with a friend I had not seen in ten years.
This friend and I had been really close and our fall out I believe had more to do with me than her. Let me explain: My friend is bright, funny but insecure. I didn’t understand that and let my ego get the best of me. All it took was for my friend to forget a couple of times I was coming to Brazil to visit to make me stop calling her. I felt she didn’t care enough about me. What I didn’t understand was that her behavior was for show only.
Anyway, this time I picked up the phone and called her. We met at a coffee shop and although we had not been speaking when my husband passed away, she ignored that and immediately embarked in telling me what had been going on in her life.
Unlike times past, I didn’t get offended by her being more interested in telling about her life than mine, and sat back to get reacquainted with my friend.
She told me her husband of twenty five years had had an affair. She then went on to describe the process that brought them back together. Her first reaction was to reflect on the state of their relationship. Was she happy? Was he happy? Did she still love him? Did he still love her? After some soul searching she knew she still loved him but she also realized she had been taking him and the relationship for granted. That’s something she could work on. That’s something she could change she thought. But in order to do that she had to get her ego out of the way.
My friend did not accuse her husband of betraying her. She knew accusations and fights would only lead to more separation. Instead she told him she knew about the affair but wanted to see if they could find a way to rediscover what had brought them together in the first place.
It was not an easy process. She had to time and again leave her pride out of it and remind herself what her ultimate goal was; to save her marriage.
My friend succeeded and today they are sharing a second honeymoon.
I’m not condoning betrayal or affairs but I also think sometimes we fail to remember we all make mistakes. In a relationship sometimes stepping back from the role of husband and of a wife and embracing the role of friend, is the best way to keep the connection alive and healthy. It brings forgiveness and compassion.
I remember another friend years ago telling me she regretted having divorced her husband for the same reason; an affair. She said if she could go back in time she would have tried to work it out instead of being indignant and demanding the end of their marriage.
Both my Brazilian friend and I have put our feelings aside for something that was more important to us. In my case her friendship—although sometimes selfish she is interesting and does show up when needed. In her case, her relationship with her husband.
It is important to always remember what is it that we want to accomplish in the end. Doing that allows us to fight for what we really want and not be sidetracked by our pride which only brings regrets.
Although loneliness and solitude are often thought to be the same experience, nothing could be further from the truth.
For a long time in my life I felt lonely. Even when I was married living in New York, I felt lonely. The reasons were: 1 – I was terribly unhappy in my marriage and 2 – I didn’t have a healthy relationship with my own self.
Feeling unhappy in a relationship is a relatively easy situation to fix. Sooner or later one of the two – if not both – start a process of separation. Now creating a relationship with oneself is a bit more complicated because it requires courage and commitment. Courage to embrace all aspects of our being – what we consider “good” and what we consider “bad” – and commitment, because it will take time to form a bond.
Once you decide to get to truly know yourself, solitude becomes the space and time to make it happen.
I know a thing or two about self-destructive behavior. In my life I had two distinct cycles; first when I left my family in Brazil and moved to NYC. Second, when I left my first husband in NYC and moved to Los Angeles.
Now even prior to my move to NYC, I find a girl who always had trouble understanding why people would love me. Even a friend. So I would look at every relationship I had and ask myself what was I providing that person with to justify them being my friend. One can say I had a serious case of low self-esteem. And of course it wasn’t justified. I’ve always had many qualities that make me a person worth being with and loving.
My first cycle ran for about ten years. I married a man who was controlling and abusive and little by little lost myself to depression.