I continue with the story of my playing the mother who has been insulted by an unfaithful husband. Post 1787 describes me dealing with myself. Post 1788 describes me dealing with children. This article describes me dealing with my husband.
My recovery continues with husband likely to seek divorce as soon and maybe before I apply pressure to him. Consequently, I intend to avoid that pressure, reassert control over my potential as independent woman, and conduct myself in a highly dignified fashion.
Dignity. I repeat the definition of dignity, up to which I expect myself to live:
- a proper sense of pride and self-respect
- seriousness, respectfulness, or formality in somebody’s behavior and bearing
- the condition of being worthy of respect, esteem, or honor
- the respect or honor that a high rank or position should be shown
- a high rank, position, or honor.
It matters deeply that I view myself mastering each point in that model of dignity. My road to recovery lies with husband seeing and desiring to ‘re-inherit’ such character in a wife, namely me as the most unique creature of whom he’s aware.
His Situation. It matters not whether he was lured to cheat or sought it out of his primal urge to conquer. He’s no longer loyal to me in marriage for one simple reason: He doesn’t respect me enough to love me enough to devote himself to sexual faithfulness.
If he initiates his defense by threatening divorce, I can face it three ways. Accept it as inevitable, give in and take sucker punches to the psyche, or I can vengefully fight back with female tenacity. I discard the first two options as both unproductive for ‘my side’ and disadvantageous to my natural strengths. As to the third way, I go on offense to upgrade my existing dignity. That will produce the best result for me and, consequently, my children.
As with the rest of life, it’s a mind game. I take charge of my emotions and follow a strict regimen of thinking that puts me in the driver’s seat of my emotional future. If I let him control my emotions or dictate my behaviors, I lose both the divorce battle and much ability to live successfully after it.
My Condition. My greatest fear is potentially realized; whether actual or not, I seem abandoned. My greatest drive to nest, nurture, and nestle with loved ones goes up in smoke. My great want for a man alongside in case of tough times has seemingly vaporized. My need for a brighter future is squashed into mushy uncertainty for the near term. From those conditions I have to recover regardless of what he does.
My sunken sense of self-worth and importance adversely impacts the whole family, and I need my greatest strengths to weather the domestic storms ahead. My greatest burdens are my weakened self-esteem, -image, -confidence, and -respect. I don’t like myself as much as before. I lack the image that I can gain victory. I lack the self-confidence to stand up to anyone and everyone. And, I lack the self-respect to reinforce my personal importance to myself and others. To ease those burdens, I choose dignity as the cure.
I take charge to also prevent depression setting in. When I control my actions, I control my beliefs and emotions; admittedly it takes time, but it beats letting a man make a victim out of me.
I choose to do certain things in a dignified manner. I neither respect nor empathize with husband, but I can deal with him and generate victory for me. These things seem to be primary for appearing more dignified:
My Intention. I become a different woman overnight, a mental gymnast. I work completely to serve myself first and foremost. I forget husband as father, treat him as outsider, and restore my self-image as a woman, my self-esteem as a person, and my self-respect as a highly respected wife and mother. I handle the kids as needed to assuage their anger and fears but put all extra effort toward myself.
My Target. I am my primary target and not husband. I’m the one left to dither in the frozen wilderness of a shattered relationship. Recovery is everything. Snuggling up to someone else provides him an easy way out, or so he probably thinks, but how do I recover?
My Objective. I peaceably disassemble us as a couple without me becoming a quarrelsome nagger, shrew, or emotional burn out. He sees nothing but that he loses what he highly valued sometime past. He sees a woman as close as possible to the girl he initially married but more highly withdrawn and independent. Sounds like a tough order, and it is.
My Purpose. I have new purpose in life. I shift gears away from soft-hearted family tenderness and back into hard-headed premarital and pre-conquest practicality similar to that used to protect my most unique asset. I reinforce and resort to femininity, mystery, modesty, morality, virtual virginity, monogamous beliefs. I strengthen my female assertiveness, independence, and insistence that marital fidelity is holy in the eyes of both God and me. That he sinned is God’s business; that he broke vows is my problem. I do it all quietly and calmly and especially without preaching at him. I recognize that when I preach, he hoists his guilt barrier as first line of defense.
My Strategy. I set aside the children as a matter of concern with husband. We deal with ourselves almost exclusively. I refuse to let him interject the kids and cower behind their needs in order to win me to his side of the argument. If husband enables the kids to see me as the dumpee, it betrays him more than me. He can’t ever make it up to kids. They may forgive, but they never forget, and forgetfulness is needed to complete the bonding after such emotional trauma.
Betraying anyone to whom he has vowed allegiance means that he betrays his own conscience (if I was smart enough to choose a man with a conscience). To excuse himself, he relies on rationalizations that may involve lying to himself, which undermines a person’s mental strength. How reliable is one’s conscience once it’s self-betrayed? Or, what negotiating weakness befalls a man lacking in mental strength who lies to himself? He no doubt can live with himself, but it will be tougher and can interfere with compatibility with ‘the other woman’. I intend to exploit the weakness he brought on himself.
- I don’t reveal it to him, but I accept blame for our relationship not being fully successful. Even to myself, I provide no details and simply take responsibility of the whole rather than details or my behavior. Accuracy matters far less than perceptions. Accepting blame helps defuse his animosity and demonstrates an independence he thought I lacked. I blame him for nothing but also excuse him for nothing. Let his masculine imagination dwell on and massage the details that—left to him without my feedback—generate guilt.
- Unless he leaves, we share our home as two occupants. I resist the urge to push him out the door, and I refuse to even think about my leaving. Essentially, we live separate lives under the same roof. It benefits my game plan to have him regularly exposed to my restored and newfound dignity.
- I neither complain nor explain. If he leaves, he sees neither joy nor regret on my face. He doesn’t know how I feel about it, him, us, her, cheating, divorce, or anything else. If he threatens me even with the loss of my children, I will indirectly but convincingly let him know that it may not bother me. Silence, modeling a poker face, and perhaps a little acting from time to time will signal newfound independence for me. (After he cheats, I owe him neither full disclosure nor full sincerity about my feelings or plans.)
- I may hate his guts, and he expects that I will. But indirectly I let him dangle in the wrong as he sees it with me showing only feminine dignity. I continue until my life absorbs full recovery to my liking. He sees a new me full of quiet and dignified surprise and purpose. He sees a greater price to be paid for dumping me. It’s more likely he will return in case I still seek that outcome.
My Conclusions. The toughest part? For some uncertain future, I expect to manage myself without receiving his love, affection, and intimacy. I strengthen myself to withstand the personal shock of no togetherness and closeness. I convince him and myself that I can do without presently in order to have it restored in the future. I have to reconceive and restructure my future but prevent myself becoming an emotional wreck— angry, vengeful, or bitter. With determination to succeed, handling all my other emotions becomes much easier. For example, by renouncing marital sex I make virtual virginity the greatest power behind my wifely control over pressures and events. It also helps restore my dignity, brighten my future, and refresh a dominant spirit he’s not seen recently.
The easiest part? He may cite excuses or think he has other reasons, but it boils down to this: He cheated because of lack of respect for me. So, I square off my well-rounded heels. If he doesn’t want me exclusively, he doesn’t deserve me at all. He’s not heard of virtual virginity, but he deserves to learn the hard way. I demonstrate an independent and strong will that husband has not seen before. From the new me he faces unending surprises with neither complaint nor explanation about sex.
Finally, I dodge the worst offense for keeping husband at home. I neither threaten nor strike back by being unfaithful to him. It might work as an equality bargain, tit for tat in my mind or girlfriends’ minds, but it never would work in his mind. He’d lose lasting respect for me, which is the opposite effect I desire. Not that I’m not justified in taking another man, but I can’t control events before, during, or through divorce without husband’s uber respect. And so, I finish with one of my favorite soundbytes: If he cheats, she wants to talk. If she cheats he wants to walk.