"I'm sorry but if a man isn't getting it at home, he'll go looking else where... that is why men cheat... because their wives are probably frigid and depriving..."
What an absolute naive and immature fool I was then. I shiver when I think about those words rolling off of my tongue.
About a month ago I received an email from a woman asking how to handle the devastating knowledge of betrayal in her sister's life, as well as how to approach the issue in the future. Today I'm going to share with you, what I shared with her.
Here are a few things to keep in mind if you know betrayal is present in the lives of your loved ones, friends, or neighbors:
1) Do NOT under any circumstance cast any sort of judgement toward the person who has been betrayed. No assumptions should me made. Being a betrayed woman does not automatically make her a cold, non-sexual prude in the bedroom. Not even close! And even if this was the case (which it is usually never, ever so), this is NO excuse to step out, nor does it offer any form of justification. It is just erred thinking.
2) Even though you may clearly see the toxicity of the whole situation from the outside, withhold your opinions. Remember that although the misbehaving person hurt and betrayed your loved one in unimaginable ways (and you want to claw his face off), he is also the man who captured her heart, who fathered her children and who she built her life and dreams with. And even though it seems like it would be easy for her to let go and move on because she 'deserves better', it is actually on the contrary. Love doesn't just disappear over night because of infidelity... it just gets a whole lot more complicated instead.
3) You don't need to know all the juicy details, so don't push for them. I know it's tempting to pry and I know you think you deserve to know, but she will tell you what she feels comfortable divulging- and when she does, listen... listen.... LISTEN. This isn't the time for you to tell her everything you think about it all. Just listen to her.
4) Offer to watch her kids, do her grocery shopping, mow her lawn, rake her leaves, run any errands for her, bring in some meals, etc. Even the littlest acts of service can be monumental during this time. Text, call or email often. It's important that you don't take offense if she vanishes off the face of the earth, though. This is a very sad, lonely, scary, vulnerable time... she may or may not accept your sweet offerings and she may not respond to your calls or texts... but keep checking in on her anyway- as often as you can. The message that you are near her, that you love her and that you really do care for her will ring LOUD and clear.
5) Be as positive as you possibly can. Remind her of her worth, her beauty and her purpose. Remind her that this has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with her. In no way do his choices have any reflection upon the woman, wife, lover, mother, housekeeper, etc that she is/was (or was not).
6) Be patient with her! Hang on tight- you're going to be on a crazy roller coaster, too. She will have ups and downs... she will laugh and cry... she will most likely say words you never thought you'd hear from her mouth... you'll watch her change... STAND BY HER SIDE and LOVE HER regardless. She will overcome this... things will get better... time heals... watch her grow.
7) RESPECT her. She might choose to stay and fight it out... she might choose to leave. Whatever she chooses, respect her decisions. Only she is experiencing it first hand. Only she can make the best decisions for her family (given her emotional, physical, and financial state). It may not be what you think is 'best' but it's not up to you! Love her. Support her. Be there for her.
8) Don't act like nothing is wrong... something is TERRIBLY wrong. Avoiding her and the awkward situation will not make it go away... so as uncomfortable as it is, reach out to her. Let her know that you are aware and that you are there to help her. Make an effort. She feels like her husband just died... actually in her eyes, he did die. But she suffers alone. She grieves alone. She feels alone. Wrap your arms around her and prove to her that she is NEVER alone.
Each week I am still getting emails from so many women (if I haven't responded to you yet, I will!) and even though I know not all my readers are going through this personally, I bet you know someone who is. So hopefully this list will help you if you're unsure of how to 'deal' with this difficult and uncomfortable circumstance. Do the best you can but whatever you do, DON'T brush her or the situation she's in under the rug. The effects this sort of thing has on a woman will impact her for life, in more ways than you can ever even imagine. Don't minimize her pain, it is real. And even if you don't understand it (or her thinking for that matter), if you can remember and follow through on some of these things listed above, you'll be enriching her life in the most destitute of times and she will never forget your kindness.
SHE NEEDS YOU!