Let me tell you a story. It’s not a new story, there are very few of those around nowadays. Like many other stories you would have heard, this one is as old as the hills, and as new as today’s newspaper. I’m just going to tell it in a different way, that’s all. The lesson is still the same, as it has been for millennia. The situations, events, circumstances, protagonists etc might all be slightly different, with an infinity of variations, but the archetypes are always the same.
Here’s how it goes:
Once upon a time there was a young girl who noticed a young man. Something about him caught her eye and fired her imagination. She started thinking about what it would be like to be with him all the time, holding his hand, looking into his eyes, hearing his voice uttering words of love. He was all she’d been waiting for her whole life. The future appeared to be a shining mass of bright light, filled with laughter, love and happiness, stretching as far as the eye could see, and beyond. Even the thought of him, and she thought about him all day long, filled her with longing and a deep, almost physical ache. Everything he did was great, brilliant, awesome.
He is quite The Catch.
And so our young lady sets out to get our young man’s attention. He already had a large circle of friends, both male and female. She joined in his social circles online, found out what he liked and disliked, learned about his preferences for Music and made them Her preferences too. Learned what his principles were and made them Her principles. He didn’t like chocolate, so she decided she didn’t either, even though she did. She did everything she could to fit in with his group and then when she felt she’d prepared enough, she set about trying to get his attention. Not to take him away from his friends, but to set herself apart in his eyes as a potential partner in Life. Why not? She’d moulded herself to be just like him, there was no reason for him not to be attracted to her. Surely he would recognise himself in her? She made herself smaller to fit in through the crack in the door of his soul.
And so she centres all her energy on The Courtship.
Her ploy seemed to have worked. Suddenly she found him paying her more attention than ever before. It was almost as if he’d suddenly woken up and noticed her standing before him. Suddenly he was spending a lot of his time with Her, sharing adventures, jokes and his innermost thoughts with her. He couldn’t believe how much they shared in common. She was so easy to get on with, always had a kind word for him, was sweet, sexy and funny, supported his causes and interests, bought him CDs of his favourite bands, showed him news articles that she knew would interest him. He bought her flowers, took her out on her birthday, brought her around town in his car, surprised her with a romantic dinner, a weekend break in the country, a concert, introduced her to his family, bought her a diamond ring and promised her his eternal love and devotion.
And so our intrepid young adventurers got married. They could not afford to buy their own place, so they rented at first. In the beginning, everything was new, rosy and exciting. They discussed having children, and started planning a family. Not long afterwards, out of the blue, he lost his job. She became the main breadwinner while he looked for jobs. The economy was not very good then, the bills started to mount up and still he didn’t have a job. She then found out she was pregnant, and she was not quite prepared for his reaction when she told him. He bemoaned the fact that now they would have another mouth to feed, when they could hardly pay the rent and utilities. She was shocked to her core, and started to wonder at his change of character. He, on the other hand, was enraged at her apparent lack of concern about their financial welfare. How dare she fall pregnant at a time like this? When the baby is born and she is on Maternity Leave, how would they survive if he still hasn’t found a job? What if the baby was ill, deformed or had a disability? How would they care for it then? For the first time, they had a major argument, and he hit her. He was really sorry for it right afterwards, blaming it on the stress of finding a job so he could look after the family. He promised it would never happen again. But it did.
The Honeymoon is over.
The cracks were starting to show in their relationship. She slowly came to realise that her husband’s feet were made of clay. He wasn’t the God she thought he was. For his part, she didn’t seem the genuine article either. Where was the girl that shared so many similarities with him, to the extent that she appeared like his twin soul? Had it only been a farce to win his admiration and attention? Had she changed? Had he changed? Why did they even get married, they had nothing in common? He realised he hadn’t really bothered to get to know the real her, as she’d made herself fit into his world and not the other way round. He decided he could no longer talk to his wife the way they used to. So he turned to his social media circles and started an affair with a mutual friend, who as it turned out also shared lots of things in common with him. SHE was always there for him, always had a kind word, was always on his side, appreciated him for who he was and never tried to change him, sent him little presents in the post, that he had to hide from his wife. She could have been thousands of miles away, or a few doors away, it didn’t matter. Her arms, virtual or real, were always wide open to welcome him, whereas his wife was preoccupied with other matters and had her own interests. All was going well until one day when details of his affair were discovered by his wife.
What a Rude Awakening!
She was naturally upset and disappointed by his betrayal, and wanted to know how he could do such a thing to her. Had their courtship, romance and marriage all been for nothing? Did their shared history not count for anything? How could he be looking for love elsewhere, when it had always been right there in front of him? Why did he? At first he denied the whole affair, but she had evidence. He tried to pretend that it was only a harmless flirtation, but again the evidence pointed to the contrary. He’d betrayed her trust, invested his time, attention, money and innermost thoughts with another woman. He’d even let the other woman play with his mind and turn him against his own wife. They’d even gotten as far as to promise to leave their respective spouses for each other. How was that a “harmless flirtation”?
This Isn’t What Anyone Expected!
So, what was the answer? Leave or stay? Go and accept the offer to start a new life with the mistress, and deal with the fallout and consequences later? Or stay and reconcile with the wife and promise to be faithful for evermore? Could he ever regain her trust, after what he’d done? Should he accept and admit his wrongdoing, and sincerely make amends for it? Or was his mistress right about his wife being cold and calculative? Did he really ever love his wife, or had he just been in love with the idea of her? As for her, the questions swirling in her mind at this time would be who would look after the family once the baby was born, if she was not at work. And if she could not afford to NOT be at work, who would look after the family while she was at work? Her husband sure didn’t seem interested in being a family man. One minute he promises her that he’d cut off all contact with his mistress, the next he’s back to claiming it wasn’t an affair and that he hadn’t been unfaithful. She knows for a fact that he hasn’t cut off all contact with his mistress, that they are still in touch and still discussing things that should only be discussed between a husband and wife. How can she trust him ever again? He could just be biding his time, playing nice to her until their circumstances improved, and then he’d be gone in a flash, leaving her holding the baby, literally. Where did his loyalties lie? Where had they ever lain? Was she setting herself up for a great fall?
Now we come to the Crossroads.
Choices, choices. Weighing up the pros and cons. No more thoughts about romance or love, just about survival. Could she be able to make it as a single parent? Would he be honourable and live up to his end of the bargain and help support their child? Why are they even bargaining? What happened to their relationship, how did it get to this Crossroads? She must decide whether to cut her losses and go, or stay and try to repair the damage her husband did. Why her? Because he won’t. For his part, he may feel a sense of responsibility or remorse for his actions, or not, but clearly he is torn. He could stay with this stranger who is his wife and try to patch up their relationship…but the temptation placed by his mistress is pulling him still, and he simply can’t bring himself to stop communicating with her. So he keeps going back to the drug that he’s become accustomed to, even though in his head he knows better than to do that. But for now his heart is leading him. It seems so much easier to just give in and go with the flow, rather than fight to regain what he had in the past. He thinks his wife is making a mountain out of a molehill. He just wants things to go back to the way they were before, when he was having his clandestine affair and she was not aware of it. If only she hadn’t found out when she did! He wants to have his cake and to eat it too.
After The Fighting, We All Rest A While.
Both our young lady and young man have now reached an impasse. Everything that had to be argued or discussed has already been argued and discussed. Maybe they just weren’t “meant to be”? They both withdraw internally and try to figure out what went wrong, and how to rectify things, how to reach a compromise. She reads books on relationships, she looks online for stories similar to her own, she joins forums and groups to find answers to her situation. She writes in metaphors and poetry to excoriate this painful period of her life. He throws himself into his hobbies, stays out at night or else holes up in his study. He starts looking at online sex sites for relief, and engages in conversations with total strangers, with the mistaken belief that he will find salvation there. She wonders if she would be better off with another man, one who would embody all that she thought her husband was, before his betrayal. She wonders if history will repeat itself, if all men are the same. He wonders if his mistress will still leave her husband for him, if he were to leave his wife. Unfortunately, by now, as happens quite often with unfaithful spouses, his mistress, being a serial adulterer, has found herself another toyboy, and has declared herself taken. For the moment, at least. But still he keeps going back and knocking at her door, out of force of habit and because he doesn’t know what else to do. He hasn’t bothered to do any soul-searching, to find any answers other than the obvious one staring him in the face. The child in him is hoping that it will all go away on its own and that miraculously, without any effort on his part, everything will be alright again. He misses his mother.
The Next Step.
Now we have both our protagonists wondering what their next step should be. If she decides to let her husband go, there is no guarantee that the next man to walk into his life won’t be just as bad, or worse. There is also no guarantee that she’ll ever find another man who loves her…as she will not be single and free anymore, but a single parent struggling to make ends meet, and she is not getting any younger. That in itself is too high a hurdle for most men to jump. Many will simply look away and walk on. As for him, finding that his mistress is no longer available to him 24/7, he must decide whether to return to wooing his wife back all over again (once he’s worked out whether he really loves her or not) and regaining her trust, or to find another Catch. If the latter, then he goes back to repeat the first step in any relationship all over again. Karma will bite you in the arse!
If our young lady is smart, she will decide NOT to go looking for another relationship. Just let Life happen. Live in the Now, take things one day at a time, as they come. Work on raising her child and finding a means to support her family. Find herself. Whatever the case, DO NOT repeat the typical cycle of Love. If True Love exists, let it come in its own time. If it wants to. The form is not important, the Soul is. It might be another man, it might be a woman, it could even be her husband finally realising his faults and coming back to her. That is unlikely, until he accepts his wrongdoing. You cannot change what you do not accept.
Or, she may find it in the unconditional love, companionship and loyalty of her pets. It is what it is. Let Life Be.
Just be open to all possibilities. But DO NOT repeat the cycle, for that is just futile and the end results will be the same. Again, think in terms of archetypes, as every person is different, every situation unique.
~Don’t say I didn’t warn you~
(I got this image from a fellow blogger who I’m following, whose descriptions about her own efforts at positive living are in turns inspiring, heartfelt or just downright funny. http://dailydoty.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/feet-of-clay.jpg)