A friend confided in me yesterday that she has had an affair, she hasnt told her husband about it, she likes the guy, isnt sure what to do or where to go with it.
It’s rather fascinating for me to look at my reactions to this scenario, particularly with my baggage.
To my friend who confided in me, I hope that what I write doesnt cause any offence, anything I say is clouded by my own experience and thus my interpretation and judgement is mine and not necessarily valid or “true” – whatever true means………………….
When my friend tells me she has had an affair I immediatley think of her husband, because I identify with him as the man in the scenario, to begin with I think you horrible woman, how terrible.
Once I take a step back,think it through and reflect on my friends words my immediate judgemental viewpoint changes markedly.
My friends relationship, her marriage, sounds as though it lacks love and fulfillment, her husband sounds like a man who is unable to express his emotions, or show feeling, he doesnt sound as though he is in love or particularly loving. My friend says if she told him about the affair then he would probably just throw her out and change the locks, well I guess thats one way of dealing with the situation, what does my friend want from her relationship?
Well, like most people, a little passion, love and connection.
She doesnt get that and its a problem for her. Her man doesnt want to look at it, wouldnt talk to a therapist or go for counselling, so as I see it my friend has a few choices:
She can resign herself to a marriage which may work on a practical day to day level, a sort of business relationship, a contract that provides a roof, a bit of company, a safety net, and stick with that.
She can continue to find fulfilment outside the marriage, sexually, intellectually and keep the “practical” marriage going, and keep her secret lover or lovers, a kind of guilty pleasure.
She could confront the situation, speak to her husband and say, I am not happy we need to look at our marriage, we must have counselling, we need to change this or its not going to work (She need not admit to the affair )
Or another option is to stand up and say, we need to talk, I’ve had an affair, what do you want to do, I want to talk to you about it and move forward.
There are lots of options, none is particularly more “right” than another, but I come away thinking that the worst option is to not take action, to settle for safety, for domesticity, for a practical relationship. We live but once, do any of us really want to get to old age and look back and say, yes I lived my life safely, it was a bit dull, I dont think my partner and I loved each other that much, I could have risked and taken chances, but I decided it was easier to plumb for safe, so thats what I did.
My take for what its worth is if a relationship isnt working and it will not change, then move on, it may cause pain, it may cause heartache, but that will pass in time, it may be a descision that you come to regret, but the greatest regret of all has to be the life lived without truth and unexplored.
I am mindful of words from Nelson Mandela, they might not have been written about relationships but they work well, “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living”, I agree with Nelson, we have to try, we have to take chances, we have to live life with passion, sometimes relationships dont work, it takes courage to move on and rise to the challenge of a life less ordinary.