Saturday, March 19, 2011

An Emotional Affair

I am still amazed that people have such little regard for their public reputations. I am not talking about a teenager sexting pictures of herself to the soccer team.

While a teenager is presumed not to know better, adults should. Yet, because they feel compelled to rationalize their bad behavior, adults often reveal some of their worst character flaws, making them appear to be points of pride.

In terms of public reputation, they would do better to walk around naked.

Take the case of Lucy Cavendish-- her real name. Since Cavendish writes her own story for the London Daily Mail, we will imagine that she thinks that the story vindicates her behavior. Link here.

Surely, she did not believe that her story of how her emotional affair broke up her first marriage would make her look as bad as it does. If she did, she would have kept it to herself.

In another sense, Cavendish seems to know her audience. Most of the experts consulted and the commenters seem sadly oblivious to Cavendish’s own character flaws.

She wants their sympathy, and, for the most part, she receives it.

Apparently, it is so customary to absolve women of all responsibility for their own actions that we believe, almost as a conditioned reflex, that a woman’s bad behavior is necessarily a man’s fault.

Here’s the story: One day, several years ago, Lucy Cavendish’s husband had to relocate from England to New York to advance his career. Presumably, she agreed to the move, so she accompanied him to the great cosmopolitan metropolis. At the time, she was caring for a two year old toddler.

Cavendish did not adapt well to her new surroundings. Her husband was working long hours, and she found herself alone, isolated, and bereft.

As she tells the story, it never seemed to have crossed her mind to make friends with other mothers or other British ex-pats… of which New York has a plentiful supply.

Instead, she complained to her husband, blamed him for working too much and for failing to spend enough time with her and their child.

Another woman, one of sturdier stock, would have tried to become part of the local culture. New York abounds with activities for toddlers. Another woman would have signed up for a few of them and would have met and commiserated with other young mothers. Another woman would have struck up new friendships and generally shown herself to be a resourceful adult adapting to new circumstances.

Cavendish's was not, after all, a novel experience. She had not been dropped into the middle of a third world country where she did not speak the language and had to stay at home all day because going outside would have been too dangerous.

Lucy Cavendish chose to deal with her situation by becoming vindictive. She seems to have decided, unconsciously, that she would punish her husband for the indignity of having to care for a toddler without paternal support.

She began by complaining constantly about how lonely and needy she was.

It is hardly surprising that a human male would not be rushing home to see his wife and child if he knew that, upon first stepping across the threshold, he would be assaulted by a litany of complaints.

After a time, complaints were not enough. So, Lucy Cavendish got involved in an emotional affair. She insists that the affair did not cross a line into sexual congress. Let's take her at her word. As we will see, that is not the point.

She struck up a friendship with a British gentleman she met one day in Central Park. Without having been asked, this man spontaneously chose to help her care for her child.

Already smarting from her husband’s absence, she was thrilled beyond reason to meet a man who offered to help without being asked.

Perhaps she thought that she had found true love. At the least, she found a man who could play Prince Charming to her damsel in distress. How irresistible is that?

She does not say it, but she also discovered that she could use this man as a cudgel to punish her husband for working too hard to advance his career and better support his family.

As she tells the story, Cavendish has no awareness whatever of her husband’s point of view. She tells us nothing of what he thought or felt or said. She is so consumed with her own grievances that she can only think about her own needs.

Cavendish presents herself as a woman who is being starved for affection and who is therefore being pushed by her cold, heartless husband toward an emotional affair.

In truth, she is nasty and vindictive, and is doing everything she can to sabotage his career. When that doesn’t work, she destroys a marriage.

Now, everyone stand up and cheer.

Let’s get back to the story. After she met her Brit Cavendish began to spend more and more time with him, to the point where, as Cavendish explains: “In the course of about four months, I grew to rely on him enormously. He became my companion at social events, and a surrogate weekend father.”

At first her husband accepted the arrangement because it meant that Cavendish would stop complaining about how lonely she felt. After a time, however, the friendship deepened and her husband started feeling increasingly threatened. He was convinced that the affair had passed beyond the emotional into the physical.

Cavendish insisted on her innocence, and replied that if her husband wanted her to stop seeing her friend, then he should work less. In itself, that tells us what she is trying to do.

Fights and arguments ensured, eventually leading to divorce. The marriage died but Cavendish’s friendship with the British gentleman continued, and continues to this day.

Let’s be clear about what happened. Cavendish did not sneak off for a mid afternoon tryst with her paramour. She did not make use of her toddler’s nap time to make “the beast-with-two-backs.”

I do not mean to justify clandestine affairs, but had she been discreet she would have been showing respect for her husband’s pride. She did not.

She went out with her new friend to social functions and even brought him into the family to become a substitute father to her child.

Instead of respecting her husband’s pride, she assaulted it.

In the old days, when people were supposedly less sophisticated, discretion was an important ethical principle. So was the quaint notion of keeping up appearances.

When a married woman systematically goes out to public functions with a man not her husband (and not a walker), she is making a statement. And it is not a statement about her emotional neediness.

Cavendish did not just share an affectionate affinity with this man. She made him an integral part of her life.

As always, it is best not to try to divine what is in people’s hearts. It is usually sufficient to observe how they conduct their lives.

Of course, Cavendish does her best to rationalize her vindictive assault on her husband by blaming it on him.

She writes: “For my part, my extra-marital friendship blossomed because I felt a lack of love and support in my primary relationship, and while the intimacy developed slowly, even innocently, between us, before long that relationship had filled the existing gap in my marriage.

“For women with children, whose husbands no longer seem to notice them, and their children are busy, an emotional affair is both attractive — and addictive.

“After all, it has all the elements of a real affair, but without the complication of a physical relationship that would clearly cross the line into marital infidelity.”

And finally: “It’s quite clear to me that emotional affairs aren’t just about feeling emotionally content, but about the desire to be loved, supported, listened to — and intellectually stimulated.”

In truth, it’s about teaching your husband a lesson.

In order to justify her behavior, Cavendish closes her article by saying that she has since remarried, to a man who is perfectly comfortable with her continuing friendship with the Brit she met in Central Park.

And, by the way, the friend has since married himself and now has children of his own.

Which means that the two of them are probably not going out in public any more. And that she is not using the man as a surrogate husband and father.

Cavendish wants us all to ignore her moral responsibility. She trots out the second husband to show us, unmistakably, that her weak and insecure first husband overreacted needlessly. A better man would make nothing of it.

As I see it, that is not the moral of the story. As I read it, a better woman would have dealt with the situation ethically and would not have created a massive psychodrama that ended up destroying her marriage.

38 comments:

Therapy Culture said...

I'd like to hear her ex-hubby's side of the story.

However, let this be a lesson to all married men. Even if you are working long hours, give your wives as much attention, love, and romance as you can during the off hours.

What was the name of that movie starring Idris Elba and Beyonce where he had his secretary send his wife a different bouquet of flowers every Tuesday?

Stuff like that.

May seem silly to men, but it could save a marriage.

At the very least, it couldn't hurt.

blahga the hutt said...

Or, it would probably hurt even less for men to not get married at all. Saves an awful lot of needless drama.

BTW Therapy Culture, I love the "the woman was probably wrong, but..."

Therapy Culture said...

I'd have to hear both sides of the story before I came to a "wrong" conclusion, Blaghaa the Hutt.

It takes 2 to tango.

Anonymous said...

TO: Dr. Schneiderman
RE: Don't....

While a teenager is presumed not to know better, adults should. -- Stuart Schneiderman

....be so sure about that.

This last few months of high school debate for Lincoln-Douglas, i.e., 'values', has been on whether or not juvenile perps of violent crimes should be tried under the adult or juvenile court system. We're talking murder, arson, rape, etc.

And, whereas, as a judge of such competitions—for the last seven years—I am obliged to hear the args and rebuttals and gauge my decision on the evidence presented, I DO remember the evidence presented.

The fact of the matter is that, based on a large number of reports from reliable sources....

....these 'children' are more like adults, after age 14, than most people—including you—would care to appreciate.

For example. If a 17-year old commits an act of rape AND murder, under the juvie system, they could get a sentence that released them upon the public the moment they turn 18. However, they were fully aware of their actus raes at the time. Just because someone passes a marked date on the calendar does not mean they've advanced in intellectual capacity.

The fact of the matter is that the human mind does not compete its development until one reaches the age of 30 years. Sooooo....

....should we treat the actions of anyone under the age of 30 as being....'incompetent'?

I kind of doubt it.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[The Truth will out....]

Anonymous said...

P.S. Just finished the Colorado State Championships Tournament for Speech this last weekend. Two days of brain-frying debate. VERY 'stimulating'. Did a LOT of LD. But I REALLY enjoyed the Public Forum (PF) rounds on whether or not Iran or North Korea was the greater threat to US. Something of an SME on THAT sort of topic.

My personal opinion is that BOTH are EQUALLY a threat. They just do it in different manners for different reasons. Something I tried to impart to the contestants via my judges ballot comments.

P.P.S. Small world moment. Met the guy who actually flew the B52 that the Air Force Academy mounted as a monument at their North Gate entrance. Flew it over Nam. He was a judge of debate as well. A delightful conversation ensued....me being an SAC Air Force brat who went Army and he being one of the (SAC) guys my Father, God rest his soul, told where to 'make his delivery', via SkySpot...a system developed by the latter to put bombs on target via radar direction.

Anonymous said...

TO: Dr. Schneiderman
RE: Further Along

She wants their sympathy, and, for the most part, she receives it. -- Stuart Schneiderman

What was it someone said, not too long ago....

Misery no longer loves company. Nowadays it insists on it.-- Baker's Law

In other words....

....if she's jumping off the 'cliff', she wants company in her road to Hell.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Hell is empty and all the devils are here. -- The Tempest]

Anonymous said...

TO: Dr. Schneiderman, et al.
RE: The 'Moral'....

As I see it, that is not the moral of the story. As I read it, a better woman would have dealt with the situation ethically and would not have created a massive psychodrama that ended up destroying her marriage. -- Stuart Schneiderman

....of THIS story would make a great topic for Dramatic Interp at a forensics, i.e., speech, tournament.

Maybe you should suggest such to your state High School Activities Association (HSAA) organization. It could be a GREAT Dramatic Interp item. Let alone Original Oratory.

Who knows....maybe the young adults could learn something that was actually...you know...'useful'.

Regards.

Chuck(le)
[If a program is useful, it must be changed. -- public education]

blahga the hutt said...

@Therapy Culture

Yeah, been there,heard that.

That's generally a code term for when the female does something so dumb that the man can't just be blamed off the hip. So there is the need to "analyze."

Right...Wrong...so subjective these days...

Again, rolling my eyes...

Anonymous said...

Every woman wants to feel special to her husband. When he promises to cherish her on her wedding day she believes he always will.

When she feels "neglected" by him she begins to lose love for him. Hence all the complaints from this woman.

And these complaints were ignored by her husband. Where was his promises to love and care for her?

Separation is TERRIBLE on marriages. Couples who do not spend time together quickly fall out of love. If other people are allowed to meet the spouses needs, affairs will happen.

I don't condone what this wife did. NOT at all. I think she deludes herself about how innocent her "friendship" was w/ this other man.

But, her H owns 50% of the condition of their marriage, prior to her "emotional affair".

Not every woman is made of "sturdy stock". Some are much much weaker. Shouldn't every husband know which kind of wife he has and to try to accordingly?

Anonymous said...

Correction: Shouldn't every husband know which kind of wife he has and to try to act accordingly?

Stuart Schneiderman said...

But if her husband had to work long hours, for the good of his family, should she not have tried to connect with women in New York... When she did not, and when she complained all the time, she was not saying that she needed her husband, she was blaming him for her loneliness. She refused to do anything by herself, and therefore she placed a burden on him that no man could have shouldered.

If she had been less needy and less demanding, I believe that he would have been more able to show her more affection.

blahga the hutt said...

@Anonymous,

Again, I'm still hearing the "well she was probably wrong...but..."

She's the one acting like an ass and somehow, it's the man's fault.

Anonymous said...

"When she did not, and when she complained all the time, she was not saying that she needed her husband, she was blaming him for her loneliness."

Yes, she was wrong on almost all points. She should have been more clear in what she wanted. Instead of bitching and blaming she should have spoken honestly and told her H that what she needed was to spend more time w/ him.

"... should she not have tried to connect with women in New York."

Yes, she should have done this. And it may have helped her some. But, it would not have helped their marriage any.

When a woman complains she is actually trying to draw closer to a man. I know this is not the way men relate to other men. But, it is the way women do. To one another and to their man.

It's when a woman stops complaining that a man needs to worry. B/c by then she has already w/drawn from her H. And given up on him.

"If she had been less needy and less demanding, I believe that he would have been more able to show her more affection."

I didn't hear her complain about lack of affection. I heard her crying for TIME w/ her H.

"But if her husband had to work long hours, for the good of his family,"

It turned out that his long work hours weren't very good for his family.

Some women would have been fine w/ leaving their family, friends and country while their husbands spend long hours away from them.

Obviously, this woman wasn't one of them. And she tried to tell her H over and over again.

This marriage had so much going against it that I'm not at all surprised it didn't last.

Anonymous said...

blahga the hutt said...

"Again, I'm still hearing the "well she was probably wrong...but..."

She's the one acting like an ass and somehow, it's the man's fault."

The woman was 100% responsible for her affair. Her husband wasn't the tiniest bit responsible for her choice to look outside the marriage.

However, She is only 50% responsible for the condition of their marriage prior to her affair.

If this couple wanted to protect their marriage, they would have agreed to never do anything w/o an enthusiastic agreement
between the two of them. When she expressed her unhappiness about his long hours, they should have sat down and figured out a solution that would have made them both happy.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Anon is trying to tell us that once a woman stops complaining that means that she no longer cares. Huh?

The issue is how best to achieve a goal. If she wants her husband to spend more time at home then she would probably do best not to pressure him to spend time at home. That makes her look like the enemy of his work, and I have never seen that approach yield a positive outcome. It is simply a bad tactic.

As for her presence in NY, her willingness to give up family and friends, I am assuming that she agreed to it. Having agreed to it, she should have done everything in her power to make the best of it. She chose to have an emotional affair rather than make new friends and enjoy whatever her new city had to offer.

That was her choice. As a moral being she should bear responsibility for her choices.

Therapy Culture said...

"It's when a woman stops complaining that a man needs to worry. B/c by then she has already w/drawn from her H. And given up on him."

This is very true.

As long as your woman cares enough to complain and nag, she cares enough.

When she starts becoming "quiet" - then you know something's up.

Investigate.

Anonymous said...

"Anon is trying to tell us that once a woman stops complaining that means that she no longer cares. Huh?"

When a woman complains she wants to draw closer to her H. She's telling him, "Houston we have a problem." "And I want us to work through it so I can feel close to you again."

When an already unhappy woman (such as this woman) suddenly stops complaining, her marriage is in trouble.

"If she wants her husband to spend more time at home then she would probably do best not to pressure him to spend time at home. That makes her look like the enemy of his work, and I have never seen that approach yield a positive outcome. It is simply a bad tactic."

I couldn't agree more.

Her approach was definitely the wrong one.

Often women are not honest about what they don't like in a marriage. It is only after they build up resentment about their situation do they start complaining.

My point is that if H's would accept this truth about women. (When they complain they are trying to draw closer to their H's) maybe they won't react so negatively towards their wife's complaining and see it for what it is.

"As for her presence in NY, her willingness to give up family and friends, I am assuming that she agreed to it. Having agreed to it, she should have done everything in her power to make the best of it."

True. However, once we try something out and realize it is not going to work, what are we to do?

A job is not a family.

And if your family is suffering b/c of your job, do you ignore the suffering?

I guess that depends upon what is most important to you.

"Having agreed to it, she should have done everything in her power to make the best of it."

Could the same be true of the H? He was originally OK w/ her new friendship. Should he have just made the best of it since he agreed to it?

Of course not.

"She chose to have an emotional affair rather than make new friends and enjoy whatever her new city had to offer."

Yes, the affair was wrong. No, question. If she was that unhappy in her M, she should have D her husband.

And yes, she should have done all of these things. But, none of those things would have brought her intimacy in her M. Which was her main complaint.

Stuart, Do you think the H could have done anything differently prior to his wife's affair?

Anything to make his marriage stronger?

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I think you make some good points.


I agree with you that we can question the husband's actions here. After all, he did agree to the friendship at first, and then changed his mind.

I do not think that agreeing to move to New York is the same as agreeing to a friendship, or that agreeing to the friendship is the same as agreeing that it's OK to have the affair.

What if he had not accepted the friendship at first? What if he had seen what was going to happen and had tried to shut it down?

This would depend on the kind of relationship the couple has, and whether she would have respected his objection.

The way the story is presented, it sounds as though she had complained so much that he would have been willing to do anything to get her to stop complaining.

This is not the foundation for a good marriage.
Keep in mind that we were reading the wife's point of view only, so we don't know what the husband did or did not do.

I also agree with TC that a good husband can stay at work as long as he likes as long as he is willing to call in occasionally, send flowers occasionally, and make a gesture showing that he cares about her.

We do not know whether or not he did this, but it is certainly true that such gestures can save a marriage.

As can an occasional telephone call.

Anonymous said...

"I agree with you that we can question the husband's actions here. After all, he did agree to the friendship at first, and then changed his mind."

My guess is that he was never crazy about the idea of this friendship. Perhaps he felt guilty enough about not being there for his wife that he felt he didn't have the right to object.

I'd also wager that the wife reluctantly agreed to the move to NYC. Upon arriving, she certainly didn't behave in a way that demonstrated she was looking forward to it.

Just as the H hoped this friendship would not go to far, the wife probably hoped that her H would be more available to her once they moved than he was.

"a good husband can stay at work as long as he likes..."

As long as he likes?

I'd argue that a good husband would stay at work as long as he needed to. And not a moment more.

"...call in occasionally, send flowers occasionally, and make a gesture showing that he cares about her."

"Call in" occasionally? That sounds like something one might do for his elderly mother. 'I called in on Mom today. Think I'll send her some flowers next week to let her know I'm thinking of her.'

Pardon me, but that doesn't exactly stir up passionate feelings in a girl. LOL

Anonymous said...

My Aunt had 5 children. My Uncle and Aunt lived very independent lives. She raised the kids and kept the home. (She even drove herself to the hospital when she was in labor) And he pursued her career. She never complained about how much her H worked. She believed it was her duty take care of the home and allow her H to work as much as he liked.

Theirs was a loveless, passionate less marriage.

She was surprised when her work- alcoholic husband had an affair. She wondered where he found the time to, since he always told her how busy he was.

Since he spent very little time at home, he didn't get the chance to love his wife, and she in turn was never able to be turned on by him enough to enthusiastically make love to him. She did her "duty" as a wife though.

He justified his affair by saying she wasn't a fun sex partner.

This story is repeated over and over again in too many marriages.

Anonymous said...

When my Aunt's son got married, his W was nothing like his mother. I suppose you'd call her "needy".

She had three children very quickly. Two were twins. One was developmentally challenged.

She complained to her H that she needed his help. That she was stressed out terribly by the children.

Her H didn't tell her that, "SHE wanted these children and agreed to take care of them, so she needed to make the best of it b/c he needed to be able to work as much as he liked."

He didn't hire a nanny to help her w/ the children. He KNEW what she really needed. She needed him.

And truth be told, HE needed her too.

Even though he had a very demanding job, he scaled back his hours as much as possible, and hired a baby sitter to watch their children so he could spend time w/ his wife having fun together.

They went to dinner, took walks, played tennis, went dancing...you get the idea.

It wasn't long until he had his happy wife back again.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

When I said that the husband could "call in occasionally" I meant to say that if he keeps open a regular and consistent communication with his wife, that this would have been a constructive step.

Sometimes people do have to work very long hours. They do not really have very much of a choice in the matter.

In situations I have seen it also helps if the wife has her own set of friends, her own work... so that she does not make herself completely dependent on her husband.

The problem we have here is that we are only getting one side of the story. The husband may have been the world's worst human being, but there are often ways to manage the situation and to bring out some of his better angels. That is the point I was trying to make.

Clearly, the other stories are compelling, and I would agree that there are marriages where people live separately... only to discover that one or the other is having a liaison. This used to be a quality of arranged marriages.

And there are also situations where a husband takes a less demanding job in order to spend more time at home. Given that the family you mentioned also had a special needs child, the husband should certainly have provided extra help for his wife.

Anonymous said...

"Given that the family you mentioned also had a special needs child, the husband should certainly have provided extra help for his wife."

My Aunt thought her DIL was too dependent on her son.

So I guess "dependency" is in the eye of the beholder.

As it turned out my cousin's W didn't need extra help w/ the kids she just needed her H to reconnect w/ her in a loving, fun way.

Which turned out to be a win win for the both of them.

"In situations I have seen it also helps if the wife has her own set of friends, her own work... so that she does not make herself completely dependent on her husband."

I'm not convinced that this woman was completely dependent on her H. Clearly she was able to function on her own. She managed to care for their child w/o any trouble.

Maybe we have different ideas of what dependent behavior looks like.

Let me try this another way.

Let's suppose her H had an imaginary house so I can show how her H's lifestyle affected her.

Each room represents one of the roles he played in life. So there was a career room, a leisure activity room,a family room and a marriage room.

His career room was filled w/ furniture and projects that would make him successful. We don't know what he did in his leisure time, perhaps it contained golf clubs and friends that played golf, or perhaps it had video games. Or perhaps it was completely empty. Regardless, we know that this room was closed to his wife. The family room might have a TV where he would sit in front of while he played w/ his child occasionally. And in his marriage room he had a big bed. (I'm assuming he is like most males who want to have sex w/ his wife.)

As he made his way through his day he would visit various rooms representing the roles he played.

Anonymous said...

Marriage is a partnership and if decisions are not mutually agreeable it will hurt the relationship.

And if one spouse is VERY unhappy w/ the decisions of the other and left that way...

divorce is just a step away.

Anonymous said...

Oh man, my second post disappeared!

grrrrrr

Let me try it again.

...When he was in any room, the doors to the others were shut so he could focus his attention on the role he was playing.

B/c he regarded his wife's complaints as a distraction he relegated her to only one room...the marriage room.

B/c she felt totally neglected and resentful I highly doubt he got to use his marital bed much.

She wanted to be invited into each room. She wanted to be fully integrated into his life.

But, he wanted her to build her own house.

Which she did. Unfortunately b/c she wasn't allowed to "decorate" any of the rooms in his house, she believed she had the right to decorate her rooms any way she wanted too. Even if that included decorating them w/ another man.

If you own your own business outright, you have the right to make your own decisions. But, if you have a partner you should consult w/ each other and come to agreements. Otherwise your business will suffer.

Marriage is a partnership, and decisions that are not mutually agreeable will hurt the relationship.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thanks, Anon, for continuing the conversation.

In truth, we do not know whether she made any efforts to establish a life for herself in NY. She does not say that she did.

We do not know if she had trouble taking care of her child. The moment when she met the man who was going to become her emotional lover, she was having trouble.

We have no information about the husband's point of view or efforts to deal with his wife's distress.

If a man has sufficient flexibility with his work so that he can spend more time at home, well and good. I suspect that that was not the situation here.

From the little that we know, the husband was a journalist and he was transferred to NY. It would seem that he received something of a promotion and that he had some considerable responsibility. They do not move copy editors across the Atlantic.

Now, what if he could not do his new responsible job well without working long hours? What if other people depended on him?

Keep in mind, journalism has become a very difficult business. Someone who does not do his job to the fullest can very easily find himself without a job. Someone who has been transferred and promoted does not have the option to work less or to take a lesser job. That would make him a quitter and a failure.

If a man compromises his career success because his wife needs him at home, it might very well happen that he becomes resentful of her. Especially as he sees his colleagues move ahead or receive better compensation.

Surely, there are some marriages that can function as equal partnerships, but most involve a fairly clearly defined division of labor.

Anonymous said...

"Thanks, Anon, for continuing the conversation."

Thank you, Stuart for the continued conversation too.

"In truth, we do not know whether she made any efforts to establish a life for herself in NY. She does not say that she did."

When I said she built her own house, I didn't mean she embraced NYC. Only that she did have her own roles to play in her own life.

"If a man has sufficient flexibility with his work so that he can spend more time at home, well and good. I suspect that that was not the situation here."

And yet she gave at least one example where she asked her H to go look at a church w/ her and her H declined. So even when he wasn't working, he was not available to her.

"If a man compromises his career success because his wife needs him at home, it might very well happen that he becomes resentful of her. Especially as he sees his colleagues move ahead or receive better compensation."

Oh, I agree completely!

I believe a spouse should never agree to do anything that he/she doesn't really want to do. B/c doing so will always result in resentment.

When my cousin's wife asked him to come home early to help her at home, he told her, No way! He said that after working all day the idea of coming home to do housework or help w/ the kids would only make him resentful.

Besides, when the two of them were dating he didn't leave work to rush over to her to help her at her job so why should he do so now that they were married.

What he was willing to do was to take her out every evening so that they could have some fun together.

Later he said that when they returned home feeling reconnected and happy, doing the dishes or putting the kids to bed didn't feel like an imposition to him anymore.

Anonymous said...

"If a man compromises his career success because his wife needs him at home, it might very well happen that he becomes resentful of her. Especially as he sees his colleagues move ahead or receive better compensation."

I'm not convinced that her H couldn't have carved out at least 15 hrs per week out of the 110 hours of wake time he had in a week to do things alone w/ his wife... Even if he worked an 80 hour work week.

The thing is, they had to find recreational activities that they both enjoyed doing. Their time together should have been the most fun they had all week.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

As always, we're flying blind here. We do not know the details of his work schedule and we do not know how she presented her requests.

It often happens that people who work very long hours-- upwards of 100 hours a week-- do not have the energy to do much of anything that is fun.

I am not at all confident that recreation would have solved the problem. Even though it is a good thing to have regular recreational activities, I sense that she was very resentful about where she was, and that she felt that she was competing with his job.

I thought that the emotional affair was an effort to punish her husband... which is really not a sign of any positive feeling about the marriage.

We might say that her husband made her do it, and that might be true, but we only have her story and her story does not make her look very good.

It's worth noting, as I am often reminded, that sometimes what matters is how you word the request. Word it one way and you will get a flat No. Word it another way and you get a Yes.

In a strange way it's about leadership. As Eisenhower once said: Leadership is getting some to do what has to be done because they want to do it.

Admittedly, this is difficult. To some people it will feel insurmountable. Some people will feel that if two people are in love or are married, one need but ask the other to do something and the other person will naturally want to do it.

Often enough it happens that the most reasonable requests and suggestions and advice are turned down for no good reason.

Since I give advice for a living, I have seen very, very often that phrasing and tone of voice can spell the difference between advice that is taken and advice that is rejected.

Strange, but true.

Anonymous said...

"As always, we're flying blind here. We do not know the details of his work schedule and we do not know how she presented her requests."

Well, granted that if she made her requests to spend time w/ him in a manner that was most obnoxious, it certainly wouldn't inspire many positive feelings for her. But, would that absolve him from his responsibility to try to care for his wife? To meet her needs?

" upwards of 100 hours a week--"

If either of these people were my child, I'd have strongly encouraged them not to make this move.

If he was my son, I'd have told him that he has no business moving his wife away from her friends and family to another country only to work every waking hour at a new job.

That kind of job would be best suited for a single man. Certainly not for a married one w/ a young child.

"I am not at all confident that recreation would have solved the problem. Even though it is a good thing to have regular recreational activities, I sense that she was very resentful about where she was, and that she felt that she was competing with his job."

Her resentments are the exact reason that I believe spending recreational time alone together would have soothed her resentments.

It would have been difficult for her to nurse her resentments when she was having one on one time w/ her H having fun w/ him.

Anonymous said...

"I thought that the emotional affair was an effort to punish her husband... which is really not a sign of any positive feeling about the marriage."

I don't think she was trying to punish her husband at all.

She agreed to move reluctantly. She did it b/c her H wanted to grab this career opportunity and she did not want to be the one to ruin it for him.

In her mind she sacrificed what she wanted for his happiness.

After a period of time, her "taker" appeared and began to demands that her H make some sacrifices for her. When he refused to make time for her, she convinced herself that he did not love her, and did not care about her happiness like she had his.

When she met OM, it then became very easy for her to believe she was entitled to have OM, if he made her happy.

Her affair w/ OM, had nothing to do w/ her H or her M. It was all about HER. And what would make HER happy.

It wasn't about punishing her H it was about making what was broke inside her feel better.

Her M was vulnerable, but she was the one who threw the hand grenade into it to finish it off for good.

Anonymous said...

When you spoke of leadership did you have the husband or the wife in mind?

"In a strange way it's about leadership. As Eisenhower once said: Leadership is getting some to do what has to be done because they want to do it."

This kind of leadership is not seen often and certainly not in most marriages.

Requests in marriage slip very quickly into selfish demands, if the reply to the request is, "No."

I think there has to be a willingness to figure out a solution to what ever conflict is occurring that will make both partners happy.







Respect is the key to success in any negotiation.

Anonymous said...

When you spoke of leadership did you have the husband or the wife in mind?

"In a strange way it's about leadership. As Eisenhower once said: Leadership is getting some to do what has to be done because they want to do it."

This kind of leadership is not seen often and certainly not in most marriages.

Requests in marriage slip very quickly into selfish demands, if the reply to the request is, "No."

I think there has to be a willingness to figure out a solution to what ever conflict is occurring that will make both partners happy.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

When I was speaking about leadership, I was thinking of the wife. She could have managed the situation far better than she did, and I assume that her failure was based on some kind of overpowering emotion.

I am not sure we can really get very far by questioning whether or not they should have come to NY. Often these reactions are unpredictable, and, besides, we pick up the story with the two of them in NY.

If this woman is married to an ambitious and very capable man and if his career advancement requires him to change locales, I would expect that she would do what most women will do: pick up and move.

If she vetoes the move, for whatever reason, I suspect that this will not do very much good for the marriage.
I admit that I am seeing this through a fairly traditional lens of male/female relationships, and that, in all likelihood, the wife sees herself as an aggrieved party, even if she did agree to the move.

But I have rarely seen a marriage work where the wife makes herself an obstacle to a man's career advancement.

Anonymous said...

I guess I come from a place of wishing everyone would do all that they can to protect and care for their marriage.

Especially when children are involved.

The husband put his family at risk w/ this move. I think that since he was asking his wife to give up much so he could pursue his dreams, he would have done whatever he could to try to make his wife happy.

Had they not moved, there is still no guarantee that they'd have stayed married. But, they certainly would have had a better shot at it.

And even if his marriage did end up failing, he would have at least been living in the same country as his child and could have fought for custody if his wife went off the deep end.

I read some of this woman's other articles and saw where she said the child's father had not seen their child for THREE years...three years from the time she left him.

If I had been this father, I'd have fought hard to prevent a morally bankrupt woman from raising my child. And at the very least, I'd have moved to the same country as my child so I could be active in his life.

It seems to me that he offered up his family on the alter of his career advancement.

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Anonymous said...

I read her story several months ago and then just saw your comments Mr. Schneider man today. I agree that she had a choice and she could have chosen a better way. Why couldn't she find groups with women and kids? If her husband did not work hard she would be upset about that. What if she happened to be breadwinner and roles were reversed? I am sure she would have felt the same way her husband did...what if he befriended a kind female Brit while she was working long hours to take care of the family. Thanks for your comments.

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