I got a call from an old friend this evening. She and her husband were mutual friends of XWW and I, but had been out of touch for a while. They were latecomers to the news of my situation. By the time we told them, we already had our court date set.
Anyway, this friend of mine is adamant that we're rushing into divorce too soon, that our marriage can be saved, etc.. Of course, I agreed with her that the problems that my XWW had cited as her reasons for wanting a divorce were hardly insurmountable, that she was acting in a way that was immature and short-sighted, but the time for trying to fix the marriage was long past. She cheated. She didn't regret it, and she wasn't changing her mind about leaving me. What was I supposed to do? She seemed to be laying a guilt trip on me for giving up too easily, even though I tried to tell her that it was XWW who had given up on the marriage, and I had to detach from it for my own health and sanity.
When she called this evening, she wanted to see how I was doing, but she still seemed very invested in whether I was still holding on to any hope of restoring the marriage. Honestly, I hedged a bit, because I didn't have the heart to tell her that my love for XWW was dead and I wouldn't take her back if she begged me. Frustratingly, she tells me that I should focus on myself, on behaving towards her in a way that might change her feelings towards me. Again, she missed the part where I tried to save the marriage by doing just that. Sorry, but I'm not doing that again. Not for her.
It was just a hard and frustrating conversation to get through. Everything she said about marriage was right as befits someone who had been married for 19 years, but she just didn't seem to be able to grasp that were just were not in marriage-saving territory anymore.
But the most frustrating thing is that at the end of the conversation, she tells me that she's not taking sides, that she still wants to be a friend to both of us.
I smiled and nodded, but quietly I had the same reaction that I have had every time any of our mutual friends take this stance. I think, "Why the hell aren't you taking sides?"
If it hadn't been for the infidelity, that would be one thing. But shouldn't cheaters have to experience social consequences for what they do? Isn't that what society is supposed to do: reward pro-social behavior and punish antisocial behavior? I mean, if you're not willing to shun the person, then at least keep on applying pressure for her to make amends for what she's done. I'm sick and tired of people acting as if the good and noble thing is to love her and accept her in spite of her outrageous behavior.
They say they don't want to take sides, but I need people on my side! XWW's friends had no problem siding with her against me, and enabling her cruel, heartless betrayal, and now I'll never be able to speak to them again.
I feel like there have been so few people who have been willing to actually back me up in a way that feels satisfying, and the rest are just trying not to step on anyone's toes. Cowards, I say.
These people mean well, and I feel like I can't cut myself off from them when they have shown genuine kindness and concern for me, but I really, really need some new friends.
[This message edited by dbellanon at 5:28 PM, September 26th (Thursday)]
You need to focus on your healing, and having a "friend" make those comments to me would have made me question myself and set me back.
Personally, I think that not choosing sides in a situation like this is choosing sides -- with the cheater.
If you need to let these people go for your own healing, don't let some noble sense of friendship stop you. I've dropped toxic people for less.
ETA: And, as I was ending the friendship, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be able to stop myself from saying something like, "I sincerely hope that you are never on the betrayed side of infidelity. But, if you are, I hope you remember this conversation if any of your friends refuse to choose sides."
[This message edited by phmh at 7:12 PM, September 26th (Thursday)]
Married: 11 years, no kids
The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark. -Michelangelo
Three things: it could be religious for them, in which case you're just going to have to smile and nod unless you want an argument. It could be that this person is just a meddler and it really isn't any if her business what goes on in your marriage or divorce-- let her try talking to your blockhead of an XWW if she's so interested. Lastly, and you know I say this with love, it sounds like you could use some "new" friends more sympathetic to your position as a support network.
[This message edited by PhantomLimb at 7:31 PM, September 26th (Thursday)]
I remember one of our mutual friends calling me in tears because she had asked WS why, if he was so unhappy with me, he hadn't just D me or even just talked to me about it before he had he A. He hung up on her and never spoke to her again. She called me because she didn't understand why he would treat her this way after being friends for over a decade. I told her welcome to the party.
In other words, your post reminds me of how far reaching the actions of our WWs are. It affects so many more people than just the immediate family that has been ripped apart.
And all of them, including the one who called me most recently, did actually try to sit down with XWW and talk to her about what was going on. From what I understand, at least a few of them tried to convince her to change her mind, and one of them at least tried to talk some sense into her about the stupidity of the affair, and how much she had hurt her husband (This woman's husband had an EA, so she knew what she was talking about). I haven't seen any evidence that any of them got through to her.
So they have been "on my side" in the sense that they see XWW as being in the wrong, but I don't know if they see that this whole mutual friendship thing actually hurts me. I think that they are trying their best to do the right thing in a difficult situation, but are misguided as to what the right thing to do actually is.
I hope that infidelity hits one of her children.
Hey, if someone does not want to take sides and does not want to judge, then bully for them. But to announce it in a superior way as if they are taking a great moral stand is akin to saying "I don't support you and I think I am better than you." No one would ever say the latter so WHY do they say the former??!! (and don't get me started in Switzerland....)
dbellanon, even aside from that, this person does not sound like a well meaning friend. From what you have posted here, she sounds like a judgmental gossip. Who needs that in their life?
She was so proud of herself when she told me. This little grey-haired lady with her happy smile, brightly telling me that she'd invited him back to service. I flipped out on her. I asked her right there in the narthex area which service he would be attending, because if he showed up at MY service I would be taking the children and never returning. Her face went white. Then I asked her how she thought I felt, knowing that STBX might show up at any minute? How did she think I'd feel if I saw him in the parking lot? How did she think the kids would cope if they saw Daddy at church but weren't allowed to go off with him (because it wasn't his visitation time)? I asked her how did she think I'd be able to even close my eyes to pray if my abuser was anywhere on the property?
She clearly had never thought of these things. I told her that if he came back to MY church, I'd quit it. I told her there were plenty of churches in our greater metro area. He could go to any of those.
It's been a year since that incident. I finally don't look around for him. But honestly it did take me almost this entire year before I felt fairly safe that he wouldn't show up.
People have good intentions. But they just don't think them through. That's when we all end up on the infamous Highway to Hell.
But to announce it in a superior way as if they are taking a great moral stand is akin to saying "I don't support you and I think I am better than you." No one would ever say the latter so WHY do they say the former??!!
Someone actually had the nerve to call me and say that she wasn't taking sides because "there are two sides to every story"
As if he'd tell the truth about his side and/or that anything justifies infidelity.
This might be controversial, but I am more and more of the opinion that an A itself and the actions of the remorseless WS are, taken as a whole, abusive behaviors.
So, on that premise, let's say that your wife had been physically violent against you or vice versa... would anyone call either one of you up and encourage you to be nicer to get your spouse to stop hitting you?
As you say, you did what you had to do to protect yourself. End of story.
I actually encouraged this because none of the people with whom she had spoken ever sought me out to hear my side, which I thought was unfair (and it probably should have occurred to them that if she was willing to lie so systematically to her husband, that maybe they shouldn't be so eager to take her at her word, but anyway...) It took it as a sign of maturity that they weren't just going to take my word for everything. And they did make it sound like it was just a kind of due diligence. They understood that nothing about her perspective could change the objective fact that she cheated.
But for some reason, nothing about this fact affected their determination to remain friends with her.
I don't know if I'm comfortable with the label of "abuse," for the affair itself, since she didn't do it with the intent of hurting me (after all, she never intended that I find out), but if it's not technically abuse, it's just as bad, because it has the exact same impact as abusive behavior. And I feel like the behavior surrounding the affair has the potential to be seen as more actively abusive: the manipulation, the deception, the blame shifting. It's not just that she kept the affair a secret from me. She actively tried to make me feel like I was a monster, a worthless pile of sludge who would be damn lucky if she deigned to stay with me one day longer. She completely dismantled me emotionally before I began to piece together what was really going on. That's abusive.
I don't know if my friends quite comprehend the whole picture of that. Maybe they just see her as someone who is temporarily straying off of the straight-and-narrow, and they need to show her love and compassion to gently lead her back, or something like that. They don't know how much she has changed, how completely fucked up her moral compass has become.
It's not as if I expect anything they do to change her mind. She probably takes their continued friendship as evidence that what she did wasn't really that bad. But if they shunned her, she'd probably just take that as evidence that they're a bunch of judgmental puritans that she doesn't need in her life anyway. It wouldn't make any difference to her, but it would make a big difference to me. Oh well. At least I have you folks for moral support.
[This message edited by dbellanon at 9:27 AM, September 27th (Friday)]
Personally I don't expect those who know both myself and STBX to "take sides". I feel they have a right to do what they feel is needed based on what they perceive, in the same way I expect them to respect my decision based on what I perceive. If they become part of the toxic mess, I'll cut them out of my life. At this stage I feel that I don't have time or the energy for the drama of other peoples inconsideration.
I have lots of people who said they weren't taking sides, and I am not close to them anymore, with the exception of one. My EXH's best friend, I am not sure if he knows why we split, but he has been very good about being friends to both of us. He reneogitated my mortgage when I took over the house and he still hangs out with EXH, plus our kids are best friends. I actually appreciated his situation and never pushed him to take a side.
Some people just don't want to get involved in personal problems, but if my friend told me that her husband cheated and they were divorcing, he wouldn't get to friendly a reception the next time I saw him....just sayin'
[This message edited by ninebark at 10:10 AM, September 27th (Friday)]