It must be cellular that a woman automatically feels humiliated when her man cheats. Maria has done nothing to be ashamed of. Too often, women feel embarrassed for their husbands’ behavior, whether it’s domestic violence, emotional abuse, drug or alcohol addiction, gambling, or sex addiction, and although it’s fortunate that Arnold took responsibility for his actions, too often, those husbands shift the blame onto their wives. It’s called “blaming the victim.”
Betrayal is a devastating assault upon your ability to trust – trust in yourself, other people, your sense of justice, even God. For some people, the worst part of adultery is the dishonesty – sharing your life with someone whom you discover has been living a lie day in and day out. You start to doubt your own senses, let alone your own attractiveness. Who was he or she, really?
You go over in your mind past intimate moments and wonder what was he thinking. You recall clues and doubt that you dismissed, and wonder what was I thinking! Maria told Oprah she’s grateful for “the truth.” It must have validated what she intuitively knew. But then you wonder did he or she love me all those years – was it all fake? Was I in love with a fraud? You begin to distrust your judgment in the future. Can you trust “love” again? Can you trust another man, or woman if your wife betrayed you?
On top of this, Maria’s housekeeper, whom for many years she undoubtedly cared for and trusted, shared intimate knowledge of and with Arnold for over a decade right under Maria’s nose. Maria was betrayed by both of them. Sadly, it happens that spouses betray one another with their mate’s best friend or sibling. The pain of the double betrayal is horrendous.
Addiction is rampant in America – our codependent country – and sex addiction is rarely talked about. An addict’s family life is built upon shame and secrecy that eats away at everyone’s self-esteem.
You are never responsible for someone else’s behavior, nor does it reflect upon your worth. Only your actions are a reflection upon you.
I hope Maria can stop every self-doubt that creeps into her mind. Her value, and hopefully her self-respect, aren’t tarnished one iota!
By Darlene Lancer, MFT, JD, author of forthcoming Codependency for Dummies.