Here is my latest article written for Womenetics.com.
Many years ago, I was climbing the corporate ladder – rapidly! I loved my role, loved supporting my client organization, loved the people with whom I worked. I had great responsibilities and teams relying on me to get things done. A normal day at the office was challenging, hectic and invigorating. Then, all hell broke loose at home when I got the news that my dad had cancer and only a few months to live.
Several years ago, I was in the midst of executing on a strategic plan to grow my business. I had just brought on two business partners. We were poised for growth, then we started to feel the rumblings of the economic downturn. We turned up the heat. We maintained our focus on generating new clients and expanding our service offerings with current clients. Then the rumblings turned into a full-scale economic downturn. Still, we pressed on. Then, all hell broke loose at home when my husband announced he was leaving me.
As women, we are used to multi-tasking, taking care of everyone else and keeping it all together professionally. But what happens when all hell is breaking loose at home? What happens in our professional world when our personal world begins to unravel?
It is so easy to lose your footing in that moment of personal crisis. Suddenly, the path on which you felt so firmly and deeply rooted becomes completely unstable. I know I felt as if I was hanging on for dear life to a rope ladder perched between two sides of a raging river. Every cliché seemed to fit. I felt as if the rug had been pulled completely from under me personally, and I felt as if all the balls I was balancing in the air in my professional world were about to come clattering to the ground.
It’s virtually impossible to separate the personal from the professional. And, as women, I think we naturally tend to carry the stress with us. It tends to consume us 24/7 as we figure out how we are going to solve the problem.
The downside is that carrying those emotions to work can interfere with our ability to execute successfully on our professional responsibilities. This can damage what may have taken us years to create. I worked for years to build my reputation and brand inside corporate America. I worked for years to build a successful and growing company. The question becomes, “What can we do to minimize the impact of all hell breaking loose at home when we are at work?”
I found I needed help with my children. When friends would say, “Let me know what I can do to help,” I would say, “It would be great if you could watch my kids for two hours while I get some errands done (or went for a run – see #1 above!). They were only too happy to be able to do something to help!
From personal experience, I can tell you that having a professional outlet can be a saving grace when all hell is breaking loose at home. It gave me something to focus on and become immersed in besides the personal problems at hand. I have witnessed other women, who don’t have this outlet, become all consumed by their chaos at home.
There is something to be said for having a professional life to add balance, add contrast and add perspective. At the end of the day, it’s all about keeping your head in the game and being where you are needed, when you are needed! Isn’t that what we do best – prioritize and juggle our competing priorities?
More from Monique Honaman:
Find out what drives Honaman, what differentiates her company from other leadership consulting firms and the best piece of advice she’s ever been given.
Is no marriage entirely “divorce-proof”? Though she’s happily remarried, Honaman offers her perspective on taking the high road during the trying process of separating from a spouse.
Honaman and her partners are redefining what “coaching” means. With their GUIDE appraoch, they give business leaders the tools to help their employees grow.
Monique Honaman is the founder of ISHR Group which provides leadership assessment, development, and coaching services to Fortune 500 clients globally. This article is based upon the book, Guide Coaching: Building Alignment and Engagement in the Workplace written by Honaman, and her two business partners, Stacy Sollenberger and Ellen Dotts. The book is schedule to be published later this year.
In a nice departure from my usual writing for the Divorce vertical on the Huffington Post, here’s my latest blog post (November 12, 2012) that posted in the Healthy Living vertical!
I didn’t grow up going to the movies. In fact, I can probably count on one hand the number of times I went to the movies with my parents as a kid. I remember seeing Rocky, Grease, Star Wars, and Gandhi. I really didn’t want to see that last one, but they insisted… and it’s stuck with me to this day.
My friend Stacy recently introduced me to one of Gandhi’s quotes, “Action expresses priorities.” It keeps haunting me. It seems like every action I take, or intend to take, gets framed as to whether it is in pursuit of a priority in my life. It’s a great bar against which to measure my actions, and my priorities, and assess whether they are in sync… or not! In fact, my husband and I have recently begun to abbreviate this sentiment, and will simply mention “AEP” if we feel one of us is veering far off-course, and the kids have gotten on board too!
Think about it: Action expresses priorities.
If my priority is to be healthy and be around to watch my children graduate from college, get married, have children (and for me to become a rock-star Nana), then my actions better have me eating right, exercising my mind, body and spirit, reducing stress levels, laughing more, etc. Refusing to exercise, eating too much, smoking, and ignoring my body is not in support of my priorities!
If my priority is to honor my wedding vows and spend the rest of my life with my husband, then my priorities need to be ensuring that we communicate regularly, that his physical and emotional needs are met, and that we spend quality time together engaging in activities that we both find appealing. Going out with my girlfriends every night, and having an emotional affair on social media or a physical affair with a guy at the office is clearly not in support of my priorities.
If my priority is to raise kind, loving, respectful children who become kind, loving, respectful adults who add value to our society, then my actions better have me role-modeling this behavior, providing them with opportunities to do more, give more and be more, while also allowing them to learn the lessons of failure. Giving my children everything they want, ignoring their dreams, or failing to support them when they reach for the stars is not in support of my priorities!
If my priority is to invest in healthy relationships with my extended family and my friends, then my actions better have me making real, quality time to focus on each of them, to become interested in what they are interested in, to learn about what is really going on in their lives (as opposed to surface talk about the latest storm or story in the news). Being “too busy” to sit down over a cup of coffee or engage in a really focused phone conversation to really talk and connect is not in support of my priorities!
I could go on and on. What are my priorities with my career and growing our business? What are my priorities around giving back in the community and volunteering with organizations about which I am passionate? What are my priorities around being a lifelong learner and reading great books regularly? What are my priorities around learning to be a great cook? (Oh wait, those who know me know that has never been a priority… and my actions support it fully!)
It’s so easy to see where others have misaligned actions and priorities! Notice that this post didn’t point fingers at anyone else. That defeats the point! We are each responsible for our own actions.
If someone were to look at how you are living, would your actions support the priorities you deem most important? Are you making the time to clarify, then focus, on your priorities? Are you ensuring that your actions follow suit?
Simply talking about priorities isn’t enough. Acting on them is! AEP!
This is my blog post for The Huffington Post, October 18, 2012. Same Story / Different Day! “Dear Abby … I feel trapped!”
I grew up reading the “Dear Abby” column every morning in the Detroit Free Press. What elementary-aged kid reads Ann Landers? It became part of my morning routine throughout high-school. I even wrote a letter to Ann Landers myself once, but I think my parents took it out of the mailbox and threw it away (Isn’t tampering with the U.S. Mail a felony?).
Some things never change. I still read the column when I happen to find a newspaper in my hands (as opposed to when I read my news online, which is more typical these days). There was a column that appeared last week that hit a nerve. I hear this same version of events at least weekly, and have written about it before.
Here’s the jist of it:
I am a 40-something-year-old woman, about to celebrate around 20 years of marriage. I’m miserably unhappy, I’ve never truly loved my husband the way I should and I have remained married because I am “supposed” to. He is a wonderful father and husband, he has a great job, we get along just fine and we are good friends. But there is absolutely no passion in our relationship and there never was. I married him because it “was time.” He feels more like a brother than a husband. I don’t want to hurt him and I don’t want to hurt my kids. I feel so trapped!
How do you respond to this? On the one hand, you hate that you feel stuck. On the other hand, you made a promise and to break it now and impact so many lives seems so incredibly selfish.
But is it? I loved the response that Jeanne Phillips (aka Dear Abby) provided. She said, “Let me get this straight — you married your husband under false pretenses and have lied to him for 20 years. Both of you have my sympathy. The best advice I can offer is to think long and hard about what you have right now and what you ‘might’ have in the future. Believe me, there are no guarantees. If you really cannot love your husband the way he should be loved — and counseling won’t help — then let him go. He deserves better.”
He does deserve better. He does deserve an opportunity to be loved and to feel loved by someone who truly loves him as more than a brother. As hurtful and as painful as it is — to both you and to him — sticking around for another 40 years isn’t going to help anyone.
That being said, I’ve seen many people think the grass is going to be greener on the other side, only to find themselves landing on a chunk of dead grass. I’ve seen others who have landed on an oasis and are so thankful for the chaos that they went through during the divorce. Truly, there are no guarantees. No one can predict the future and tell anyone precisely what they should do.
I’m curious: What about you? Were you happier after you left your husband or wife? Do you regret it? Did you find the love and passion you were seeking? Did he or she do better and find someone who loves him/her as more than a brother/sister? Is there anything you would do differently if you had the chance to do it all again?
Here’s my latest post on The Huffington Post … a nice departure … this one appeared in the Marriage vertical instead of the Divorce vertical! What in the World Are We Going to Talk About for Two Weeks???
I have been enjoying the dog days of summer, and haven’t posted in a while, but that hasn’t stopped me from hearing from many women (and a few men!) about their marital situations. It’s been interesting. One of the questions I have heard a lot this summer is this, “How can I make my marriage stronger?”
What’s prompted this? I think it’s “trial empty-nester” syndrome. A number of the women with whom I have spoken this summer have had their kids heading to sleep-away camp for a week, or two, or even four! They realized that they are facing a look at what life will be like when their kids finish high-school and move out.
Several of the women I spoke with were excited about the idea of a few weeks of alone time with their husbands and planned dinners out, quiet nights in, and perhaps even a night or two away themselves. These women had no trouble coming up with a list of things to do with their husbands, and while I know they missed their kids, they also loved the time alone together.
Sadly, I spoke with a few other women who were somewhat panicked that their kids were going to be gone. It wasn’t worry for the kids. Rather, it was worry for themselves. What were they going to do alone with just each other for two weeks? That’s a mighty long time! What would they talk about without kids activities and events dominating every day? I think for several of these women, this summer became a time of “uh-oh!” It became a realization of, “we’ve drifted apart and we better get back on the same course quickly.” This is where the question came in: “What can I do to make my marriage stronger?”
We took it on as a challenge and made it a game. Our goal was to create a list of 10 “table topics” that each woman could discuss at night with her husband to create great dialogue, bring them closer together, and create intimacy. The order wasn’t important. The idea of “togetherness” was the end-game. Of course, once we got on a role we could have kept going and come up with 100 days worth of questions, but our goal was simply 10 different questions to stimulate different discussions! Here’s our list:
1. What do we want to accomplish within the next 12 months, both individually and as a family? Think small things like stain the deck, or big things like go on a European vacation! One woman found out her husband has always wanted to compete in a triathlon. They agreed he should go for it, and she agreed to help him train. One woman told her husband that she wished he had a stronger faith and that they would become more involved at church over the coming year. That sure opened a powerful discussion!
2. What are your favorite three memories of our time together from the day we met until now? Why? What makes those moments stick in your mind? Note, your wedding day and the births of children can’t count! Too obvious!!
3. If you could change one thing about yourself and one thing about me, what would it be? What trait of mine do you both love and hate simultaneously? For example, “You’re so organized, which I love, and you are so anal, which bugs me… sometimes it’s OK to leave the bed unmade!”
4. What is your idea of the perfect romantic evening? Spell it out … in detail! Don’t assume I know anything! Then, the fun part, is executing the plan a few nights later!
5. How do you think we are doing financially? Where should we be saving more? Spending more? Are we feeling good about where we’re at with insurance coverage? Retirement planning? College planning? We agreed this wasn’t a sexy topic, but one that needed to be discussed. And most women really enjoyed this conversation because it stimulated a sense of confidence that things were where they needed to be (or soon would be!).
6. Who are your best friends? Who are those go-to people in your life? Which of our friends do you admire most? Have the least respect for? Why? We found this allowed people to share what kinds of attributes they most respected, or disrespected, in others, and led to a subsequent conversation about whether they were exhibiting those same qualities. It also led to conversations about why some marriages were perceived to be stronger than others. Interesting!
7. If you could start over, what would you do differently? This could be going to a different college, choosing a different career, moving internationally while still “young,” having more (or less!) children. This is the “if I had to do it all again …” question. For several couples, this was a tough one, as I think both parties had some regrets that they still wondered about. The question, however, did was it was intended to do and opened up some honest dialogue.
8. What do you feel is missing in your life and our lives? What would you like me to do more of or less of? This was interesting in that several couples agreed that they were missing “fun” — not excitement, not drama, but just simple fun and laughter. Life had gotten so caught up in the kids and their activities, that activities for mom and dad had ceased to exist. A few couples made commitments to begin to pursue their passions together (e.g., a commitment to once a month Saturday night Ballroom Dance lessons in Buckhead together, and another to buying a kayak — a two person kayak — to spend lazy time paddling together).
9. If we won the lottery this weekend, what would we do with the money? I know, a silly question, but it’s always fun to daydream! This also turned into a discussion about the importance of family and caring for others as conversations turned to things like, “We would continue to tithe, and then pay off our parents’ mortgages.”
10. Where do you see us living and what do you see us doing when we retire? It was surprising to me how many people had never even discussed the when’s and where’s of retirement! It’s not that far away people!
What do you think? Try the questions. Any good stories to share?
What other questions would you add?
Here’s my latest post on The Huffington Post … Can We Assume It’s Temporary Insanity?
I’m frustrated. Actually — I’m in disbelief and amazement. Do men just lose their minds? Do they experience a form of temporary insanity when they decide to leave their wives?
I’m not trying to bash men. Those of you who know my writing style know that I am very even-keeled. I get frustrated with women just as much as I get frustrated with men (remember this post?). My recent experience just happens to be with men, so bear with me!
Around about the same time I got divorced, three other women I know also got divorced. Their husbands each had an affair. We joked — sadly — that it must have been something in the water. Each of these men quickly married the other women. They “loved” the other women. These women were their “soul-mates.” The women made them feel things they had “never felt before.” As it turns out, all three are already divorced. All three cheated on their new wives after less than five years of marriage.
Seriously? My first worry is for the eight children who have now faced divorce twice in recent years. All of them are still under the age of 18 and in their formative years. My second thought is, “Ladies, seriously, if he cheated on his wife already once with you, what made you think he wouldn’t be capable of cheating again on you?” Talk about karma!
There are another three men I know who were all recently discovered to be cheating on their wives. All were viewed in the community as upstanding, honorable men with positions of power and influence. One worked in local government, one was a successful entrepreneur and one worked in wealth management. All were vocal about their moral values and personal codes of conduct. They used words like integrity, honor, perseverance and self-control to describe themselves.
One went from leading a men’s accountability group one week to defaulting on the mortgage the next week. Another went from teaching young kids the value of integrity to lying to his wife about where he had gone after work. The third had a conversation with his wife about their joint financial goals and plans and then took money from their joint accounts and stockpiled it in individual off-shore accounts.
This is where my presumption of temporary insanity comes into play. How can a man who always preached to his children the values of integrity suddenly lie and cheat on their mother? How can a man who values self-control suddenly lose control, have multiple affairs and go on spending sprees that take the family into bankruptcy? How can a man who teaches his kids the values of marriage and the sanctity of living together only after marriage, suddenly move in with his girlfriend and her kids much to the detriment of his own children?
This is role modeling for our children? It’s no wonder kids roll their eyes and ignore parents today! We are raising a generation of children who are watching their parents preach one thing, then go out and do something entirely different. This is the epitome of “do what I say, not what I do.” Kids are smart, and the hypocrisy being demonstrated by so many of their parents is not inconsequential.
I have no answers — just musings. Temporary insanity? I hope so, because I really honestly and truly hope that these people are able to look back and says, “oops… what a major mistake,” and then apologize, get back on track with their children and begin to act how a parent should act — role modeling the integrity, honor, perseverance and self-control they once used to describe themselves.
What do you think?
Guest Blogger: Lilly Star
You’re going to be scared, and that’s totally normal.
There is nothing wrong with facing the dating world with sweaty palms and unsteady heels. Nerves, especially after having experienced a failed marriage, are normal. The biggest mistake you can make is to sit out a date because you are too caught up in the latent negativity we attach to feeling nervous when facing (possible) rejection.
Most women are worried first about the way they look, and second about what they wil say in front of potential suitors. It’s natural and not uncommon — you are seeking validation from a stranger when you are used to dealing with the mostly committed emotional partnership of just one person.
The things you don’t know feel like they could fill an ocean, and it’s easy to over-think things and end up feeling as if you are drowning in that ocean! But, take note: No matter if you are as effervescent as Emma Stone, or as unilaterally gorgeous as Angelina Jolie, the nerves are ALWAYS a part of the dating process, which means you should accept them as a passenger on your experience.
Too many women doubt themselves, and are doubly harsh on themselves when they feel that wave of nerves hit their stomach. By accepting nerves as your accomplice, recently divorced women can find new strength and faith in themselves. Rejection is an inextricable part of the dating process, and while it’s uncomfortable to place yourself in a position to be hurt, it WILL eventually pay off.
The best way to prepare for any date after divorce is to surround yourself with friends who are capable of giving you applicable advice (wear this, not that) and who will, predictably, buffer your confidence prior to your date. That type of friendship also works to let you know that, male or female, there are still people out there that you can trust. Trust is what we are all searching for in a relationship, especially after we have experienced a failed relationship.
It is also important to stay positive and discuss the things in your life that have made you happy, regardless of the divorce. Angst and anger can pollute any interaction and how you deliver the message about your prior relationship tells your date a lot about how you might treat them in the future (similar to the adage, “never talk bad about your old boss in an interview!”). Your date will want to know that you have created some distance or understanding with your prior relationship, so if you MUST recount some aspect of the marriage and partnerships, try to do so without passion or judgment – just a simple and dispassionate statement of facts.
Being divorced is no longer a scarlet letter. We understand that relationships fail, and by going out there with confidence and without anger you can and will attract mates that will merit your trust and confidence.
Thanks to Lilly Star for being The High Road’s Guest Blogger this week. Lily is the lead female voice at DatingWebsites.com, Lilly is a professional advice-giver with experiences in dating men of all types, including the good ones that got away. Her passions include white wine, purple peonies and relaxing on the chaise lounge with her dachshund Samantha. Lily’s work can be read on dating blogs for both men and women.
Here’s my latest blog post for The Huffington Post …
Don’t shoot the messenger.
I have had a few men reach out to me in recent weeks for advice on how to tell their wives that they are not happy. Truth be told, they wanted advice on how to tell their wives that they wanted a divorce — the “I’m not happy” was just a softer version, a precursor to the real message, more like planting the seed for a discussion which would then grow.
Since when did I become the person who could give advice to men on how to gracefully tell their wives they wanted out? I think their thought is that I could build on my own experiences and tell them what worked, what didn’t, and provide advice from a women’s perspective. You know, provide the inside scoop on the kind and gentle way of telling us that they want out. Seriously? Do you realize that when you say, “I just want out of our 20-year marriage,” it is hurtful no matter how it’s phrased?
I took a deep breath, maintained a neutral stance, and tried to understand what was going on. Where were these men coming from? How could I help?
Here’s what I learned: these men are unhappy and unfulfilled. Their kids are getting older, their careers are settling and they are finally stepping back from the chaos of building their lives. They have finally slowed down enough to look around, and have decided that this isn’t the life they wanted. Life has happened to them, and they aren’t happy with it.
Further probing yielded something I found shocking. These men made comments to me about how they were no longer physically or emotionally attracted to their wives because they had put on weight and no longer “met their expectations” for how wives should look. I had to bite my tongue (hard…really hard!) to keep from asking two questions: one, how physically fit were their wives still, and two, how many children had they birthed!?
Both admitted starting fights and making really inappropriate comments in frustration with their wives — comments usually centered on a very hurtful topic, their wives’ bodies.
Men, it is not OK to say to your wife, “I didn’t know they made jeans that size.” It is not OK to compare your wife to other women and say, “If she can look that hot, then why can’t you take care of yourself?” It is not OK to say, “I have to go to strip clubs at night to look at what a woman should look like.” Like I said, I was shocked!
I did my best to explain to these men that attacking a woman’s self-image is about as hurtful as it gets. This is a low blow. It’s unfair and hurtful — plain and simple. I challenged these men to take the high road and talk with their wives about their true feelings in a very constructive manner as opposed to hitting them where it most hurts (and for most women, that’s body image issues).
Getting upset, yelling and patronizing these men would get me nowhere and serve no purpose. I tried to heed my own advice and take the high road in how I responded by explaining how their actions were being perceived, calling them out on “not wanting to hurt” their wives, and encouraging them to address the real issues — their own sense of personal unhappiness –instead of blaming their wives. I asked, “If your wife suddenly looked like she did when you married her, would you feel differently about her? Would you suddenly cherish your marriage?” As you might guess, the answer was “probably not.”
I think this is a lesson in treating people the way in which we would want to be treated, accepting responsibility for our own thoughts and actions, taking the high road, being accountable, demonstrating maturity and having depth and character.
I know all men aren’t like this (just like I know all women don’t wish their “nice” husbands would cheat on them, which I discussed a few weeks ago).
Having heard this from a number of men in the last few weeks, I felt compelled to bring it up. What do you think? Are you hearing this too? Is there an answer?
Here’s my latest guest blog post from The Huffington Post … Would You Get Rid of Your Dog if He Wasn’t Doing What You Wanted?
My beautiful yellow lab Willow, who I rescued back in 2004, is peeing all over my house. I’m constantly cleaning my carpet, scared that my house will smell like dried urine. She can’t help it. She’s 12 years old (we think!). She has lost control over her bladder. She seems embarrassed. The whole thing is frustrating. But am I going to give her away because of it? No way.
In response to my blog post on March 8, 2012, I Just Wish He Would Have an Affair, someone commented, “You want to get rid of your spouse because he isn’t doing what you want, but would you get rid of your kids (or your dog) for the same reason or would you work on the problems?”
I love this comment! We do live in a disposable society. My parents used to pay money to have the vacuum repaired. Today, I think we are more apt to put it out with the garbage and buy a new vacuum cleaner instead of taking the time and making the investment to repair the one we already have.
It is frustrating when things don’t work the way they are supposed to, or the way we hope they will. But, there is something to be said for investing the time, the money, the energy, and the emotion into taking something that you value, that perhaps isn’t meeting your expectations anymore, and making it into something you can value once again.
You know where I am going with this. Our divorce rate continues to hover around the 50 percent rate. One out of two marriages will reportedly “break.” I know many couples do try to repair their relationships. They do invest the time, money, energy and emotion into trying to fix what has broken. And to each of them, I say kudos for at least making the effort to fix what is broken; even if ultimately you aren’t successful, you can take solace in the fact that you really tried.
But, having spoken with many couples over the past few years, I am shocked by how many people seem to throw in the towel before sufficiently exhausting all options; namely, valuing the relationship enough and the time already invested in it to see if it can be repaired.
So many people I speak with, both men and women, tell me that their spouse came to them with his or her “mind made up” about wanting a divorce. Period. No discussion. No counseling. Over and done with. These people feel like they haven’t even had a chance to try to work on things. A decision was made — albeit unilaterally — and that’s the end of that.
I’m dreaming here, I know, but wouldn’t it be nice if couples tried more diligently to repair the broken things before completely throwing in the towel? Wouldn’t it be nice if we valued and respected the “original” or “older” model instead of seeking the latest and greatest model with all the new features? Wouldn’t it be nice if the marriage repair-person (aka marriage counselor/minister/therapist) got a call before the divorce attorney? Perhaps I’m dreaming — or perhaps it’s food for thought!
In closing, does anyone out there have a fabulous carpet-cleaning product to recommend that removes both the stain and the odor? I love my sweet Willow and will continue to clean up after her!
More importantly, does anyone out there have a comment about our disposable society — especially when it comes to relationships? Should we invest the money, time, energy and emotion to fix things, or should we just go for a different model?
Here’s my latest post from The Huffington Post … dated March 28, 2012 … No Sex? Try Stamp Collecting! Perhaps Sky Diving?
WOW! Thanks for your input, your comments, your solutions, your rants and your raves! I’m amazed that my last post generated over 3500 comments. Where to begin?
For those of you who didn’t read the prior post, it was essentially a commentary on a trend I have heard lately where women have told me, “My husband is so nice. He’s a good guy. I just wish he would have an affair!” Essentially, these women are unhappy in their marriages, but don’t have a valid “reason” for leaving. Their thought process is that if their husbands would cheat on them, it would essentially provide the “permission” they are seeking to leave.
Your comments were great and, as you can imagine, ran the spectrum from “ladies, suck it up — you took a vow — find a hobby to keep occupied” to “ladies, if you aren’t happy, then move on and save everyone from being miserable.” There were plenty of great comments about the need for these women to look within themselves and find out what is missing in their own lives (as opposed to assuming it has to do with their husband) and tons of great comments around the idea that women get “bored” and want more excitement.
So, is this what this is all about? Women are getting bored and looking for some excitement in their lives? Is this high school or college all over again where the nice guys are left dateless (or in this case, spouse-less), while the bad boys attract all the attention? What is with this idea that women need more excitement?
Here is what you had to say: “This isn’t difficult. The women in question are not attracted to their easy-going, safe, family husbands, so they don’t want to be with them.” … “When we think that we need someone else to validate our happiness we fail every single time.” … “She is looking for excitement and she wants that excitement to come from someone else.” … “Any person who feels some one else should provide the fulfillment in her life needs to examine herself and grow up a bit.” … “The truth is there are ways to re-create some pleasure and excitement in your marriage and life, driving a spouse away because you are ‘unfulfilled’ is a lame excuse.” … “She needs a hobby.”
Do you think it’s as easy as taking up a hobby? Will stamp collecting provide all the excitement and fulfillment these women are seeking? I would be shocked if the answer was yes. What about sky diving? Does that provide more endorphins so that the physical rush is as gratifying as good sex? Will taking up a good hobby really do the trick and make these women feel more fulfilled, and stop them from wishing their nice husbands would cheat on them? I’m thinking it goes beyond just finding a hobby, and perhaps transcends towards finding a purpose in life, finding an intrinsic reason for personal fulfillment (instead of relying on others for it), accepting that the current state is pretty satisfying (instead of thinking the grass is always greener on the other side)…
I’m not so sure! What do you think?
I Just Wish He Would Have an Affair! Here is my latest blog post from The Huffington Post – March 8, 2012 …
“My husband is so nice. He’s a good guy. I just wish he would have an affair!”
I have heard these comments, or comments very similar to this, numerous times lately. What’s going on? I’m not sure I have an answer. In fact, I know I don’t have an answer. This isn’t about having an answer. This is about laying out some thoughts and observations on this theme that seems so relevant and prevalent.
Several different women have contacted me recently and have shared their stories, and their stress (perhaps distress would be a better word) over the fact that they do not want to be married anymore. Period.
These women are done. They say they aren’t happy. They say they aren’t in love with their husbands (or any other man — they aren’t having affairs). They say they simply wish they were no longer married to him. They aren’t fulfilled. They wonder if this is how they are doomed to live the rest of their lives (and God-willing, most of them have another 40+ years ahead of them).
The common factor amongst all of these women is that they say that their husbands are really solid, good, nice men. They are not victims of physical or emotional abuse. They are not married to felons. They are not married to alcoholics or drug addicts. Their husbands are not having affairs. In fact, they tell me, there really isn’t anything “wrong” with their husbands … they just don’t want to be married to them anymore because they have fallen out of love. It’s actually a depressing conversation. When did we all become so unfulfilled with life?
And we are talking about women here, so here comes the “guilt.” Women have guilt covered — and these women are no different. They feel guilty as all get out and wonder about what everyone else will think should they decide to leave this “nice” guy. They wonder about the impact it will have on their kids, their extended families, their circle of friends. Deep inside they feel selfish and ask, “What gives me the right to leave my husband when he has done nothing wrong?” And almost immediately after they verbalize that thought, I get this zinger: “I just wish he would have an affair.”
Really? You wish your husband would go out and have sex with another woman because then you would be justified in wanting to leave him? If you think about it, there are so many things wrong with that whole series of events. Would you ever imagine when you took your wedding vows that you would one day find yourself hoping your husband would cheat on you? Seriously?
I am not purporting to have the answer on this one. There are certainly some heated viewpoints on both sides of this debate.
One viewpoint is, “Suck it up, you made a vow, you made a commitment, stay married for the sake of the kids, doesn’t ‘until death do us part’ count for anything?”
Another viewpoint is, “You only live once, people change, you shouldn’t have to live unhappy and unfulfilled, the kids need to see what a happy, fulfilled marriage/partnership looks like.”
And, of course, other opinions abound. What is your opinion? I know you have one and I would love to hear it!