Listening to a friend talk about their divorce, I pause and think -- this all sounds familiar. My friend details the lead up to her separation and there are so many similarities it's a bit unnerving. Same actions, same words, same behaviour. How is that possible?
Turns out similarities are not even unusual but predictable, right down to the language a departing spouse might use. Thanks to Elizabeth Landers and Vicky Mainzer, my suspicions about similarities were confirmed. This duo have created a bible of sorts for women who might be worried about their spouse having an affair. In their book The Script: The 100% Absolutely Predictable Things Men Do When They Cheat, the predictability of what men do when they cheat on you is chronicled with a crisp wit and peppered with humour.
Our divorce stories can be so different.
Yet according to this book they can be the same in many ways. In my situation, there was no "I do" in my marriage ceremony for what my former spouse did. I was never given a choice about the terms of my marriage. He didn't even begin our marriage 'forsaking all others' as the marriage vow stated. Oddly enough, in a dark humour sort of way, he did say 'I do' to that one. However, infidelity is crushing no matter the circumstances.
But as Landers and Mainzer outline in this book, predictable it is -- the lead up, the language and the leaving. Unfaithful husbands follow a pattern. From the words spoken to the actions taken.
With my friend it was the language that first caught my attention. It was so odd that her spouse and mine used, almost verbatim, the same lines. This was so in spite of our divorce circumstances being very different.
"It's not you it's me," he said. That's a big one.
"I have no knowledge," he said. One of my personal favourites. Even scripts on TV have used that line.
Then there is that crucial time before the affair is to be revealed, and he turns the tables as your suspicions drive heated questions.
"You are acting very strange. Do you have some emotional problems? Do you need to see someone?" he asks.
Disorient the wife is a key strategy in any time before a separation. Make her feel unsure of herself. As if she doesn't already feel unsure?
He answers accusations with "I would never do that". And then he does.
Landers and Mainzer's book is far more than an 'aha' moment for anyone in the throes of separation and divorce. It is a guide book and an affirmation that you are not crazy as is so often implied by the departing spouse. It gives credence to what you are experiencing. When you feel like the ground is falling away, their book outlines what to do next, how to throw out your own personal lifeline. It offers you a before, during, and after template.
Their words of encouragement will go a long way to re-establishing your own personal centre of gravity, when you may be feeling tilted at an odd angle.
You will find passages that jump right out at you. Words that might have felt particularly unique to your very own situation. Sadly, in a way, they were scripted.
If it's nothing, then it is normal. And if it is normal, it's nothing. Therefore he did nothing wrong. - The Script: The 100% Absolutely Predictable Things Men Do When They Cheat
My former spouse said exactly that.
"It was nothing," he said. He'd never been faithful but his rationale was that it did not impact our family life. It was a secret, nobody knew about, so that made it OK in his mind.
Don't be embarrassed to tell your family and friends the truth. If people hear it from you, they get the story straight. We can feel it is all our fault because we've been made to own that in the final days of the marriage. Externalize the blame is another well-worn tactic. He's leaving because you failed to interest him enough -- his justification -- and not because he failed to honour you.
Honesty puts the blame where it should be.
As my counsellor said, "Don't feel sorry for him and don't protect him." That is a hard lesson for any of us. As wives, we spent a lifetime empathizing and supporting them -- all part of the marriage package.
The Script: The 100% Absolutely Predictable Things Men Do When They Cheat by Elizabeth Landers and Vicky Mainzer is a must have on the book shelf if you are in the midst of a separation or divorce. It will help you set the stage for your miraculous debut as a solo act.
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