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By Chandrama Anderson

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About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and have lived in and around Palo Alto since 1969. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in Silicon Valley for 15 years before becoming a therapist. My background i...  (More)

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Her Latest Lesbian Lover is the Wife of one our Mutual Male Friends

Uploaded: Jun 19, 2015
Jerry posted what you will read below as a comment on my previous column, and a discussion ensued there. Because there are so many layers to it, and many are common to affairs, I wanted to write about it as a separate column.

Jerry has decided to get divorced, and "not dig this hole any deeper." My care and support go out to Jerry and his family as they begin rebuilding their lives.

Here's Jerry's letter:
"Chandrama, I found out that my wife of 30 years is a lesbian. I had no clue. Our sex life was pretty good, I thought, although not much since she went through menopause and said that her libido is dead. We raised two good kids. Her latest lesbian lover is the wife of one our mutual male friends. I only found out when I noticed scratches on her body, when she got out of the shower. I feel betrayed, but that is water under the bridge at this point. I had her served with divorce papers, and she went nuts. She said that she never would want to get a divorce, because it is too disruptive (and she doesn't want her latest lover's husband to possibly be informed). She said that she will give up her female lovers, and be a better wife to me, including in bed. She says that women are different than men in that context...they can choose to go either way. Is this true?"

Multiple Layers
It's is not uncommon in affair situations for there to be many factors and layers. Sexuality, affairs over the years, what makes for a pretty good sex life, menopause, affair partner being the wife of a mutual friend, scratches on her back, feelings, divorce and her reaction to being served, who is being protected, the wife willing to give up her lovers and be a wife to Jerry, including sexually, and his questioning whether women can choose men or women. Phew, that's a lot.

What's the Desired Outcome for a Couple?
Of course in this situation, Jerry's wife being a lesbian might seem like the most juicy part of their situation right now, and what some of you may latch on to in this brave post.

To me, what's important as a therapist, is that it sounds like there have been multiple affairs over the years, and I would be asking many questions: How did they get here? What are they thinking? How are they feeling? What does it mean to have affairs within one's mutual community? What are the sexual issues? And ultimately, to help them find what they want and need? I would provide tools, skills, and support, as well as ideas they may not have considered yet to help them get to their desired outcome.

Stages of Dealing with Infidelity
There are three basic stages to dealing with infidelity:
? Dealing with the feelings you have and wondering if they are normal.
? Deciding whether or not to stay in the marriage.
? If you decide to stay, How to rebuild the marriage?

Jerry mentions his feelings of betrayal, and likely he is having many more feelings (and they are normal).

Deciding to stay or go in the marriage is a big step. Janis Abrahms Spring, PH.D., in her book After the Affair says that choosing in a wave of feelings is not recommended. You may come to regret a decision made impulsively. "Feelings are highly subjective and may prove to be unrealistic, unuseful, or untrue. What feels right to you now you may later regret as an impulsive and unprocessed response that can't be easily reversed."

So your two choices are to stay together and work through healing the pain caused by the breach in the relationship and rebuilding trust, or to say goodbye and rebuild your lives separately.

Staying and Working
If you do decide to stay together, you will both have work to do to in order to learn from the affair, restore trust, learn to talk about the affair in ways that lead to healing and not further the damage, figure out your sex life post-affair, and work on forgiveness.

To have a marriage of fidelity, we have to employ loyalty, to stay out of potentially dangerous situations, to keep putting more into our marriage, and to keep the windows and doors shut as Mira Kirshenbaum, writes in her book, When Good People Have Affairs: Inside the Hearts & Minds of People in Two Relationships

Parting Ways
If you do go separate ways, and you have children, you will always be involved in one another's lives through the kids ? school, activities, graduations, weddings, grandkids, etc. Maintaining a cordial relationship for your children is critical.

Self-Care After the Bomb Explodes
Whether you stay or go after infidelity, a bomb has just exploded in your life. Get support, whether from a therapist, clergy, friends or family (but not your kids ? don't pit them against the other parent). Take excellent care of yourself no matter how you're feeling. This means eating well, exercising, good sleep habits, little alcohol (it's a depressant), and socializing. All of these are good for brain health, and will help you through a devastating time.

A Thought
Monogamy ultimately is a commitment to one's self. Loyalty and integrity are what we do when no one is watching or will know.

Comments

 +   5 people like this
Posted by Sharon, a resident of College Terrace,
on Jun 20, 2015 at 2:57 pm

Chandrama,

You display a professional detachment, which is a part of your job. However, on a personal basis, have you had to endure an affair by your mate, or were you ever involved in one, yourself? I think you need personal experience to properly understand what Jerry is going through. I had a girlfriend whose husband turned out to be a homosexual, with a secret gay life. She left him, immediately, and never looked back.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by sea reddy, a resident of College Terrace,
on Jun 21, 2015 at 2:24 am

This whole thing is very personal.

Can we not discuss this in public forum!

Respectfully


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Kazu, a resident of Downtown North,
on Jun 21, 2015 at 6:45 pm

@sea reddy, it has already been discussed in some detail here by one of the affected parties: Web Link


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Palo Alto Parent, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Jun 21, 2015 at 9:58 pm

I suspect Jerry is engaging in a little creative writing, makes for a great headline, though.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Bunyip, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Jun 21, 2015 at 10:35 pm

It's been 30 years... Why don't you go out and bang some other women yourself. Come home have dinner and move on? Is it really that bad to give up your whole life over her kissing so me other girl, especially when she comes home to you. Eddie Murphy did a skit on this..... "Yes, yes I f$&ked her! but I make love to you."... Same goes buddy. She likes to feel daring and young with the new shebang, but safe and secure in her marriage with you. Don't throw the baby out with the bath water.... Reach deep into your probably boring american standard idea of sex, and get a little exploratory. You might not look back!


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Jun 22, 2015 at 9:25 am

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

Thank you for everyone's comments. Sharon, I chose not to get into more of an emotional perspective for a few reasons:
1. Jerry has made it clear he doesn't want to go down this path on this forum, or perhaps not at all.
2. Everyone has his or her own feelings in affairs and I want to allow people the feelings they have.
3. Actually, I have been left, but that's not the point here.

A good therapist has not necessarily been through every experience her clients have been through; she's good because she provides a place to build a relationship of trust and healing for what the client is going through.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Kazu, a resident of Downtown North,
on Jun 22, 2015 at 1:16 pm

Jerry, if you are reading this, here is a shout-out for you. I am sorry to read you are suffering and going through such emotional trauma. I hope you get through this OK, are able to eventually move on and find the woman of your dreams. Somewhere out there, someone was born just for you, even if it does not feel that way right now. Good luck and best wishes in your future!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Kazu, a resident of Downtown North,
on Jun 22, 2015 at 1:35 pm

"Her Latest Lesbian Lover is the Wife of one our Mutual Male Friends"

Perhaps articles with such content are also best left unwritten.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Kazu, a resident of Downtown North,
on Jun 22, 2015 at 4:57 pm

Isn't [portion removed] supposed to be inserted for removed portions? Naughty, naughty Embarcadero Media. Regardless, I still apologize for writing the original post, most of which has now also vanished without a trace. And Town Square has lost all legitimacy as far as I am concerned.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Jun 23, 2015 at 8:54 am

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

Kazu, I removed it as I mistakenly thought you might prefer. My apologies.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Aug 2, 2015 at 10:41 am

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.


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