Hopefully this will enlighten you to the reasons why we tolerate a cheating spouse – among a host of other things.
One of my favorite infidelity experts is Dr. Robert Huizenga. His book “Break Free From the Affair” was one of the very first books I purchased after discovering Doug’s emotional affair.
One of his newsletter articles from a while back came to mind after recently noticing several comments and emails from betrayed spouses that centered on all the crap that they are tolerating with their cheating spouses.
As a result, I’m going to focus on this in a two-part blog post, by starting off with why we betrayed spouses do this. I’ll be using Dr. Huizenga’s article as the framework for these posts.
Why does the betrayed spouse tolerate the cheating?
Hopefully this will enlighten you to the reasons why we tolerate all sorts of stuff, not only infidelity. And whether you choose to believe it or not, we all tolerate to one degree or another.
I’m certainly guilty of it. Not only when it came to Doug’s emotional affair, but also in other areas of my life. I guess I’m just not a confrontational person by nature, and tend to tolerate things that I probably should not. During his affair, I was afraid to rock the boat for fear that he would leave.
You may find yourself tolerating too much at times; allowing your cheating spouse to degrade you and get away with almost anything; not standing up for yourself, and backing down from the challenges of life.
But before you beat yourself up about it, let’s take a closer look at your capacity to tolerate.
Dr. Huizenga suggests that if you find yourself tolerating a cheating spouse, you should be commended for your sensitivity. Here’s why:
1. Those who have a difficult time saying “No” or tolerate more than they truly want are typically those who feel deeply and are greatly in tune with others on a variety of levels.
Huizenga says that “… you may intuitively know the fragility of your cheating spouse. You may “feel” his/her emptiness, his/her inner pain and instinctively understand his/her flailing attempts to fill the void. You know it’s his/her problem.”
And know that this CAN be a tremendous asset. All of us want to live more deeply, profoundly and powerfully and you have the innate capacity to easily do that. A part of you wants to leap with exhilaration when you touch life or it touches you.
2. However…. your sensitivity also leads to a tendency to avoid conflict and confrontation. You are fearful of the pain that might result. This is not always rational but it is powerful – and it gets in your way. It tears you down!
3. You fear the loss you might experience. You have a need for safety, predictability and security. And so, you tolerate much, hoping to hang onto the thread of security that you believe is in your relationship with your cheating spouse.
4. Pain and feelings, as important and powerful for you as they are, beg you to tolerate and put up with circumstances in hope that the pain will end and the relationship will return to what it once was.
Even though a part of you wants to tolerate and put up with his/her behaviors, you know that it is physically and emotionally draining.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are those who seemingly tolerate very little. These are the ones who put up with zero crap.
They’re the ones who say: “Have an affair on me…and you are gone, and don’t let the door hit you on the way out!”
On the surface they may seem to have little problems with tolerating and putting up with other people’s crap.
As we look closer at these types of persons though, Huizenga says that they are typically goal oriented, instead of people-oriented. They are usually intolerant of those who don’t fit their criteria. They have no problems expressing their opinions, and seemingly tolerate very little.
However, the inability to tolerate a cheating spouse may leave them isolated and constricted.
Huizenga says that their “lack of capacity to embrace others, to see beyond the surface behavior, to accept unacceptable behavior as coming from a broken soul leaves them disconnected with the fragility of life that we all face, experience and are called to overcome as we journey on this planet.”
So instead, these individuals may tolerate an ocean of emptiness and isolation in their life, and may not be aware of their pain. They also may tolerate a routine life, since their black and white world keeps them from the “edges of exploration, wonder and awe.”
They may also tolerate psychosomatic illnesses, since they have little release for the internal tension they feel from holding on so tightly. Instead, their bodies absorb the fear and tension.
So it seems we all tolerate in some ways and we will continue to tolerate and put up with things since life offers a never ending wave of challenges and intrusions into our well-being.
Dr. Huizenga says that once you stop tolerating infidelity (as well as the “smaller” things) as much as you now tolerate; once you stop putting up with the garbage in your life, that which decays your esteem, soul and spirit you will:
- Move through the pain and agony of infidelity much more quickly and powerfully.
- Have more energy to build your life. You will become thrilled about you…and where you can go.
- Become much more attractive, and attract attractive people and circumstances. You will attract others and circumstance of life like a strong magnet. You might even attract your cheating spouse. Believe it or not!
- Upgrade your community. You will associate with those who give life, hope and live with compassion, passion and purpose – much like you will.
- Be a wonderful model for your children or others around you. They will watch you carefully noticing what you do to generate well-being, health and dynamic relationships.
Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
It’s vitally important that we work on our awareness of what we tolerate, what we put up with, those factors in our life that we tolerate that rob us of vitality and the capacity to form deeply satisfying relationships.
In the second post on this subject on Thursday, we’ll touch on how you can work to tolerate less.
In the meantime, in the comment section below, we’d like to hear from you about some of the things that you find yourself tolerating, that perhaps you should not. We appreciate your comments very much.
For more on Dr. Huizenga and/or to read more of his articles, you can go to his website or blog, by clicking here.