In a relationship, we are programmed to see the good in those we love. Our feelings for them run so deep that the bad elements of their behaviour can often be cancelled out by the good. If we want to remain with this person, we can choose to focus more heavily on those good parts. We construct an image of them in our minds and it is likely to be relatively positive because we want to believe the person we love is innately good.
So what happens when the one you love throws you a curve ball that blows everything you thought you knew about them out of the water?
When my husband’s betrayal was revealed, he left within seconds.
I often wonder, did he ever contemplate what that did to me, as he stepped over me, a pile of desperation, shock and tears on the floor? Did he understand the pain that had coursed through my body as he slammed the car door shut? Did he recognise the impact he was about to have on my life as he started the engine and drove away to his new life?
The answer to all of the above, I can sadly say is, no.
I saw behaviour so alien to anything I had ever experienced from him before, that my brain simply couldn’t connect. I couldn’t reconcile my loving husband, who had always shown me such care, with this stranger that didn’t care what he put me through. His behaviour towards me became vile, like I had become the enemy in an instant.
My brain couldn’t catch up with the change, so I began constructing various theories that explained his behaviour. They ranged from feasible to plain wild but all seemed plausible explanations at one time or another. Here they are:
- He was having a break down.
- He was having an early mid-life crisis.
- He had gotten us into debt and wanted to keep me separate and safe from any reprisal.
- He had been told he was infertile and would rather let me go than take the chance of having children away from me.
- He had an undiagnosed health problem affecting his brain and reasoning.
- I was a terrible wife and he had no other choice but to go.
- He was having an identity crisis.
- The other woman had something on him and had pressured him to leave me.
Do you see a pattern emerging?
My theories and explanations all revolved around him being in a place of powerlessness, or of a lack of control over his decisions and actions. Worst still, some of them made him selfless, like a martyr that loved me so much he was almost sacrificing himself. I even blamed myself rather than him.
Isn’t the truth sometimes so hard to look at? Isn’t it easier to view the one you love through the lens you have always seen them through, one that still sees them as loving and good?
This person who I now was seeing was so alien to me. I didn’t understand him, I didn’t recognise the way he spoke, the things that he was saying. I felt something was taking control of him, surely this wasn’t his actions and his words.
I didn’t want to see the reality so my mind was constructing excuses so that I didn’t need to look at the cold and awful truth. He made a conscious decision to betray me and leave me for another woman, without ever having expressed any discontent with our marriage. He made a conscious decision that he wanted me out of his life and by any means, no matter how cruel, he would be rid of me.
Abandonment is one of the hardest experiences to navigate, because it is wrapped up in so much cruelty.
I saw the man I loved being cold, cruel and cut-throat so I subconsciously invented possible excuses for his behaviour.
This can be a defence mechanism, not only to excuse them but also, to protect ourselves. It can be an earth shattering reality to learn that the one we love doesn’t want us anymore and our minds can run overtime creating versions of an alternative reality whereby this isn’t really what they want. They have been forced into it, unknowingly tricked or are simply not aware of what they are doing.
How does this help us? It doesn’t.
In putting in all these extra shifts in, at the excuse factory, we are robbing ourselves of something so vital. Clarity.
Clarity leads to empowerment.
When we have clarity and stop making excuses for their behaviour, we are able to better assess in our minds the full impact and consequence of their behaviour and in turn take the actions that we need to.
Their motives have driven their actions and their actions have consequences that impact others. We cannot create excuses for this.