The Shame of Staying

“Shame is a soul eating emotion.” Carl Gustav Jung

 

My new client, who I’ll refer to as Paula, recently found out that her husband has been having an affair with another woman for at least ten years. As you can imagine, she’s devastated.

Ten years together isn’t a fling or a simple indiscretion; it’s a relationship.

Paula is wondering why she ignored the signs.

She’s wondering where exactly the marriage broke in order for her 30-year marriage to be vulnerable to an affair.

She’s wondering how she’ll ever be able to trust again.

She vacillates between blaming herself and being mad as hell:

“He was clearly hurting too and not knowing what to do, how to articulate it, or how to make it better, he found relief in someone else’s arms.”

“You don’t owe him a damn thing; he certainly didn’t consider your feelings when he made the choice to have an affair.”

And still…she’s staying with him. She’s choosing to stay in the marriage.

Her family and friends – who love and care about her – tell her to find the best attorney money can buy and get the hell out of there.

And still…she’s staying with him. She’s choosing to stay in the marriage.

Every support group and message board reads as though the only answer is to leave.

And still…she’s staying with him. She’s choosing to stay in the marriage.

Even though he hurt her deeply…

Even though she does not trust him right now…

Even though there are days where the pain is too much and the tears won’t stop flowing.

She still loves him.

And an awful lot or people might judge her for that.

They might think she’s insecure and weak.

They might think she’s filled with fear and self-doubt.

She’s not doing it out of fear; she’s doing it out of love.

In this time where we all want – and deserve – to be happy, there’s shame now associated with the choice to stay. There’s judgment heaped upon people for their choices for their lives.

Sometimes the right answer is to release the marriage, so that two people can stop hurting one another.

Sometimes the right answer is to stay and heal, so that two people can stop hurting one another.

They’re both potentially the most difficult work we’ll ever do, so let’s not add shame and judgement to the mix. Instead, let’s support one another in finding the deepest wisdom within ourselves…

…our answer…

…for our lives…

…for our hearts…

…for our marriages.