NOTE: This post appeared in its entirety on Essence.com
Let me start by apologizing for the dismal title. It might not be that bad, but I needed to write this one without all the fluff. I’m noticing that women openly supporting each other through infidelity are popping up more and more lately. It’s not the support that I take issue with, nor is it the decision to reconcile that gives me pause. The thing that burns my britches quicker than a California brush fire is when women shovel sacks full of shoddy advice.
This phrase right here: “You can get past this, it’s not the end of the world.” That’s the comment that makes me want to go all Madea on these women. When a woman has been betrayed on the most intimate level, the pain radiates in a very primal way, right down to her core. Shoot, it even aches in her bones like an invasive disease. So, yes, it is, in effect, the end of the world as she knows it. To say otherwise is quite simply irresponsible.
When you tell someone “it’s not that bad,” you strip them of their right to grieve. You imply that they are overreacting, and that denies them the right to their pain. The truth is, a betrayed woman will never view her life, or her man, the same way again, and it’s important that she doesn’t expect that.
Often times, it’s the well-meaning sister-friends that create unrealistic expectations of what mended fences truly look like. A man with tiger-tendencies will not turn into a well-tamed kitty cat tomorrow. First, he must want to be tamed, be willing to do the work and have the support to succeed. He most certainly won’t do it on his own. In cases like this, professional intervention almost always required. (And, Kee Kee from two blocks down the street does not qualify.) But, even with all of that, he still might backslide. If a woman is willing to stick with him, then she must be emotionally prepared for a ride that isn’t padded with roses. She must be honest with herself about two things: His ability to change and her ability to forgive without conditions.
So let’s just say we are dealing with a man who is a one-time offender. The last thing a woman should hear from another woman is that “it was just that one time.” Again we are minimizing the weight of the situation. So what if it was an isolated incident? How many lies, lingering looks, premeditated sexual fantasies and wistful daydreams came before said incident? And more importantly, what was missing in the relationship (or the person) that made them seek comfort elsewhere? Let’s be clear here. The quantity does not dictate the degree of damage.
Not to mention, the whole “hold on to your man at any cost” sentiment is just as damaging, because it dilutes a women’s value in her own eyes. We need to focus on supporting women to hold on to their dignity, sanity and good common sense. Pandering to a “you better keep that man” mindset only implies that the woman is a failure if the relationship does not survive. It’s a very damaging implication for a woman who is likely struggling with feelings of inadequacy.
I can’t forget to mention the militant maidens who are ready to help a friend live-out an Angela Bassett/ Waiting To Exhale moment. They always end up telling women to throw the baby out with the bath water. Which is not her only option, and not always the right option – especially when kids are involved.
If you’re wondering who to go to for advice when your man has cheated, here are some characteristics that I recommend: A professional counsel of some kind; someone who is a fan of your marriage; someone who can be objective and hold both parties accountable; someone who can relate to what you’re going through.
Remember this is not about going or staying. This is about creating a healthy outcome either way.
Jai Stone – The Emotional Nudist
Jai Stone is a socialpreneur, author, syndicated blogger and the founder of the Emotional Nudity Lifestyle Brand. Jai writes about love, life and the pursuit of authentic joy. Follow her on Twitter @JaiStone or visit her blog.