Being in Love #1

This friend is married. She was “in love” with her husband when they met. They had three boys, a nice little home and a group of friends. She was a homemaker and he was a physician. When the children started school, she found some part time job so that she could be home when the children were back from school.

 As she started her new job, she lost some weight and dyed her hair. After working as a store manager for two months she met a FedEx driver and  fell madly and passionately in love with him. He was younger than her; single, uneducated, had a drinking problem.  He also had a different cultural background, and from time to time had flings with other women while also having a long term affair with her.

 She wanted me to meet him.  “You have to see him and then you’ll understand”, she said.

 I expected someone who would blow my socks off. Someone worthy of consistently neglecting her children; of lying day and night to her husband; of leaving her children with baby sitters at each and every opportunity; of not joining her husband and children on family trips while they went on their yearly family vacation. She stopped being a participant in the family’s  story; no longer a part of the photo album because she was busy having sex with her lover.

 I met them at a coffee shop for lunch.

 She called me later in the evening and asked what I thought of him. I did not want to say that I didn’t think he is good looking, so I said that he was “nice looking”.  I did not want to say that he sounded uninteresting, so I said that I could see he was, “still young, and has some living to do”. I did not want to say that it appeared to me he couldn’t believe that someone of her caliber and status would be interested in him; that for him she is  a novelty… So I told her, “He seems to not be sure what the outcome of this relationship is going to be.”

 Not surprisingly, she really did not hear what I said. (As Yalom mentioned in “Love’s Executioner“, the one who’s in love is not looking for rational feedback.)

 Her husband tried to have sex with her periodically, but she told him that she had some female problems – plus sex is not as exciting as it used to be; and besides, now she really feels more like a “mother” and less as a lover. Her husband began to spend more times with the boys, and less with her, which suited her just fine.

 One Monday in March her husband had to go out of town for a conference. Again she left her boys with babysitters, and while driving them to the baby sitter her youngest one said “Mommy, why don’t you ever want to be with us?”

 She felt enormous guilt but left them with the babysitter anyway.

 She spent that afternoon in bed with her young lover, who had to take Viagra because he could not maintain an erection. At night, when she picked up the kids, her older son was running a fever, and the baby sitter told her that she had been trying to call her for the past five hours…

 Guilt-ridden, she drove the boys home, called her husband and told him about their son. He asked her where had she been the whole day, because the baby sitter called him too – not knowing that he was out of town. My friend said that she went to spend the day with her  girlfriend from work and they went on a hike somewhere with no cell reception. He asked whether she wanted him to fly back home to help with the children, and she immediately said no, telling herself that her son’s condition was temporary and she would be able to spend more time with her lover.

 The boy had a bad case of the flu and it took five days for his fever to go down. 

 She could not really go to visit her lover and she paced back and forth in the house like a caged animal, unable to focus on the child, feeling withdrawl symptoms.  Worse, her lover seemed less as available … less responsive to her continuous phone-calls.

 On the fifth night, when she could not contain herself any longer, she waited for the children to fall asleep. She drove to his apartment without first calling him.  In the driveway was another car. She rang the bell, but could hear a woman’s voice inside, laughing. When he opened the door, his expression was of shock and bewilderment.  He said that he had some visitors and will call her later.

 My friend drove home and sank into a depression that lasted three whole months.

 The lover called the next day and asked her to forgive him, but she could not. She stopped working and stayed home, spending most of her day in bed. At first he called daily, but after two weeks the phone calls stopped.

After about four months of psychotherapy and antidepressants she started functioning again. She called her old boss and he said they hated their current store manager (her replacement) and would be happy to have her back.

 A week later she was back at work and feeling energized. During the break she called me and told me that she felt better than ever, and that she is going to work on the relationship with her husband, because he was so kind to her through her depression.

 An hour later the federal express truck stopped by. Her old lover faced her and said, “I missed you so much, please come over!”

 “When?”, she asked.

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About rachel bar

Psychotherapist and supervisor.
This entry was posted in AFFAIR, Child neglect, DIVORCE, Impulse Control, Love, Love addiction, Marriage, Obsession, Parenting, Relationships, Sex, Sex addiction, Uncategorized, Younger man and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Being in Love #1

  1. Martha Carr says:

    Only a matter of time before the $#*% hits the fan! Sounds like a direct run back to adolescence and lust. I have seen so many couples where stuff like this has cost them everything. You have such tact Rachel!

    • rachel bar says:

      This was not about tact, Martha. I just wanted to tell the story. I could have come up with interpretations etc., but did not want to. I wanted to see what the reactions will be, without providing explanations. And yes, this spells DESTRUCTION most of the time.

  2. Maureen says:

    Wow – does this not sound like a trite made-for-television B-movie? I have never understood why some women are on such a hard-drive toward self-destruction. They must really feel like they are Undeserving Wretches, with neither self-esteem nor gratitude.

  3. Jackie Rosenson says:

    After I smack her, I’d like to know the underlying issues!

  4. Barbara Cooper says:

    I don’t in any way condone what this woman did. But I think the reason for her behavior was she was probably feeling taken for granted by her husband. The lover probably told her she was beautiful and made her feel young and beautiful again. Maybe the husband stopped noticing her, so she needed a dose of feeling like she used to feel before marriage and kids changed it all. Being with this man obviously made her forget her responsibilities as a wife and mother, and it seems being a wife and mother had overwhelmed her. Not defending her here, she obviously needed to grow up and behave like a responsible adult. She should thank her lucky stars her kid only had the flu.
    And yes, someone should “smack” her!

  5. Sheridan says:

    I would have to disagree with most of these comments. As a therapist, I’ve seen many situations on both sides of the gender pool that have taken this turn. Of course, in our culture, it’s not only much more common but generally relatively accepted for men to behave this way, but not for women. I think it’s much too simplistic to blame this woman without knowing all the emotional and situational issues that existed in her marriage and in herself. From my point of view, the biggest problem in this scenario is that this man and woman had children in the first place. Neither sounds like really responsible adults.

    • rachel bar says:

      Actually, in this particular story (which is a true story with a modification to the identifying data) the adults used to be great parents until she went back to work. There was nothing that indicated that they should not have children together. I think that most of the comments express more of a frustration regarding her total loss of “self”. Of course it is as upsetting when men do it. No difference.

  6. Grace says:

    Infidelity towards the husband, surprisingly doesn’t upset me so much, just because you see it all the time now. Doesn’t mean it’s right. But it speaks for the morality and self- absorbed culture we are in.(don’t agree with it either) The neglect towards the children infuriates me. As a single parent, I would never leave my children for a man. If I am not a responsible parent, how can I expect my kids to learn to be responsible. The choices she made are what is creating a culture that has no respect for one another.

    • rachel bar says:

      I truly believe that it has so much to do with the emptiness within. This woman was “starved” and she was unable to find self nurturance. When we have a solid “self”, we can manage so much better. There is no doubt that a good role model goes a long way. Enjoyed your comment, Grace.

  7. Red says:

    Leaving the children attended by someone else regularly- I can’t understand. If she’s no longer interested in her husband, that can be discussed and decided which direction to take. Children are permanent. You don’t pass your children’s nurturing to someone else. Besides, you get a lot of love from your children. If love, affection and attention is what you need, children are a fountain of all that.

    • rachel bar says:

      Seems like you and Grace feel the same. I can only state again that there are many women who have a “hole” inside. If you have seen the movie “Precious”, you will see the visual of a similar woman, and worse.

  8. Rolf says:

    Or can we say that the unconscious/conscious choices being made by both partners where simply validating their sense of worthlessness, feeding that part which knew the “current” state of the relationship was not serving either party for their highest good, nor that of their children; nor was safe.

  9. Dalia Kenig says:

    I see here addiction, obsession, and compulsion – using the man as a substance to numb her pain. She can’t face her emotional pain, which I am sure is a story on it own (which is strongly related to early attachment issues, I believe) she needs more of the drug, more often, she can’t contain herself. Guilt is temporary, the pain is constant , it explains why she can neglect her kids, lie, cheat , deny and distort reality, have poor judgment even though I am sure she is not stupid or bad.
    In Buddhism they talk about “Hungry Ghosts” as one of the modes of existence. These metaphorical creatures have a huge empty stomach, a pinhole mouth, with a very thin throat so they can’t swallow their food, digest and nourish themselves so they remain hungry.
    I am not surprised she was ready to jump on the wagon with this guy right away.
    People who have addiction issues can be ok for a short or longer while but bound fall back into self-destruction if they don’t heal their wound and learn to nurture themselves in real and healthy ways. I hope your friend’s story has a happy ending.

  10. Cameron Ashby says:

    Drake and Ghetto love… “It may mean nothing to y’all, Sun died in the mall….” Forever, and to my homies…

  11. rachel bar says:

    Cam, since my musical sensibilities or limitations prevent me from enjoying this kind of music, can you please explain the message? ( I listened to 2 minutes…)

  12. Cameron Ashby says:

    For me, Drake’s “Forever” delineates specific dreams realized; love lost and love found (an elegy from the streets, like “Precious”) yet further expresses the thumps of defiance, a slam dunk, or little Wayne’s pistol that talks, as well as a robust celebration of desire… forever.

    While not for everyone, Drake’s ensemble with their unique kaleidoscope of passions appears to revel in the fact that “the heart is a lonely hunter.” It’s a cry, a sob, a shout and prayer to keep going. Each artist in the group forcefully affirms his particular paradox of unity, even communion in difference, adding substance to this “requiem for a dream;” a liturgy from the hood.

    “Sometimes we have the absolute certainty there’s something inside us that’s so hideous and monstrous that if we ever search it out we won’t be able to stand looking at it. But it’s when we’re willing to come face to face with that demon that we face the angel.”
    — Hubert Selby, Jr. (Last Exit to Brooklyn)

    “…and the night was comfortably warm as the soft filtered light continued to push the darkness into the shadows as they held each other and kissed and pushed each other’s darkness into the corner, believing in each other’s light, each other’s dream.”
    — Hubert Selby, Jr. (Requiem for a Dream)

    “When?” she asked.


    • rachel bar says:

      It’s a testimony to your depth, Cam, that you can have this clarity about OUR kaleidoscope, despite the fact that most of us like to look at it as if it is residing in the “other”.

  13. Stephanie Kirschner says:

    I always wonder why people believe that they are supposed to be happy and have all of their needs met all of the time. The selfishness and self absorption of some people surprises me. We all have desires, wishes, fantasies, but acting them out at the expense of your husband and children is so cruel.

    • rachel bar says:

      Yes, it is may seem cruel on the surface, although it is obvious that she never intended to hurt her children. I wonder what the parallel injury is within her and her inner child, the one who inflicts this neglect on the children?

  14. Oren says:

    I can’t wait to hear what comes next. I loved it Rachel 🙂

  15. Cameron Ashby says:

    Errata and some possibly useful musings from the avenues…

    What is “Eva” enacting? What is she telling us that’s a lot louder than words? She has assumed some role in the theater of her mind. The audience is in blackness, and the title of the script is obscured as well.

    For certain, Eva’s slip into a depressive withdrawal indicates an inner blight, or even the shadow of the object that’s fallen upon her.

    Why might this be happening now? In other words, does the age of her children, herself, her marriage, or her husband’s age provide us with any salient and critical dates, ages or unspoken anniversaries which may give us a clue?

    More clearly, perhaps most important, what does it feel like in the room with her, in your relationship with her? Is there a bafflement, or blankness in your experience of her? Do you experience some common reaction to Eva that you’ve dismissed as unmeaningful? Where does your mind wander when you are with her, and if it does, where do you arrive? Is there a specific reaction, image or pressure you feel when you are with her? What does it say to you? What does this say about your similarity or difference with her?

    They come different and the same.
    With each the absence of love is different.
    With each the absence of love is the same.
    –Samuel Beckett

    How much of Eva’s history do we know? And further, what may be screened or altogether missing concerning her “history?” Something is missing, utterly absent and perhaps unborn.

    What does she want you to see? It seems something more than Mr. FedEx.

    What are the salient details of Eva’s erotic history? Is there a connecting thread from these experiences, as well as her love relations, that might assist us to have a clearer reverie about this seemingly radical departure, and the tellingly compelled aspect of her affair? Yes, I believe the compulsion is very important.

    What might the losses be that have sponsored her hungry ghosts? Or even more significant, what might her newly found appetite tell us about the precious hungry baby-self within her? An aspect of self both yearning and fearing, perhaps even terrified to hatch, yet specifically as there appears to be a most feeble nest. Or is this enigma an aspect of the girl or adolescent self as well. Are we dealing with aspects of a divided self that are striving to merge and finally become one?

    It seems to me that in a session, or treatment, we experience a privileged perspective that provides a uniquely human aspect of relating and communicating, termed as “transference.” It is the invisible conduit for the unthought, unspeakable, mute aspects of our being, those eggs waiting to be hatched, dreamt and born, yet always in danger of being unrecognized, and thereby aborted. Quite specifically, the client, our Eva, evokes in us what she needs, yet is unable to mentalize (or use in her attachments), or entirely by herself put into words, so that it can ascend to dream and thought in order to find some measure of self-coherence.

    In my view, I want to give my attention solely to Eva, and less to her job, children, marriage or anything else. It appears to me that she is experiencing some unique breach of holding or containment, and this appears very, very young. A fresh bud of excitement appears on stage as frail and exposed to an impending, possibly damaging storm. Eva seems to evoke a kind a maternal preoccupation in me, yet the paternal, as well as the “simply human” and “simply kind” are quite close as well.


  16. rachel bar says:

    I purposefully wrote it as an observer who tells a story. My intention was NOT to present these questions. This is the work of therapy, and this is what I would do in the room. However, I wanted to tell the story as a tale, and my wonderment was about reactions to it, and the place from which our reactions come from.



  18. Howard Garey says:

    I tuned in on this because it was you and so I wondered what Action Therapy might be. I was interested by the sstoryu and fascinated by the various reactions to it. It seemed that you were very accepting of the responses of most of the commentators, but rather severe with those of your colleagues in psychotherapy. If I return to this place/site/club or whatever it is, there is no doubt I shall be hooked. The concept, to the degree that I understand it, is brilliant.

  19. rachel bar says:

    Thanks for visiting Kathryn. What was the blog where you saw my comments?

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