Jennifer felt as if her life was ending. Her husband Michael had told her he was leaving, that he was in love with someone else. She couldn’t believe it. She had dedicated the last sixteen years of her life to taking care of him, their home and their children.
Once upon a time, many years ago she had been a successful journalist. When they decided to have children she had given up her career to raise their family. Jennifer had supported him in every way she could in appreciation of the fact that he was providing financially for all of them. And whilst he was unaware of it, she worked hard to handle every aspect of the house and her children’s lives to ensure none of the daily stresses she faced trickled over into his life.
She believed she had done everything she could to be the perfect wife and mother. What more could she have done? Why was her best not good enough? And what was she supposed to do now? How would she support herself and their three children? She had been out of the workforce for so long that now, at 43 years of age, what were her chances of getting a job that would provide for them all?
How dare he do this to her. After all she had done for him!
Jennifer believed she and Michael had a deal. She would take care of their home and children, and he would provide for them all financially. She had held up her end of the bargain but from her point of view, he had reneged on his responsibilities and left her to handle everything on her own. Their life was meant to be a partnership. But somewhere along the way he decided he didn’t want to do it anymore.
When had that happened?
She thought they were on the same page, heading in the same direction. Suddenly everything had changed. She had lost not only her husband but her view of the future as well. Hadn’t they talked about the travel they would do together when the kids were grown? About having a holiday home where they could have the family visit in the summer? What about the life they had planned? They went into this together. She wouldn’t have chosen it by herself, but now as a result of Michael’s decision she had no choice. Someone had to take care of the kids, earn the money to pay the bills!
Jennifer retreated from her pain behind a wall of anger. She felt as if she had given everything she could and he had taken her for granted and dumped her like some old rubbish. Righteous indignation flooded her body, and she felt truly justified in her feelings of having been betrayed.
Many people feel this way after their relationship breaks down. It seems easier to deal with than the mass of pain and fear that lies hidden below the surface. Anger is like a cancer, growing into a living thing. The more we focus on it, the bigger it gets until it consumes us utterly. We can become embittered, unable to move past the moment when we felt our world collapse around us. We may not be aware of it but we are stuck in that one moment of pain and rejection. Until we stop and address it we will stay there forever, believing in some way our partner is to blame for our unhappiness.
Can you relate to Jennifer’s story?