|Ethics The Future of Psychotherapy Alan Sroufe Gender Issues William Doherty Mind/Body Clinical Excellence Clinical Mastery Community of Excellence Anxiety CE Comments Great Attachment Debate Narcissistic Clients Brain Science Wendy Behary Mindfulness Mary Jo Barrett Diets Symposium 2012 Future of Psychotherapy Attachment Challenging Cases Men in Therapy David Schnarch Couples Trauma Couples Therapy Etienne Wenger Attachment Theory Linda Bacon|
|The New Monogamy - Page 9|
There are marriages in which couples agree to live parallel, emotionally unconnected lives, while each partner pursues love and sex outside. It may be particularly hard for our culture to sympathize with these unions since they so profoundly break the basic "love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage" rule. In fact, not only are there times when you can have one (marriage) without the other (love), this arrangement may seem to the participants as the only one that really makes sense, given their circumstances. It may even seem like the only right thing to do.
For example, Jack and Karla married during their last year at an Ivy League college. At that time, their agreement was that Jack would pursue a career in law and Karla would go to graduate school, become a teacher, but give up her teaching career to be a stay-at-home mother when they had children. This she'd done. Now in their forties, with their children in their teens, Karla had blossomed, in more ways than one. She'd taken up graduate studies and was working on a doctorate in education, a field she loved. In addition, as she finally told Jack one night, she was having an affair with a professor from her graduate school—in fact, she'd been having an affair with him for 10 years.
In this explosive conversation with her husband, a high-powered litigator with a leading law firm, she said—yelled, actually—that he hadn't really seen her for more than a decade, except as the ever-dependable keeper of his house and mother of his children. She felt more like a golden retriever with him than a real person—although the golden would have gotten more attention. Meanwhile, her professor told her she was a unique, smart, beautiful woman, and it was largely due to his influence that she'd decided to continue her education.
Outside of her marriage, Karla had been living an entirely separate and distinct life with the professor—sleeping at his apartment on weekends when she told Jack she was at conferences, and getting virtually all of her emotional support, guidance, and companionship from him. She felt that he was her true partner and the man she loved. Jack was almost completely wound up with the single-minded pursuit-to-the-top of the legal food chain. He knew nothing of her, as she knew nothing of him or his life without her.
Although Karla felt her life would be meaningless without her lover (who'd asked her to leave Jack), she decided not to divorce, knowing it would publicly embarrass Jack and destroy his chances for promotion. The firm was old and traditional, the partners were all married and frowned on divorce, their wives were largely "company wives," and "family values" was virtually the firm's founding motto. She also worried that the financial upheaval would derail her future plans and compromise her kids' financial security. She'd only revealed her affair to Jack because she'd felt that it would be in both of their best interests if he took a lover as well—this might bring some type of equity to their marriage and ease her guilt.