Getting the Message

Getting the Message

Five Classic Patterns of Infidelity

By Emily Brown

May/June 1989

Craig Johnson had only slept with Karen three times before his wife discovered he was having an affair. He doesn't think much about Karen any more, but his wife Ruth will never forget her. Now that she and Craig can air their differences, even have a good fight, Ruth is grateful to her.

Charles Goodman's wife feels differently. Charles left Jane two years ago, after three decades of marriage, to live with Sally, with whom he'd been having an affair for four years. Jane still feels bitter, humiliated, and guilty for not having done more to make Charles happy, although she doesn't know what else she could have done. Charles handles his guilt and Jane's fury by avoiding all contact with her—not that there had been much contact between them before he left.

John Wilson is righteously indignant about his ex-wife's affair. "Yes, we had problems, but if Arnie, that double-crossing bastard she works with, had left her alone, we could have worked things out." Both John and Lisa Wilson engage in the fiction that Arnie stole her away, as neither has to take responsibility for the demise of the marriage. John believes he's a helpless victim of Arnie, while Lisa is swept away by the irresistable power of Great Passion. Each of these affairs is different, and each a classic type. Each contains a hidden message conveying the underlying emotional reasons for the affair.

Young couples, in their 20s and 30s, who have not learned to talk about their differences and resolve…

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