Relationship Counsellor Hailee Walker says don’t be so quick to judge the woman who stays in an adulterous marriage – it’s all about horses for courses and we all get to make choices about whether to stay or go.
David, a former pastor, is father of two sons and “husband” (term used loosely) to Jennifer, his wife of 20 years.
David recently made headlines when he sensationally confessed in a reality television program that his marriage proposal to Jennifer was a joke.
David explained to Jennifer, “You know the manner in which I asked you to marry me? You’re taking it seriously. I didn’t mean it jokingly, but I was joking. I was lying. I accepted your ‘yes’ as a means of feeling normal.”
David also reveals that he never wanted to be married, and in his mind their marriage ended the very day he proposed. The truth is that David has been living a double life. On one hand he is a “normal” husband and father – on the other, he has been hiding a pornography addiction and meets potential sex partners on-line in chat rooms. In fact David had an affair just 30 days after he married Jennifer.
For some the most shocking aspect of this may be that Jennifer is aware of the betrayals and deceit in their marriage but still harbours a desire to remain in the relationship. Though David now lives separately from his wife they have not filed for divorce. David comes over often for family meals and is still communicating with his wife while working on his issues. Jennifer believes that David has continued to have affairs, however, David has chosen not to comment on that.
When this story broke everybody had an opinion. The vast majority of comments varied from “David is a lying, cheating bastard” to “I feel so sorry for Jennifer, and she should leave him!”
Social media seems to make everyone armchair therapists…….Well, I feel a little differently to the masses and here is why.
Jennifer knows and understands the type of relationship that she is in. As an adult she has made and continues to make a decision to stay in this marriage. Sometimes when people say their marriage vows, promising “for better, for worse, for good times and in bad” they actually mean it! I know this may fly in the face of modern thinking in regards to marriage and divorce but for some people, this is their truth.
Jennifer is an intelligent woman and she knows that their relationship is, at best, terribly unhealthy. Jennifer continues to receive counselling and has adequate support to leave her unfaithful husband yet, she chooses to stay and hold on to hope that he will change. I do not necessarily think that this is the wrong choice for Jennifer. I would suggest that it is perhaps naïve and a case of wishful thinking, but not wrong.
We each make choices in our relationships. Some choices we make are very unhealthy and perhaps most people would disagree with them. However the choice is up to the individual. I would like to see more understanding and support for women like Jennifer, and less judgement and opinions passed.
This is to not let David off the hook. When a person lives a life that is disingenuous and unauthentic they not only cause devastation in their lives but often leave hurt and damaged people in their wake. People’s lives and emotions are not something to be toyed with in order to make one feel “normal”.
Perhaps we should take the story of David and Jennifer as a lesson to be learned. If someone proposes marriage to you in a joking manner, remember the anti-drug slogan and “Just Say No!”