I’m at the Sedona Retreat and in our workshop yesterday some women were saying that they feel badly that they didn’t see the signs that their husband was thinking of leaving. When they look back, they can recognize the ways in which he was acting differently. He may have been disappearing for periods of time, left a clue in the form of a receipt for lingerie or mentioning some woman at work too often. He may have been avoiding closeness or even being just plain irritable.
In Runaway Husbands, I talk about the hair in the bathtub. When I returned from being on the road for my 23 day book tour, I took a shower and noticed a long dark hair in the bathtub. Now what is a more clear sign that another woman has taken a shower in my bathroom than a hair in the bathtub?!? But it didn’t register. Why?
Because my relationship with my husband was one of blanket trust. It was inconceivable to me that he was having an affair (let alone in my bed). It was completely beyond any expectation that I could have had of his behavior while I was away.
We humans depend on the fact that things continue in the same pattern that we expect. The sun always rises in the east and if, one morning, it seems to be rising in the west, we would assume that we’re reading it wrong. Our expectation that the sun will rise in the east is so powerful that information to the contrary is close to impossible to integrate into our thinking.
When something happens that doesn’t fit the pattern, we don’t let it penetrate. That new odd piece of information just skitters off our brains and we reject it. It takes time for us to be able to let it in, particularly when doing so threatens our sense of security.
We have a primitive need to always protect our sense of security. So if you blame yourself for not seeing it coming, don’t. You were only being human.
Do you blame yourself for not having seen the signs? Share your thoughts below.