With the election only 5 months away, Donald Trump is planning to pull out the big guns to deal with “Crooked Hillary.” He tells us, “He hasn’t even started on her yet.” But he’s given us a preview.
Trump will place a laser focus on Bill’s past indiscretions, accusing him of abusing and disrespecting women. Then, he’ll attack Hillary for enabling Bill- standing by him, not putting an end to their sham of a marriage. Hillary has hinted that she plans on taking “the high road,” ignoring Trump’s personal attacks.
I say, “In life, when given lemons, make lemonade.”
Here are the facts about infidelity. Although many people tell themselves, “If my spouse ever has an affair, I’m out of this marriage,” the truth is, most people don’t leave. Although usually shell-shocked and traumatized shortly after the discovery of an affair, when the dust settles a bit, the reality of what to do next comes into focus. And there’s a lot to consider.
Frequently, couples have kids. Divorce means breaking up the family. It generally entails moving to new geographical locations and making necessary adjustments such as sending children to new schools.
Many couples dealing with infidelity have been married for decades; they have a long history together. Despite the recent crisis, they’ve weathered countless life challenges together. People often say that the hardest part about splitting up is letting go of a shared history.
Then, there are financial considerations. Divorce means splitting resources. Lifestyles change.
What about extended family and friends? A couple’s divorce touches many people’s lives. Their social network is never the same. People take sides. Friends disappear. Extended family often grieve.
Some betrayed people feel that getting out of the marriage will relieve them of the pain of the affair. But whether married or divorced, the pain of infidelity doesn’t disappear without considerable work.
As a marriage therapist specializing in helping couples heal from infidelity, I can tell you that people who choose to stay in their marriages and work through feelings of betrayal, devastation, hurt, anger and loss as a team are courageous and strong.
There’s no shame in staying. People who do the work on their relationships and come out the other side are truly warriors. They value love, commitment and marriage. To that I say, “Bravo.”
And Hillary is not exception. Though she’s a politician, she’s still a person. She’s still a mother and family member. I imagine she felt the same tormenting ambivalence any woman feels when her life goes haywire. It’s unfortunate Bill’s choices were so public and therefore so incredibly humiliating. She faced the dilemma millions of women face each year when their husbands stray- deciding how to piece their lives back together again- only she did it with everyone watching.
Rather than ignore Trump’s indictment of her so-called, “enabling behavior,” I’d advise Hillary to “bring it on.” Her decision to stay, rather than enabling Bill, was a comment on her own core values- she prioritized marriage and family. She decided to stay the course.
Is this a weakness? I think not. Staying and working through difficult emotions is often more challenging than leaving when the going gets rough. But Trump wouldn’t know that. Would he? Hopefully, for him, the third time’s a charm.
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