The Leading Edge - Forget Eliot Spitzer, what was his wife thinking?

Enough of “what was he thinking?” when Eliot and Bill did what they did, “because they could.”

The question that is on peoples' minds is “what the heck was she thinking?” when Silda Wall and Hillary looked on as their men went public about after being caught with their hand in the wrong cookie jar. Why so much curiosity?

Could it be that our salacious voyeuristic instincts are just getting off wondering what these women are thinking of their man’s behavior or could it be that the look is not that unfamiliar to millions of women who have looked that way at their men or to their men who have been looked at that way.

What has happened to marriage? Baby, baby where did our love go?

I remember a husband once saying to his wife in my therapy room: “What ever happened to my sweet little girl who used to adore me?”

Without missing a beat his wife responded: “You stopped being adorable.”

I have seen hundreds of couples where husbands have the same complaints: “She used to think I was funny and be so warm and so nurturing and now she looks at me like I’m silly and everything is a negotiation. I still love her, but I don’t think she likes me.”

What’s up? And what brought marriage down to its knees?

Wherever you go, you see it? Women directing, barking orders and men passive aggressively dawdling or sullenly muttering, “Get off my frickin back!” That look of adoration in her eyes had been replaced by annoyance, irritation and impatience. The men don’t like it, but since one of the rules they still live by is “It’s not okay to hit a girl,” they take their hurt and anger out in other ways.

That might mean alcohol, gambling, cars, motorcycles. And sometimes it means looking elsewhere for the adoration and respect that their wives once felt for them. It could be with an affair or using their imagination and attributing those feelings to a smile on a prostitute or the smile from a porn star on their computer monitor.

What happened? How did the strong foundation for love become a floor that drops out of a marriage?

The answer is that the love was flawed from the beginning. It turns out he never knew her or cared to really know her in the first place. He just loved the way she made him feel…about himself.

And when she discovered that she was being used and often made promises in the heat of passion that he never had intended to keep, she fired back and started to use him in return to father a child, feather a nest or support her career aspirations. What started out as unconditional love deteriorated into “zero sum loving.”

And the solution? Couples need to realize and accept that true intimacy only begins when the intoxication and illusion of early love and lust dies down and gives way to reality. They need to see that immature love is about loving the other for what they do right and mature love is about loving someone in spite of what they do wrong. If you look for it, there is much to love in spite of what each other does wrong. You just have to look for it.

Just because early love is an illusion, doesn’t mean you have to become disillusioned with later love.

(also at basil and spice)

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