When your spouse has an affair, it can feel like the most unforgiveable transgression. How do you ever get over something that hurtful? But what if some affairs are justified? What if both partners think that the affair has meaning and that the cheating is for the best? Is that a fairytale or could it really be true?
The nature of cheating is that it is based on dishonesty. If you are open about your outside relationships, it’s not called cheating, it’s called something else. Yet, this story falls somewhere in between an affair and an open relationship. Would you consider this couple’s story an affair?
A couple came to me for therapy when they heard that I worked with couples and that I was not afraid to take on cases where there were intense complications, or dramatic differences of opinion. Their story was sad, and I listened to them with heart wrenching empathy. Jane and Paul initially came to therapy when Jane was diagnosed with a terminal illness. She had been disabled for many years with an auto-immune disease that they hadn’t realized was related to a life threatening form of illness. Paul had been caring for Jane for many years at home, and had been standing by her, always loyal and faithful.
Jane had been unable over the last few months to bathe herself, and had to be moved from the bed to a wheel chair and into the car. Even more recently she had needed to be fed, as she couldn’t lift even a spoon or fork. It was clear that continued treatment options were going to debilitate her even further. Prior to these recent devastating developments, there had been no expectation of sex, and little affection. Yet Paul had not given up on his sexual relationship with Jane, but he loved her and he kept up his connection to her through his continued commitment to being her caretaker. It had been almost four years since they had attempted any kind of sex, and he was fine with that, he understood and although they both missed sex, they were more upset with the lack of conversation that the illness sometimes prevented.
Now they realized that the illness was terminal. Their relationship became more complicated. As the end got closer, Jane was experiencing a surge of energy, and she wanted to have an erotic experience before she was too ill to try, but Paul was devastated by the reality of her ultimate passing and unable to even to begin to think about the possibility. Keep Reading...