When Amy Schoen found the receipts she felt relief. She wasn’t nuts after all. At the same time, she had that really sick feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you find out the nightmare you hoped you were dreaming is actually a real life drama with you cast in a starring role. Her husband was having an affair. “He left signs,” she said. “He wanted to be caught.”
At that point, Schoen had been married for 10 years. With an MBA from Georgetown University, she had established herself as a successful entrepreneur. An image and wardrobe consultant, Schoen worked at an upscale clothing boutique she owned in Bethesda, Md. She saw her work as one of giving people self-confidence. “Helping people discover their best image gives them the confidence they need to accomplish their goals,” Schoen said. Life was good in many ways. Yet, Schoen’s own self confidence was about to take a direct hit.
For the last year or so, he had been distancing himself. First, there were weekends where he wasn’t where he’d said he’d be. Then, there was the job he’d taken in another city a considerable distance from home. That meant a long-distance marriage, which made it easier for him to hide an affair. While he denied that anything was going on, she lived with an unsettling niggling that something wasn’t right. “It was a crazy time,” she said.
Finding the receipts for gifts that he had purchased for the “other woman” moved Amy to action. She sought out a therapist and began to work through what had happened. “It was a very hard and tumultuous time,” she said.
When they first find out about an affair, many wounded spouses take a lot of blame on themselves: if only I had been a better partner both in bed and out of it, maybe my spouse wouldn’t have cheated. Through therapy, Schoen sorted through the confusion and pain and began to realize that what had happened wasn’t about her at all. “Infidelity was a bigger sign of what was already going on,” she said. He wanted out of the marriage but didn’t know how to get out of the marriage. So, he did something that he could do that would cause Schoen to sever her ties with him. “(He) knew infidelity was something I couldn’t live with,” she said. He was right. Schoen filed for divorce. He was a free man, and Schoen was left to pick up the pieces.
LEARNING TO TRUST AGAIN
Often, the 10- ton piece that has to be picked up after infidelity is the ability to trust yourself again; because, after all, something really big went down and you were oblivious. “You constantly question yourself because you think, ‘How come I didn’t know he was cheating on me?’ I wasn’t sure I could trust myself again,” Schoen said.
Part of learning to trust again was stepping back from the blame and shame so she could see things from another view. “I had see (his) perspective,” Schoen said. “I had to realize that he married the wrong woman, and it wouldn’t have mattered what I did, I couldn’t give him what he needed. We were just mismatched from the beginning.”