Elizabeth Edwards lost her 16-year-old son in a car crash. She contracted breast cancer. Her cancer returned to her bones, and it is inoperable. Her husband told her about his infidelity in 2006, and she believed they worked through their woes. She said this was “a process made somewhat easier with my diagnosis in March of 2007.” Yes, it seems “easier” to abandon one crisis for another, but avoidance doesn’t resolve anything. Her husband is still involved with his “other woman,” and it will take years to rebuild trust—if she even wants to.
Based on my new E-Book, “How to WIN When Your Mate Cheats,” here are 5 things for Elizabeth Edwards to consider now:
1) The fear of lovelessness that accompanies illness is real. Many of my physically ailing clients assess themselves as “damaged goods.” So they unwittingly accept “less than” treatment from mates they would ordinarily kick to the curb. Elizabeth must realize and honor her self-worth.
2) John defended his affair with this: “I started to believe that I was special and became increasingly egocentric and narcissistic.” He rationalized that he didn’t love his mistress, and anyway, his wife’s cancer was in remission at the time. John believes his own lies; Elizabeth must decide whether to accept them.
3) During a long marriage, some people stray to prove they still have the power to excite. This is a self-serving and narcissistic move. The Edwards and their children need intense therapy to grasp what happened, why, and what to do next.
4) Elizabeth has 31 years worth of reasons to want to keep her marriage and family intact. John described her as “the most extraordinarily unselfish woman I have ever known.” Elizabeth must never allow unselfishness to trump her self-respect.
5) Unwavering self-esteem and firm boundaries stave off “less than” treatment. An egocentric and narcissistic John obviously interpreted her “extraordinary unselfishness” as weakness—which he abused. Elizabeth must stop being so pushover-nice, and confront her husband on his lies.
The National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago reports that 65% of betrayed couples fix their issues and remain together. Nonetheless, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy warns that betrayed spouses can suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Such emotional scars coupled with physical ailments can be devastating. Is Elizabeth up to doing emotional work on her marriage as she physically battles cancer? She said, “This is really, really tough.” Let’s pray she can pull it off.
“How to WIN When Your Mate Cheats” http://drgilda.com/ebook/WhenYourMateCheats.htm
DR. GILDA CARLE (Ph.D.) is an internationally known psychotherapist and relationship expert. Her web site is http://www.DrGilda.com
. She is Match.com’s weekly Suddenly Single advice columnist on MSN.com’s Dating & Personals page. She is also a motivational speaker, a professor of psychology & communications, and the author of "Don't Bet on the Prince!" (a test question on "Jeopardy!") http://www.drgilda.com/books.htm
. DR. GILDA was the therapist in HBO's Emmy Award winner, "Telling Nicholas," featured on Oprah, where she guided a family to tell their 7-year-old that his mom died in the World Trade Center bombing.