Is Maria a victim? It would be easy to look at it that way, but I say “no” for this simple reason: relationships are a 50/50 proposition. Therefore,
she’s partially responsible for what happened. Outrageous you say? On one level,yes. It would be outrageous to say that Maria orchestrated Arnold’s sneaking around with the housekeeper, having a love-child with said person, and lying about it for ten years. But it wouldn’t be outrageous to say that, while she didn’t plan the details, she is responsible for her part in the relationship system that turned sour—very sour.
So what about this 50/50 thing? Granted, it doesn’t always look that way. From the outside looking in, it might seem that one of the partners has more than their share of the power. And if one partner is dominate, as might be the case with Arnold, how is Maria responsible? Because she is
allowing it to happen…perhaps by not regarding herself as much as she could. Did she really want to be the governor’s little wifey when she had a wonderful career of her own? Did she really want to give that up? Or did she acquiesce to his wants? I wonder.
Of course, this is all conjecture on my part since I have no clue as to what went on in their marriage. But let’s speculate: Arnold is a huge presence…physically for sure, but also in other ways—he was a successful body builder, a successful actor, a governor of a very big state. And although Maria has been successful as well, I can imagine that Arnold could be intimidating. So much so that Maria might have deferred to him; might not have asked questions when suspicions were there; might have looked the other way when her gut told her something was wrong; might have ignored the little signs. And if you ignore enough of them, they grow bigger, and bigger and bigger until…well, it all gets out of hand and the 2×4 hits you over the head. Then you will act, as Maria did. And thank God she did even if it was late. Better late than never.
Can Maria climb out of this a bigger, better person? Most definitely yes! This cataclysmic event has woken her up, and in that way, it was a blessing. Granted, I’m sure it doesn’t feel like a blessing right now. But in time, when insights are gained and she’s deepened and grown, she might just look back on the whole thing and be grateful that it happened. Certainly not grateful for the pain, but if that’s what it took to get her going in a new direction, then so be it. The bigger the upheaval (and this was huge), the more opportunity for growth.
I feel quite sure that Maria will seize the opportunity. She’ll find the gifts beneath the chaos, and as a result, will change in ways she might not have imagined. Maria will discover more of Maria and won’t be dimmed in Arnold’s shadow whether she stays with him or not. And what a gift that will be. I wish her well on her journey.
Check out my book, The Affair: From Breakdown to Breakthrough, A Therapist’s Real-life Journey, for great tips and insights about infidelity and relationships. You can read a synopsis of the book on my website, http://www.infidelityandaffairs.com and buy it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.