[Two Pronged] My husband and our helper
Jeremy has a master's degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives
Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.
Dear Dr Holmes and Mr Baer
I am Mia Rodrigues. Two nights ago I caught my husband with my maid. He was behind our house maid, his chest is on her back because they were watching a video on the cellphone of my maid.
I was so uncomfortable, nagalit nanaman ako sa kanya ng sobra sobra (I said so many hurtful things to him, which might have been too much). This is not the first time for him to do this. I forgive but I cannot forget.
I am a born again po. Is that bad?
It is not clear what “Is that bad?” refers to. It could be your husband’s behavior, your reaction to it or the fact that you are born again!
If it is your husband’s behavior, he seems to have acted highly inappropriately, both because he is a married man and because of the imbalance of power between him and your maid which can typically lead to sexual harassment (which the #MeToo movement among others is currently seeking to address). The situation is exacerbated by the fact that he had previously acted this way. It is entirely reasonable for you to have words with him, especially when catching him in flagrante.
Given that this is not the first time he has offended, it would be wise to hope that he has learned his lesson but to prepare for the next offense. You will know what your options are far better than we but forward planning will place you in the driving seat if it comes to a showdown.
All of the above is however subject to your born again status and what this means for you and your family. Religion is tricky because of its reliance in faith and "God’s mystery" whenever it becomes irrational or inexplicable. How can there be dialogue when a religion takes centuries to admit Galileo was correct, when a religion insists that every word in the Bible is absolutely true or when a religion insists that the world is only 60,000 years old and that all evidence to the contrary is fabricated?
There are women who believe that it is God’s will that they obey their husbands in all matters but plenty of others who do not. We are not qualified to opine on the impact of your religion on your family relationships; that is for your pastor or whoever.
Best of luck,
Thank you very much for your letter. Mr Baer and I seem to agree on the two points we think are most important to respond to in your letter and those are: the history of forgiving your husband when he strayed and the possible impact of your religion.
If you forgave your husband too quickly for his past transgressions, it is likely he will not take your anger, your pain and the impact of his constant philandering too seriously, thus leading to his doing it again and again.
It will be a cycle — you catch him, you get angry (maybe even threaten to leave), maybe he apologizes and promises never to do it again, in the end, you convince yourself to forgive. All this does is teach your husband that all he has to do is seem faithful until your anger dies down, and then he can go back to his usual ways. You always forgive him anyway.
If you want to stop riding on this roller coaster of discovery, pain and anger, then you must stop doing what you have always done that doesn’t seem to work: merely forgive yet not bring across what might happen the next time he does it. If the result of his next transgression is something he likes less than flirting/philandering and he knows you mean what you say, then it is more likely that he will stop.
Admittedly, I do not know what expectations being born again carry when it comes to forgiving and forgetting. However, I can only hope that whatever they are, they take into account the research findings in biology, neuroscience, and memory.
Unless you have dementia or another condition that affects your memory, you do not forget. It is practically impossible to do so — unless you drink or drug yourself into a stupor.
So remembering is not shameful; it is, in fact, highly desirable.
If your religion insists you literally forget, then it is asking the impossible of you. However, if all it prescribes is not letting his behavior embitter you, then you are definitely there when you say “I forgive but I cannot forget.”
Congratulations, and, in case there is anything you want to reconsider, I suggest reconsidering the forgiveness aspect of it. Is it too soon? Is it even wise to?
With apologies on ending on a not-100%-positive (BUT I feel more realistic, needs-to-be-said-and-thus-more-healing) note, wishing you all the best,
Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with subject heading TWO PRONGED. Unfortunately, the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.