Good times come and good times go. Intimacy can wax and wane. Love can
fade away. But what happens when you discover that the good times never
really came, that the intimacy was never there? In divorce, the question
is inevitably asked, "did she ever love me?" Usually the answer
is "yes, absolutely. Once."
But what happens when the answer is an unequivocal "no?"
This is the saga of a different sort of divorce. This situation defies
most of the norms of divorce. For in this kind of divorce, you aren't
working with a couple who have a shared history, who have a memory of
being very close and the bewilderment of trying to reconstruct what went
wrong, you're in the maelstrom of an environment in which every day
you further discover that your client has been sleeping with his enemy
and never knew it.
The poisonous contempt from the other spouse is not born of anger, is not
born of resentment from the promise of life together now gone awry, but
is born of absolute disinterest and detachment, a detachment which has
been the mainstay in the relationship from day one. Only now the veil
is lifted and Medusa's head is the face staring back at you. Only
now do you perceive the icy danger.
How do you carry on with your life when you make this discovery? How do
you interact with the spouse who made love to you but never felt love?
How can you trust her to care for your children as you come to realize
that, for whatever historical or genetic reason, she hasn't the capacity
to care, she hasn't the capacity to love, she hasn't the capacity
to attach at all?
I'm writing as though this problem is unique to women but it isn't
at all. I've met many a detached man as well. But right now, in my
most prominent case which centers on this problem, it is the wife who
suffers from an inability to attach to her husband. And considering the
way she has handled the custodial situation, it is safe to say she has
no particular attachment to her child as well, or else she wouldn't
sever the child from its father as though the child's needs are irrelevant.
As you can well imagine, clients are devastated when they uncover the truth
of the fallacy of their marriage. The betrayal is tremendous. The self
doubt arising from their slow discovery of complicit self delusion completely
undermines any sense of stability and thwarts any security from the notion
that the future may hold a brighter day.
This situation is a matter for a skilled therapist. Many a qualified psychologist
has expertly handled these now fragile souls and helped to rebuild their
selves to a firm foundation.
This problem is not as uncommon as we would wish. It has lesser forms.
This problem is endemic to humanity. On a simpler level it is simply telling
someone that you love them to gain something you want. Whether its the
high school boy coaxing his sweet heart in the backseat of his car or
the call girl with the right words to say at the right time, this is an
age old situation. But carried to the extent that the marriage has truly
been a lie and a bond was never formed, is a deeper, more sinister and
much sadder situation.
Fortunately, the parents who are attached and seek therapy usually obtain
custody of their children and go on to take excellent care of them. Because,
as the veil is lifted, the whole world (and the judge) can see the vacuous
monster which lies beneath. And rather than turning to stone (a true tranference
if ever there was one) we see that all that lies under that veil is a
bunch of hissing snakes.