I’ve read some blameshifting quackery in my day, but Guardian advice columnist Mariella Frostup takes the blood-soaked tampon. A woman writes in to say her partner cheated, and she wants to contact the Other Woman. And Frostup tells her the real problem is her menopause.
The poor chump’s letter:
The dilemma It’s the usual. He was unhappy, he didn’t feel wanted, blah, blah, blah… We’re in our mid-50s, not married and no children. Together for 16 years and friends for 18.
He left me last year. I then discovered the affair, but he told me it started only three months before he left. After nine weeks apart we reconciled and he ended his relationship. I didn’t understand why he was so upset and eventually discovered it was a three-year affair, not three months, and happened three years ago. Why didn’t he just end it? We’ve got no ties. He said it was because he really loves me and was hoping we would be happy again.
In those three years I was bullied out of a job I loved by a misogynistic culture, was violently assaulted at work, had to take a lower-paid job in a toxic culture until I found another one I was happy in, had breast cancer and was badly affected by the treatment and generally just felt overwhelmed.
His response? Get a bit on the side. He says there’s no contact now, but how can I believe that? I want to contact the other woman as I’m sure she will tell the truth.
You’ve been through a cataclysmic few years, the kind of thing experienced by so many women in midlife – a time when the tangible sense of disappearing from view and being discarded by society collides with the, thankfully transient, biological implosion of menopause.
As any woman in her 50s will tell you, the end of fertility is more of a big bang than a whimper. Those who have not experienced it can be less than sympathetic, but we are culpable, too, in our failure to explain what we’re feeling or to ask for help or support in any clear way.
What the whattity what? Her husband cheated and the first thing you think to comment on, Mariella, is the chump’s loss of fertility?!
She wasn’t “discarded by society” — she was discarded by her PARTNER. He moved out for his Schmoopie. And then came back and now wants her to trust him. That’s not a hormone problem, that’s a fuckwit problem.
Mariella, as a woman of 62, perhaps you just wanted to talk about menopause? And just decided to shoehorn this letter into a lament about withering ovaries? She could’ve been writing to you about Marks & Spencer’s new rice pudding brand and you’d be all WE ARE INVISIBLE! OUR ESTROGEN IS DEPLETED! WOE! That is my most charitable interpretation, because it sure seems like you’re victim-blaming this woman.
Oh hang on,
we are culpable, too, in our failure to explain what we’re feeling or to ask for help or support in any clear way.
I know you tried to sugarcoat it, Mariella, with the “we” — but you just said her partner cheated because she didn’t know how to talk to him about aging. She failed to be vulnerable with Mr. Fucks-Around so that’s why she’s now… vulnerable.
Bite me, Mariella.
Are we going to get to the question she asked you?
No? Shit, the lecture on menopause continues…
That we enter this phase of our lives ill-prepared and under-supported is among my many bugbears about the way women are still discriminated against and overlooked. For far too many women this liminal phase in our lives continues to be the one we dare not mention. Such are the levels of shame attached that we try to negotiate it in woeful ignorance, without the hormonal supplements we need, which should be as easily available as tampons or pills for period pain, but are not.
A HORMONAL SUPPLEMENT WILL NOT PROTECT HER FROM A CHEATING FUCKWIT. Talk to your pharmacist. It may increase her odds of cancer, but it’s got fuck all to do with her partner’s trustworthiness.
You know what should be easily available? Good advice. Sadly, we must navigate infidelity on the woefully ignorant pages of the Guardian newspaper.
Yo, Letter Writer.
You’ve been through a lot this year. You’re wobbly. The last thing you need in your life is a guy who abandoned you during your darkest hour to appear back on your doorstep, with his entitlement fully intact. Trust him? The guy lied to your face for THREE. STRAIGHT. YEARS. You wouldn’t know if he’s truthful now, or the Marquess of Queensbury. He’s a lying liar who lies.
I suggest you not live in a state of hypervigilance as the relationship police. Your fragile health doesn’t need that kind of stress. No one does. Nor do I suggest you trust him. (He conducted a double life for years, you can’t trust him. He’s a skilled, casual liar.) Review your finances and protect yourself.
After nine weeks apart we reconciled and he ended his relationship. I didn’t understand why he was so upset and eventually discovered it was a three-year affair, not three months, and happened three years ago.
That’s some bullshit. He didn’t move out on you for 9 weeks for a relationship he had THREE YEARS ago. Why’s he upset NOW? Oh right, because she threw his ass out and you’re Plan B.
Don’t be Plan B. Not when you’re young and your uterus is all skippity-do-dah, and not when you’re old with chin hairs. Never, ever, EVER accept abuse. Lying, gaslighting, abandoning you when you were ill (probably using you financially, if I were to guess. I make good guesses, I have millions of stories here)… this is appalling behavior.
Should you talk to Schmoopie? No. Read The Futility of Confronting Affair Partners. She’s not your friend and she’s not the deciding vote on this relationship, YOU ARE. The point at which you have to cross-examine your boyfriend’s sidepiece for the veracity of his story is the point at which you must admit this relationship is OVER.
It’s deader than Mariella’s estrogen levels.