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THE SCRIPTTHE 100% ABSOLUTELY PREDICTABLE THINGS MEN DO WHEN THEY CHEAT
By ELIZABETH LANDERS VICKY MAINZER
HYPERIONCopyright © 2005 Elizabeth Landers and Vicky Mainzer
All right reserved.
Only the percussionist is present in the orchestra pit below the stage and the drum roll is barely audible, nearly drowned out by the sounds of everyday life outside the theater. It's so low that you pay no attention. You don't even hear the loud, rapid roll that usually comes at the end, presaging something important to come. You're paying more attention to the sound of a violin and a flute, and a very mellifluous and soothing tenor rising above.
This tenor is singing: "I Would Never Do That."
SCENE 1: "I WOULD NEVER DO THAT"
Sharon and Nick are leaving Nick's company's office reception when Sharon asks her husband, "Where did Jackie get that diamond bracelet? She couldn't possibly buy such an expensive piece of jewelry on her secretary's salary. She told me it came from Tiffany's, but of course I couldn't ask her how she got it."
Nick answers, "Oh, I know how she got it. Don, the senior VP you met a few months ago, gave it to her. They're having an affair."
Sharon thinks for a second and then says, "But Don's married, isn't he? Didn't I meet his wife, Joan? How do you know they're having an affair?"
"I could just tell," Nick says.
"My gosh. What goes on!" Sharon exclaims.
"Yeah, it's not a good scene all around. I tell you, I would never do that to you."
We have found that almost every woman who finds out that she has an unfaithful husband remembers her husband saying several years before, "I Would Never Do That," while commenting disapprovingly on a man who has just been unfaithful.
This line in the Script gives you no sense that anything might be amiss. Only in hindsight (unless you've read this book and can be alert to it as it's happening) will you see that this was the moment he began sending signals that he was alert to other possibilities, to other ways to act out his life.
At the time, your reaction is the opposite of suspicion. You are grateful and reassured that your husband is so completely different. You think, "He really understands how wrong it is to cheat. How wonderful to be married to someone who can see how immoral this is. I am really proud to be married to a man who is so upstanding."
You feel sympathy for Don's wife and a little glee at hearing the latest gossip. Then you put the whole story out of your mind-it's just another story of someone else's misfortune.
Nancy and Jim are straightening up after dinner when Nancy says to Jim, "Say, how's Paul? I was thinking of him today when someone mentioned artists who then go on to tech jobs. You haven't mentioned him in a while."
"Oh, Paul," Jim responds. "I guess he thinks he's a bohemian again. He just left Kathy and the kids and moved in with his secretary. She must be twenty years younger than he is."
"What?" Nancy stares at him. "Kathy's so sweet and they have the greatest kids. They've been married a long time. His secretary? How could he do that?"
Jim shakes his head. "No, it's not right and it's making things very awkward in the office. I would never do that."
You feel lucky to have a husband who is so much better than other men, a husband who is completely faithful and caring, who lives by what he believes in. You think, "That could never happen to me with a man as virtuous and devoted as my husband. I can put that worry totally out of my mind, thank goodness."
This is a very natural reaction on your part, and it may be just the one he wants you to have. He is thinking that what Paul has done sounds appealing. But if he criticizes Paul, the last thing that would occur to you, now or in the future, is that your own husband might be open to cheating. By assuring you he would never do that, he has thrown you off his track.
SCENE 2: "YOU NEED TO SEE A PSYCHIATRIST"
Maggie is sitting at the kitchen table going over the checkbook, and staring at the remodeling books the contractor has just brought over. Joe comes in from outside, looks at her, and says, "You're depressed. You need to see a psychiatrist."
"Need to see a psychiatrist? What do you mean?"
"I mean you need to see a psychiatrist. Look at you sitting hunched over all that paper, fixated on all those picture books. You can't seem to make any decisions. That's depressed."
"I don't feel depressed. I'm just trying to get some of this paperwork done and figure out what to do with the kitchen."
"Have it your way then, but I'm telling you, you need help."
Maggie feels insulted and confused. "Why would anyone think balancing the checkbook and looking at remodeling ideas is acting depressed? Did he read about depressed women somewhere? Did someone else tell him I seem depressed? He seems so definite about it and so critical. He's sort of saying that if I don't realize it and don't seek help then I'm even worse off than I realize. He's telling me I don't want to be the best I can be, and he won't love me anymore if I don't try to be the best I can be. Maybe I should go see a psychiatrist. But then again I don't feel depressed."
He's building a case, though not consciously. It's the same case he'll use later-even though he doesn't even know there will be a later. It may be years before he presents the final summation.
He's following the Script. He's heard men play out all these scenes many times, and he has learned this is a good way to begin. Casting you as the sick, depressed, and troubled one gets the audience in the right mood to understand and applaud the rest of the play, especially his character: the good guy. He's beginning to set up the contrasts between you and him. Later, when the news breaks, the stage will be set so that people who would ordinarily cast him as the villain will do just the opposite. They'll say, "He's done his best to get along with a crazy, depressed woman and has given her every chance to get help. But she refused to get better." He's the good guy. You're the problem.
Watch this man act.
Carl and Bill are walking out to the parking lot after a long day's work.
"She's crazy, out of control. The doctor even says so. When I was in for my checkup I was telling him that if I just want to spend a couple of nights out with the guys she's all up in arms, asking me why I'm not home more. She wants me home all the time. She's always wanting me to go places with the kids. She's out of control."
Carl just listens as Bill lets loose with all his problems at home.
"I thought all along she was unbalanced. I knew Dr. Feller would agree with me. Sure enough, he says she needs help."
Before our man starts his speaking part he has to get into the right frame of mind. The Script has even taught him the thoughts that will accomplish this. He's thinking to himself, "I'm a good person. I'm doing all the right things to make her happy. She's still not happy, Therefore there's something really wrong with her." The director has told him to keep playing these thoughts over and over in his head so that later on his spoken lines will carry real feeling.
If he were reciting his real feelings aloud now and listening to what he was saying, that would mean recognizing he has some problems and that he might have to ask for help in addressing them. Not easy for our man. Many men find this difficult, so they make you the problem.
He has also started talking to others because he cares about the court of world opinion. You're upside-down crazy, and he's upright. Whatever he does in the future, he has already colored you in a very convenient light.
The Wagners and their neighbors are having a last cup of coffee after their annual Labor Day picnic, when Flo Wagner says, "Did you know that the Goldens are having problems? I heard they just can't get along. What do you think it is?"
"I'll tell you what it is. He should send her to see a psychiatrist," her neighbor Rick says.
Flo hears this and thinks to herself that maybe Nancy Golden is a little erratic. Maybe Rick is right and Nancy's husband should get her to a shrink.
Men have learned the Script so well that a man who doesn't even know the couple immediately suggests that the husband should send his wife to a shrink. Other women can be pulled along too, becoming convinced that the wife is the source of the problem because she is unbalanced.
The Charge: guilty by reason of insanity
TIP: DON'T PLEAD GUILTY
Expose the false charges by asking for the evidence.
Don't let the "guilty by reason of insanity" charge go unanswered. Ask him exactly what it is that you are doing that he thinks requires you to see a psychiatrist. He may say that you are depressed, crazy, or that you act unbalanced. Or he may try to change the topic. Ask him again what specific symptoms of craziness or depression he sees.
To avoid having to come up with evidence that doesn't exist, he may tell you that he was just joking when he said you need to see a shrink, or that you take things too seriously and you shouldn't worry about it.
Or he may answer that you're obviously depressed and troubled because you're always tired and have no energy. If you answer that it's no wonder you're always tired given you have to juggle the laundry, the children, the bills, the shopping, the cleaning, and possibly a full- or part-time job, he'll likely respond that that just proves how out of touch with real life you are. Instead, try asking him if he can help you with some of the things on your plate.
If you don't get satisfactory answers, find a therapist who can help you with your relationship. Whatever you do, don't let the charges go unanswered.
TIP: GO FOR COUNSELING
Try your best to get him to go with you for counseling. In particular, try to go together for the first appointment. If you've gone alone he may have the feeling when he comes with you the next time that he's already been branded as the bad guy.
Let's say your husband refuses to go but you do make an appointment with a therapist. When you walk into the therapist's office and are greeted warmly and sympathetically, you will likely feel better immediately. It seems like the charges will be dropped.
But it may be that you're about to be: Charged Again By Reason of Expert Testimony.
TIP: DON'T PLEAD GUILTY
If you sit down in a therapist's office and hear "Dear, I'm sorry you're suffering from this disorder. I'm going to treat you," don't plead guilty. Do not accept a judgment from a professional that says you're impaired.
You may come into the therapist's office saying, "My husband says I'm depressed." It's easy for the therapist to simply accept your husband's "diagnosis" and proceed to treat you on this basis. In truth you may or may not be depressed. There are probably many other things to look at.
Find another therapist who doesn't assume you're defective.
TIP: IF YOU'RE A SMALL-TOWN GIRL
If you live in a smaller town, finding a therapist (and possibly finding another therapist) may be totally impractical suggestions. Availability, distance, and financial considerations may be roadblocks. Also, in a small town, it may be difficult to visit a counselor quietly, as you would probably prefer at this time. The last thing you need is to have the whole town buzzing about why you were seen walking into a shrink's office.
Here are some ideas for help no matter where you live:
The clergy. Best of all are pastors who have been trained in marriage and family counseling. The regional office of your religious denomination can provide a list of pastors with this training.
Social workers, nurse practitioners, and psychiatric nurses. Again, best of all are those specially trained in marriage and family counseling. Your state licensing board for each profession can provide a list of those closest to you or who can give telephone help.
Couples support programs, marriage enrichment groups, or self-help groups for couples. Most likely you will find a program like this through a church, synagogue, or other religious institution. They may operate with or without a leader.
The Internet. There are several sites on the Internet. One that's helpful is therapistlocator.net.
If the above resources still present difficulties or are not appealing to you, consider talking to a relative you feel you can trust.
TIP: START TALKING TO YOURSELF. KEEP A JOURNAL.
If you don't have the time, money, or access to a therapist, the next best thing is keeping a journal. It is valuable even if you are seeing a therapist.
Writing your thoughts down forces you to examine them. As you're thinking "Who's crazy here?" it will give you a better understanding of what's going on. Keeping a record of the facts as they occur may also be useful in challenging his version of events later.
SCENE 3: "I KEEP TELLING YOU TO ..."
The kids have scattered from the dinner table to the computer, homework, and the telephone as Tracy loads the dishwasher. Her husband, Scott, hands her some dishes, then comes over to stand next to her and says, "Tracy, I'm thinking you'd be happier if you were going to school. Why don't you take a course at State and get started on your teaching degree the way you've always wanted to? It would give you some outside interests and you could get a job here in Chevy Chase after you finish."
"I don't know. With the four kids and all the things they're doing and now you're out of town more with your new job, I don't know where I'd squeeze it in," Tracy says.
"Well, think about it," Scott says.
Sarah and Hank are getting ready for a cocktail party when Sarah takes off the dress she has just put on and throws it on the bed. "Guess I gained some weight since I bought this. It doesn't look that good. I'm going to wear the same dress I wore last week."
"You have an awful lot of too-tight dresses sitting in the closet. Buy a gym membership, then you'll be at the weight you want to be. I've offered it to you."
"I don't know when I would go. Who's going to watch Timmy and the baby?"
"Well, I've offered it to you."
"Oh gosh, the day just seems to go by and I don't get anything done," Jen says to her husband as she's still doing laundry at ten o'clock at night.
"I keep telling you to get up an hour earlier and do all these things in the morning. Then your evenings would be free and we could spend time together," her husband, Josh, says.
"Getting up an hour earlier won't put much of a dent in what I have to do. And I need that extra hour's sleep," Jen says.
"I'm telling you it will give you a more organized day. And I keep telling you you'll sleep better if you don't go to bed so exhausted. You haven't been sleeping well."
Mindy is sitting in her office finishing up the last problem for the day with her boss, Joe, when the phone rings.
"Mindy, it's me.
Excerpted from THE SCRIPT by ELIZABETH LANDERS VICKY MAINZER Copyright © 2005 by Elizabeth Landers and Vicky Mainzer. Excerpted by permission.
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