The seemingly insignificant thing which causes the inability or unwillingness to endure any more of the burden.
Q I am very happily married, and I have a beautiful baby girl. My husband is loving and supportive of my career, and I treasure my family very much. Two years ago I started having a great friendship with a coworker whom I worked with in our department. We could talk about anything for hours and were allies at work in dealing with the ever-changing politics of our company.
I certainly did not expect it to happen, but we fell in love. We told each other we loved one another deeply. I feel extremely guilty toward my family and his family. He is also married and has a child. We both knew our relationship could not develop further, and I hated lying to my husband whenever I stepped out of the house to take my lover’s calls.
A year ago I quit my job partly because I knew for this to end we had to stop seeing each other every day. However, we continued seeing each other over lunch and coffee, and we continued calling each other whenever we were alone. A month ago we had a fight, and we have not contacted each other since.
I know it is, perhaps, best for us to end this silently, yet I miss him very much. I think I still love him and want to know why he hasn’t called. Should I contact him to talk and get closure to the relationship? Without this closure I feel I am still hoping we could go back to the things we were, even though I know that is not right.
A Suzanne, you and your lover are one letter apart. You want closure, a happy conclusion to your affair. He wants cloture, the cutting off of all discussion and debate. He has the better idea. You are simply looking for a way to keep the affair going.
Closure has an interesting history in psychology. Originally it described the way our senses organize things. For example, think what happens when you write the letter K twice, first the normal way and then backwards. Now push the two letters together. One might think we would see K and its mirror image, or see a W on top of an M, or simply see some lines.
What happens to all of us, however, is that we see a diamond between parallel lines. That tendency of our mind to reorganize what the eye sees into certain patterns is what psychologists originally meant by closure. The mind wants to see a complete whole.
That may be one reason why we get mad when our favorite television program is interrupted by a news bulletin. It may also be a reason why most people don’t like literary fiction. Critics like to think the masses aren’t sophisticated, but literary stories often end with a main character unable to solve the problem they had from the very beginning. That is inherently unsatisfying.
Today many people use the idea of closure to suggest that a happy conclusion is possible in every relationship. That is not true. Closure does not happen between people. It happens within us. We say to ourselves, “This is done. It is finished. This is what was accomplished in the relationship; this is what could not be accomplished. Now I begin again.”
We cannot demand closure from others. They get to be who they are. When people demand closure, what they really want is another opportunity to argue their case, debate, plead, threaten, or otherwise get their way. But your lover is not allowing you the opportunity to change his mind.
You are like a writer who can’t finish a book. The closure you seek can only come from within. Ask yourself why a “very happily married” woman would seek to commit adultery. Answer that and you will have both the closure and the cloture to this affair.
Wayne & Tamara
Invade – to enter as if to take possession, to intrude upon.