The shock of discovering her husband had been romancing a woman she thought was her friend begins the story of Questing France. A personal account of how Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem, a Registered Marriage and Family Therapist, deals with serious problems within her marriage includes life skills common to infidelity. Through self exploration and inspiring travel experiences, critical questions about marriage, betrayal, trust, friendship and family relationships are explored. Marilyn must confront her own denial and face her fears as she struggles to rebuild her trust and save her marriage.
Travelling on a first class 25th wedding anniversary trip to France Marilyn finds joy in her marital relationship as well as a deep and certain knowledge that good relationships take commitment, dedication and mutual love.
Readers will learn many skills of personal relationships as they follow Marilyn's personal growth. Great for those who want to help themselves, friends and clients cope with infidelity.
Questing France addresses questions about falling in love, why people stray from their marriage, why they betray their partner, what quality of friendship they want, and what makes great family relationships. It is a personal first hand account of how Marilyn deals with marital infidelity and the betrayal by people she trusted. Through self exploration and inspiring travel experiences, she applies her expertise as a marriage and family therapist to my roles as a wife, mother, sibling, friend, and business woman.
Recognizing the signs of an affair, determining why people return to or stay in a marriage after an affair, exploring ways to develop intimacy and rebuild trust, and helping children deal with parental conflict are tackled head-on. By addressing the different styles of marriage, including the specific roles in traditional marriages and the equal partnership style of marriage she explains ways to build the relationship the spouses want.
When an affair is over the secrets need to be told to the spouse to shift the loyalty away from the lover and back to the marital partner. While it can be very painful to hear about what our spouse did with someone else, it allows for problems to be identified and resolved. If secrets are withheld, the intimacy between the lovers is not completely severed. Sharing information at a deep level, builds intimacy.
Curl Up With a Good Book
Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem is a family consultant who has lived through much of the conflict and resolution that couples face in the long road to relating. Her book unfolds as a kind of road map for those who have to take the same journey.
The book is not, as might be assumed from the title, a travelogue, though there is that element within it. The journey Marilyn undertakes is both inner and actual, beginning with the possible break-up of her marriage and ending after a tentative renewal of relationship through the willingness to travel together. Travel, listen, acknowledge, and share.
“Sometimes I think Jack wants to see me as he wants me to be, rather than how I am. Presenting my Self to him day after day without breaks in our time together is challenging.”
Earlier in the narrative we learn that Jack has been having a dalliance with a friend of Marilyn’s, a non-affair that nonetheless seems to imply the end of their long marriage. There will be a divorce, property will be divided, the nearly grown children will have to make choices about visiting. Marilyn is heart-broken but determined not to sacrifice her core values in the search for a way to keep the marriage alive. “I do not want to give up the growth I have achieved just to be married.” Yet she still loves Jack and feels they belong together.
A series of disappointments with Jack drive Marilyn ever deeper into her own self, forcing her to rely on her own resources. “My churning emotions distract from my sensitivity. I need to be sensitive to be good at my work, to bring out my creativity and to be intimate with others…I must protect my Self.” This Self is characterized as her personal Holy Grail. The Grail Quest is central to her life, indeed forms the purpose of her life. She is willing to view events, even those charged with considerable feeling, objectively, in the context of that higher quest.
This is the second book Marilyn has written about her personal quest. It is filled with the trivia and frustrations of real life (“I will try to stop grumbling about junk mail…there’s a plumbing leak at the cottage and the carpet’s all wet…I choose a power pink for my office and a soft purple grey for the consulting room…”). It is also informed by Marilyn’s many unique practical insights: “through powerlessness we come into a new power- the power to live in hope, trust and love…all cultures have stories of heroes and heroines who are exceptional in some way. I must find my special gifts and capabilities and carry them forth like a torch.”
Her book will shine like a torch for her readers, guiding them from the depths of her despair to the triumph of her will. It is a story of emotional destruction and slow, pains-taking spiritual rebuilding.
By Barbara Bamberger Scott
First appeared on www.curledup.com.
Is Lasting Peace Possible?
In 2003, I was fortunate enough to review Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem’s first book Questing Marilyn: In Search of My Holy Grail. This book details a physical journey to England and Ireland that served as a journey of the Self for the author. The book was so open and honest that I instantly felt a deep connection to the author’s words which served to help me on my own journey of myself.
At the end of the book, I like probably most readers of this book was eager to learn more about the author’s journey. Had she really found lasting peace and acceptance? Would she be able to integrate her new self knowledge into her busy life as a marriage councillor, wife, and mother? Was her husband really having an affair while she was on her trip? If so, would she kick him to the curb or continue her previous unhealthy pattern of pleasing others?
I looked to the author’s new book Questing France: Deepening the Search for My Holy Grail for answers to these questions and others. I found some answers. I also found even more questions.
Two things I did learn from this book are that 1) The journey of the Self is a never-ending process and 2) You never really know how you’ll actually react in any given situation until you experience it yourself. What might appear to others as unhealthy, weak, or misguided might be true self-empowerment. Stay the course, Marilyn!
Reviewed by Tami Brady
Mid Life Challenges
Questing France is a compelling story about the author’s personal midlife challenge of discovering and encouraging her own ‘true self’, her Holy Grail. It is a remarkable book that focuses on Marilyn’s struggle for open communication with herself and with her husband.
The book begins with Marilyn’s suspicions about her husband’s marital infidelity. As the story progresses, she wrestles with his acknowledgement, their separation and finally their reconciliation. Throughout the journey, Marilyn carefully assesses her love for her husband and her desire to spend the rest of her life with him. In the final chapters, as they journey through France celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary, she recognizes and slowly comes to accept the shortcomings of her husband and of their marriage. She learns to accept a relationship, which means to accept differences without trying to change the other and without feeling responsible for another’s shortcomings or lapses in relationship.
One of the strengths of the book is the manner in which the author moves the reader from Marilyn’s individual struggle to the more general effects of marriage dissolution. Her story, the suspense of wondering if the marriage can survive, pulls the reader along and the relevant insertions of theory help to explain and shed light on what is a very personal experience. Her straightforward writing, sprinkled with imagery and personal photographs, moves the reader from the subjective experience to the objective explanations, from the personal to the public: the mix of theory and personal account makes the material accessible and useful to many women, couples and therapists.
Therapists can gain from the insight into one woman’s innermost thoughts and dreams as she struggles with suspicions, betrayal, acceptance and reconciliation and from the theory and explanations highlighted in the book.
This book is an important guide for couples who suspect, or become aware of a spouse’s affair. It acknowledges the shock, resistance, anger and self doubts that accompany this knowledge. It follows one person’s struggle to avoid the pitfalls of a hegemonic relationship and to become an honest, open, equal partner.
Questing France is relevant for all women who are faced with the challenge of evolving from the old traditional role as dependent nurturer, and man, as provider, to a more equal relationship marked with new freedom, choices and independence. Today, women have more opportunities – and expectations - for education and securing a position in the workforce. Marilyn provides insight into her progress and how this new role impacted her husband and family members.
Marilyn is unexpectedly candid and honest as she reveals her innermost doubts about herself and her husband. She questions, consoles, reprimands and encourages herself to find her own way and to be confident in her ability to not just cope but succeed. Her struggle leads her to stand up for herself without putting the other down, to ask for what she wants not expecting others to fulfill her needs, to not feel guilty for being independent and to not feel resentful when others do not want what she does. It is a book for those seeking to establish an honest open trusting communication. Each of us knows someone who would benefit from reading this book.
Marie Adams Ed.D., (Doctorate of Education in Applied Psychology OISE, University of Toronto) is a professor at Centennial College. She is the author of Our Son, A Stranger: adoption breakdown and its effects on parents, McGill-Queen's University Press, 2002 which was nominated for the Writers' Trust of Canada's 2002 Pearson Writers' Non-Fiction Prize. www.marieadams.com