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*****= An all-time favorite
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*****The Script

The 100% Absolutely Predictable Things Men Do When They Cheat

by Elizabeth Landers and Vicky Mainzer

Reviewed January 2, 2006.
Hyperion, New York, 2005.  173 pages.
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2005 (#3, Relationships)

This book caught my eye because my son is interested in screenwriting, and I thought it might be a book about writing a script for a movie.  When I saw the subtitle, I took a closer look.

<>My husband recently moved out and told me he wants a divorce.  Since then, I’ve gotten lots of confidences and heard about other women in very similar situations—similar but each with its own variations.  I’ve also read stories on messageboards at   In the review that follows, please don’t assume I’m talking about my own marriage.  If it sounds like a particular situation, that’s because men who leave their wives so often follow “the Script.” 

I’m going to go into great detail in this review, because I think this book is a tremendous help to women who are being left.  I want to get their attention.  I will mostly summarize the book by quoting the authors, so readers will know that this is what the authors say about men who cheat, NOT what I am saying about my own husband or anyone else.

I find the title ironic, since men who leave their families probably think they are breaking out of the “script” other people want to impose on them.  In fact, they’re simply following a different script—one that’s been around for ages and across ethnicities.  “It’s funny, it’s sad, and it’s utterly amazing—men do and say exactly the same things in exactly the same order when they are unfaithful.  We think cheating revolves around love and sex and intrigue and illicit encounters—and it does.  But men also talk and act as if there were a script.”  Unfortunately, this script doesn’t have a “happily ever after” ending for anyone on stage.

Here’s how the authors came to study and write down the Script to reveal it to women:  “We discovered the Script in conversation.  Friends since our children were in high school together in San Francisco, we stayed in touch after both of us went through divorce, and Vicky moved away.  As we talked about our work, the organizations we were involved in, and the odds and ends of life, we realized that in one area we were hearing the same story over and over.  Unfaithful men all acted alike.  Just like they were following a script.  This was confirmed through conversations and correspondence with hundreds of people throughout the country.  The identical play was being reenacted unfaithful man after unfaithful man.  We began to collect these stories and realized there was something more here.

“We knew we were onto something from the number of stories we heard, and the level of interest we found from everyone we mentioned this idea to.  This issue affects women from all walks of life, all socioeconomic groups, all ages, all backgrounds, all parts of the country.  Every woman who experiences an unfaithful husband feels confused and baffled by his contradictory statements and behavior.  She starts to believe that she really must be crazy, unappealing, selfish, and unloving, just as her husband says.  This book helps women understand that it is all part of the Script.”

The authors did their homework.  “The book is based on real-life stories, but all names and details are fictional.  We’ve talked to hundreds of women and men, and to experts in the field:  lawyers, therapists, doctors, financial advisers, and psychologists.”

I want to review this book, even though it will show my unfashionable views on divorce (I don’t think it’s a good thing.), because this book is important and a sanity-saver for women in this situation.  Here’s why the authors wrote it:  “We don’t believe all men are unfaithful.  We don’t believe all men who follow the first part of the Script cheat.  We do believe there are steps you can take and things you can do, once you are aware of the Script, that can help you in your marriage.  Most of all, though, we want you to know you are not alone; to know that the way it happened to you is the way it always happens; to laugh at the absurdity of it all; and to arm yourself for what is going to happen next—to be ahead of the game because you know the Script.”

I want to add that I don’t believe that following this Script, even cheating on your wife, makes a man a bad person.  He may be a very good person.  He may have been a wonderful husband for years and years.  I do believe that he has been deceived by the Script into doing some very bad things, and he’s not willing to admit that they are bad.  But everyone makes mistakes.  Everyone does bad things sometimes.  When a man faces up to that and asks for forgiveness, it’s amazing how a woman who loves him may respond.  But the whole purpose of the Script is to avoid facing up to the fact that he has done something wrong.  Perhaps he fears that if he admits to doing something bad, it would mean that he IS bad.

The Script is arranged, naturally enough, in Acts and Scenes.  Act I is “Before He Leaves.”  The first few scenes won’t be obvious to the wife, played out in the husband’s head.  Reading these do give you some compassion for the men.  They didn’t mean to be unfaithful, but got pulled into a trap.

Scene 1 is called “What About Me?”  A man’s been married a long time and he’s feeling unappreciated.  He works hard to support his family, and all his wife talks to him about is what she wants him to do around the house today.

“It’s his feelings that make up the Script now but these feelings of unhappiness and lack of recognition are not always explicit in the spoken lines.  Nor are they even explicit in his head.  But the essence of his feelings is that he gives, gives, gives, works, works, works, and nobody says thank you or shows any appreciation for what he has given.  What’s more, in his mind, it seems everybody’s always asking him to do more, more, more but again giving nary a thought to his needs.”

This scene fits in well with the book Love and Respect.  After my husband decided he wanted a divorce, a man told me about his own divorce many years before.  He felt his ex-wife didn’t appreciate how hard he had worked to make it so she didn’t have to work and give her a nice home—exactly things that Love and Respect says that a man likes to be appreciated for.  In this scene, the man feels taken for granted, not respected.

Scene 2 is “Wow, That Felt Good.”

“In his head vague and unidentified feelings of unhappiness and discontent are swirling when he comes upon the Momentary Encounter.  In a few brief moments he feels something quite different, something good.  He feels happy.” 

In a tip to wives, the authors say, “In a way you’re the woman who knows too much about him.  He may fear your judgment or rejection if he opens up to you.  Because of this, every other woman in the world seems to be a safer and more comfortable person to talk to.  They know less about him and thus pose less of a threat.”

Scene 3 is A World Full of Possibilities.

“His mind is swirling with thoughts of these attractions.  Most everywhere he turns there is another desirable woman who could give him that happy feeling he’s tasted so recently.  ‘I’m open to it.  Let it happen.’

“Some men let it rest at that—a satisfying look at the possibilities. 

“Alas, other men take it further, and go on to act out the rest of the Script.”

In another tip to wives, the authors tell them to be sure to reconcile arguments, even if it seems like you’re always the one to say “I’m sorry.”  “If he has been experiencing ‘Wow, that felt good’ moments—and there’s no way to know if he has—you are at a disadvantage.  Simply because you are his wife, every other woman by definition seems easier to talk to.  Every other woman seems more admiring of him, more supportive, more exciting.  You are coming out the worse by comparison.  If later that day he has a ‘Wow, that felt good’ moment, and you have made a warm, inviting, and open comment like ‘I’m sorry,’ you come out looking much better.  The appeal of his chance ‘Wow, that felt good’ encounter is diminished.” 

Scene 4 is Pre-Separation Separating.

“He’s said nothing to you directly about being unhappy or wanting to leave you.  He may well have done nothing that would make him an unfaithful husband.  But he has experienced the ‘Wow, that felt good’ moment and, almost imperceptibly, he starts separating himself from you, your children, and your home life.”

Signs of this stage include picking fights, acting unappreciated, not talking to you, and acting distant.  The wife gets hurt when he seems so critical and distant, which starts conflicts.  “Just the result he intended.  He intentionally criticizes something that you do well.  You defend yourself.  He has then successfully started an argument, pushed you into disagreeing with him, and forced you into acting in a way he feels he can justifiably say is unpleasant, argumentative, and incompetent.  Then he can feel fully justified in spending more time away from home, because you’re so difficult to live with.  He also feels fully justified in spending more time looking at the World Full of Possibilities—because that brings him the happiness he deserves which he so obviously is not getting at home.”

Scene 5:  “She Doesn’t Understand Me.”

The authors say, “He’s talking to A BMW (Anyone But My Wife).  Everyone else seems more supportive and understanding to our man.  This is not surprising.  A BMW doesn’t have the information to know that almost everything he’s saying has no basis in fact.  The natural reaction of a listener is to accept everything he’s saying as the absolute truth.  Why would one doubt the accuracy of what he says about a person he knows so well, especially since the characteristics he is choosing to comment on seem so big and deep, so spiritual and high-minded, not small or petty or base like dress, weight, or the way she keeps house.  He is unconsciously following the Script’s instructions to start developing his character as a positive, high-minded, thoughtful man always striving for the loftiest ideals.

“The stranger also finds it easier to listen because the commentary is about someone else.  Our man is commenting on and implicitly criticizing and belittling someone else, his wife.  If he said it directly to his wife she might take it as an attack and might counterattack.  The stranger or work colleague is a safe person with whom he can test out his feelings.”

I found it interesting that Scene 5 fits in with something I read in the book Forty at Last.  The author of that book explains that the reason so many older men have much younger mistresses is that the younger women are the only ones stupid enough not to flee when they hear the words, “My wife doesn’t understand me.”  (The author of that book was a mistress in Paris for five years and said they were the most miserable five years of her life.)  This line is so commonplace, it’s made its way into movies and books.  Smart women realize that a man who comes up with this line is nothing but trouble.  It’s part of a Script that doesn’t have a very pleasant part for the Other Woman.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of young women out there who aren’t terribly smart that way and don’t recognize the Script.

He will start feeling out other people, both men and women, about his marriage.  Never mind that he only tells them the negative things.  They’re going to validate his feelings that he has a bad marriage.  He’s planting the seeds of justification for leaving.

Scene 6 is “I Found My Soul Mate.”

He settles on one woman who seems to truly understand him and make him feel good.  He may or may not have a physical affair.  But he does start the deception, not letting his wife know how much time he’s spending with this “friend.”  He says he’s working late or extra busy.  He pretends to himself that all is innocent, but this “friend” is important to him because she really understands what he’s going through.  She “accepts him for who he is” and even seems to admire him.  SHE doesn’t take him for granted!

“An ounce of preparation is worth a pound of explanation.  He doesn’t have [extra work] at all.  He’s making it up.  The Script has taught him to prepare.  Set up the next scenes in advance, the Script has told him.  Buy some stress-free time, get the lead actress on board with your (cover) story line.  And turn her head away from the real plot.  You will be free of her uncomfortable questions for a comfortable period of time.  She will be thinking about how hard you’re working and how late you’re working and the pot of gold you’ve promised at the end.  Her attention will be completely diverted from the place you don’t want her to look.”

Scene 7 is where he thinks “This Could Work.”

This scene is the happiest time for Our Hero.  “He is in a delusional state, living in a fantasy.  The world full of possibilities has produced one wonderful woman, his soul mate.  He feels happy, alive, appreciated, on top of the world.  The thought of hurt, angry, scared, disapproving, or suddenly distant family and friends is absolutely nowhere in his mind.”

“Practical problems of money, where everyone will live, and the children’s future figure nowhere in his vision. . . .  ‘This could work—I can keep everybody happy’ is the fantasy he is living now.  It is extremely difficult for anyone to comprehend how he could be so delusional.  But it’s all part of the Script.”

In Scene 8, “This Isn’t Fair,” the house of cards begins to tumble.

The Other Woman may be pressuring him for more commitment, perhaps to get married.  The wife is getting very suspicious and angry.  He “doesn’t know why everyone’s so angry and upset with him.  Everything was going so well.”  He thinks his wife shouldn’t complain.  “Her life hasn’t changed.  She’s still going out with her friends and doing things with the kids.  Just what she likes.  She has everything she could ever want.”  Again, he feels unappreciated, and that people are unfairly blaming him for their problems.  It was working fine.  Why did they have to mess it up?

Scene 9:  Money Talks . . . It Also Follows the Script. 

At this stage, he either spends a lot on the Other Woman, or, to keep from being detected, he stays in all the time to keep it secret and spends less.  “Spending too much, especially cash, or spending too little.  He’s not talking but Money is, and your understanding of Money’s language is exactly right even though he’s trying to tell you you’re hearing things.”

In Scene 10, Getting His Ducks in a Row, he begins hiding money and laying the groundwork for moving out.  “He has everything set in his mind.  All will go beautifully.  He is mentally imagining how he will drop the Bomb and how wonderful his life will be after that.  He will continue to have it all.  He is still in the delusional fantasy period, so he has no thoughts of problems regarding living arrangements, his children’s needs, or how everyone will get along.  But he does realize that having it all after he drops the Bomb will involve some planning.  He may have started to hide money quite a while ago, when he first began to create a cover story.  If not, we can predict he will start to hide money now or in the near future.” 

Scene 11 is The Expensive Gift.

Many nice gifts are given because of great love.  But men who are playing out the Script sometimes give big gifts for other reasons.  There is The Guilty Gift, The “See, I’m a Really Good Guy” Gift, The “This Will Prevent You from Ever Being Angry with Me” Gift, and The “I’m Going To Lead Her Off the Scent” Gift.  Once again, this scene is designed to make the husband feel better about himself and distract himself (and his wife) from what he’s really doing to her. 

At the end of Act I, the authors give a word to guys, telling them that now the Script is out.  We know you might go this far without actually cheating.  But if you choose to go further, women who read the Script will know what you’re up to.  They remind you that it doesn’t have a happy ending for the Hero.

They warn the female readers, “You can’t reason with him now, and you can’t control what he is doing and thinking.  You can’t really understand it either; nobody can.  That’s because you are in the real world while he may be in another world, a fantasy world.”

Then Act II begins, “After He Leaves.” 

Scene 1, Act II, is Dropping the Bomb.  He tells his wife that he wants a divorce/ wants to move out/ needs some space/ wants a “trial separation.”  His reasons given may vary, but they tend to be ones that make him look noble and longsuffering.

“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  The most deeply ingrained and praiseworthy of all American values.  And soul-searching.  And the examined life.  And not being angry.  He has espoused the most widely accepted and admired values of the American people since 1776.  You can’t argue with that.  Which is exactly what he wants. 

“If you disagree, you are ignorant, uncaring, critical, and uncompassionate.  But you know you can’t agree with what he’s said because, shocked and hurt as you are, you realize there is something not right about the combination of love, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness with leaving your family.  There is nothing you can say.  Which is exactly what he wants.”

“Listening to other men tell how they dropped the Bomb, he has stored away the settings and language that have made other men look like heroes and will thus make him look equally good.  He has been imagining how you will react and choosing strategies he thinks will minimize your anger.  He includes references to as many widely admired values as he can think of so there’s little you can immediately see to criticize.  He lets you know he’s doing this to uphold only the loftiest ideals.  So, you have some catching up to do, emotionally and practically.” 

Then comes Scene 2, “I Like Living Alone.”

“When he says he likes living alone, you probably believe that he is speaking the truth.  You think maybe he’s bored with your company, tired of family obligations, weary of being around you and the kids every spare moment, and wants to be free of all this.  You think he just needs to do his own thing.  You’re feeling very hurt to be rejected but think that from his point of view maybe what he’s saying makes sense.  What you must remember is that the Script lines are always chosen to make him look good.  ‘I like living alone’ is a way for him to make his exit while avoiding your anger.  You really can’t get angry with someone who is only expressing the most cherished ideals of American culture.  Living alone represents these ideals:  rugged individualism, self-sufficiency, independence, a ‘can-do’ attitude.  You really can’t argue with this.  Just the result he wants.  You can’t argue, so there’s no anger to deal with.”

Act II, Scene 3 says, “There’s Always Someone Else, Always.”

I’m still hoping that this isn’t always true, that there are men who don’t play out this scene.  But the authors say, “In this scene he’s continually repeating his lines from the previous scene:  he likes living alone, he needs his space, he likes being by himself.  But voices from behind the stage curtains are telling you something very different:  He isn’t living alone.  These voices speak the truth in every performance of the Script because there’s always someone else, always.

In Scene 4, he says, “You’ll Be Better Off Without Me.”

His objective in this scene is to convince his wife that “He’s shown her the deep love of personal sacrifice.  It’s a greater, deeper love than just sex or a dozen roses or diamond earrings.  It’s the greatest love of all—incredible personal sacrifice for the good of another human being.  The best thing is, [his wife] and the world admire his nobility but in reality it is no sacrifice at all. . . .  The truth is he is doing exactly what he wants.  He can have everything.”

“He’s done a great job getting you to think he’s left only because he’s putting your interests first and he wants to help you.  The Script has told him that he’ll feel a little less guilty and come out looking very noble if he says he left to improve your situation.  But we can predict he is not planning to improve it with too much money.”

<>He’s trying to turn something fundamentally unkind into something good and unselfish.  The authors give women a tip:  “Don’t Fall For It:

“He’s not putting your interests first.  He’s been thinking of himself all along.  He wants to have his cake and eat it too.  He wants to be able to do the thing society thinks is wrong—leave his wife and children—and he wants to be thought of as noble while he does it.

“Here is your own answer for when he says he’s doing it for you:  ‘It’s kind of you to consider me at this late juncture, but I don’t believe a word you say.’”

In Scene 5, he says, “I’m Going To Take Care of You.”

If he’s following the Script, the authors say that what this means is, “I’m going to take care of you on my terms.  I’m going to decide how much you need to live on.” 

“‘Let’s sit down’ is a leitmotif in the Script the men follow.  Let’s sit down and talk about dividing the money.  Let’s sit down and divide the property.  Let’s sit down and talk.  Let’s sit down and just be friends.  The unspoken Script says that if you don’t agree to sitting down you’re not cooperative, not friendly, not nice, not decent, don’t know how reasonable people do business.  ‘Why won’t you sit down?’  He’s really saying this in order to force you to answer in a way and with words that make you into the crazy, unreasonable, demanding, uncivil one—traits you probably don’t have and don’t want to be known for having.  He thinks if you sit down he will be in control.  Sitting down also makes him feel comfortable, at ease, makes him feel like you’ll go along with what he’s done, that he can have his cake and eat it too.

“So either you ‘sit down’ and probably come out the worse for it financially and emotionally, or you don’t sit down and he tells people you’re unreasonable, uncooperative, demanding, and crazy.  It seems like a no-win situation.”

The important tip for this section is:  “Don’t sit down.  In fact, do the opposite, stand up for yourself. . . .  As much as he says he’s going to take care of you and as hard as it is to believe that he isn’t going to take care of you, the truth is:  He’s not going to take care of you.  You must be on high alert, now.  Someone you trusted has shown himself not to be trustworthy.  We can predict that the infidelity which started in Act I is virtually certain to continue as he works to protect his sticks and bricks.”

I think we’ve all heard stories of women who were abandoned who sat down and went along with it and signed papers and ended up with much less than they were legally entitled to.  Be careful.  Be sure you at least consult a lawyer to have some idea what the law considers you entitled to after years of marriage. 

In Scene 6, the wife gets the title line, “He Would Never Do That.”

By this time, the husband is pretty firmly into the Script.  He does things that his wife simply can’t believe he would ever do. 

“He’s going to try to make you look like you’re angry all the time, selfish, greedy, difficult, flaky, and downright crazy.  He’s going to criticize you to your children, your friends, and, of course, to his colleagues and his friends.”

“No woman wants to believe her husband is following the Script.  It makes her feel foolish, naïve, and ignorant for having believed what he was saying.  ‘Is it just me,’ you may wonder over and over, ‘or does every woman feel this way?’  It’s not just you; every woman feels this way.” 

Again, the main way to protect yourself is to be sure you get your own lawyer.  Be appreciative of offers of support, but “help” him carry out his promises by getting them in writing.

“Even though he has shown signs of untrustworthiness, you still want to trust him—you’ve always done so and it’s very hard to change.  It’s very difficult to live with someone, whether it’s a spouse, an employer, or someone else, whose every word and deed you have to doubt.  Life becomes very difficult when someone you need to trust—a spouse, an employer, an employee—has violated that trust.  You still need to ‘do business’ with that person, but how? 

“Throw some salt around:  Stop trusting so much.  Because we can predict that much of what he’s telling you will turn out not to be true.  ‘I’m going to take care of you.’  ‘I’m laying everything on the table with the money.’  ‘We can settle this fairly for both of us without all those high-priced lawyers.’”

Scene 7 is “The Last To Know.”  Here’s where the women who didn’t find out earlier finally learn about the affair, physical or emotional. 

Scene 8 really rang bells because recently I’ve heard of a couple of cases where the husband used this line, expecting his wife not to be angry with him for his unfaithfulness.  The line is, “I’m Not Sleeping With Her” or “We’re Not Having Sex.”

In one case, the man actually moved in with the Other Woman and never seems to be seen in public without her.  But he thinks he has done nothing wrong because it’s a “platonic relationship.” 

I’ve heard of more than one other case where a man told his wife that he loved the Other Woman and wanted to move out.  But he felt he hadn’t done anything at all wrong because they hadn’t had sex.  The wife is unreasonable and demanding for being critical.

This whole Script is all about deception and making the man look good.  It’s about following lies instead of truth.  The truth is that once a man puts another woman ahead of his wife, and especially once he’s lied to his wife to spend time with another woman, he is definitely NOT “forsaking all others and cleaving only to her.”  He is not keeping the vow, “My love shall be for you alone as long as we both shall live.”  He is cheating.  He is unfaithful.  He is breaking the vows he made before God and many witnesses. 

But naturally enough, men don’t want to face up to what they’ve done.  (Who does?  Especially when it’s something that goes against your word and your values?)  The authors point out that this often involves redefining what it means to “have sex” to a very narrow definition.  Former President Clinton is not the only famous case of doing this, and there are plenty of not-so-famous cases.

I do want to say that I’m sure there are men who have enough self-control and enough integrity to keep from having a physical relationship with the Other Woman.  I think they are in fact a cut above the others.  However, they are still being unfaithful.  On the messageboard, it’s called an Emotional Affair, and is so common it has its own abbreviation, EA.  When a woman loses her husband because of this, she’s only slightly comforted that they didn’t have sex.  But sometimes he’ll make her feel crazy for being angry when he “didn’t do anything wrong.”  Yes, he did do something wrong.  You are not crazy.  No, he’s not as bad as some men, but he is still cheating. 

If the man pulls off the Script just right, he can convince his wife she’s crazy and unfair and argumentative and demanding for being bothered about his “friendship.”

Scene 9, The Courageous Cheater, is another attempt to make doing what’s wrong look noble.

“The Courageous Cheater, our man, a hero, the stuff of legend and myth, has been the main character in the fable passed verbally man to man for generations as a true legend always is.  The story is sometimes enhanced to emphasize his incredible bravery—imagine him slaying the dragon of unhappiness along with the wife, whom he believes to be the dragon’s accomplice.  Then, of course, capturing the ravenhaired maiden.” 

“He’s learned, though, it’s always best if courage doesn’t look too easy.  He’s not much of a hero if he didn’t climb the highest mountains to get there.  So the road to being the courageous cheater starts with manufactured complexity.”

“You are completely baffled.  You can’t see the complexity he claims is there.  You start to think that maybe your ability to understand something like this is limited, that you are unable to grasp deep meaning the way he apparently can.  His mind sees layer upon layer of complex, profound truths, too deep to put into words, it appears.  No ordinary mortal could understand this profundity.  Only God and our man can plumb these depths, it seems.” 

“You will feel less confused and hurt if you know this claim to complexity is part of the Script.  He is intentionally portraying leaving you and the children as something that is at once courageous and complex, when it is in fact neither one.  Your faulty and broken heart will be no match for his Purple Heart.”

Scene 10 is Going Public with the Mistress. 

After he has separated from his wife, he begins to let friends see him with the Other Woman.  Usually, he pretends that they were attracted to each other after they separated.

“For months or maybe years before he has taken a mistress, he has been telling people that his wife doesn’t treat him well, doesn’t understand him, and is really crazy.  He chooses people to confide in who he feels will be sympathetic. . . .  These people give him no back talk, don’t dispute what he says, and add support and justification to his feelings of unhappiness.  ‘If Bill and Priscilla and Christine agree with me about how difficult my wife is, then I am fully justified in finding fault with her and going for the happiness I deserve.’”

The cheating man carefully plans things so that his mistress will be accepted.  He implies that they just met.  He’s already laid the foundation about how difficult his wife was.  He sets his friends up to be glad that he’s finally found happiness with someone who can love him as he deserves to be loved.

In Scene 11, he speaks the lines, “It’s Your Responsibility To Keep Things Civil and Nice.”  Again, this is a ploy to try to keep from giving his wife what the courts will think she is entitled to.  Besides, he wants to keep going with the fantasy that this is all his wife’s fault.

“In previous scenes, following the Script he has learned so well, he established that the original sins and blame were yours.  Now he has to establish that the burden is on you to make up for this and not to make things worse.  After all, it’s the least he can expect from you to make up for all the misery you caused him.  Now that he’s found the solution to his problem, he’s not going to let you mess it up.”

“You’re feeling confused, baffled, and wondering who belongs in the asylum.  How could he be saying that it’s your responsibility to keep things civil and nice?  He’s the one who was unfaithful, who broke his vows to you, who has inflicted hurt on you and your children.  He just acted most uncivil and really, really not nice.

“You think, ‘Isn’t it mostly his responsibility to be civil and nice?’  Everything you’ve learned since childhood is that the one who committed the crime is the one who has the responsibility to right the wrong, to make up to those he harmed. . . .  Based on all values, beliefs, and expectations you’ve lived by your entire life, what he’s saying doesn’t make any sense.”

He will say that it will be “easier for everyone” if you cooperate and are Nice.  The truth is, “It’s not easy.  It’s hard, and maybe not even a good idea, to be nice to someone who has lied, cheated, acted totally opposite to your interests, and shown not a whiff of caring for you and your children.  But once you know that this is just part of the Script, you will be less confused.”

The authors continue, “Of course he wants you to be nice.  He won’t have to deal with your anger.  It will also keep you from mentioning anything he might have done that’s not nice.  It wouldn’t be nice of you to bring that up!  If he can get your lawyer to be nice too, that will be even nicer because then he’s more likely to get a good settlement.”

That scene was similar to Scene 12, “If You’d Just Shut Up, Everything Would Be Okay.”

“The Script is that you, the little lady, should be accepting of everything.  After all, it’s your fault to begin with.  You didn’t understand him, didn’t love him enough.  Now that everybody has recognized these ‘facts’ and that he deserves the true happiness he has found, things will naturally fall into place and he will get this finished in a civil way.  After all the difficult years he’s endured with you, people will realize all attention has to be on him and his needs have to take center stage.” 

Scene 13 is Doing Things the Opposite of the Way He’s Always Done Them.

“You’re trying to play by the rules of the game you and your husband have always played by—the rules he has always said he is playing by.  But you have to recognize that he’s now playing a different game with different rules.  You can’t figure out what’s happening.  The new game makes you look crazy, makes you think you’re crazy.  You can never win if you don’t know the rules of the game he’s playing. 

Scene 14 has the title It Happens All the Time. 

“You’re confused.  He’s telling you Nothing Happened.  But every religious and civil code you’ve ever known says Something Did Happen.  You heard the crash as the stone tablet fell in pieces to the ground.  It was the sound of the tablet that says ‘adultery is wrong’ being knocked over.  These broken covenants make a very loud noise to you.  But he says he doesn’t hear anything.  And some of your friends tell you you’re making a big deal out of a little noise.  And anyway they don’t want to know about it because then the noise may start to resonate in their own lives.” 

“He says things like, ‘We can still be friends,’ which implies that nothing happened.  If you act like nothing happened, people respond to you better and they applaud you for not being angry, for being nice to him and to the other woman.  People are constantly ‘moving you on,’ implying that your separation or divorce is a minor event in life that you just have to put behind you.  They imply it is no more significant than the disappointment in having the sofa you ordered in blue arrive in green.  ‘Is it just me,’ you may wonder, ‘or does every woman feel this way?’  Every woman feels this way.”

The Tip to wives tells us, “The cover story he hopes to get across is:  If it’s nothing, then it’s normal.  And if it’s normal, it’s nothing.  Therefore he did nothing wrong. 

“Don’t accept it.  Acknowledge your feelings of sorrow, hurt, anger, and fear.  Something did happen, and it’s no wonder you feel that way.”

Scene 15 is Taking Something of No Value.  In this scene, he’ll take some small item in an attempt to connect his first life with his second life.  This is evidence that he’s not as happy as he hoped he’d be. 

The final scene of Act II, Mixed Messages, involves him telling people about the divorce.  To people who know the wife, he delivers the message, “She’s a good person.  I’m a good person, no one did anything wrong, and no one is hurt.  It just wasn’t meant to be.”  Some of the lines he wants them to repeat include:  “She’s a very good person but they were just too different.”  “They’re both very good people but things happen.”  “A fine couple but you know they just didn’t have shared interests.”

For people who don’t know the first wife, he feels free to give the message, “She was crazy.”  Their lines will be something like this:  “No man could stay with a bitch like that.”  “After all he’s been through, he deserves his happiness.”  “She was crazy, really crazy.  For his own sanity he had to leave.”

The authors remind us, “You will feel less hurt and confused if you know that he’s just following the Script. . . .  Don’t let the praise and criticism you’re hearing change your own review of your life performance.” 

The book closes with the Finale, which includes one scene:  “This Is Not the Way I Planned It.”  Did I mention that the Script does not include a happy ending for Our Hero?  This particular play is a Tragedy.

“When he says, ‘This is not the way I planned it,’ you will see that your situations have been reversed.  At the beginning of Act II, when he shocked you by dropping the Bomb, you were taken by surprise and were at a disadvantage because he knew the Script—his plan for what he was going to do and say from beginning to end.  You most likely weren’t prepared for this explosion and didn’t have a plan. 

“Now you have learned from listening to your advisors—your lawyer, your counselor, a trusted relative, a CPA; from listening to other women; and from this very book—that you should start to plan as soon as possible.  You have also gotten some good ideas about what that plan should include.  So when you come to the Finale, you have a plan and know what to expect.  He, on the other hand, has been living in a fantastical, semi-delusional state and doesn’t know what to expect.  That is why the sad, amazing, and absurd last line of the Script is, ‘This Is Not the Way I Planned It.’”

The authors close with a word to the guys:  “Ask yourself if you really know the cost of what you’re contemplating or are you still living in the fantasy period, which never, ever lasts forever.” 

Why did I go into so much detail about this book?  (Yes, I did leave a whole lot out—It’s still very much worth reading.)  Why do I think this book is so important that I will be recommending it to anyone and everyone whose husband has left her and/or whose husband has been unfaithful?

Fundamentally, the Script is about calling something evil something good.  It’s about saying that something that is wrong is really the right thing to do under the circumstances.  It’s full of lies and founded on lies, but the man is also lying to himself.  He wants to think of himself as a good person, so he doesn’t want to face up to what he’s done and what he’s doing.

The Script does give me some compassion for that man.  He didn’t set out to betray his wife and his vows and all his values.  He’s desperate to convince himself that he hasn’t really done that.  And it’s going to come out of his mouth in lies and deception.

To be perfectly honest, and at risk of sounding radical, I believe that the Script was designed—by Satan—to deceive.  And the number one person it’s designed to deceive is the man himself.  It says he’s a good person who’s doing the right thing.  He may be a good person, but he is NOT doing the right thing.

This may even help you to forgive your husband.  You can try to see the Script as the Enemy of both of you.  Or the one behind the Script, if you believe there’s a real devil.  Your husband wasn’t trying to hurt you.  He is a good man, but he’s been horribly deceived into doing some bad things.  If he plays out the whole Script, he’s going to end up worse off than you are, having done some terrible things, but not able to face up to them.

It’s crazy-making for the wife.  She can know in her head that, while she hasn’t been the perfect wife, nothing that she’s done isn’t covered by “for better or for worse.”  She knows that what he’s doing is wrong and unkind.  She knows that marriage and love is about forgiveness and that if he can’t work things out with her, he’s going to have trouble with any woman.

There’s nothing in the world that wounds a woman’s self-esteem more than her husband telling her he doesn’t want to be married to her any more.  As he continues to tell her, over and over, in many different ways, that his leaving is essentially her fault, her self-esteem will start to plunge even further.

Her husband will keep telling her things that she knows are not true.  After awhile, it’s easy to start believing them.  That’s why women being divorced need books like this as a reality check.  That’s why they need to talk to their friends again and again, to be sure they’re not actually crazy.  Yes, his actions are wrong.  Yes, it is set up to make him look good and make it look like it’s all the wife’s fault.  No, the Script is not telling the truth. 

This book will help you to understand what’s going on and not think you’re crazy.  It will help you see what is really happening.  You’ll be able to cope when you’re unwillingly trapped in The Script.

And maybe, just maybe, men will read this book and realize that following the Script is a fantasy world that does not end happily for anyone, especially not the Hero.

“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Copyright © 2006 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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