Astronaut Crashed! I’m Not Surprised

The internet and newspapers in the last couple days have the love triangle of astronauts Lisa Nowak and William Oefelein and engineer Colleen Shipman front and center. The implication: We can’t believe such a thing could happen. And, how in the world did it happen?

One of our cultural icons has been tipped and ripped.

But it does make sense why such a tragedy can happen (and love triangles are tragedies).

We can learn. If we choose we can empathize with all the victims in this triangle. And, we can twist our thinking a tad so we might see ourselves for who we really are – the good, the bad and a lot of in-between.

The article this morning read: “No one at the space agency saw any sign that Nowak was troubled…”

Well, folks, everyone is troubled. I assume what they meant to say was “troubled THAT MUCH.” Her behavior crossed a line?which was troubling not only for her, the other two in the triangle, but for NASA and those of us who believe this national icon serves as a model.

Let’s take a closer look at Lisa, or more accurately whom she represents.

Lisa is a model of power: the power of intelligence, the power of “can-do,” the power of physical toughness, the power of perfectionism, the power of narrow focus and determination to reach goals.

Here are some observations on this love triangle and the pursuit of this form of power.

1. Ever heard: “for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction?” That’s true for our inner life. One pursues mightily success and perfectionism and there’s an inner part that doubts one’s success and fears failure. Of course the part that fears is relegated to the background, far out of awareness, if possible. This inner turmoil simmers.

2. Those who hold this iconic position in our culture (clergy, astronauts, therapists, CEOs etc.) don’t want others to know of this turmoil. They hide. This exacerbates the tension.

3. Some internal line is crossed and the tension erupts into some sort of acting out, perhaps dramatic or bizarre behavior.

Why should be we surprised?

4. Was Lisa suffering from an “I Can’t Say No” affair? (Break Free From the Affair) Did she tend to be a perfectionistic, driven person? Did she become increasingly?obsessive about this triangle? Materials found in her possession indicated she had an elaborate scheme to play out. As I indicate in my e-book, the behavior of “I Can’t Say No” becomes increasingly destructive.

5. Another interesting comment in the article: “We were just talking about the fact that the old astronauts from years ago were a wild bunch of people. They played around, some of them. They used to drink and go out a lot. Now ?” family people, churchgoing, very, very devoted. ”

So…they were the “I Don’t Want to Say NO” kind of affair?! Interesting, isn’t it, how “harmless” those kind are. Oh well, boys will be boys, you know! (And, come to think of it, they were all boys, weren’t they?)

Love triangles still abound. They merely arise out of a different set of circumstances and different cast of characters.

6. Psychological tests didn’t uncover her “trouble.” I’m not a testing expert, but I do know that tests do miss items. And, I also know that there are those who can “con” tests, intentionally or unintentionally.

A characteristic of a “I Can’t Say No” affair is denial. Truth is distorted, twisted and ignored. Or a world can be rationalized and created that fits the perception that person desires. And, he/she truly believes it and leaves room for nothing else. Could this be Lisa?

A person in the “I need to prove my desirability” affair is sometimes attempting to reconcile a history or incident of abuse. The capacity to dissociate from that event may be so powerful that the event itself in never remembered. It’s as if it happened to a “different person.” Was there a “different person” Lisa?

We don’t know of course. And, it is dangerous to analyze too much.

Let’s learn from this event. We humans are extremely complicated. Infidelity and extramarital affairs are extremely complicated and emerge out a myriad of different scenarios.

Once we see the smaller pictures our perspective changes and we embrace more fully our complex selves and our complex relationships.


  1. charley johnson says

    I guess my thought was “what kind of affair was Oefelein having?” “I don’t want to say “no”, “I want to prove my desirability”, or one of the others. I’m not sure Lisa was an offender as much as a victim and she was acting out as a victim. I can easily relate to her in that instance, only I would never have gone beyond leaving a few nasty phone messages on the other person’s voice mail. It truly backfired on Lisa if that was the case (as you said in your book that revenge usually does.) She was separated from her husband for some reason which may or may not have been because of her affection for another man. It is difficult to speculate on another’s inner motives, but I reserve judgment on Lisa until I hear about the other two people in the triange.

  2. Liz
    Your h is alot like mine was, everytime I wanted to go somewhereit was a federal case made out of it. It is the control thing and i am so glad you went to the party, and I do hope you bought something for yourself also, a belated valentine gift toyourself from yourself. and tell him its your valentine gift to yourself that outa shut him up. The older we get the less we allow them to control us esp after an affair , it really is a good thing for those in controlling rel like this, that is prob why you are feeling this newfoundness about yourself, feels good doesnt it. and if for some reason you dont stay together, you will have a freedom that you never had before i know that i do, Either way glad you stuck up for yourself so in your bad week that is the good that came from it so just look to that
    Sue I feel so bad for you that your h just stays in limbo, I guess its easier for them to prolong a decision because they dont know what to do and he prob doesnt but it must be awful for you to be in limbo too, even though you are stong and smart it cant help but affect your self progress, Your a great person so whatever you decide we are all here for you

  3. Just a try……my responses to the last blog have disappeared….maybe we hit our limit. please respond here if you see this and we’ll see if we can go on. Maybe, Dr. Bob…..we should just have an ongoing blog……not attached to titles…..seems we don’t use the subject matter so much…..just need a blog. Not to say we don’t read and enjoy the subject matter……just not so much for what we need to express.

  4. Hi All –
    Shennie – yes, I did buy something for myself and I love it, and it felt GREAT.
    Last night was another bad one. I tried talking to him, NOT about the AFFAIR but what in our marriage was so bad that he needed to “escape” it, as he put it. He just got all defensive and said that “we talk too much”. Well, that hurt me a lot and I just went to bed.

    Woke up this morning, felt awful again inside. I really, really needed to talk to him last night, and all I got was repremanded for it. So, driving to work he called me and said, “I am sorry if I did anything to upset you, will you tell me what it was?” So, I told him the truth. I told him that I really needed to discuss things, get them off my chest, and he just shot me down. He got all upset again, and told me that we need to do more “actions and less talks”. I started to cry, and he said, “I didn’t call you this morning to fight with you, but that’s where you are taking this”then he proceeded to tell me that we just can’t seem to “have conversations”. So, that really made me feel worse. Every day we talk at lunchtime and I told him that it wasn’t necessary to do that anymore, especially since he feels we can’t have “conversations”. I told him to “have a nice day and I’d see him after work”. And I hung up. Felt terrible inside. I just feel like I am at a total loss, emotionally, and physically. My stomach is in knots and I can’t sleep again. I didn’t even want to discuss the OP with him, I just wanted to talk about “US” so I could get a better understanding from him, what lead him to do what he did. I guess it’s a question that I NEED answered. He always skirts around it and just says, “we had our differences”. OK, sure we did, but I am so afraid of him doing it again and if I don’t know exactly what she fufilled in him that I didn’t, I feel this could happen again. Isn’t that a realistic concern on my part?

    Sue – I want you to know how much I respect you for this. I am so near to where you are. I feel SO ALONE even though my H is in the house. It’s terrible. You have US for support, 24/7. I wouldn’t be nearly as OK right now without this blog. Friends get tired of us. They try to help, but I am sure they are tired of the same old thing, and unless they have been through this, they have no clue.

    I am having another medical test on Monday and I am so nervous. I think I’ve become a hypochondriac lately. Does anyone else have IBS symptoms? I swear this is stress related over months and months. I just feel like an idiot going to the doctor and they probably think I am crazy. I think I am making myself sick, then I get scared and think what if there’s really something wrong? My H isn’t worth talking to about it either. He probably thinks it’s an attention ploy, or a “feel sorry for me” ploy, but it’s not, and it’s real. Just needed to vent this.

  5. Hey all!

    Be sure and check Dr. Bob’s message on the Quickie #4 board! :-)

  6. Hi
    Can someone tell me how to find all of you on the new site? Got in but couldn’t figure out where everyone is?

  7. Liz,

    Good morning! When you log in to the new site there is a tab called “MemberList” I signed up yesterday. From there you can PM anyone. There haven’t been many posts yet and I am not even sure how many from these boards have signed up there. Were you able to register under your name or did you choose a new one?

  8. Liz
    Well your h needs to come to terms with how this has made you feel and apparently he is not prepared to do that, maybe it is hard for him to face or maybe he really doesnt know why,himself

    Glad you bought yourself something, Its funny he would call you and ask you what upset you and then you tell him and he doesnt seem to want to hear it then why did he ask in the first place.
    I hope he realizes that he has to learn to listen to your feelings about it if he wants things to improve

    Went on that forum but didnt know what to do to find anyone?

  9. Hi faithful blogger group. I’ve created a category for you on the forum called: Welcome infidelity help bloggers. It’s at the bottom of the forum and I have a welcome post for you, so you can get started. If you don’t have a membership yet, you can get one for free. Check with each other for the place to sign up or email me bob (at) bobhuizenga (dot) com. I prefer not to give the url here, so it won’t be harvested by spammers. Wishing you all the best,
    Dr bob

  10. MonogamousFool says

    As far as the new forum goes, you register, then log in and then pick a topic on the forum you want to read/write about. You post your thoughts there and see who replies. What’s nice is that things are more categorized so one can focus on a specific topic of interest. In my opinion anyway.

  11. Shennie and Nicki – I used the name Rowdy for me. I can’t find anyone there either! do you have your same name? What topic should we go under and try? Where is Sue, Sandy, MS, Marlene and Jessi, and everyone else???? I miss you guys!

  12. Liz–after you log in, click on “Forum Index” then scroll all the way to the bottom to the blog folder called “Welcome Infidelity Faithful Bloggers” (or something very close to that)

    I am still using Nicki.

    Hurry and find us!
    (this is like a scavenger hunt, huh? lol)

  13. Liz,

    Log in at the new site and check your Private Messages…


  14. Hi all
    well i just prefer to blog here myself so is what i will do.
    Back to the bottom again, you know even though it has been a long time for me the repurcussion still continue to affect my life.
    i am so tired of fighting to keep my life, taking one step forward and a few back is just not enough anymore . It is so easy for people to say move on get over it, wel i am over him, but i cant seem to get through or over all the shit that has come down on my life as a result. and continues to fall on my shoulders. I am blogging here as there is no specific topic for me just a need to share my feelings. Not even sure why anymore just know that i feel trapped in this prison of a life where responsibility controls every minute of my being and just cant seem to overcome it all as it is just so overwhelming. no matter how hard i work or try its just no use. All i can say is for everyone going through all this, the repurcussions this stuff has on someones life does never stop with or without them and the sad part is that they dont even care what the repurcussion to our lives have caused and the damage to everyone

  15. MonogamousFool says

    I feel the same. I feel like they have no clue how much they are destroying and how much it negatively affects not only us but those around. I also feel it can never be the same, though in the beginning I thought it could. I think I’m definitely “damaged” for life. I know life does go on and I know there are worse things that could happen (for now I can only think of serious illness and death). I don’t want to be negative as I used to be quite the joker but this is really something else. I guess we have no choice but to go on somehow. Just the uncertainty of everything is killing me though. I thought when midlife crisis would hit I’d be the one everyone would be worried about – getting a fast car a motorcycle, who knows what. But I knew I would never be unfaithful and instead I think my wife has gone nuts. What kills me is the change from a very loving person to this cold monster. Feeling unwanted yet unable to leave because of the kids and sticking around while thiking someone else is enjoing your spouse (the way you remember her) is the hardest pill I’ve had to swallow yet. But I’m sure something harder will come along. Hehehehe.

    I also never thought I’d find myself spewing my guts out to friends and strangers alike. But I can’t keep things inside and misery likes company I guess.

  16. Monogamous Fool
    Your right there are worse things but often hard to see when your in the middle of your own crisis. Sometimes I have to make myself think of others in those situations to try and keep perspective. You are also right about misery loves company at least you know somewhere you can be heard . Dont know your story but either way take care of yourself and your kids and as time passes everything is seen in many lights and you will gain knowledge to help you whether you stay or go. keep spewing lol

  17. Hi all, I have been reading, just not posting. I have ALOT to say, just not ready. Bad stuff. As they say, once a cheater always a cheater. Anyway, just wanted to let you all know I am trying to keep up with you guys and see how you are all doing. Exhausted from thinking too much, so to write it down makes me sick. I’ll keep checking and write soon to tell you all what happened. In the mean time, take care and maybe I’ll see you in the chat room. Mari

  18. Hey MS were all here for you whenever you reaady to share.

  19. Hi All,

    Monogamous Fool, I feel exactly the same way you do. I told my mom the other day, sometimes, I think this is WORSE than death, what my H did to me and the kids… Sounds crazy but death has “closure” and the person who died didn’t necessarily lie, cheat, lie, hurt, deceive, play games, etc. to you!! I also think someday when my H dies, I won’t remember all the wonderful memories we had in our life and with our kids, I will remember how much he HURT me, his affair, and that he deceived me and the kids for his own gratification. On my wedding day I sure didn’t bank on this happening and having these thoughts. Yes, you do “carry on” becuase you HAVE to. I think my kids make me stay strong, whether I want to or not. You still have to be there for them and take care of them!
    The other day, my son (he’s 7) asked me if his dad and I were going to get a divorce. (I never told him this). Then he asked me to give him reasons why people get divorced. Then he said, “I don’t want you to becuase I will miss my dad”…..I almost died. I cried for 2 days. The guilt tears me up if I decide to end my marriage. But like my mom said, “the kids don’t know the whole story, of what he did to you, and someday they will be able to make up their own minds”. It’s just so extremely hard because I am anti-divorce and I never thought my H would cheat on me so bad that would bring me to have to contemplate this horrible decision. He doesn’t want a divorce, but I am on the fence, due to my roller coaster, anger, and mistrust. He says I can’t live in the past and I need to move forward. It’s just not that simple, and they don’t understand!!
    This blog really, really helps me to vent.

    MS – please let us know what happened. I am thinking of you right now!!!!!


  20. hi all.

    looking for everyone on the new site…..but i guess we are still here. i told my h last week that was it. he is here in the house as i write……working…..wish he’d just go. he took me seriously last week, but i had the feeling he wasn’t taking me seriously this week as we had a really good conversation, that needed to happen, about the kids.

    sure enough. tonight we were at their yearly bank concert. i had come in a bit late as i was having dinner with friends. he asked where i had been and i told him it didn’t matter. he said it may not matter, but i’m still asking. this was not nasty on either part in any way. i simply responded..’you need to stop asking.’

    well……he barely made it through our son’s band part and then bolted in tears. clearly he did not take me seriously. i was bummed to find him here when we returned…..guess the op works on friday nights…….

    i’m so tired of crying these past 2 weeks. just so sad. but also feeling very differently now. tired of being hurt again and again.

    the big d is probably just around the corner now. i’m shoring myself up for it.

    i feel for all of you………i feel like i’m in the same boat…a sinking one.

    but i am really much better than i’ve been in some ways. i’m so much more clear about me. otherwise i would not have been able to say what i did tonight, mean it, and not be nasty.

    it just is……….

  21. sue

    Good for you ,glad to see you are taking a stand. In some ways he has alot of nerve crying when every day he goes home to her he for some reason cannot see he is doing that to you daily. You seem stronger now and i am glad for you its not nasty it is better that way for the kids. and for you. Very proud friend
    It is sad for kids but if you did divorce and you kept a decent rel for the kids it will help your son is young and if your h steps forward and remains a big part of his life then hell be ok.
    Maybe he should say those things toyour h too so your h sees things from your childs perspective. Obviously your son sees enough to know something is wrong. I know your hurt and angry and since your h is home it would be good to see a concentrated eeffort to save the marraige but until your h is willing to be a communicator you will be left feeling let down and back to where you are. i want to stay just give it your all , everything one last chance even though I know you prob have but at least if you make it big and you decide tonot stay in the rel you can leave saying you didd everything you could.

  22. Shennie –
    Thanks! That’s honestly what I am trying to do. This is day 4 of no arguing. We are trying to make 9 entire days until our trip together. He has been giving me a play by play of where he is going everyday and then telling me to call him if I need anything, etc. So, I think he’s trying and I think he can tell I am at my witts end. I think he’s afraid. Last night he kept asking me if I was “OK” and he told me that I was very quiet. That sorta killed me becuase when I talk, he tells me I talk to much. Then, when I give him his wish, he immediately thinks something is wrong and it bothers him. Today he is spending the day with our son, which is good. They need to have a lot of quality time together. My son is young but very smart and I know he has absorbed a lot of what went on. I just feel so indifferent now towards my H and I don’t know if I can ever get that back they way I felt before his affair. I just can’t believe he did this to me and the kids. Sometimes, I wake up and I honestly think for a minute that I dreamed it all. Then reality sets in and I get very depressed!

    There is also something that is bothering me….this guy at work, has been making an effort to talk to me on a regular basis now. Let me tell you, this has NOT happened to me in the last 10 years!! Not one single time has anyone showed any interest in me. Ever since i have lost weight, I notice guys talking to me more and more. This is the horrible part, I would NEVER act on it. I am MARRIED and as you all know 100% against cheating after all I’ve been through especially! My thoughts on this have not changed. What I am trying to get at is I keep thinking to myself, “what if this guy is NICE? what if this guy wasn’t a cheater?? what if I am missing an opportunity to be with someone who acutally didn’t verbally abuse me, cheat on me, and respected me???? Is this normal that I am having these feelings? Not for this guy, but just other guys in GENERAL? I feel like my H blew our marriage apart, and now I am staying with him for the kids….and I will never find anyone who treats me nice.

    Maybe I am just going through a stage…I don’t know. Any thoughts??

  23. Liz–Sounds like a much deserved boost if self confidence to me! Hey, you still got it, babe! :-) I would take this as a gift to you from the gods and own it. There’s a good bit of power in knowing that YOU have options too!(even if you don’t exercise those options) Know what I mean?

  24. Hey Liz
    What I would tell you is to just be nice in return and develop a friendship but dont cross the line. There is nothing wrong with having friends and I think you are big enough to have one and wouldnt cross that line since this has happend to yourself. But you may need this friend one day if only for a friend so never close doors you dont have to. You know in some ways i really hate that people pay attention to others for their looks, when this first happen to me i also lost weight too much and i had people tell me oh you look great blah blah and frankly i thought I looked fine before and i actually resented people being nice to me just because i lost weight as i dont think people should base how they feel about other based on their looks because that is not what gets us through life. You learn to lose your vanity with age. Maybe he is paying attention to you not because of that but maybe he sees a different person than he saw before just a thought ,I am glad your h is putting an effort in for your sake just give it time is all you can do. If he is controlling as you stated to me before that will likely not change, I lived with one for many years and i can honestly say i would never accept someone like that again, that is one thing i can be thankful for. especially if he doesnt like conversation and confrontation chances of resolving that part are not great. Keep on trucking

  25. To blogging group: Each blog entry I must approve (for spam purposes.) This is to let you know that I will not have internet access this weekend and therefore any blogs you post will not be approved or appear until Monday. The best to all… Bob

  26. Hey guys, I posted on the #4 quickie blog. Guess I should have done it here, sorry. Mari

  27. My name is Dani, and I am a TV producer for a major studio. We are producing a pilot that will not air on TV, but we are looking for people who want to speak openly about infidelity & relationships. We are located in Chicago and pay for all travel expenses. We are also looking for single fathers, as well as mothers who are having a difficult time with teenage daughters. We would like to speak to couples where one person is suspecting the other or has caught the other cheating. If any of theses topics fit your life, please call me asap at 1-877-721-9811. Thank you.

  28. rockandro says

    I identify with you and the trust issues. They are so complicated to move past.
    My husband does try to avoid all of the arguments and inquisitions. I do too.
    He is apologetic. He does attempt to rebuild a trust. Maybe I sabotage that lately.
    My problem is…this is anniversary of the day, the month, and 180 more days and 180 more
    anniversaries and a whole bunch of memories I’d just as soon not remember.
    Unfortunately….a lobotomy is not possible and I probably shouldn’t dwell on his(their) first kiss or his first day back to work with her…or my birthday (coming up) that he spent with her
    or the day (coming up) that he walked out on us but I foresee this doom and gloom and
    I really don’t want to go through these memories but I also don’t know how to purge them.
    God help me…I am so so sad again.
    I just can’t seem to maintain an even keel about it all,
    Am I going to survive it or do I come to A point where I don’t want it?
    On the one hand…I want to be married “ONE TIME FOR LIFE”(as long as he don’t beat or cheat)
    On the other…he did cheat…I should stick to my beliefs right?
    I just haven’t yet been able to fall ‘out’ of love quite yet…maybe I never will.
    So my convictions make me feel unconvinced, confused whereas I didn’t think it possible.


    Have I lost all sense of sensibility? What actually matters? Love or common sense?
    How could the two choices be in the same category except for questions like this?
    I feel really embarrassed to stick with the man I love.
    I think I deserve better but do not want to lose him.
    I know you all struggle with this same thing
    I just don’t understand why we do it.

    My only known answer… low self esteem.

    So my next ? is…so what if I am 40? I still look pretty dang good….a few men would love to
    have what I can offer (just like Liz). so why do we? why should we? stay loyal to a disloyal spouse?

    If they cheated once after 21 years….why would they be loyal for the next 20?
    Why should we? Because our characters are SOOO much better than theirs?

    I’d like to think so, otherwise I think I am not worth it, and my vows are wasted on someone unworthy. Someone who obvoulsy didn’t care about 21 years of our marriage or his 5 children.

    Dr Gunzberg, please do tell the ‘secret ?’ so that I might ask it and achieve the right answer and fix what is broken here.

    For me and some others….it is all that matters now.

  29. hello rockandro,

    i am guilty of infidelity and my wife did it after. I wasn’t sure it was a kind of revenge because I was a good husband to her and my kids that time after guilt struck me.

    when i discovered her several love affairs and her man, she confessed everything to me even the details of the details to make me trust and love her again. Since she did the act in late 2002, I have tried to heal myself by killing myself with overwork which puts my mind focused on something else even until now, anyways…

    what i am trying to point out is, you are at the edge of doing it too, I suppose. The way you express yourself seems you are about to bite the act. It’s up to you but are you ready to face the consequences. My wife still loves me and I still love her too but she is having hard time now to completely win me back mentally, emotionally, and physically just like the way i used to before she did it.

    We have four kids by the way, so i guess you know where I and my wife stand.

  30. Hi all… my how time flies, I can’t believe how long it has been since I have been here. Just touching base to let you all know that I have been thinking of you all. Things have been going rather well here, finally can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Still have a few bad days every now and then and we don’t talk about it much… I guess there is no reason to live in the past just get on with building a future. Still see my therapist on a regular basis so that keeps me sane!!! The more I think of it the more I detest the OP… mainly because very early in the piece I confronted her and told her that I loved my husband and to leave us alone. I hate her because I did not deserve for her to rob my family of our security. I know he is also to blame but she allowed him to get involved when she knew I loved him. Anyway take care all hope things are working out.

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