Sun. Jul 21st, 2024

Looks like someone pulled a Shania Twain.

Earlier this week, Page Six and People reported an interesting development in the soap-opera saga of Amy Robach and T.J. Holmes ― the former “Good Morning America” co-hosts who were suspended from the show in 2022 after their romance was made public. Both were married at the time, Robach to actor Andrew Shue and Holmes to Marilee Fiebig.

Now, in the most recent twist, it’s been reported that Shue and Fiebig are dating. (Robach and Holmes are still together, too, and hosting a new podcast where they’ve tried to clear up their messy timeline as a couple.)

The ex-spouses of the former GMA3: What You Need to Know co-anchors sparked a romantic connection as they’ve bonded over their shared experience of splitting from their partners when Robach and Holmes found love with one another.

Yep, they’re having what Shania Twain is having. The “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” singer ended up in a similar situation after her husband, producer Robert “Mutt” Lange, left her in 2008 for her best friend, Marie-Anne Thiebaud. In 2011, Twain ended up marrying Thiebaud’s ex-husband, Frédéric Thiebaud, and they’re still together to this day.

Naturally, the news about Robach and Holmes’ exes has people who love mess all riled up. “They had the opportunity to do the funniest thing and did it,” one person tweeted. “I want this as an HBO original series,” another wrote.

But as high-drama as the story may be, this kind of thing happens more than you’d expect. Do a surface-level search online and you’ll find a number of threads documenting spouse swapping after infidelity, especially on Reddit, where anonymous users are wont to bare their souls (admittedly in posts that are difficult to fact-check).

“I’ve fallen in love with the husband of the woman my husband is cheating on me with,” one post reads. In the comments of that thread, a Redditor shared a spouse swapping story that resulted in one very complicated family tree:

[This] happened with my parents too! My dad (the cheater) and the woman he was with aren’t together anymore. Meanwhile, my mom and stepdad (the ex-husband of the woman) are still together. The thing is, the husband and wife had a son together, and my parents had me, so when they had their little switcharoo, my step-brother was my step-brother twice for a while.

Tammy Nelson, a psychotherapist and host of the podcast “The Trouble with Sex,” isn’t really surprised by these kinds of marital swaps.

“While it may sound complicated, it actually makes sense from an emotional perspective,” she said. “Who better to understand the pain of being cheated on than the partner who is going through the same thing?”

GABRIEL BOUYS via Getty Images

Shania Twain and her now-husband Frédéric Thiebaud got together after their exes cheated on them with each other.

A call to get stories straight can easily lead to a trauma bond, Nelson said.

“That connection can feel like traumatic commiseration, shared resentment, or a way to express anger at the cheaters,” she said. “It can turn into a place to express feelings, where each person feels deeply understood.”

These conversations can be more intimate than talks with a friend or family member because this person can identify with this unique pain, she said.

Talal Alsaleem, a marriage therapist and author of “Unfaithful & Unrepentant: Affairs Beyond the Hope of Repair,” said these relationships often form out of a sense of allyship: Where an unfaithful partner might attempt to deny or minimize the narrative of what happened, the other betrayed spouse won’t.

“The assumption here is that the spouse of the affair partner has a vested interest in discovering the truth,” Alsaleem told HuffPost. “They can compare notes, exchange evidence, and collaborate in recreating the timeline of the affair.”

Of course, sometimes the bond is motivated by revenge, he said. There is some karmic justice in having your ex know that you upgraded with the least likely person.

Holmes and Robach attend the 2023 KIIS FM iHeartRadio Jingle Ball on Dec. 1 in Inglewood, California.

Taylor Hill via Getty Images

Holmes and Robach attend the 2023 KIIS FM iHeartRadio Jingle Ball on Dec. 1 in Inglewood, California.

Other times, Alsaleem said, his betrayed clients reach out to the other person because they feel morally obligated.

“They don’t want the other partner to be in the dark like they were,” he said.

Do the relationships last, or are they more of a rebound than anything? It depends, Alsaleem said.

“If what bonded them was simply the trauma instead of actual compatibility and desire, one would imagine that this bond by itself is not sustainable for a healthy relationship on its own,” he said. “You need other ingredients to have a happy and fulfilling relationship.”

But sometimes, the relationships do have sticking power. Twain and Thiebaud have now been married for almost 13 years. Last year, when Dax Shepard asked Twain on his podcast if Lange and Marie-Anne were still together too, Twain confirmed that they were. Ultimately, she said, everything worked out as it should.

“Everyone gets what they deserve,” Twain said. “I got what I deserve. I got the greatest man on the planet.”

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