If you’re visiting this blog because your partner had an affair and you don’t know what to do, I’m sorry you’re going through this. When it happened to me I couldn’t contemplate not having her back. When you love someone it truly does blind you. I don’t normally preach, I just tell my story, but I just got burned and I want to say this: Right now you’re hurting and you can’t contemplate what you might be about to lose. Don’t fear it. Your partner should have respected you, but they didn’t. That’s no basis for a good relationship. You never dreamed they could do this to you? Maybe your partner is not what you thought they were. Maybe they’ve just changed. Either way, that person may or may not be the person you thought you loved. There’s still every chance you can pull something out of the rubble, and whatever option you choose now is up to you, but don’t be paralysed by your fear of being alone. Maybe you just need to be free?
I choose to love you whatever happens, however I feel, whoever I meet, whenever we have problems, whether or not I feel in love.
This is what my wife said to me in her wedding vows. It seems that however sincere it was at the time, for her it was a whimsical romantic notion. Sad to say, we have now been separated for two months.
In the months leading up to Christmas she started getting pretty weird with me. Sex almost completely dried up, loads of little things just seemed wrong. She started saying that she felt “trapped” but at the same time tried to reassure me that I wasn’t pressuring her or asking her for anything other than what one expects from a loving wife. She didn’t resent me, that seemed like at least something at the time. But I was hurt when she told me quite casually that she really didn’t mind if I wanted to sleep with other women, in fact she said there was a part of her that wanted me to. It seemed our relationship was beginning to mean very little to her and that she didn’t have the feelings she should anymore. But it had all happened quite quickly. I thought back to the summer, remembered how we were together on holiday and around that time. She seemed like she loved me, I had this photograph I particularly liked of her kissing my cheek while we stood next to a lake.
So I slowly became wary until about a week before Christmas when she began to talk about “just getting through Christmas”. I suspected that there was more to this than I had first thought, and decided to start keeping an eye on her. It was late that night while she was sleeping that I found two emails, from her to her now ex-boss. The first read:
Just thought…. There’s always my mobile number if you can’t catch me at my desk: ***********. Was really good to see you on Thursday night :-)
She’d been at a Christmas party that night, and had assured me he wouldn’t be there, and that he wasn’t there. She never mentioned that he was either… And contacting him by choice like this was a massive boundary to have crossed – she had clearly already given him her card so he could call her at work. The second email was what killed it for me though:
At the risk of looking really neurotic, I’m sending you another email! Please call me before Christmas holidays, I’m going a bit nuts. Or email me? This address should work.
She sounded so desperate. I was racking my brains at this point trying to think of some explanation. She wouldn’t do this to me again? Surely not? I thought, seeing as she hadn’t seen him since July when she left her job with him, that maybe being with him for an evening again had stirred up some feelings. Which didn’t line up with her previous story of having got over him completely. Unsurprisingly I was angry and went to wake her with the feeling that unless she had a damned good explanation for it all I’d be telling her to leave.
I don’t know that being woken by having cold water poured over your face is much fun, I just happened to have the glass in my hand when I arrived at the bedroom. I’m happy to say I’ve never mistreated my wife even after what she put me through. She woke with a start, and I asked her what was going on. She tried to wriggle out of it, she said that she knew he was going to be there but didn’t tell me because she thought I’d stop her going. She said she had a nice time and just wanted to be able to stay in contact. She said she just wanted to be friends and she had no feelings for him. I wasn’t buying it. The more I thought about it, the more I was inclined to think that if she lied about this, what else has she lied about lately? Given her strange behaviour I stuck to my guns and told her to go. She moved out the following day.
During the course of the Christmas holidays she and I had a few conversations about what happened. Each time she embellished her story I could see new holes in it. She could tell I wasn’t buying it so eventually she told me the truth. They resumed their affair, perhaps April or May time last year, and it didn’t end when she left in July either. She retained contact by calling him on his work phone and used to pop in to see him the odd day on her way home, because she was on flexitime I never knew. They lost contact when he left his job there in October. It would explain why the time since then had been such hell… She could cope with faking it for me while she still had him, but then he left and she just got miserable.
Interesting I thought, that he never bothered to remain in contact with her. I wondered what that said about their relationship. A man in his late forties does not expect to be pursued by a woman in her early twenties, she’s adamant that he loved her. His actions make me question whether he was trying to do the right thing. I wrestled a lot trying to decide whether or not to tell his wife. Most of the advice I got was to stay clear. I’ve been through enough. The truth has a habit of coming out eventually anyway and she might not thank me for telling her. Ignorance, to some people, is bliss. I tried to remove the temptation to contact her by deleting the phone number I had stored for her but I’ve since discovered that she has a website for her home business with her address and phone number on it. I’ve been tempted to send her a link to this blog anonymously and see if she puts two and two together. But there’s still a chance that the family might survive this way, they have two children who deserve a decent family to grow up in.
I’ve thought a fair bit about all those times I thought something was up and challenged my wife, I should have quietly watched her instead. I’d have found the truth then. She used to tell me I was paranoid and needed to learn to trust her, so I squashed those feelings and learned to ignore them. Turns out she was lying to my face, making me doubt my feelings and perceptions when really it was her in the wrong. A textbook example of gaslighting. It’s not like she’d just been “distant” either, she’d actually been really demanding… Selfish to be truthful. On top of looking after the kids, doing all the housework, shopping, washing and cooking I regularly took two hours out of my day to drive her to work and from work during the six weeks after she broke her arm and couldn’t ride her motorbike… It turns out that about once a week in that time she’d tell me she was going out somewhere she wasn’t while she really went to see him. I was doing all the giving and making all the sacrifices while she was off enjoying sex without responsibility.
So it seems, some people really aren’t worth the trouble. I don’t regret giving her another chance, I know I did everything I could to save our marriage and I’m happy that my conscience is clear in that regard. There is a place for forgiveness. I’m a forgiving person and I showed my wife a lot of grace. I don’t regret that at all, many of my friends have expressed real admiration for how I’ve handled what has happened. I believe the right way in a marriage is to put your partner’s needs first, that way one’s needs are always met by the other’s giving, not the one’s taking. But if your partner doesn’t share or live out that ideal, it has to be abandoned. If you have a gracious heart, stay gracious… But don’t be a doormat. Your partner has to give something back. Some people will take advantage of anything they’re offered and will use you until you’re spent with no thought of ever giving anything to you.
Me and my two boys are doing well, we’re going to grow up big and strong together. To be truthful, things have been a whole lot easier since she’s gone. I feel motivated, released from a relationship that was sapping my energy. Sure, it hurts what she did and I grieve a bit every day, but I’m just getting on with my life now without her to hold me back and that feels great. My two little boys are my number one priority, and I’m finding time to see my friends more and do more things I enjoy too. I remember when she first betrayed me I was so afraid to end up a single dad. Strange how misplaced that seems now… It’s not always your circumstances that determine your well being, it’s often just your state of mind. The way I see it, I just got my life back!