The question tortures betrayeds. We feel so stupid. We adopt guilt on many levels from many aspects of being cheated on, and one of them is that we are just stupid, right? Because obviously a woman in an intimate relationship, day-to-day, with a man pledged to her with his undying love that was not really living his undying love to her would be obvious. She would know it if he was panting madly after another woman…whether it was one-night-stands found in massage parlors or brothels or images portrayed on the screen and delivered to his phone or real-live-flesh in his arms that was joined with a fantasy relationship of constant messaging and plans for a future.
She would know, right? We would know, right?
I saw those teasers for outrageous tell-all shows through the years, or headlines on tabloids at the grocery store that screamed He Lived A Double Life And She Didn’t Know and my passing thought as I put the food on the belt was Well She Must Be An Idiot If She Didn’t Know.
Because I would know, right?
But I didn’t know, and when I found out I felt S. T. U. P. I. D. I still have to deal with that cropping up from time to time when everything crashes in and I find myself walking into a meeting and the tidal wave of HOLY SHIT I AM A BETRAYED WIFE washes over me…the immediate next thought is…and I am so stupid.
But I am not. I am not stupid, and neither are the multiple other betrayed women that I have come to know intimately over the last two years. I look around at my group and they are beautiful. Seriously, they are beautiful. They are smart and own businesses and run non-profits and juggle family and work and myriad responsibilities and they are beautiful. No…these women are anything, anything but stupid. To a one.
So how did we get duped? How, collectively, are cheaters able to delve into their destructive behaviors and we don’t know?
I can only speak from my experience, yet think some of it may resonate with other betrayeds. I was always taught about privacy…and privacy meant things like knocking on the bathroom door when it was closed, not listening in on a call someone was on or opening their drawers and looking in them. I was taught it was rude to ask about money or why someone lowered their voice to talk to someone else in person or on the phone. I was taught that men hate nagging women and asking questions = nagging and that men aren’t as emotional as women and don’t like to share their feelings like women and that men can’t stand drama and feelings = drama. I was taught that any semblance of jealousy could lead your man right into cheating, and I was literally told by HUSBAND’s grandmother that if you don’t give HUSBAND freedom to (hunt/fish/play with his friends) he would end up with a blonde on his arm. (I was highly offended, scoffed at such a notion, but it was there now, in my soul, and helped shaped my responses whether I could see it or not).
I was taught it was showed no trust to follow up about something slightly sketchy and for God’s sake, I would never have dreamed of looking on HUSBAND’s phone or asking one of his friends to verify his actions or really dig in to find out why there was a gap in time or money or people or place, because I didn’t want to meddle, or look like I didn’t trust him. I didn’t want to be that kind of woman – that kind of wife – the kind all the jokes are about and men hate and women roll their eyes about.
I watched sitcoms that made fun of insecure women and read articles about annoying habits men hate (google it).
Those were all thoughts and ideas and attitudes deeply ingrained in me, socialized in my womanhood and wifehood by family and friends and culture and media.
But mostly, I never ever even considered that the man I found, loved, gave all of me to would consider cheating. So all the rules made sense.
It wasn’t stupidity, not at all. It was faith and trust. Wrongly placed, but that is what it was.
I’ve stayed with HUSBAND, who by all counts has continued to show me now for nearly two years that he is a new man. His continued willingness to provide any information, answer any question past or present has not wavered since he finally bared his soul and all its warts and lies and filth. He is different in every sense of himself, and we are different together with this stark honesty constantly the stalwart between us.
But now? I do ask. I do verify. And I don’t buy the cultural encouragement to utter personal freedom, no questions asked, within a committed relationship. I went down that road for 27 years, but took a sharp turn after DDay, and will never head that way again. That…that would be…stupid?