Anatomy of Infidelity, Part 3

Just looking back through the life of my infidel…looking at gaps and patterns and moments and experiences and ways-of-living that could give us both clues into how. Into why. This isn’t a treatise for explaining cheating; rather a process of working through for both of us…so we never end up there again.

diggingdeep

Prepping for college included the requisite compiling of necessary things (laundry detergent and personal hygiene items; clothes and underwear; school supplies). But for HUSBAND, that summer also included other prep. It included sex with a married employee a few years older than him who just wasn’t happy in her marriage…all fun and games until she indicated she was starting to have feelings for him…and then he ran far and fast. It included sex with another older woman that he knew from a local vendor…and lots of drinking and smoking pot and altercations with other drunk and stoned people.

alcoholpot

College. The young man, HUSBAND, was smart – having clepped several classes – entered university with one semester credit. He sees now that his dreams were not so much, rather, not-at-all, of achieving academic success or getting a degree, but pushing the limit of freedom and pushing his body beyond what it had known in the past.

He pulled a roommate with a similar goal and together they, and some of his childhood friends, found plenty of drugs, sex and rock ‘n roll. They partied from morning til night, got into drug/alcohol induced fights, interacted with campus police, interacted with girls in their dorm room, in overnights at the beach and anywhere else it happened and hit every concert that came to town. What he didn’t do was spend much time going to class, or studying. HUSBAND didn’t delve into relationships, just sex. Often sex numbed with drugs. The end of the first year brought the harsh reality that the university wasn’t excited about having him back. He was on disciplinary probation. He was on academic probation. The Dean told him he could not return to the school until he had obtained his associates degree elsewhere. And so he left.

If there was any recrimination from his parents, HUSBAND doesn’t remember. He doesn’t remember either of his parents being involved in his college decision, his college year, or his college failure. He doesn’t remember any consequence, or deep conversations or confrontations at the end of the year. He just kept going, and was shuttled to one of his branch offices 150 miles away where he moved in with a relative. A relative that was married, but only a few years older than HUSBAND. A relative who also enjoyed much of the wild life, and the college life basically continued on for him in his early professional life. Once a week, HUSBAND had to return to the home office for a specific job duty, and within six months, was called to return full time to headquarters.

HUSBAND and a couple of his friends found a rental house in a low-end area and moved in. The house quickly became party-central for his old friends and his new friends and friends-of-those-friends. People came and went, bringing their individual brand of fun and there was always something and someone to share an imbibed moment with. HUSBAND remembers one day sitting in his room, smoking a joint and listening to music while a few friends partied outside in the common areas. The door to his bathroom opened (it was also accessible through another bedroom) and a girl from his home room class walked in. She walked over to his bed where he was sitting and started talking about inane happenings. Then, she said, “You know, I’ve always wanted to jump your bones.” And so they had sex and she got dressed and left. She wasn’t the only one during that time period, and that wasn’t the only time with her, or with others. No interest in relationship, but lots of interest in sex. That characterized this period for him.

house-party

Eventually HUSBAND desired a little nicer space, and less constant company and he found a better townhouse in a better area and moved in with two friends. There was still some serious partying, but less of a frenetic pace inundated with known and unknown partakers. More of the semblance of a home. All three roommates were hard working, although the pot smoking before work continued, and usually after work, too. But they saw themselves as moving up in their respective jobs, and beginning to look toward growing up.

About that time, HUSBAND had some tense moments with members of his family. In somewhat of a rebellion from what they envisioned for his personal life, he went out with friends, and mentioned he wanted to find himself a “rock ‘n roll girl.” He ran into the former girlfriend of someone he knew…a beautiful girl…an available girl…a wild and exciting girl…and they came back to his place where they explored every part of each other’s anatomy. It was sex on steroids for him, and he was hooked.

rocknrollgirl

The story continues…

 

Anatomy of Infidelity, Part 2

So the little boy and his three siblings and his mama and daddy moved from their cute little bungalow on a cute little street in a tight little neighborhood to the other side of the town…over the river…

The new house was fit for a family of six with a daddy growing a new empire alongside HIS dad. It had five bedrooms and nearly as many baths and a swimming pool and a big yard. The family settled in and soon another baby arrived on the scene. HUSBAND’s family of origin was now complete: he was the oldest followed by two sisters, a brother and a final baby girl.

He started a new school in this new neighborhood where he made some friends. Together with those friends he would roam the neighborhood, not getting into trouble but kind of getting into trouble. He was good at convincing everyone he was really a good boy when he walked a fence, and learned to put on different faces for different audiences. Truth is, he came by it naturally…

two-faced-man

The men in HUSBAND’s life all “married for life” and talked boldly of respect and loyalty and all the other things that make men men to their families in the south. But when HUSBAND was still a boy, he began to go off with the men for hunting and fishing and the men liked to talk about things that may not be quite so respectful. Things like the shape of the waitress’s chest or backside. Things like what they’d done with other women. Things like what they’d like to do with other women. There were jokes and magazines and sometimes even touches. But from the very earliest of times, this was how men acted and then they went home to their wives and families and professed loyalty and respect. They loudly disdained men who cheated, and told their wives how shocked they were when one of them got exposed as being “that kind of man.”

There was a neighbor boy who was several years older than HUSBAND. He grew very close with the family and spent time with all the kids. One summer in particular, HUSBAND spent a lot of time with him, learning about his boat, playing legos in his garage, and just being boys together. Several years later, this same neighbor took a job with the family company, and moved up to a junior management position. He had nice things, and would let HUSBAND be part of some of them…teaching him to drive in his muscle car and things like that. It was odd that eventually, this neighbor had somewhat of a breakdown at the company, and left. He no longer has any contact with the family, at all. Although eventually it really wasn’t that odd…

A few years went by and HUSBAND continued to be the best of boys and the worst of boys in his parents’ eyes. He learned to deceive to try to stay on the best side, and to minimize when he fell over to the worst. His dad went off on trips a lot, and HUSBAND was the “man of the house” when his dad was away. There was lots to take care of and lots of kids to help with. He was glad when he had time to go off with his friends. They had built a pretty elaborate tree house and liked to spend time there where they pretended they were men and not boys. One day, they found a magazine – you know, THAT kind of magazine – on the street (so his memory tells him) and they took it up to the tree house. They gathered around and turned the pages and looked at it closely. The magazine stayed in the tree house, and all the boys went home. HUSBAND thinks that was the first time he masturbated. Masturbated to the mental images of those girls on the pages of the magazine. He never told anyone…not his family or his friends, and none of them said they’d done it. As HUSBAND notes, for him it was the start of secrecy (shame?) around sex.

secret-shame

In 7th grade, HUSBAND was moved to Catholic school where he remembers gaining exposure to a whole host of new actions. He got close with a small group of boys and they had fun doing things that pushed the window of acceptability. By ninth grade, the group was sneaking out of their homes at night, deftly stealing a car or two from their parents’ driveways and riding around their side of town. According to HUSBAND, they would cruise, head to the school and do donuts and just be boys. During the summer prior to their sophomore year, the group had discovered pot, and that became a regular part of their free time. HUSBAND was in all honors classes that year, but frequently getting high before classes in the morning. He surrounded himself with like-minded friends, encouraging each other to beat the system and live the double life.

kids-and-weed

But there was this one girl…this straight, beautiful girl…who sat next to him in one of his classes. She listened as he shared the crazy antics of his life: the drugs and activities and chances he was taking. She seemed to have a vague intrigue, yet admonished him to stop. To be better. To reach for good. Things went on throughout the year until one night…one night when the group was divided into two cars and one of them got busted. The cops took the kids home from one car, and eventually those kids divulged the kids from the second car and HUSBAND remembers a group meeting of all the parents and kids involved.

So he turned a new leaf, just like that. Gave up the drugs and the car stealing (they were driving underage) and became that good guy. And that straight, beautiful girl from his class was so thrilled that by the end of sophomore year, they were a thing – a couple.

turn-over-new-leaf

They dated throughout junior year and HUSBAND was “good.” He didn’t smoke pot (okay…maybe once or twice but not really) and he didn’t steal cars (by that time he was a licensed driver). He worked (kinda) hard on his academics. But by late in his junior year and that pre-senior year summer, he really had the itch to let loose…he was a senior after all. It’s a bit hazy in his memory, but HUSBAND knows that he and the straight, beautiful girl broke up, and he returned to the partying and it escalated throughout the year.

turnoverblotsshow

HUSBAND was caught with pot that time when the group was busted. His parents were involved and hurt and confronted him. “Just make good decisions,” he was told. Yet after that first time, there were numerous other times that he was caught, and nothing was done except shaking of the head, and grow up please. Despite finding the remains of a joint in the family car, or paraphernalia hidden under the bed, or a bag with remnants in his drawer, there were no consequences except disappointment. HUSBAND continued to drive the cars and boats and have wrecks involving both. He went on vacations and to summer camp in the Keys. He continued to work at the family business and stay out late and get high before school. And sometimes during school. And usually after school.

head-in-the-sand

He even went on his senior cruise where unleashed partying abounded. There was sex and drinking and pot and it was all good. He graduated from high school amongst lots of fanfare and lots of celebration and loads of pot and alcohol and sex. It lead to a summer of intense drinking and partying and working and playing, and preparation for launch to college.

And so it goes…the boy was growing into a young man.

 

Anatomy of Infidelity, Part 1

First…a note about my absence of late. I was winding down a big project at work and excited to blog on several things: forgiveness, unexpected trigger, new life. And then came Hurricane Matthew that forced HUSBAND and me to deal with our respective businesses/clients, our home, family…and to evacuate to safer space. Returning to our home we encountered a felled tree magnificently missing our home or any other home, but making serious disaster of our neighbor’s brand-new and beautiful workshop/office. hurricanmatthew2

And my office also was the victim of a large tree falling. It is requiring removal with a crane and a delicate positioning to avoid the master-power lines. hurricanematthew

Yes…it has been a crazy last ten days but we praise God for the safety of so many, while we grieve deeply at the horrific loss of life in Haiti, and to a far lesser extent, the US. Please…join me in praying with fervor for these hurting people…

hurricanematthew3

 

Infidelity. The word obviously means unfaithfulness between two partners in a committed relationship. But it also means disloyalty, breach of trust, a transgression. From my personal experience, no one really expects it, and no one – NO ONE – can imagine the intense pain that sears through every fibre of your being when you become the victim of infidelity. As I have embraced my personal path of healing, I’ve become dedicated to trying to understand how it can occur…how it happens…what are the root causes, what happened to HUSBAND along the way to enable him to make those choices, and what role, if any, did I play? It has haunted me…sometimes with self-blame, other times with he/she/them blame, so I’ve decided to start at the beginning of the one case study I know intimately, HUSBAND. What follows, for as long as it takes, is the Anatomy of Infidelity.

The Anatomy of Infidelity, Part 1

This is about infidelity. My infidel. My husband.

I’m not pretending or purporting that this is a profile, or what all cheaters look like. But it is the story of my partner, my spouse, and the road of life that lead to him becoming a cheater in our marriage.

At the end of the day, I believe no one wakes up one day while in a committed relationship and just ends up in bed with someone else. Long before I knew I was a betrayed spouse, ironically, I used to say to our children as they got to their teen years that very thing. That it is myriad decisions, choices, wrong thinking and justification along the way that leads to the BIG ONE. Oh, such prophetic words.

So back to the anatomy of my infidel.

He was born into an appearingly loving family with strong traditions of just that: loving family. His mama had a rougher childhood in the 50s…her mom was married several times when it was pretty taboo to do so, and her stability came from her hard-working but devoted grandparents. They, and especially her granddaddy, were hero-worshipped by her and carried saint-status as she began to raise her children including my husband. HUSBAND’s father was second-oldest son of (eventually) six children. FIL’s daddy was smart, hard-working and diligent and founded a very successful business. HUSBAND’s father joined him in the business early on, working side-by-side to build a mini-empire. Along the way, HUSBAND was born, along with four other siblings in close order and everything was hunky dory.

Early family life included week-end trips to the tiny but beloved home of the saintly grands where HUSBAND and his siblings learned to fish and whittle and brush away yellow flies at certain times of the year. The trip included the purchase of white milk and chocolate milk, mixed together, for the kids and a six-pack of beer for the parents to drink on the way to the river. These are some of HUSBAND’s earliest memories.

petes-river

He also recalls fondly having to sneak his great-grandma cigarettes even when they had been banned due to her health, and watching the beer crack open at day break. He learned about plants and still has seeds from those days that he cultivates every year, passing on plants to all of our children along with the stories of his great-grandad after whom our oldest son is named.

petes-river

HUSBAND’s home he was born to was a cute bungalow in a darling neighborhood not too far from where he and I live today. By the time he was in first grade, there were four children and his parents decided they needed more room. They made the move to the other side of town and into a much larger home with a pool. He remembers being perfect in his mama’s eyes. And yet, he remembers being anything-but-perfect in his mama’s eyes. He remembers being told he was strong and smart and yet why did he do such a stupid thing and go cut himself a switch and stop doing that. He remembers that his mama took him to church faithfully but that his dad didn’t go with them and he never questioned that and she never said anything about it, but there was no option for him. He remembers that he got to go to the woods with his dad, and he got to fish at the river, and he thinks things were pretty good. His report cards indicate that he was learning well, and getting along with kids well, and the writings we have from those early years show he was progressing.

getmeaswitch

Such were the early years of a little boy that would grow up to be a man that one day would get his wires crossed and do things he didn’t want to do but didn’t know how not to do and didn’t know why he did them.

The anatomy of infidelity. Part one.

 

 

 

Glorious Moments

Last day of September, and here in the deep South, it is still feeling like summer. Yet…a small hint of the coming cool has wafted in the last couple days. You have to get up early to feel it, but it shows in the crispier glow of the sun, the clearer blue of the sky, and the magnificent sunsets almost every evening.

sunsetatriver

I love this time of the year. I love all of it…the leaves, the clothes, the decorations. I love that I have a fall birthday, and there is college football to cheer (or cry) for. I love that I can wear boots again and that I got married in this glorious season.

Ahhh….marriage. Right.

Marriage that held such promise when we spoke our vows and danced our dances and toasted our flutes. Marriage that I thought would be so strengthening for me – a place in which I could bloom and grow. Marriage as an ungirding to all the potential choices and opportunities and prospects of a glorious future.

Ahhh…future. Right.

We laughed in the face of all challenges that came up (or so I thought). We had baby one and baby two and baby three and baby four and dreamed of their futures and taught them to dream and to believe and to try. Just try. At least try. Step into that glorious maybe.

Ahhh…maybe. Right.

But somewhere along the way he didn’t really believe it all and honestly, neither did I. We were set on a course though, and had no understanding of how to change it. So we kept up the façade on the outside. But he was finding solace in drugs. And alcohol. And other women. I had no idea – he hid that part of him so well – and I found solace in my work. And my babies. And my pretensions, you know, the ones that allowed me not to see the true parts of my life. The glorious mask.

Ahhh…mask. Right.

So when the truth began tumbling out in the form of infidelity, I could not pretend any longer. I could not pretend that what I wished my life to be was really what it was and I had choices. Choices to press down the pain and sweep it under the rug. Choices to run far, far away from the madness and blame it all on him and hate him with a vengeance and get lots of support because I would. Choices to be rabidly filled with vengeance and hurt everyone I could in my wake. Choices to sever any ties at all and refashion the rest of my life in whatever manner suited me. Choices to slow down, to watch, to listen, to learn about him and about me and to heal – and then decide which road I would take. Choices to learn to peel off the past and to dispel needing to design the future and accept…and live in…and revel…the present. The glorious present.

Ahhh…present. Right.

No. Wrong.

At least my perception of the present was wrong for most of my life, until infidelity revealed. Until horrible and dreadful and excruciating and soul-sucking and mind-blowing and self-blaming and him-hating and her-disdaining. Until my distorted understanding of my past and my fairy-tale view of the future crashed so horrifically with the reality of the present and I had to acknowledge it. Or lose me forever. The glorious forever.

For real, the glorious forever.

It was standing at the precipice of choices and seeing that the very path promising the most pain was the path to my freedom when I knew. I got it. I understood. My Savior was at that same place 2000 years ago. He saw the road to freedom and healing was about to be covered in blood and betrayal and abandonment and thrashings. He didn’t want the cup…He asked His Father to take it from Him. But He saw. He knew. He knew it was the only real path for all of our healing. He could have chosen another way, a way to save Him alone, but this way, this awful, horrible way ensured we could be part of His story. This way –going directly into and through the pain-was the only way He could provide us complete and utter curing from our bondage to our confusion and our self-inflicted wounds and our other’s-inflicted-wounds and our fears and our prejudices and our disappointments and our doubts and our… So He took the cup. In that moment, I saw that He did that – He took the cup. In that moment, that present, and here I was in a present and I had choices but most of them were about the past hurts or the future changes and I chose the present. The present with no understanding of the future, but the glorious realization that He had this. He had me. He loved me. Glorious love.

writteninred

Ahhh…love. Really. Love that led the way.

sunsetatriver-sspjp

The Language of Betrayal

We have all done it. We have all gotten to new places in life that bring a whole new language. Some are kind of mundane – like when I took my first accounting class in college. There was a whole host of new words like gross revenue and accounts receivable and cost of goods sold. Words like credit and debit took on new meaning.

Sometimes we learn a new vernacular at special times, like becoming a parent – a mom. Phrases and words like swaddling and breast feeding. Or bumper pads and touchpoints and pacifiers. We have to decide things that include a new language like cord-clamping and cord-banking…co-sleeping or crib sleeping…public or private or home…

And there are times of sadness or challenge that expand our vocabulary to words that may have lurked somewhere in our minds, but become routine. Times like medical challenges and death that make words like treatment or hospice or casket routine. Words that lived out there but not in here yet now they are uttered regularly right from our own lips.

Affairs, though, are different. I didn’t know the language of affairs, or the vernacular. I’d never perused Huffington Post for articles on affairs, or searched for the Other Woman. The words weren’t lurking somewhere in my mind. They just weren’t there in my conscious thinking. But the language is universal, and within literal days of discovery, the words were tumbling into my knowledge base almost like a download of a computer program.

Affair Partner.

Discovery.

Trickle Truth.

Hysterical Bonding.

Wayward Spouse.

Gaslighting.

Blameshifting.

Affair Fog.

The 180.

The acronyms: M. A. EA. PA. EMA. LTA. BS. OW. MOW. FWB. AP. WH. STBXH. MM. xMM. NPD. IC. CC. MIL. FIL. FOO. DDay. FWH. NC. SA.

Literally overnight these words became the language of my life. Any betrayed reading this right now gets it…they know these words…or if they are in the devastating newness of discovery, they are learning them. All of my being hated that I needed to know these words, yet some came absolutely instinctually, without even needing the betrayed-spouse-dictionary. No Contact. Please, please have no contact with HUSBAND anymore…and HUSBAND…have no contact with her. The Other Woman. The Other Woman that I discovered on that day – that Discovery Day. And now…I am betrayed. I didn’t need a dictionary.

language

There were options as this new language became my life language. I could have, and deeply considered, DIVORCE which would have launched me into another whole new vernacular. I danced at those words and that option, seeking advice on the process and laws in Florida and division of property. And then I did research on the impact of divorce on older children, on young adult children. I was astounded to see that these beautiful older children often take the divorce of their parents hard. So hard that 3 and 5 and even ten years later, they are posting on their blogs about the hurt they still carry. The questions they now harbor…was anything real in their childhood? Was there ever the family they thought they remembered, and if that family broke up and broke apart, what chance did they, or could they, possibly have at love themselves?

I hated these words. I hated these thoughts that were hidden away from public view, only found with intentional research and eyes. I hated that as much as HUSBAND’s unfaithfulness was ripping me apart, and casting pieces of my heart all over every part of what I thought my life was, now I had to make decisions. I hated him and force him to leave me and get all my just due in every feasible way. I wanted to think of just me and wanted that to be the best for me and for everyone I loved.

I did not – let me repeat that – DID NOT decide that I would stay married. No, I absolutely was not that altruistic, or able to consider the twenty-year-from-now impact on my kids over my own right-this-minute impact. But I did decided that I would not decide. That I would wait. That I would worry about me and what it would take for me to be able to breathe. And then think. And then maybe feel. And if, along the way, I wanted to look at my marriage, then I gave myself permission, but not a mandate.

forever

And then…slowly…there was another language that began to creep into the vestiges of my brain and soul. The language of healing. I pushed it away for awhile, wanting and needing to embrace the pain. But it was quietly persistent. This language is more complex, requiring me to grieve and learn transparency and become oddly more vulnerable in the face of fear and pain. I can’t say that I know the whole language yet. And that’s okay. One word at a time…

 

Choosing

I read a post this morning in an “other woman support forum” that was talking about choices and responsibility for pain. In a nutshell, the author of the post, an OW herself, insisted that her choosing to engage in the affair had nothing to do, ever, at any point, with the pain of the betrayed spouse of her AP. That any damage done to the marriage would lie fully on the shoulders of her AP, as would the responsibility be fully on her to her own marriage.

Her other big point was that every day was a choice…to continue to engage in the illicit relationship alongside the official relationship and that made the illicit just like any other relationship – normal, you see? And if DDay occurred and her AP didn’t do as he promised (not throw her under the bus…and ultimately choose her) then she would have choices. She even ends her piece with saying, “I chose to love him because he offered his love to me.”

Am I alone in thinking this is really destructive thinking all the way around?

destructivethinking2

That there IS a choice for a person in a committed relationship to offer, as her lover did, and to receive, as she did, love from another? Isn’t this the crux of the deceit and the filth and the pain? I’ll say it as simply and succinctly as I know how:

IF YOU ARE IN A COMMITTED RELATIONSHIP, DON’T REACH OUT FOR ANOTHER OR ENGAGE WITH ANOTHER PARTY IN A POTENTIAL FRIENDSHIP OR RELATIONSHIP. PERIOD.

stop

Just don’t do it. Don’t let the conversations go there, the body language flourish, the glances happen. We are not victims of those circumstances – those are things we actively do or allow or partake in. It isn’t the power of the universe pulling words out of your mouth, or the angels shaping your face in a seductive glance. It. Is. You.

If you engage in an affair, you chose to go there, and you are responsible for the pain of your partner, along with the pain of your AP’s partner. And what about all the other collateral damage…the children? Friends? Extended family? But you can absolutely avoid it, avoid being a pain-maker, two ways:

Do not engage in any way with the development of a friendship or flirtatious/intimate relationship. Period. Cut it off. Much to the surprise of other women, us betrayeds have actually found ourselves in these same places from time to time throughout our marriages. We faced moments when our marriage relationships were far less than fulfilling, and another person suddenly said something compelling, or appreciated something our husband had missed, or noticed our new haircut. But we didn’t bite. We chose to honor ourselves, first, and our commitments and all that goes along with that. So stop biting. The OW said “I chose to love him because he offered his love to me?” Make a different choice. That is way #1 you can avoid being a pain-maker.

The second way is be authentic in your official relationship. If you are unhappy, talk about it. Do something about it. Whatever somethings you think may have answers: books, seminars, trainings, faith-leaders, prayer. And if your partner won’t engage, won’t work toward change and you want to leave, then leave. But don’t be so weak that you have to have the next relationship lined up to do so. Not with a single person, which puts them in the position of becoming a pain-maker, and not with another married. Just leave with your big boy/girl panties on, face the reality of your broken relationship and all that means, and then engage in whatever friendships or flirtatious/intimate relationships you choose with other single people.

Don’t tell me it isn’t as easy as all that. That I just don’t know your story. That your situation is different. That he’s been locked in misery for years, or that you have been alone in your marriage for years. That there hasn’t been intimacy between them for a really long time, and they aren’t intimate during your affair. That the financial situation…or the children…or the dog… You can justify your wrong, pain-making behavior all you want, or you can decide that you won’t be a victim or a perpetrator – instead you will be courageous and strong and write the story of the next chapters of your life without decimating other people and children and extended family along the way. We betrayeds agree with the author. You do have choices, far more than you allow yourself to see. Choices to be a whole-hearted (as Brene Brown has coined) person, choices to value yourself, choices to live in integrity so that your one life is just that – one life – rather than having little secret lives tucked around the pockets of your other life.

And the final choice. HUSBAND’s AP must have been shocked. You see, they had an elaborate plan. One that included our DDay, and counseling, and separation, and mutual decision to divorce. One that included HUSBAND dating another mutual friend of AP and H briefly. One that included HUSBAND connecting back with AP, and them dating and falling in love. It was all planned, just so. But that isn’t how the story played out. HUSBAND had a choice. As did I. Somehow under the rubble and rubbish that was tied up in a neat little Affair bow, we found the vestiges of our deep love and it was far more powerful than the empty promises of the AP or the pain of their actions. He chose, and I chose. We chose each other.

bikeride

 

Why. Didn’t. I. Know.

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.

Oh

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).

DontTouchPHONE

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).

TakeADeepBreath

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.

faithhopebelievetrustlove

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?

KnowBetterDoBetter

Early Fractures

I married my dream man and couldn’t wait to live the rest of my life with him. And he with me. Our pictures of that night are still magical…with so many friends and neighbors and family gathered around to care for us, to cheer for us, to love us and support us.

What fractures were there in those early days that I was unable to see or to detect? Were there any?

Through digging and digging and digging, HUSBAND and I have found many things now that were little fissures in the outward cover of perfection we wrapped ourselves in.

fissuresandfractures

Things like the reality that HUSBAND invited a woman with whom he had had an indiscriminate sexual relationship with a couple times some years prior…to our wedding. A woman that I did not know, and had asked who she was and why she was on our invitation list. He’d answered me only a partial truth…telling me that she was always present in the mundane as a member of his home-room all years of high school (true) and part of his group of high school friends (true-ish) and of course, no one that he had ever considered dating (okay…he never dated her, but does fucking count)?

Looking back…maybe that was a little crack?

Or possibly it was a fissure that he had given me a pretty PG rated version of his actually XXX rated growing up years, all the way to the weeks immediately prior to our beginning to date, that I accepted fully? It wasn’t until 27 years later and the revealing of his double life that I finally found out he’d always had a double life when it came to me…that the man I thought I’d married was really a shined up version of the man I’d married – regarding his drug past and his sexual past. A fracture?

Then…there was our wedding night. I’m not sure what I expected, but romance definitely figured in there somewhere. After our large wedding in which we spent lots of time shaking hands and hugging necks and dancing and laughing and toasting and drinking ended with us darting out to jump in the back of the limousine, I pictured being wrapped in intimacy, entering our hotel room – the bridal suite of course – scattered with rose petals and candles glowing, perhaps. I anticipated my new husband drinking of the beauty of the moment, and making me feel like I was his perfection in the way he looked and touched and tasted me. Instead, we came into a regular room (why spend money for one night on anything else?) and had rather perfunctory sex and a brief cuddle that resulted in HUSBAND sleeping quickly. I got up, went to the bathroom and filled the tub…got in…and wept. A story I never told anyone until after I discovered HUSBAND betrayed me time and again.

weddingnighttub

Could that have been an early fracture?