Adultery is a private matter between the adulterer and his or her spouse

frameWhat values are framing the debate around adultery?

Ever since I’ve come out of the tail spin of adultery I have been seeking the answer to this question. Of course, initially, my focus of attention was narrowly focused; i.e. my husband’s behaviour and all the myriads of questions that I sought answers to from him. From here my attention widened to a broader range of resources; other personal experiences, books written by ‘experts’, literature etc., but this has all been a result of me digging to find ‘stuff’. Information has come in from many directions but it has been, in the main a very private matter.  Bottom line – the causes and explanations have remained elusive and have not assuaged my gnawing need to comprehend the world I live in. I really do feel as if I have fallen into a rabbit hole and entered a ‘Nastyland’ where betrayal and deceit continuously and consistently devastate married lives.

Why is there not more of an outrage?

I find myself, once again, returning to a favourite of mine; George Lakoff, an American cognitive linguist who studies the way words influence people politically. I consider his style of analysis a useful tool to consider the words used when adultery is discussed publicly. Might it be possible that the words we read/hear set a trap to draw people into a particular worldview of adultery? A world view that suggests its inevitability?  A very private and personal matter? An aspect of the human condition? For Lakoff, the process of trapping via language is termed ‘framing’. “Framing is about getting language that fits your worldview. It is not just language. The ideas are primary – and the language carries those ideas, evokes those ideas.”

So what are the ideas being carried and evoked within the wider public discourse of adultery?

Well first, we have the statistics, the bloody statistics. We seem to be bombarded by this ‘scientific evidence’. Perel refers to a range of them in her TED talk, reminding us that it depends on the definition of infidelity. The stats spit out a varying array of percentages which cannot be confirmed but suggest that up to 75 % of men and 60% of women have committed adultery. Who commissions this research? Who participates? What type of questions get asked?

Adultery leading to divorce might provide a more accurate set of data. Interestingly, in the UK, adultery as a reason cited for divorce is actually dropping.  “Warring couples are only half as likely to cite adultery as the cause of a marriage breakdown than they were 40 years ago, but claims of unreasonable behaviour have rocketed, analysis of more than 5m divorce cases has shown.” Research that The Guardian looked at “found that while in the 70s, 29% of marriages ended because of adultery, the latest figures show only 15% of divorces were down to infidelity.” Perel didn’t mention this. The truth is, we will never really know how often people commit adultery or under what circumstances. Equally, we can never know how faithful people are either.

However, I am anxious that these data are used to help frame the debate around adultery by implying that monogamy is unnatural and that vast numbers of married people habitually cheat on their spouses. This frame can then be used to justify adulterous behaviour both for the adulterer and for all the money spinning businesses that feed off of adultery,eg web sites like Ashley Madison. This belief prompts the suggestion that we betrayed spouses should ‘lighten up’ and take a more continental approach to our husbands having a mistress; we should just get off their backs and let them screw around a bit!  With no data that I’m aware of that concerns itself with the pain and trauma for these continental betrayed spouses are we to suppose that they either accept their partner’s infidelity with a certain panache or stoically accept the natural Mediterranean order of things?

Anyway, the statistics are a smoke screen. Even IF every other person in the world is committing adultery it remains a dishonourable act, engendering rotten behaviour rooted in a morass of secrecy and shame that unquestionably wounds everybody.

Like most things, adultery does not occur in a vacuum. It is a social phenomenon. But until the recent Ashley Madison hack there wasn’t really a public debate to explore how adultery is framed in a socio-political context.  It’s almost as if, up until this event, unless it was tabloid headings of celebrity infidelity or head numbing statistics, adultery was off the public radar. Which is what makes the AM hack so interesting. Words are powerful instruments and I guess nobody understands this as much as the media. An examination of the choice of words used can offer a window into the dominant understandings or world views.

I want to take a closer look at Glenn Greenwald’s article about the AM hacking which appeared in the online publication (which he helps edit), The Intercept on August 20th 2015. Greenwald is no lightweight in media circles. He is an American lawyer, journalist and author and was named by Foreign Policy magazine as one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2013. Four of the five books he has written have been on The New York Times Best Sellers list.

The Ashley Madison hack is very interesting in as much as the topic of adultery is a side dish to the main news event which is the on-going concern with digital privacy (although you wouldn’t necessarily privacythink so). We live in a world which keeps a digital trace on us all. How safe is that data and who should have access to it needs to concern us all. Hacking is theft of data. When someone steals valuable gems from a jewellery shop there is no investigation into the jewellery business or the people involved in it. However, the people who stole the gems are thieves as are the people who knowingly bought the stolen gems. We understand the crime and have designed a penal system (not to mention insurance business) that addresses it. However, with theft of information and that information being stolen just to be given away for nothing presents a whole new set of scenarios. Old and new chestnuts to chew over! But Greenwald chose to wade in with a different aspect and it is this which is so informative and provides clues to the public frame of adultery. He chose to attack the ‘puritanical glee’ which he identified as the reaction to the hack. The puritanical glee produced because of the topic of the website in question; adultery, not the invasion of privacy per se.

For Greenwald, it would appear that if we object to adultery we object to the private, sexual acts of other adults. He says “that the cheating scoundrels of Ashley Madison got what they deserved was a widespread sentiment yesterday. Despite how common both infidelity and online pornography are, tweets expressing moralistic glee were legion.” Firstly, let’s explore the language ‘cheating scoundrels’. This is a euphemistic expression to define people prepared to betray their spouses. The only proper term for them is an adulterer. A cheating scoundrel sounds childish and less harmful. I can cheat playing monopoly – ooh, I’m such a scoundrel! Secondly, let’s explore the language ‘despite how common both infidelity and online pornography are’. This is using the same set of assumptions that the stats try to convey. Because there’s so much infidelity and pornography it is normal, acceptable human behaviour and if we don’t approve we become guilty of being puritanical.

He goes on: “It’s hard to overstate the devastation to some people’s lives from having their names published as part of this hack: not only to their relationships with their spouses and children but to their careers, reputations, and — depending on where they live — possibly their liberty or even life.” Hello! Someone has disappeared from view here? What about the devastation caused TO the betrayed spouse and family? What about their hurt? Nothing, instead we are encouraged to think about the adulterers’ devastation at being found out and the consequences of this. Consequences that they should have been well aware of at the time of making the choice to be adulterous.

For Dan Savage, an American political activist, author, media pundit and journalist who cared to join the debate, it was clear; Ashley Madison clients need to stop hanging their heads in shame and start fighting back—e.g., telling their truths and defending themselves. The implications here?  No two adulteries are the same.  Some adulteries are positively beneficial.  These are the infidelities that save marriages, that are mutually agreed to within marriages [I get a bit lost here, seems like an oxymoron ‘mutually-agreed adultery’] and where there is no easily identifiable victim or the victimization was mutual [More than lost here, I’m afraid!].

So the framing of adultery begins to get more nuanced.  Greenwald wants us to recognise that just because someone’s name appears in the Ashley Madison database does not mean they have engaged in marital infidelity. “Some may use the site as pornography because it titillates them, or because they are tempted to cheat but are resisting the urge, or because they’re married but in a relationship where monogamy is not demanded.”


Using the site as pornography? Please, I’m not really expected to believe this am I? But also, can you see how this language makes pornography acceptable? ‘Tempted to cheat, but resisting the urge’; how I love the myth of heroic self-control. Sex is not a need, food is a need. Sex is a want. Get over it! Now, what about if they are in a marriage where ‘monogamy is not demanded’? If monogamy is not required why on earth would there be any problem in being open about sexual relations with others? Agreed, your data should have been better protected, but the information that you are on the site should not pose a problem for either you or your spouse. Should it? But here we have a further framing of adultery as something that some couples are perfectly OK with.  The truth is, adultery wounds even in an open marriage because of the betrayal, not because of the sexual activity.

We get to find out that Greenwald, like Savage, believes that there can be good reasons for adultery. “There are a lot of people out there who have good [my emphasis] cause to cheat. Men and women trapped in sexless marriages, men and women trapped in loveless marriages, men and women who have essentially been abandoned sexually and/or emotionally by spouses they aren’t in a position to leave—either because their spouses are economically dependent on them (or vice versa) or because they may have children who are dependent on both partners.” Greenwald’s adulterers are ‘trapped’,’ abandoned sexually and emotionally’ – only remaining in their marriage because of financial reasons. Poor souls! It’s clear where Greenwald’s sympathies lie and it’s not with the betrayed spouse.

Then we get a real life example of the person with every ‘entitlement’ to commit adultery. Bring on the violins. No doubt he received hundreds of e-mails but we only get the details of one. “An e-mail from a woman who has two children with special needs, who has been out of the workforce for 15 years, and who is financially dependent on a husband who decided five years into their marriage that he was “done with sex” but refuses to allow her to have sex with anyone else. The marriage is good otherwise, [Sorry, how can the marriage be good OTHERWISE, this doesn’t logically follow through for me] she and her husband have an affectionate, low-conflict relationship, their kids are happy and well cared for, but sexual deprivation is driving her out of her mind and threatening both her marriage and her children’s health and security.” Same old, same old – sexual deprivation. Animal needs. Can’t be contained. Need expression. Greenwald says he would have given her AM’s website details if it was before the hack! What if she wasn’t in any kind of relationship? Tinder?

He goes on to pose a question “if cheating is your only form of sexual fulfilment , is it clearly morally wrong?” So again we have the euphemism, ‘cheating’ but now linked to animal sexual urges that can’t be controlled. When can it ever be morally correct to betray someone, to lie to them and take away their reality so that you can get your rocks off?

He places all his cards on the deck when he says “but whatever else is true, adultery is a private matter between the adulterer and his or her spouse.”

But it isn’t is it?

That’s just the point that he appears to have totally missed. It’s not a private matter between the adulterer and spouse. It is a private matter between the adulterer and other person they are having sex with. It’s a private matter between the adulterer, the other person and all the others who are complicit with and collude in the activity.

This notion of adultery being a private matter is a huge part of the public framing of adultery.  Firstly it separates the act from the public and social-political sphere and secondly it is shorthand for ‘back off’ – the idea is that it has nothing to do with anyone else.

Wasn’t there a time when domestic violence was considered a private matter between the spouses? Didn’t this rhetoric help to silence the victims of domestic abuse for years?

For me adultery is morally wrong whichever way it’s looked at. Does this make me puritanical? I wouldn’t think so. I don’t much care what consenting adults get up to sexually. I’m very broad minded and have what I consider to be a personal healthy appetite. However, whether it is an orgy of twenty plus people or a fumble in the back seat of a car, if it involves lying to a spouse I have deep moral objections. The public debate needs to move away from the adulterer and the eroticisation of their activities to the trauma experienced via the adultery by the betrayed spouse.

The truth is, Mr Greenwald, (who clearly does not ‘get it’) adultery only becomes something of a private matter between spouses when the adultery is discovered! Then, it is a private tsunami of shock, anger, grief and shame. To apply the words of Nancy Mairs when discovering that her husband was with another woman: “This sense of my own extinction will prove the most tenacious and terrifying of my responses, the one that keeps me flat on my back in the night, staring into the dark, gasping for breath, as though I’ve been buried alive.” Mairs had previously committed adultery and betrayed her husband, but it wasn’t until she experienced her husband’s betrayal of her that the devastating effects of adultery hit home.  It is a pity that Greenwald did not consider the AM hacking and subsequent leaks from the betrayed spouses and children’s point of views. This would go some small way to extend the frame of the debate.

Image Credits: Think Outside The Frame by winnond; Privacy Magnifier Represents Secret Confidentially And Magnification by Stuart Miles

Adultery – Do Not Seek Rationalisation

bewareBeware asking your husband why he committed adultery.

If you do ask why, please, proceed with caution.

I know the temptation to do so is HUGE. What you are doing is seeking a rational response to why you now have a shit-heap set of circumstances tipped on to your shiny fucking doorstep of a marriage thanks to husband dearest’s decision to shag someone else whilst married to you and not tell you! It’s what we do when we try to understand something alien to us.  But, with respect, let me advise you… THERE ISN’T A RATIONAL ANSWER. It makes me spit. Why do we do this to ourselves? It’s the therapists’ sludge. The stupid assumption that humans always act rationally. Hello! HELLO! Wrong!!!

I have to plead guilty. I’ve asked and asked and asked why more times than I can remember and this is MY mistake. Sometimes it takes time for the proverbial penny to drop. I decided last night after yet another round of waste-of-time discussions with husband to NEVER ask why again. I’m going to get this word, wrestle it to the ground and wrap it (a hundred times) with gaffer tape. I will silence it. The what, where, when and how can stay in circulation but WHY is so over! Trust me!

I think I have made it clear in my blog that we as betrayed wives hold NO responsibility whatsoever for our adulterous husbands’ decisions to shag someone else in secret. I have never gone along with any idea that adultery was committed due to there being something WRONG in the marriage. As if, had things been different, the husband would NEVER have considered slithering himself between the legs of a desperate dirt-bag! The adultery happened because he was bored with his wife. Because he needed more emotional support than his wife was giving him! Pleeeeeeease! So called scientific research is suggesting that the first reason for people committing adultery is boredom, they are not particularly happy with their sex lives.  The second is an aching for something that’s emotionally reinforcing. Well I never.  When did they get this data exactly? Before the adultery – no! During or after the adultery – yes. So what should that tell us? It tells us that these research respondents were looking for a rational answer to their irrational choice. Something palatable, something recognisable, and in our society, seemingly something acceptable!

So let’s take this idea a bit further… If things had been different in his marriage (the wife was performing sex acts she’d learned by watching his favourite porn site: she was dutifully calming his furrowed brow and giving foot massage hourly) at the moment when the opportunity for easy, dirty sex came along, he would have found his moral compass sticking out from his top pocket and used it to deploy self-discipline and character. If the marriage had been ‘better’ adultery would not have happened because his moral compass (which can only function in certain agreeable marital conditions) would have spurted into action.  If the marriage had been different/better for him, he would NEVER have been able to lie or deceive or betray his wife – it would be out of character. You see, (clearly now I hope) it is the problems in the marriage that FORCE husbands to take advantage of the sexual opportunity offered by very nice and very accommodating sex objects.

I consider this to be such a crock of shit. Really I do. Men with a moral compass and a character of integrity would NOT fuck someone else because he was bored or feeling emotionally deprived. Let’s think of what that type of man might do… Difficult question? Well, I’d hazard a wild guess and suggest that he would reckon on it being part of the ebb and flow of a long term relationship or he would (heaven forbid) talk to his wife about his feelings of discontent.

So, what do you do if you get served up a slice of rationalisation? My advice: don’t eat it, don’t swallow it but instead pick it up and shine the truth as you know it on to it. This is what I needed to do last night.

So husband and I were having a conversation about his adultery and I, FOR THE LAST TIME asked him why he did it. His response? He was an idiot! True. He wasn’t getting enough attention from me!




Well he said, these are the things that lead to adultery aren’t they? Now, you tell me, where has he got this from? He hasn’t said this quite so clearly before and remember, he’s no wordsmith. He normally stumbles and shrugs and looks to the cat for suggestions and moral support. The only books he knows about are the ones I’ve pointed him towards (and it would only be sections of books) and of course there’s Perel’s TED talk that he watched with me. What have I been saying to have this leak out of him? Where has he got it from? Has he been searching for an answer to appease me? Well, he made a wrong move if that’s what he intended. So, what I did was go back and revisit the TRUTH of our marriage at this time of his so called ‘emotional deprivation’. I’m lucky, we have a couple of significant markers.

First marker. I attended a residential training course in London for a week in May 2011. Whilst I attended this, he made the decision to visit his cousin in South Africa. We’d had an open invitation for years but I had already visited SA and as I’ve got older I’ve been disinclined to travel economy class for international flights. So this was a fantastic opportunity for husband to visit the country and be with his very nice male cousin and wife. However, whilst there he became very homesick for me. He didn’t like being all those miles apart. He hated the separation. He was very, very emotional. The last few days that he was there he spent pining to come home. I arrived back home the day before he did. When he arrived home it was a tremendously passionate and emotional reunion. He could not get enough of me and the next few weeks we were like a newly in love couple. We talked about this and he remembers it well. I asked if everything that he displayed to me was an act. A lie. Of course, it wasn’t. I knew that.

Second marker. We went on holiday late July 2011. We had a lovely time and happened to meet a wonderful couple. Quite a bit older than us, but they shared our dinner table and we got on so well that we spent quite a few hours together each day. At the end of the holiday we found out that he was dying of cancer. It really upset us and made us feel considerably closer to each other. We have many lovely photos of this holiday. Happy memories. Sharing a holiday with a happily married couple facing the prospect of eternal separation resulted in filling us with gratitude for what we had between us and our hopefully healthy future together.

Then August 13th 2011 he is visiting his mother on a solo visit and decides to go drinking with a male friend. They end up meeting up with his male friend’s fiancée and her single friend Pig Shit. The rest is history. Moral compass nowhere in sight. He could not say NO to her, to decline her offer and his friends normalised what he was doing. In fact they encouraged and facilitated it. So, when exactly did this emotional deprivation that he talks about occur? Clearly between the end of July and the middle of August! A matter of fucking weeks.  WEEKS!!!!!!  Once the adultery started, our marriage took a very strange turn and he was no longer emotionally available to me. Ironic don’t you think? When I approached him about it, it would turn into an argument. We had never argued before (and we don’t argue now – except over the adultery) but during his infidelity it was a regular occurrence. On one occasion he told me I was ‘unbearable’.

You see, what I think happened was that once he had Pig Shit the ever ready ever available sex object he started to compare this with what he had with me. Then, when I ask him, years later, why he was unfaithful he gets in a chronological mess. How he felt about me during the adultery leaks into how he thinks he might have felt before the adultery. And as I keep pushing for something that makes sense (idiot that that makes me) he manufactures this neat little rationale of me being distant!

You can’t compare though can you? Meeting someone in a motel room – going out for a drink and a meal and then just shagging till the morning every few weeks or so CANNOT be compared to a life lived together on a day to day ebb and flow basis. Add to this the fact that she wanted him for herself and was therefore competing with an unknowing me. She would have been manipulating her behaviour to manipulate my husband. He, like a sucker was pulled in and then trapped. Couldn’t even leave her when he wanted to for fear of her telling me.

So you see, there is no rational reason for his adultery – unless you want to fabricate one. It’s a character disorder. A lack of a moral compass. A lack of self-discipline. There is no rationale for betraying someone who loves you. I feel as if I was put into a boxing ring, blindfolded and arms tied behind my back. Then in stepped husband, Pig Shit and all those complicit in the adultery and they all made a choice to hurt and humiliate me. If someone had removed my blindfold, would they have all ran off? If my arms were untied would they have had a real fight with me? Would they have been able to face me, look me in the eye, knowing that I know what they have all been doing?

Give me rational answers to any of these questions and I’ll give you manufactured excuses after the event. At the time, they did not think about the consequences of their behaviour and that allowed them license to do as they pleased. Not one has come forward and offered me an apology. All have scuttled away like cockroaches in a dirty dark cupboard. Except husband. He completely cut off all his friends that were part of the group that knew what was going on. He has wanted to accept responsibility, pick up the pieces of me, bathe my wounds and stand by my side. He has promised me that I have never been safer than I am now.

What he did was repulsive to me, and now it has become repulsive to him. He has faced the consequences after the event and here we are, three years down the line. Together.

Why is a waste of time. The guilty will only seek to create something palatable but adultery cannot be made to be palatable and all that happens when you ‘blame’ something ‘missing’ in the marriage is you shift part of the burden of responsibility on to the already beaten-to-a-pulp betrayed spouse.

Image Credit: Beware Sign Displays Warning Alert Or Danger by Stuart Miles

Choosing to terminate reconciliation

goodbyeWhen is it time to say goodbye?

When confronted with the truth that my husband committed adultery my first reaction was to tell him to fuck off. Repeatedly. I did this whilst hitting him. I did this whilst crying. When you move a boundary, life changes violently.

I don’t know for sure when the moment was that I decided to let him stay along with the possibility that I would be prepared to consider a reconciliation of our marriage. Well, the truth is, the decision to let him stay must have been pretty immediate. I didn’t throw him out. However, for me, our remaining together was only initially a temporary measure because it was totally dependent upon whether I felt our marriage stood a chance of surviving the carnage that he had placed at our marital door. Initially, I did not have a clue as to whether we might survive or what measures might work in our favour. The last three years have been acts of improvisation, sometimes, desperately so, but I’m confident that we are well on our way to marital recovery and remain committed to the remaining lifetime’s work that will be necessary to protect the intimacy and monogamy that is so very precious to me.

I remember being completely thrown off balance by the truth of his adultery. It placed me in a situation where a decision needed to be made at a time when I had no idea what might be best for me. Having to make a forced decision put me into a place where I had no choice except to accept what had occurred and to work with what existed between us. There were two stark choices for me: divorce or stay. However, I realise now that whereas choosing to divorce is absolute (unless you get back together) staying, if it does not provide the necessary ingredients for healing and recovery can become a landscape of its own unique horrors.  It can’t be reconciliation at any price, that will just prolong the agony! Reconciliation needs to build on what exists between two married people post adultery.  It might be only weak foundations to begin with but with the right amount of emotional work (and this will vary enormously between couples) the decision to stay can be a route to recovery and a life of promise.

However, instead of genuine remorse and a willingness to face the responsibility of adultery , what if the betraying spouse fails to step up to the plate? What if the isolation of betrayal doesn’t go away? What if suspicions aren’t assuaged? What if the selfishness and cruelty continues? What if the betrayed spouse finds herself just an option in her husband’s life and is forced to play the tragic ‘pick-me, pick-me’, game? I realise that it can’t be an easy decision to make but I do believe that there are situations in which terminating the reconciliation is a wise decision. Leave a cheater in order to get a life!

Chump Lady is one of my preferred ‘alternative’ blog sites. Alternate, in chump ladyas much as she made the decision NOT to reconcile with her serial cheater husband (mind you, she did try for over a year) and alternate in that she uses acerbic humour mixed with a certain schadenfreude which is not for the sensitive.  But, she has been betrayed, knows what it’s like and still retains her compassion for those of us who have been cheated on (chumps). Not everybody’s ‘cup of tea’ (and I didn’t warm to it when I first found it) it is not a site optimistic about reconciliation. She likens reconciliation to a unicorn, a mythical creature we want to believe in, but which is seldom seen. So, no advice here about saving a marriage but lots of reality slaps to help save your sanity if you think that it’s time to say goodbye. Chump Lady states it clearly:

Even with the rare remorseful spouse the days after D-day are so very hard. Now, imagine the far more common scenario in which the person isn’t one bit remorseful. No, they’re pissed off that they’ve been discovered. They ramp up the blame-shifting and the gas-lighting. STAY WITH THAT?

She has an interesting post about whether the remorse felt by the cheater is real or imitation.

So, why stay if the abuse continues? Perhaps there are no rational answers. I do understand that no matter how unhappy we may be in our marriage there is a tendency to revisit the possibility of making it work because it is tied to an image of ourselves, of who we expected to become and the future we had hoped to inhabit. With the continuing emotional abuse we become disorientated and our reactions and responses are not what they would normally be and maybe we find ourselves lost, confused and incapable of acting independently. Adam Phillips, a British psychoanalyst (thanks for yet another recommendation Iris) suggests that “we learn to live somewhere between the lives we have and the lives we would like.” We lead a parallel life in our heads. Now, whereas life in general will always have us balanced somewhere between the two, experiencing betrayal and not having this pain rightfully recognised and respected or worse, ignored, will throw these two aspects into stark relief during any reconciliation.

I watched a disturbing TED talk the other day (via Chump Lady) by Leslie Morgan Steiner who talked about why victims of domestic violence don’t leave. It’s a harrowing personal story but she owns up to a warped way of thinking that kept her tied into a very physically abusive marriage. Steiner says two things: One, she didn’t KNOW it was abuse; and two, she told herself that she was a very strong woman in love with a very troubled man, and only she could save him. That’s why she stayed with her abusive husband.

Are there echoes of her story of physical abuse to be found in infidelity? If we agree to reconciliation but our betraying spouse does not do anything to help us heal or is repeatedly indifferent to our pain do we recognise this as abuse? Is there a narrative which can be adopted which reframes this unacceptable abuse into an acceptable reversal of expectations.  The betrayed spouse is expected to bend to the needs of the betraying spouse?

Making the decision to let go; to leave everything behind and leap into the unknown is a fearsome thought but what are the alternative options? A life of continued abuse? My heart goes out to women confronted by these scenarios. I have found reconciliation a tremendously difficult and painful journey (still do on occasions) so cannot imagine how much more heart-breaking it must be to be with a spouse who adds insult to injury.

Please, you have a life to live and you can do things you didn’t realise you were capable of. Love yourself. As in the words of the song “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all”.

Image credit: Time For Goodbyes Message Means Farewell Or Bye by Stuart Miles

Integrity and the sting in its tail!

scorpionIntegrity is a worthy thing is it not? A human characteristic that we would want to foster perhaps? However, in this topsy-turvy Alice in Wonderland world of adultery, integrity plays hide and seek and for the betrayed spouse, it actually has a nasty sting in its tail!

Integrity is at odds with adulterous behaviour.  You can’t have one with the other? How can someone be honest and have strong moral principles yet at the same time constantly lie to their spouse and commit adultery? Break a vow that they had previously made. Equally, how can a single person be honest about the fact that they are having sex with someone else’s husband in the hope that they will eventually leave their wife and be in a committed relationship with them? How do friends manage to lie to the betrayed spouse and carry on as if nothing was wrong? Why would a couple, planning their own forthcoming marriage wish to encourage and facilitate the adultery of someone else? There’s a lot of dishonesty and a lack of moral principles in all this unethical behaviour. In ethics, integrity is the honesty and truthfulness of one’s actions. Morals in action (but only if you have morals in the first place!)

Integrity is also about the state of being whole and undivided, of having an internal consistency. Adultery is at odds with this too. If you are lying, then by default you cannot be consistent with yourself. Like a chameleon, whose colour changes in different surroundings, the adulterer changes his story of himself to the different women in his life. Knowing which friends and family can know and who cannot know demand different talk for different folk. The compartmentalising of emotions so that the betrayal can be addressed more easily divides the thinking so that one part can be closed off whilst another is open.  How fragmented is that? Forget about that part of you for the while.

Lying to the whore about plans to leave the wife, lying to the wife about whereabouts and activities and promising that nothing’s wrong.  Then lying to self about the reality of the wastelands of adultery, that everything is just OK with the situation. The husband involved in an adulterous liaison is a fragmented man, leaving bits of himself out whenever required. Just how do you live with these demands? For me the dishonesty would be too much to bear. Seriously, it would cause my personality to collapse. Who exactly would I be? Who would be the real me?

What about the other woman in all this? Is it ever possible that she could have integrity? To certainintegrity colleagues, friends and family is she in a relationship with an available man? Or, is she not in a relationship, does she keep it hidden? What type of woman does she present herself as? Respectable? Does she openly advertise the fact to everyone that she is willingly shagging a married man in the hope he will leave his wife? Does she openly say, on Valentine’s Day, that she is alone because her ‘boyfriend’ is with his wife? At Christmas does she admit to being single because her ‘boyfriend’ is with his wife and family? Actually, in thinking about this, if she was completely open, then she would have a certain integrity wouldn’t she? But then, wouldn’t she need to let the wife know what is going on? If you have no doubt that what you are doing is right, then why not let the wife know? Shout it from the rooftops “I’m in love, I’m in love with a married man”. Instead the other woman stays in the shadows and bends to meet the adulterous husband’s wants in the hope she will get what she wants in the end. I can’t imagine the other woman ever feeling whole or authentic.

directionThen, for us, there is D-day. This is when we as betrayed spouses feel the sting in integrity’s tail. Whilst for the betraying spouse and the dumped whore integrity is restored. For the betrayed spouse, the reverse occurs.  Whilst up until D-day I had integrity, the truth has compromised my integrity and this remains so. I believe that much of my struggle to come to terms with my husband’s adultery is rooted in my loss of personal integrity.

Firstly, I am by nature a very honest person. I do not like lying for any reason. However, I do not want everyone to know about my husband’s adultery so I lie to certain people. If I do not lie I simply keep the truth to myself, which is the same as lying. Secondly, I believe adultery to be wrong and had always believed that I would not accept it in my marriage, but hey! Who am I now? I’m not who I thought I was. I have found an internal inconsistency.  If I accept adultery now, do I always accept it?  Will I say, the next time it happens would be when I wouldn’t accept it? Can I be sure?

When I received Pig Shit’s text and confronted my husband, I saw his relief. It created such a strong atmosphere, it was palpable. It must have felt like all the parts of him were coming back together! Pig Shit had been honest and let me know what she had been doing with my husband. Did she feel whole again? Authentic? Does she think that she now sits on the moral high ground for some reason?  He unceremoniously dumped me so I told his wife about our shag fests.  Perverse honesty? Can there be such a thing?

road worksOnce the truth of his adultery was all out in the open, did everyone begin to feel their integrity return?

Ironic don’t you think? Just as everyone else starts to regain theirs, I lose mine.

Work in progress!

Image Credits: Scorpion by Nuttapong Reputation; Post-it Note Means Integrity Honesty And Credibility by Stuart Miles; Grunge Arrow Signs Road by taesmileland; Under Construction by digitalart; via

Lying and Adultery

marriageLove and Marriage

To be honest, I’d not given much thought to love and marriage prior to experiencing adultery. Strange don’t you think? I’d sort of taken the connection for granted (aka horse and carriage) and somewhere in the middle assumed monogamy. Now, I’m much more sentient about love, marriage, monogamy AND the fucker that is adultery!

Just recently I have been giving more thought to lying. Understanding my husband as a liar and understanding the role of lying in adultery. To help me in this endeavour I have looked at a booklying sam harris written by Sam Harris entitled ‘Lying’. (Thanks for the reference Iris). An American with the interesting and somewhat unusual mix of neuroscience and philosophy, he suggests that “Lying is the royal road to chaos”. A cheeky twist on Sigmund Freud’s famous statement that dreams are the royal road to the unconscious.

It is not a book about adultery per se, but acts of adultery require a moral defect in people: a willingness to lie. I have read the pocket-sized book with the context of my husband’s adultery in mind and have found a number of useful insights from Harris’ analysis. For a taste, let me give you his opening paragraph:

Among the many paradoxes of human life, this is perhaps the most peculiar and consequential: We behave in ways that are guaranteed to make us unhappy. Many of us spend our lives marching with open eyes towards remorse, regret, guilt, and disappointment. And nowhere do our injuries seem more casually self-inflicted, or the suffering we create more disproportionate to the needs of the moment, than in the lies we tell to other human beings.

How can this not be a book about adultery!!!!!!!

As the shock of my husband’s adultery begins to subside and it all starts to feel like a very bad dream, I find that it is the betrayal, deceit and lies that have impacted upon me more painfully than the sex acts that he committed with Pig Shit. In fact, I’d say that if adultery is the sordid sexual activities associated with any lets-get-a-motel-room-and-fuck relationship, then lying is the dark underbelly of it all. Lying and adultery have a symbiotic relationship; two different activities that operate together and depend on each other. My husband needed to be a liar to commit adultery and adultery requires lying in order to happen. He deliberately manufactured falsehoods and concealed important facts to the detriment of me. He lied to intentionally mislead me when I expected honest communication. His lies were hugely consequential to me. At the time, just before things came to a head I was exploring voluntary redundancy. An opportunity to take a lump sum and pay off our remaining mortgage on our house. Both of us together decided it would be in OUR best interests for me to leave my job. So I resigned. By the time my husband reached melt down and went off to live with Pig Shit, I had no job. I would not have taken this decision had I known the truth. For him, as he had no intention of leaving me he felt entitled to encourage me to take the money. That was when he thought he was in control. That was when he thought he could make predictions based upon his view of the world. At my age I knew it would be difficult, if not impossible to get another job like the one I was leaving but based upon our joint financial circumstances I knew that WE would be comfortable and I would certainly be able to find part-time work.

People lie so that others will form beliefs that are not true. The more consequential the beliefs – that is, the more a person’s well-being demands a correct understanding of the world or other people’s opinions – the more consequential the lie

Of course liars don’t get away scot free. Their sincerity, authenticity, integrity, mutual understanding (all sources of moral wealth) are destroyed the moment they deliberately misrepresent the truth to us, whether or not their lies are ever discovered. If they are discovered, failures of personal integrity, once revealed, are rarely forgotten. The liar, my husband, had to ensure that his lies were continually protected from possible collisions with reality. This must be exhausting and all at the expense of authentic communication with me and attention to me. Equally, vulnerability comes in pretending to be someone he wasn’t.

As for my husband thinking that he was lying to protect me, Harris has a brilliant response I’ve adapted:

When you presumed to lie for the benefit of me, you decided that YOU were the best judge of how much I should understand about my own life. This is an extraordinary stance to adopt toward another human being, and it requires justification. Unless I was suicidal or otherwise on the brink, deciding how much I should know about myself seems the quintessence of arrogance. What attitude could be more disrespectful of someone you claim to care about?

Of course, lying is not the monopoly of the betraying spouse. Those silent conspirators who help to keep the adultery a secret are also transgressing ethically. Keeping a secret for another places the person involved in a position in which they have to choose between lying and revealing privileged information. Is it right that they lie to us? If we knew that someone else’s spouse was committing adultery, would we lie? Or would we be the whistle blower? Or would the bad thing that we knew about that spouse’s adultery (an act of commission) be followed by our failure to do something good (an act of omission). The problem is we tend to judge the former more harshly. The bad things one does is deemed worse than the good things one fails to do. Added to this is the dilemma that we might think that NOT telling the betrayed partner is a good thing. This needs more consideration. How can someone living under a mountain of lies and gossip be surrounded by friends but without a friend in the world to tell her the truth?

By lying, we deny others our view of the world. And our dishonesty not only influences the choices they make, it often determines the choices they can make – in ways we cannot always predict. Every lie is an assault on the autonomy of those we lie to.

Equally there are the lies that Pig Shit must have told in order to remain in my husband’s life albeit at the periphery.  What did she tell her teenage kids when she invited my husband round to meet them and have a cup of tea?  Here’s my new boyfriend.  He’s married to some other woman at the moment, but don’t worry he is going to leave her for me.  What did she say to friends and work colleagues?  Her sister, her mother?  Did she just pretend that she didn’t see him much because of the distance between Birmingham and London? When I asked him to leave and he went to live with her for a few weeks, what did she say.  Oooooh, he’s left his wife for me, isn’t that wonderful.  You must all be so happy for me.  More importantly what lies did she tell herself?  Self deception is of no value ethics wise.

It makes sense to want to be in touch with reality.  Given that your every move in life will be constrained by whatever the facts are, both out in the world and in the minds of others, being guided by anything less than these facts will leave you perpetually vulnerable to embarrassment and disappointment.  When your model of yourself in the world is at odds with how you actually are in the world, you are going to keep bumping into things. [Like the truth]

Finally, there is the link between personal moral values and societal moral values. The personal and the collective view of adultery and lying. We do not appear to have a universal concept of human values when it comes to adultery; everyone seems to make it all up as they go along until tragedy occurs. It’s OK as long as you don’t get caught.  It’s OK, I’m not the one committing adultery.  It’s OK because life is short.  It’s OK because my friends do it.  It’s OK because my friends know about it and are fine with it.  All of this eclipses the deeper issue.  It’s OK to lie and deceive the person who loves me and who I am claiming to love.  It’s OK to lie to my spouse and make her feel that she is losing her mind.  It’s OK to lose my integrity, sincerity and authenticity.

My husband’s personal ethical code and his approach to our marriage have both changed. Honesty is the gift that he has given me. However, we need to recognise between us that honesty can force any dysfunction in our marriage to the surface and we need the communication tools to handle this. We have to accept that our relationship has changed because he has resolved never to lie to me again. Collectively however, the bigger returns can come at the level of social norms and institutions.

How can we aim for some form of restitution for the betrayed spouse? Are we going to continue to think of adultery as a bit of harmless fun, something to do because life is short or are we going to prioritise honesty in marriage. If we prioritise and make important the role of honesty (rather than monogamy) what kind of judgement can be made for those who break this trust? What might be the penalties?  What could we expect from a marriage where monogamy is not central but honesty and all its moral and ethical values are placed centre stage?

If you know that you cannot lie, having an extra-marital affair is no longer on the menu- or, rather, to have an affair is to choose to face the consequences (most likely the end of your marriage).

If one wants to live a truly honest life, there is no substitute for having nothing to hide.

The bottom line is what type of life do you want to be known for? We don’t all have Hollywood endings. “Ultimately, we all die, and the only question is, what have you done between the time you’re born and the time you die?” Does your life reflect the values that you would be proud to uphold?

My Marriage: Hanging by a Thread!

broken cable“Strength is important if we wish to know how much force can be applied without breaking the marriage.  Since breaking force depends on the shape and size as well as the type of marriage, then it varies from one to the other even if they look like the same type of marriage.”  Adapted from New Understanding Physics for Advanced Level

Anyone who reads my blog knows how I love a metaphor.  For me, it’s just a way of trying to make sense of the non-sense of adultery.  This latest in my collection was prompted by something interesting my husband said a couple of nights ago. Out of the blue (and not with my prompting) he said that he had been thinking about us and how when I found out about his adultery I didn’t leave him.  It would have been so much easier for me to just walk away.  He acknowledges how strongly I feel about sexual infidelity and the shock that I experienced when his behaviour came to light thanks to a text from Pig Shit. He realises only now that his future with me, and consequently our marriage contract was hanging by the thinnest of threads. It might have taken him three years to come to this understanding, but at least he has finally got here of his own accord.

It was indeed hanging by a thin thread and this put our relationship into a highly precarious state. If something is hanging by a thread, it usually denotes that it is ready to fall apart or that the situation can change in an instant. The term hanging by a thread derives from the banquet that King Dionysius held for Damocles. Dionysius was beginning to become annoyed with Damocles’ constant flattery of his king. He invited him to a banquet, where Damocles was seated under a sword suspended by a single hair. It was said to symbolize his tenuous position in the court. My husband, by his appalling behaviour towards me certainly occupied a tenuous position in the marriage that he became desperate to keep.

So how did this thread manage to hold us together during such tumultuous times? Metaphorically, Igossamer liken it to the extremely fine silk that spiders use for ballooning known as gossamer. Spider silk is incredibly tough and is stronger by weight than steel. Quantitatively, spider silk is five times stronger than steel of the same diameter. It has been suggested that a Boeing 747 could be stopped in flight by a single pencil-width strand and spider silk is almost as strong as Kevlar, the toughest man-made polymer. It is finer than the human hair. This incredible fine thread is almost magical in its strength. As, I realise, is our marriage.

But, our marriage is so much more than one strand of gossamer thread. That might have been all that was left after D-day but there was a lot more strands before it happened and we have added and entwined a lot more strands since. Like steel wire rope is made up of a collection of steel wires which are twisted together in a helix formation to create a strong and durable rope, our marriage was/is made up of a collection of experiences and memories all twisted together to create a strong and durable relationship.

I had no idea that the strength of our marriage was going to be tested in such a manner. The weight of his indiscretions and betrayal threatened to break us completely. First of all, the strands started to break whilst he was shagging Pig Shit without my knowledge. Even though he might not have shagged her very often, all through that year of deception he was emotionally absent for me and each incident of gaslighting just tore the strands apart, one after the other. By the time disclosure came, our ties were very loose indeed and who knows what kept that last gossamer thread holding us together?  Love, I think.

Throughout the last three years he has done all the necessary work that I have required of him. He has shown genuine remorse and regret for what happened and has carefully ensured that I am not placed in a position of doubt or suspicion about his whereabouts. We have made sure that we have gone on lovely holidays and had plenty of romantic date nights but we have also engaged in the ordinary. Especially the ordinary; activities and moments that make being together so very precious. Those ordinary times that are not included in films or novels but which provide us with the feeling of peace of mind, the peace that creates the space for love to breath. And in a long term marriage this is what can co-exist with passion. An adulterous relationship could never compete with this.

So the bonds that held us together did almost threaten to completely break. But the fact is, they didn’t. To Pig Shit and to all our so called ‘friends’ who encouraged and facilitated the adultery: THE BOND DID NOT BREAK.  It didn’t turn out the way you wanted it, did it! It wasn’t breaking force for us. Go f**k yourselves!

Adultery: There are no satisfactory answers to why, but genuine remorse can heal the scars.

never ending whyThis is the conclusion that I have come to after three years (and counting) of marital recovery following D-day. I’ve been hooked on the ‘why’ for too long now.  Placebo had a point in the lyrics to their song ‘The Never Ending Why’:

Time will help you through

But it doesn’t have the time

To give you all the answers to the never-ending why.

Why would an otherwise sane person risk so much for so little? I have not had any satisfactory answers from my husband and I have not noted any that resonate with me from all the thousands of words that I have read on the subject. For my husband it has mainly been about him being an absolute jerk. He can’t explain why he did what he did. He doesn’t blame anybody but himself; his stupidity, selfishness and lack of boundaries. In his own words he was a prat. Quite! We have subsequently come to the conclusion that his deep rooted issues around anger may have played some part but this is not an answer to why for me.

Lots have people have issues with anger but they don’t all commit acts of adultery. It started with a sense of boredom with himself, with us. Well, isn’t this what happens sometimes in life? What idiot expects novelty all the time. This boredom led to pornography. He would watch it whilst I was working till late. I asked him why he didn’t share this inclination with me. I’m no prude, I’d say fairly broad church, plus we have watched porn together earlier in our relationship but, like many women, it never rocked my boat. I prefer a story line… don’t we all? I’d choose erotic literature over the visual depictions any day but I think this is a clear difference in male and female sexuality. He says that he would not have liked me to see the porn he was watching.  He also was starting to feel that he had lost his passion for everything. I’d say he was experiencing a form of depression that occurs in middle age. So with this existential angst, whilst out drinking without me he gets introduced to a woman who is available. The rest is history. Whilst I know all I want to know about their sordid and sorry lets-get-a-motel-and-fuck relationship I still cannot understand why he would want to act like a complete jackass and risk everything he feels dear to him.

Literature in the area doesn’t help much either. The only thing that seems to get put into the mix is to look at the marriage and what might have been the push factors that prompted adultery. I find this an insidious train of thought that at best gives therapists an angle at making sense of nonsense and at worst sets the scene for further adultery should marital discord ever present itself again. Quite frankly, there was nothing in our marriage that prompted adultery and EVEN IF THERE WAS, that does not explain why because there is no problem that adultery is the answer to. The truth is, adultery is a solution looking for a problem! If you look for a problem, I’m sure you’ll find one eventually!

Actually, I know the answer to why my husband committed adultery and it is all unpalatable and unacceptable. It was his selfishness and arrogant sense of entitlement. He had a lot of fun with Pig Shit. Nobody held a gun to his head. He RAN towards her. He made arrangements to meet up to shag. He told her he loved her and he did all this because it made him feel good. He didn’t want to leave me for one minute so of course, he kept it a secret so he could have his cake and eat it too. He found sexual novelty and difference and as long as he could have his little fix every few weeks he was happy to lie, cheat and deceive me. Not to mention deceive Pig Shit but she was a grown up willingly ready to give herself sexually to a married man. She got what she deserved in my opinion. And then, when he would have liked to have let it run its course he found he had dug himself into a shit hole that he couldn’t get out of. Then more of his unsavoury character surfaced. Not only was he a selfish son of a bitch hurting me, the wife who loved him dearly, he was an emotional yellow livered coward who set in motion a series of events that would threaten to destroy everything that the two of us held between us.

How many times can you ask why? How much digging can you do? I really do believe that there is nothing much to find out because there is nothing there. You either have the personal discipline, moral values, respectability and determination to remain monogamous or you don’t. Really, the question for me is, has the impact of the consequences of his adultery made him develop sexual self-discipline, value fidelity, behave respectably and work at remaining committed to monogomamy? This is his shit, not mine. If I’m to stay with him and if our marriage is going to survive in the long term he has got to convince me that he can and I have to heal from the pain of his past actions. So, what is it, if anything, that can a) change his behaviour and b) help to heal my pain. I think I have the answer to this.

The answer is genuine remorse.

If he feels genuine remorse for the devastating pain his adultery caused me this remorse will keep his behaviour in check. This remorse will prevent him from ever hurting me like this again. This remorse will provide him with the humility to show his shame and disgrace to me and allow me the time and actions I need in order to heal. If his remorse is genuine and I believe his sincerity, this remorse will act as a balm on my open wounds and scars caused by his adultery. Without genuine remorse there can be no marital recovery.

The past three years with my husband, since D-day has been a continuous display of actions that demonstrate his remorse. His only request of me is that I judge him by his actions now and not his actions of the past. I do my best. I certainly don’t make it easy for him and I still test him. The stakes are high here. This is my integrity at stake. I have often wished that he was more of a wordsmith than he is. He is clumsy with words and finds it difficult to put his feelings into words. Of course, on the one hand this is quite a relief for me because I don’t have to worry about whether the words are lies but on the other hand, actions don’t always feed me with the comfort I need at certain times. Sometimes I find myself leaning into him and saying ‘tell me something nice’, not quite knowing what I’d want him to say but feeling the need for some emotional validation. He responds always with I love you and I’m so sorry that I hurt you and then goes on to list all the things I do that makes him feel so lucky to have me in his life. I do smile. It is lovely. However, yesterday I read a blog which had a letter of apology from the wayward spouse to the betrayed spouse and it caught me quite unawares. I have grown accustomed to WSs comments which just don’t get it and which seek to massage their own egos away from the wretchedness of their own stories, so was taken aback by the level of remorse shown, the acceptance of shortcomings, the open awareness of his appalling behaviour and his love for the woman he is lucky to still be married to. I think it is his love that leaks from the words that caused me to be so emotionally moved by the letter. I read parts of it to my husband. I don’t normally share blog material with him but I felt this to be different. The act of my reading it to him brought us both to tears.

Much of the apology is rooted in specific and unique experiences which devastated his marriage but a great deal of the apology seemed, to me, to carry a universal message. For the full version, please visit the blog Reconcile4Life. What I have done here, is to take poetic license (with their permission) and to tweak it to my situation. Whilst the never ending why fills me with despair, this letter of apology acts like a balm. I have no despair when I read this, only hope.

I’ve written this letter several times, and I’m still struggling to get it right. I apologize. I apologize for hurting you, for destroying your world, stabbing you in the back, pulling the rug out from under you, making a fool of you, and failing to appreciate you. I want you to know I’m not sorry I got caught. Instead, I apologize for what I did to you, and for what I failed to do for you. I apologize for breaking my marriage vows to you. I apologize for being a terrible friend, especially when you have always been the best friend and lover a man could want. I beg your forgiveness. I don’t expect it. The things I did are really unforgivable. Nonetheless, I beg your forgiveness.

I apologize for my selfishness and self-centeredness. I made a story all about me. The year of deception stopped us from having a continuous wonderful story about us. Did you feel lonely, unsupported, unloved, and abandoned during that time? I feel the tears welling up as I write this. I apologize for hurting you.

I apologize for bringing a demon into our bedroom. The demon was my sick obsessions, my insecurities, my insistence on comparing myself to some sick, unrealistic ideal of masculinity I imagined. I went out without you, looking for ways to cheat.   I made you feel nothing you did was good enough for me, in the bedroom, and in many other ways. I took the joy out of sex for you. I took a fun and beautiful thing that you deserved, and I ruined it for you. I apologize.

I apologize for making you feel ashamed or unwanted. You are the most beautiful woman in the world to me, and always have been. I denied you that free and joyful affirmation. I robbed you of the fun, free, and beautiful sexual and romantic life we could have shared. I made another woman feel she had that with me. It should have been a holy thing, meant only for the two of us to share. I desecrated it. I apologize.

You felt alone, ashamed of our marriage falling apart, and heartbroken. You deserved such better treatment, such greater respect from me. I apologize.

I apologize for making you afraid to be yourself. With my insecurities, I behaved like a selfish child, not a supportive friend and lover. I made you feel afraid and unappreciated. I made you fear being you. I apologize.

I apologize for not appreciating you, thanking you, and praising you. You thought we were in the struggle together, trying to improve our lot, as a partnership. I took for granted all the instinctive, heartfelt, thoughtful, and loving support you gave me. I let you down, thinking only about me and taking unfathomable, thoughtless risks. In my blind self-centeredness, I missed a thousand opportunities to lovingly praise you, publicly or privately, even in small ways, or even to thank you for all your work, courage, and selflessness. I apologize.

I apologize for failing to protect you, to proudly, confidently, and instinctively stand up for you in the face of my mother’s criticism and manipulation. I cowardly avoided conflict, protecting myself instead of quickly, firmly, even calmly putting my mother in her place. Did you feel abandoned, in addition to feeling unfairly judged and attacked? I apologize.

I apologize for my lies, to hide my corrupt thoughts and behaviors. Moreover, I apologize for not being honest, trusting, and emotionally intimate; for not confiding in you. How much of my downward spiral could I have prevented had I simply told you, right away of my struggles. I denied you the intimate honesty you needed to feel safe and that I needed in order to be a safe partner. I apologize for that emotional cowardice.

I viewed our relationship as a means for meeting my needs. That got in the way of me actually loving you, regardless of needs. I apologize for not properly and truly loving you. Don’t get me wrong. I have always wanted you, admired you, and been infatuated with you. But, it wasn’t until after D-day that I learned to love anyone. I love you, and only you. I apologize for not doing so during the year of adultery. I apologize for making everything focus on my needs.

I apologize for humiliating you. Friends and colleagues knew or suspected I was betraying you. You even feel shocked and humiliated by yourself, for not calling me out on possible signs of infidelity. As much as my low self-esteem laid the foundation for my corrupt behavior, I have destroyed your self-esteem through humiliation. I robbed you of your dignity in that manner. How can we restore it? Can we make Pig Shit, witnesses, or others view you without the lens of humiliation and stolen dignity? Can they un-know what they know? Can they not believe what they instinctively believe? I don’t know. I apologize for humiliating you, robbing you of your dignity, and de-humanizing you. Just for being a human being, you deserved far better. Being my sworn mate, friend, and lover, I should have protected your honor, dignity, and humanity like priceless treasures. That’s what they are. I owe it to you to restore them. I pray that I can.

I also destroyed your sense of safety, your self-confidence, and even your trust in your own instincts. Always hyper-vigilant and never relaxed, you now question everything, not just my words and actions, but even your own. You wonder why you tolerate our continued relationship, when even you would describe my crimes against you as a deal-breaker. This makes you look poorly on yourself. I apologize for the self-doubt I created in you, the peace of mind I destroyed, and stealing the calm joy and optimism with which you once approached life.

I apologize for the stolen memories, the damaged memories, and the tainted history of our story.   I took priceless heirlooms — your memories — and I spat on them, broke them, misplaced them, soiled them, and damaged them irreparably. Where you once remembered shared experiences, adventures, trips, special occasions, quiet moments, and intimate discussions, you now wonder whether any of it was real. You fear I was mentally with Pig Shit while physically with you. You feel like you were with a stranger, an imposter, when you thought you had been with your friend. You feel like you have no real past. Your fear makes you feel there is no future. That feels lonely, detached, and hopeless. I apologize for robbing you of what should have been so many beautiful memories.

I apologize for squandering time, energy, and money that was ours, not mine, to save, use, or manage. I should have saved my energy for doing things with you. I should have spent my time arriving home earlier to see you. Instead, I exhausted myself and flushed that time down the toilet, out with Pig Shit. Even now, it makes you feel cheated, like you wasted your time waiting for me. It makes you feel worthless, that I did not value and appreciate my time with you.

I apologize for making you feel I hoarded my sense of fun and spontaneity, giving it to Pig Shit instead of giving it to you. I apologize for letting another steal what belonged to you. I love you so dearly. I apologize for creating a situation where you can never fully believe that.

I apologize for the risks I imposed on you. I exposed you to possible STD and I risked getting caught by others, thereby humiliating you even deeper than I did. I apologize for putting you through those risks, especially without your knowledge and consent. I had no right.   A good man doesn’t even put himself through those risks. It was an act of selfishness, self-centeredness, and indifference, again and again. I know you are shocked. You can’t get over the fear — the horror — that I could do that, that you did not know about it, and that you fear it could happen again. I apologize for risking your mind, body, and soul. They are yours, not mine. I honor them now, as I should have, always.

I apologize for hurting you, disregarding you, and failing to protect you.

I apologize for gradually drifting away from you, mentally and emotionally. I became so oblivious to your feelings, your life, even your presence, that I stood by, numb and unaffected. I drifted along, clueless as I disappointed you on your birthday and countless other special occasions. How easy it would have been for me to adjust my priorities, my focus, my love and attention, to put you first, to be flexible, and to get the value equation right. And, how important it was. Toward the end, before D-day, I became so bad that we were just cohabitating, not living together as loving friends, intimately involved in each other’s lives. You felt lonely, and gradually that grew into resentment, hopelessness, and despair. I apologize for emotionally abandoning you.

I apologize for leaving you out of my intimate circle, building walls between us. The walls hid Pig Shit and lies. The secret life behind those walls should have been for you, not for others to see. You felt left out, lonely, and shut out. I apologize for living apart from you, emotionally, instead of standing shoulder to shoulder with you and acting as a team.

I apologize for each lie, each cowardly failure to confide in you, each craven failure to defend and protect you, each betrayal, each stolen memory and squandered moment, each instance of working against us instead of for us, each precious right or privilege a wife deserves that I gave to another, each tear, each tremble of fear and despair, and each time your heart breaks.

MR, I am the most fortunate man in the world, to have such a wife as you. I strive to be a worthy husband. I apologize for doing that so little and so late. You are the aspect of life I most appreciate. Without you, nothing else would matter to me.

I apologize. I beg your forgiveness. If you can’t forgive me, I thank you for each moment, in the past, present, and hopefully the future. I will never forget to appreciate you. I love you. Thank you for waiting for me to learn how to love.

MR, I love you.


This blog is hugely indebted to the blog Reconciliation4Life written by a married couple seeking to heal from the effects of adultery. TL (TigerLily) the Betrayed Spouse and MC (MindlessCraft) the Unfaithful Spouse.  Thank you both, from the bottom of my heart.