The other woman’s hatred for the wife

can of wormsAdultery’s Can of Worms 

I can think of no better way to describe my experience of adultery than of opening a can of slimy worms and having to live with them.  My advice to anyone who has yet to have had the bad fortune of adultery in their lives is NOT to venture near this can and certainly NOT to open it.  If you do, you’re gonna regret it, so you better forget it!!!!  Trust me.

You see, it’s not just my idiot husband’s behaviour that is in this can.  It’s also the skank of the other woman and all the other individuals who conspired with their adulterous behaviour.  It is also all the issues that the experience dregs up from the bottom of the emotional barrel for me.  It is also the societal  values that I seem to notice more and more which  romanticises adultery at the expense of the pain incurred by everyone.  It is also about how women behave to other women and whether I am wrong to expect more from my own gender.

I do not condone any woman who willingly has an intimate relationship with a man she knows to be married.  I don’t condone it but over the last few years I have explored the motives.  Basically it is either utter selfishness or utter desperation or a mixture of both.  If a woman hasshadows no concerns about the impact of her behaviour on another woman and her children then she will happily behave in a way that hurts another.  Whether this in itself gives her some form of joy I wouldn’t like to guess.  Whatever it is, it’s an aggressive form of behaviour.  Equally, if a woman has no life of her own to speak of and desperately wants a man in her life then maybe once a month or whenever, a bit of sex dressed up as love and intimacy is better than nothing at all.  Better than the lonely feeling of being on the shelf, undesirable and  untaken.  Does her cruel behaviour stem from envy of those women who do have a partner, who have what she feels she deserves.   Envy and aggression are not often linked directly to female behaviour  because I suspect it is because they are hugely undesirable traits for a woman to have.  There’s probably a lot of denial going on.

Whilst the behaviour of the other woman might be well documented in various places, I have sought a more comprehensive understanding of difficult and shameful female to female relationships.  This is because as well as exploring Pig Shit’s behaviour towards my husband and towards me, I have been trying to come to terms with the behaviour of a woman who I thought was a friend, of sorts.  This woman (Reptile) was the girlfriend of one of my husband’s old school chums (Dork).  We saw each other at couple’s events and actually went on holiday together as a foursome, travelling around France.  I had no reason to believe that she did not like me in any way and I had no reason to think that I might have offended her in any way.  She always seemed most pleasant.  However, it was she who introduced her friend Pig Shit to my husband on a night when I was at home in London.  After drinks in a bar they all went back to Reptile and Dork’s house.  When my husband left he tells me that Pig Shit followed him to the door and they had a snogging session.  (classy eh?)

Now, what was the Reptile’s response to this?  (I probably need to point out here that both Pig Shit and Reptile had a husband betray them and leave them for another woman) Did she tell her friend not to go there because he was married and it might all end up a terrible mess?  Clearly not!  Instead she and her boyfriend ‘normalised’ the adultery in a most perverse manner.  They not only actively encouraged it, they facilitated it by allowing them both to stay overnight and shag in their spare room.  I now know that there were times when I sat talking to Reptile, being nice to her and socialising, when she had the knowledge that my husband was shagging her friend.  Did she enjoy this?  Why did she choose to stab me in the back in such a manner?  She could have made her excuses and not come along, but then she would not have been able to gloat.

The irony of all this is that whilst the Reptile and Dork were encouraging and facilitating the weddingadultery of my husband with Pig Shit they were making arrangements for their own wedding!!!  Surely, this must make bad karma for their marriage. I had made a grand fuss when I found out about the proposal, squealing with delight and wanting to know how it all occurred.  The thought of my enthusiastic response now makes me feel sick.

On one occasion, we were at a restaurant and an announcement was made that my husband was to be their best man.  This was not done quietly.  Dork did not approach my husband and ask if it would be possible bearing in mind his two timing situation.  No, in the middle of the evening, Reptile stood up with Dork and announced their plan.  I applauded the idea and was very happy for everyone.  When I look back now, I wonder what she was thinking.  Was she expecting my husband to take me to the wedding and have Pig Shit there as well?  Was she hoping that my husband and I would have separated? Was it all a cruel game? The thought just horrifies me.  Husband says that he could feel the noose tightening and was going to arrange for us to be on holiday as soon as he knew what date was going to be set for the marriage.  Further lies and deceit to hide the mess he’d gotten himself into.

When my husband chose to dump Pig Shit the Reptile gave her my mobile telephone number so that she could inform me of their adultery.  I also know that a couple of days were spent trying to find out from others where my husband was.  Dork was not involved in this but the Reptile was.  I suspect that she was the one who wanted me to know exactly what had been going on in the hope that I would not stay with him. I felt that there was a panic between my husband dumping her and the text two days later to spill the beans.  It was as if they were terrified that he was going to remain with me. I get a sense that Reptile was very instrumental in the adultery and later disclosure.  Clearly she wanted me to know that my husband had been unfaithful. She was not prepared to act as if nothing had happened once my husband dumped Pig Shit.  She could play nice when she knew I was being silently betrayed but could not play nice if it meant that my husband and I were to carry on ‘as normal’.

Once the truth came out and the shit hit the fan my husband severed all contact not only with Pig Shit but with Dork as well.  As he is part of a big group of old school chums all the blokes in this group have been wiped out of our joint lives.  Two of them were happy to sit and have drinks with my husband and Pig Shit, Dork and Reptile, further normalising their behaviour.  The rest of them probably knew but did not have any involvement.  They are collateral damage.  I never want to see the Reptile again as long as I live.  Now she has to live with the consequence of her choices.

What makes women so hostile to other women?  Why is it done so secretly and spitefully?  Is there not enough misogyny in our world for women to try to behave better to each other?

I think some of these answers need a very deep analysis.  Phyllis Chester an American writer, psychotherapist, and professor emerita of psychology and women’s studies at the College of Staten Island wrote a book in 2001 entitled ‘Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman’.  It’s a troubling book but it raises a lot of uncomfortable issues that I think we as women need to consider.  She makes a number of interesting observations.  Firstly, we need to realise that women are sexist. We have “internalised the prevailing misogynistic ideology which we uphold both in order to survive and in order to improve our own individual positions vis-à-vis all other women”.

Secondly women can be aggressive.  Whereas men are often openly aggressive in direct and dramatic ways, women are seldom physically violent, instead they act indirectly and the targets of their aggression are not men but other women and children.  Indirect aggression is aggressionanonymous aggression.  Girls learn from a young age that a safe way to attack someone else is behind her back, so that she will not know who is responsible.  However, aggression in females is a taboo subject and often suppressed by being systematically ignored.  Labelled as irrational, hysterical or bitchy.  Girls also view aggression more negatively than boys do and so tend to deny it even to themselves.  But the danger is that if girls are trained to say that aggression is wrong even whilst continuing to be aggressive then they may be learning to disassociate themselves from their negative behaviour.  This capacity might prove resistant to the acknowledgement that is required before recognition and change can occur.  If a woman pretends to herself that she is kind to other women when she is not, she will have no reason to learn how to resist her aggressive  inclinations.

Pleasingly Chesler reports that most women do not hate women; only some do.  “The data indicate that women who are hostile toward other women don’t feel good about themselves.  They have lower personal self-esteem, optimism, sense of self-efficacy, life satisfaction, and higher objectified body consciousness compared to women who are not hostile to other women.” Sums up most Other Women, no?

Thirdly we need to acknowledge all aspects of female behaviour.  The book argues that we must free ourselves from the bonds of ‘inauthentic niceness’.   Recognise that we have real power over each other.  Women are not innocent of the betrayals they commit but their ignorance of what’s going on and why robs them of the power to act otherwise.  However, it is impossible to malicechange one’s behaviour if it is not named first.  We need to acknowledge the shadow side of female to female relationships to each other, not only the sunny side.  If a woman treats another woman inhumanely, cruelly or sadistically, she needs to understand how powerful, painful and paralysing the effect is.  Naming and acknowledging this is the first step.  It has got to become easier for women to talk about how other women have hurt them and how they might have mistreated other women themselves.

We are competitive but we deny even to ourselves that we envy or compete. We cannot insist that we are all sisters or that we are the kinder gender, this would be foolish and self-destructive.  We need to understand the process required in order to respect and not violate another woman’s boundaries.  It begins with being able to maintain our own boundaries first.

I have been hurt by two women and although I recognise it was my husband’s choice to betray me I must be able to hold them accountable for the harm they did me.

Image Credits: First Time In School by Vlado; Aggression by Sujin Jetkasettakorn; Wedding Ring by Boykung; Malice” by rattigon  all via freedigitalphotos.net

Recognising Marital Recovery

whereWhere are we now?

“Where are we now? The moment you know You know, you know” David Bowie

It was our wedding anniversary yesterday. Husband took me to lovely hotel, had a fabulous romantic evening and came home this morning. In so many ways we are where we have been for most of our lives together. Happy in each other’s company. We are a lovely couple, I don’t doubt that for one moment. However, we are also, in many ways in a very different place. I know that he betrayed me for a bit of skanky sex with a woman who meant nothing to him. I know that in order to do this he distanced himself from me and became a very different man to the one I fell in love with. So, when I look at him now, I sometimes wonder if he will ever be that detached man again.

However, the whole miserable adulterous crap heap does seem to have changed him for the better. It’s like he has returned as the man I fell in love with but now is totally committed to us. It’s strange but I thought he was committed previously. How would I know any different? Now I know that I was blind to his immaturity. I projected my beliefs and values on to him and after a few years forgot to touch base with him.

But I can’t yet say that I have changed for the better. I have changed. I look at the world of romance and couples so very differently now. I can no longer be entertained by the romantic comedy genre. At the hotel yesterday there was a middle-aged couple who were all over each other. Touching, hugging, kissing. The man got up at one stage and returned into the hotel (we were all in the grounds of the hotel, it was a lovely sunny day) and was missing for a good while. I turned to my husband and said “he’s probably ringing his wife, getting that task out-of-the-way so that he can get on with the woman he was with”. Cynical eh?

Several times during the course of our stay I did bring up Pig Shit. Not in an angry or confrontational way because I certainly didn’t want to spoil our time but in a more resigned way. He did ask if we could not talk about it as it was our anniversary but I could not oblige. You see, the whole mess may have receded in the past few years (nearly three years since D-day; four years since adultery commenced) but it remains nestled in our marriage and I cannot ignore this. Our anniversary seemed an appropriate time to bring up Pig Shit. The adultery could have stopped us from ever celebrating any further anniversaries.

What I did realise over the course of yesterday is that we have a strong marriage. Incredibly strong! It might not follow the script that I had written for it and it has certainly included characters that have subsequently been banished from our lives, but we are together. We can talk about Pig Shit and the betrayal. We can share memories from before the adultery and we can share the fresh memories that we have worked hard to create since D-day. We can look forward to a future together and whatever that may bring our way. Good and bad.  My husband has finally grown up and it is a very welcome attribute. Before the adultery I thought my husband loved me. Since the adultery I know my husband loves me. Qualitatively these are worlds apart. I like this one much more.

Where are we now?

TOGETHER

Where are we now? Where are we now? The moment you know, You know, you know. As long as there’s sun. As long as there’s sun. As long as there’s rain. As long as there’s rain. As long as there’s fire. As long as there’s fire. As long as there’s me. As long as there’s you.

Image Credits: The Five Ws Signpost” by artur84/ freedigitalphotos.net

How does the Other Woman do it?

crazyPsychopathological behaviour – that’s how! 

Since August 3rd 2012 I have been swamped by questions about why my husband chose to shag someone else whilst married to me.  The answers have done little to satisfy my curiosity.  Bottom line it would appear that my beloved husband could not keep his dick in his pants when offered easy pussy in the shape of the woman who I have come to affectionately call Pig Shit.  What I also know is that it was his choices that threatened our marriage and tangled me up with a female who I hate with a vengeance.  You see, I’m not just angry at him.  I’ve had three years of venting my spleen at him which I think gives me some recompense for what he chose to do to me, to us.  Equally, he has done everything that I can think of to make amends (of course he can’t turn back the clock!), so our full recovery is not dependent upon him doing anything beyond what he is doing; instead, I think it rests with my ability to keep going through this shit until I reach the peace that I seek. However, this shit is not only about him and I – it’s also about a nasty third person trampling over my life.   However, I don’t know how to square the circle here.

The dominant response to adultery is to address the flaws in the character of the betraying spouse.  OK, we’re doing this.  And it’s tough, tough love at work here. However, for me there’s a problem with thinking of the extramarital affair as strictly my husband’s fault.  Such thinking leaves Pig Shit without motivation.  She is perceived as a mere victim: vulnerable, naïve, and gullible.  She meant no harm, so she does not deserve my or society’s condemnation.  Why is there such failure to hold the other woman accountable for her actions? My husband’s infidelity was the product of two individuals’ needs; it could not have developed just out of the needs of my husband.

I know that my anger for Pig Shit is destructive for me and for my marriage.  But this knowledge does not help me deal with it.  I sometimes scream at my husband to show anger towards her, especially for her decision to text me with details of her adulterous relationship with him.  He always responds in the same way by telling me that it was his fault entirely that this occurred and that him getting angry at her will only hinder him in dealing with my anger towards him.  He says that she is dead and buried to him.  Under lead!  He deeply regrets what he did and he feels an absolute cretin for what he subjected me to for the sake of a bit of different pussy.  However, he repeats that he if could have behaved like a grown up adult none of this would have happened.  Of course, he’s right.  I know that, I’m not stupid!  However, this does not stop me from trying to understand why Pig Shit, or for that matter ANY woman, would willingly choose to embark on a sexual relationship with a married man cherishing a blind hope, built on the flimsiest of foundations, that it will eventually lead to a lasting and meaningful relationship for themselves.  By simply being available sexually whenever the betraying spouse is available they believe they have the magic formula that will enable them to steal the husband that they have set their sights on.  Pig Shit used to say to my husband that all she wanted was a ‘normal’ life.  More likely she wanted MY LIFE!

For me, there is something deeply disturbing about a woman seeking a permanent, exclusive relationship with a man who is already someone else’s husband. Perhaps more than disturbing, it’s psychopathological!  There’s more than a touch of misogyny here.   A woman willingly using sex tovits snare a man who is married to another woman demonstrates a hatred or dislike of women. Misogyny can be manifested in numerous ways, including denigration of women, violence against women, and sexual objectification of women. Pig Shit denigrated herself.  She was at my husband’s beck and call for sex, his free time determining when, where and how long they could be together.  Obeying all the rules of ‘dating’ a married man she never contacted him directly, just waited for his text or call.  Of course, being patient in this way allowed her the opportunity to become the ‘victim’ in the story. She never got angry or cross with him. She believed he was her ‘alpha-male’.  She allowed herself to become a sexual object, bringing along all her dildos and sex toys from the first meeting onwards.  She allowed herself to be perceived as manipulable and as an instrument rather than a person.   As long as my husband said the magic three romantic words she was the princess in the story rather than the pussy in a pedestrian act of infidelity. For her romantic fantasy to take full shape I was inconvenient at worst, dead at best.   Her behaviour to me, a married woman was violent.  She may not have been hitting me physically but she knew what she was doing and what she was hoping for.  She was vicious to me when he dumped her.  When she lost her link to my husband she was threatened by utter psychological dissolution.  This feeling must have justified her action in doing whatever it took to hold on to him. I think this terrible betrayal of one woman to another is yet another aspect of adultery that gets eclipsed in the romantic narrative of adulterous relationships.

I find myself in an unhealthy, one-way, warped and unwanted mental relationship with Pig Shit.  She has become part of my life because she shagged my husband and wanted him to leave me for her.  It’s like I am united to her by some strange bond.  She and my husband together dragged me into their snake pit of a relationship. Even though the snake pit has been long torched, its toxic embers remain.  eyes openI believe that Pig Shit and others like her are blind to their own unconscious motives. What perverse psychology made her feel good about herself for shagging somebody else’s husband?  When did it start to make her feel neglected, humiliated and used.  Was she just mentally very slow and ignorant about the power imbalance that occurs once infidelity is in full swing?  Pig Shit’s character clearly has a masochistic dimension.  She must have become painfully aware at some point (i.e. when we went on holiday together) of just how low a priority she was in comparison to me, his wife.  Waiting in the wings, month after month playing the understudy, more alone than if she had no relationship because of her aching hope that he would be there for her if she really needed him.  Because he ‘loved her’. (puke!)

Pig Shit had a previous adulterous relationship with a married man who lived nearby.  This one lasted three years.  I think that this made her impatient with my husband.  When he told her that he was going on holiday with me she couldn’t retain a calm response.  Instead she said “I knew this would happen”.  She was most upset.  Of course, she knew this would happen because she had been the Other Woman in her previous relationship.  This is one messed up woman who needs psychological help.  Not a pat on the back and poor, poor you, what a bastard to do this to you.  All men are bastards!

“Once feminists agreed that competition for men was self-destructive, we believed we would go on to better relationships between women and between women and men.  This new code of honour would work to the advantage of us all.  To act with honour in this manner would reinforce our solidarity.  Women would no longer be willing to be ‘other women’.  Men would be on their own”. Susan Koppelman

Let me share my romantic fantasy with you.  On the fateful day when my husband met Pig Shit he let her know that he was very flattered by her attention and sexual proposition but advised her that he would not commit adultery.  Pig Shit replied, no, of course, she had not realised that he was married.  “I fully understand and respect you for this; you are a fine and honourable man.  Your wife is very lucky”.

Image Credits: Crazy Girl Cross Eyed And Pulling Her Ears by Stuart Miles; Vitamins Crazy by holohololand; Matured Woman With Eyes Wide Open by stockimages all via freedigitalphotos.net

How adultery induces fear

fearIt’s Sunday afternoon and whilst husband is playing the first friendly cricket match of the season I have occupied myself watching a horror movie that I recorded some time ago.

It was a Spanish film (Sleep Tight)and a most disturbing story about a janitor who makes his tenants’ lives a misery by inflicting pain on them.  From a seemingly ‘normal scenario’ you are slowly led into various twists and turns that allow you, glimpse by awful glimpse, the horrible realities of this man’s character and his horrendous actions.  At times I had to stop looking.

I know, Scaredy Cat!

Then, I got up to start preparing the dinner and WOW!  – it just hit me.  My bodily response to fear.  I had underestimated how much the film had frightened me.  My legs were shaky and I found it difficult to walk with ease when I first got up.  I felt ‘jumpy’.  I had an overwhelming sense of weakness throughout my entire body and although I started to prepare the chicken with my shaky hands I was aware of a deep feeling of dread engulfing me and I felt a little nauseous.   It took a while to shake it off but what I realised whilst it was happening was the familiarity of it all.  This is how I felt when I found out about my husband’s adultery.  I recognise now that fear came before my anger.  Of course, it makes perfect biological sense.  I’m frightened what will I do?  Anger  provides the impetus for both fight and flee.

So my next train of thought was, what was it that scared me about my husband’s infidelity.   I have worked on my anger and can identify what makes me angry (mainly the injustice of it all) but my fear?  So I started to think of how a horror film generates these powerful feelings to see if I could find any clues.  It is suggested that there are three primary factors of the genre.  Tension, relevance and unreality.  Tension is created through mystery, suspense, gore, terror, or shock.  Relevance can be universal i.e. death, the unknown; cultural fear dealing with societal issues; and/or personal fear which identifies with or condemns the victim or protagonist.  Unrealism is present because at some level we all know that what we are watching is not real.

Sound familiar?  Well, I had the tension.  When I look back on the adultery I can see that the tension started when his adultery started because he started to act differently towards me but would not communicate about it (mystery & suspense).  Then of course there was D-day.  The shock!  Perfect horror material.  Relevance?  Of course, it created the universal relevance of the fear of the unknown.  It was also highly relevant to me personally; my marriage, my life, my home, my future; I condemned both my husband and the OW. There was also the cultural fear – my husband’s adultery had a cast of characters.  So called friends. There was also my family and their opinions etc.  Lastly, unrealism.  Well unfortunately, that’s where the horror movie and my experience of betrayal separate.  My husband’s adultery is very real.  However, at the beginning and even at later times I have felt an incredible sense of unrealness.  That  I would wake up from my nightmare.

Horror exists outside of our everyday experience of normal behaviour.  For me, this is true of adultery.

Horror movies require us to face the unknown – to understand it and make it less scary. My husband’s adultery forced me to face the unknown and I now realise that I have been trying to make it less scary by knowing as much as I can both about him and about adultery in general.  Horror movies allow us to see our fears and put them into context, to play what if, and in doing so, they shape our belief systems, how we see each other and ourselves.  This sounds much like what I’ve been up to the past three years – living in my own horror movie!

I am aware now that the only time I experience fear is when I snoop around his stuff.  (Yes, I still do) I had thought it was anger but it is not, it is fear  and I now realise why this occurs.  Snooping is where the tension starts to build.  Fortunately, his behaviour since D-day has allowed my fear to subside because of a mixture of two things.  I don’t feel any tension between us and our current relationship feels very real and honest.  Equally, having faced my fears I know that it could never frighten me again in quite the same way.  Unfortunately, betrayal is much known to me and very very real.

Now it is 19.00 British Summer Time.  Wine time?  It was a very scary film…

With thanks to Film Maker IQ

Image Credit: Portrait Of A Creepy Skeleton Guy by artur84 via freedigitalphotos.net

Dating for Adulterers

depressedI’m feeling a bit depressed!

A bit powerless!

Is it possible/desirable for a company that encourages and facilitates adultery to openly make a financial fortune?

Will the stereotypical myths concerning adultery continue to ride rough shot over the painful truths of the consequences of such behaviour?

Is adultery just going to boom and boom and boom until it goes bust along with everything that might have been thought of as family values?

The bad news is that Ashley Madison plans to float on the London Stock Exchange this year. Meat market to stock market!  A dating site for married people wanting to have sex with someone other than their spouses, their motto is: “Life is short. Have an affair.” The web site offers guidelines in how to conduct adultery and advice on how to cover your tracks.

In 2013 Ashley Madison met with staunch opposition in Singapore but now have decided London is perfect for an IPO (initial public offering, the first sale of stock by a company to the public) because ofLondon Europe’s relaxed approach towards infidelity. (This is news to me! I thought that the French were possibly more relaxed – but the British????)  It aims to raise £135m in order to expand its international market.  It’s like a juggernaut travelling at speed in quiet suburban streets.  Just keep the kids safely indoors!!!!!

Depressingly, they already have 1.2 million UK people signed up.  This is equivalent to 5% of the married population.  It also has 34 million members in 46 countries around the world, and plan to winklaunch in Russia, Ukraine and the Baltic states later this spring.  Around 70% of members are men. I think this is a thorny issue.  Currently,  it would appear that some of the “winks” that men get, which prompt a paid membership in order to communicate with the available totty, are never returned because they’re fake. They come from Ashley Madison.

Just what are the ethics here? Noel Biderman, the CEO doesn’t see any problems.  He says that Ashley Madison is simply a platform; he didn’t invent infidelity and his site doesn’t cause people to cheat any more than divorce lawyers cause couples to split up. But what about all the personal trauma that is created in the wake of adultery?  What about the lying and cheating and betrayal that is integral to the act of adultery.  This is not a site for people in open marriages, this is a site for spouses who want to cheat!  This means that their spouses are left out of the equation.  They are denied the opportunity to make an informed choice.

How long can we as a society accept this behaviour?  Just because it goes on doesn’t make it right, no matter how many people engage in the activity.  Once upon a time rape wasn’t recognised in marriage.  This did not make it RIGHT.  What type of society do we want to live in?  When is the f***ing PAIN of the consequences of adultery going to become centre stage instead of the instant gratification of sexual relief?

Will Singapore be the only country to oppose it?

Image Credits: Figure Sitting In Question Mark by Master isolated images; London Tower Bridge Twilight by Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee; Gorgeous Young Bikini Model Winking At You by stockimages all via freedigitalphotos.net

Seeing the adultery differently

eyeUnless you change the way you see things, they will remain the same.

This kind of makes sense but is it just another simplistic platitude?  Is it one of those ‘positive thinking’ solutions that have nothing but optimism at its core?  I’m not saying that optimism is not a healthy disposition to have but it can’t be used in every set of circumstances, and at times it can almost feel oppressive when you are in the midst of a personal catastrophe.  As Santayana wisely notes, “contempt for mortal sorrows is reserved for those who drive with hosannas the juggernaut car of absolute optimism.” Adultery is a moral sorrow and therefore I don’t appreciate the sometimes upbeat optimism of thinking that my husband’s adultery might be the best thing that ever happened to me.  However, this does not stop me from trying to understand what happened, and maybe, just maybe, along the way I will change the way that I see things.

Just recently I read a book completely (or so I thought) unrelated to adultery.  What a revelation then when I found myself sitting up and underlining sentences that resonated with me in regard to two key aspects of my betrayal. The feelings that I try so hard to articulate plus my thoughts about my husband’s actions during the betrayal.  I found so many parallels to my experience of my husband’s behaviour that the book may have had a significant effect on how I understand him at the latter stages of his adultery.   For just a short while, I have managed to step outside my intimate involvement in what he chose to do and have looked at some events through a different lens.

Naturally, every case of adultery is different, but for me I had no idea or suspicion of adultery until he finished it and I was texted by the Pig Shit herself to let me know of their multiple sexual encounters.  This meant that during the last few months of their activities I watched my husband in what I thought was the beginnings of a nervous breakdown.  He had reached a kind of melt down.  Up until now I haven’t really given this period of time much attention but when I’ve thought a little more about it, in the light of my reading, I realise that he was having a wretched time of it.  The fantasy had started to evaporate and he had entered the adultery wastelands with absolutely no idea how to escape. Any mental fog about the joy in what he was doing had lifted and his regrets at what he had done had begun.  This was all before I was forced to discover the truth.  This is not any attempt to excuse what he did.  There is no excuse.  Nevertheless it is a different perception to the one that I have been holding on to which gives the Pig Shit far too much significance in what was going on.  Whereas any woman willing to have sex with my husband could occupy her role there is not a woman on this planet who can be the woman who I am to my husband.

The mind changing book that I’m referring to, is Drinking; a love story by the late Caroline Knapp.  I found her to have a wonderful way with words and an incredible ability to capture the discomfort of my feelings.  Her articulation about memories certainly reflects my memories about the betrayal and encapsulates my frustration with the recurring thoughts.  “Over the years I’ve come to think of memories as tiny living things, microorganisms that swim through the brain until they’ve found the right compartment in which to settle and rest.  If the compartment isn’t available, if there’s no proper label for the memory, it takes up residence somewhere else, gets lodged in a corner and gnaws at you periodically, cropping up at odd times, or in dreams.”  It will soon be three years since my D-day but memories remain which belie labelling.

Caroline also captures the atmosphere of my marriage at the time it was going on.  “The thing is, hints of distress are like air: you can’t see them, can’t hold them in your hand and subject them to proper examination.” There was no tangible evidence of anything wrong in our marriage but I was subtly aware that something was awry.

There are a number of parallels that can be drawn between alcohol addiction and adultery.  Consider attitudes to both.  They are both culturally determined or, at least, culturally reinforced and contain myriad contradictions.  The drinks industry presents a very glamorous and romantic perspective of drinking and puts ‘responsible drinking’ on a pedestal.  However bars offer happy hours to encourage drinkers to drink more, supermarkets sell it at knock down prices, and the whole act of drinking alcohol is totally normalised whilst the possibility of addiction and/or health problems are pushed under the carpet.   However as soon as the ugly side of alcohol shows its face, as soon as the drinker starts falling down and being sick in the gutter, as soon as violence and/or unsocial behaviour is  seen and as soon as there is an outcry about the increase in liver disease, all attitudes change.

Likewise, monogamy within a marriage is placed on a pedestal whilst adultery, everywhere in the media, is portrayed positively.  The informal code of silence that so called friends and family comply with reinforces the behaviour and acts as a normaliser for both of the people engaged in the adultery.  But what happens when things just disintegrate?  When the adultery’s toxic bile erupts into the marriage and betrayed spouses crumble and feel like dying and children face a family breakdown?  Then, attitudes change.  Betrayed spouses are no longer the unsuspecting victim, wondering what the problem in their marriage might be – instead they have to handle an anger which rises up so fiercely it threatens to burst them; betraying spouses are no longer able to juggle the complicity or control events and people; the third party becomes more dangerous and desperate than ever to poach the spouse that isn’t theirs; society prompts the knee-jerk response of kicking the betraying spouse out followed by divorce, double quick!  The rest, the wilderness that is post D-day is airbrushed out.

As for the actual addiction to alcohol, I couldn’t but help recognise some similarities in how I’d describe my husband’s behaviour.  I just replace alcohol with sex and/or Pig Shit and hey presto.  Whilst my husband was unfaithful he would go off into “some little room” in his mind and “pull down the shade”.  Engaging in adultery allowed a seductive “psychic flight” which allowed him to leave himself behind.  There’s something about long-term monogamy, about facing the everyday reality of married life that shows you that strength and hope comes from the accumulation of experience and gritting your teeth and communicating perceived problems even though it’s painful and you’re afraid.  When my husband decided to be unfaithful he was unable to do this because he had lost the ability to make the “distinction between getting through painful feelings and getting away from them”.

Adulterous spouses lead a double life.  What a wretched way to live your life.  I believe this was a major contributing factor to my husband’s melt down.  The conflicting stories that he told different people must have whirled around in the back of his mind “like an acid eddy” constantly rolling away, overlapping, melding into one another.” No wonder he couldn’t engage in meaningful conversations with me. It would be too risky, he might trip up.

Deception is an integral part of adultery.   My husband wove elaborate lies to me about what he had been up to in order to align his working arrangements with his adultery.  Lying to me in this way kept his relationship with me, in his eyes, intact.  However, this duplicity accompanied a slow erosion of his integrity “dramas spiral and twist; lies feed on one another”.  Our relationship became increasingly ill defined; he would agree that his feelings had changed towards me but would not provide any further information as to why or in what way.  He developed an “unspoken system of withholding details from me that provided a measure of distance between us” but also kept our relationship together.  Often, he didn’t lie so much as withhold information or manipulate facts.  I guess that this helped him to rationalise his behaviour and maintain an illusion of togetherness.

My husband’s stupid sexual escapades required such necessary falsehoods because they were critical to the maintenance of the fronts he was presenting.  His whole sense of reality was tied into the deception and built into his facades.  He was not in control at all.  He was deeply fucked up.  He lost control of the script.  Pig Shit was demanding more, I was demanding clarity of sorts.  His dual existence must have felt bigger than him, as though it had a life of its own.  “This is an exhausting way to live, plotting and racing and second guessing constantly.”

So it goes on.  He lied, he deflected blame and rationalised whilst the hole that he had dug for himself got deeper and deeper.  Denial, first of the adultery and then of the self – stretches to include more and more bits of reality, and after a while he literally could not see the truth or his role in the disaster that he had made of his life, could not see who he was, what he needed or the choices that he had.  During this period whilst juggling his adultery with his marriage I believe that his life took on a “deeply fragmented quality, with different personae emerging and becoming more distinct and more false.”  He did not stop.  It got uglier and he carried on shagging Pig Shit.  In the process he became increasingly isolated and lost, stuck in his own circle of duplicity and rationalisation and confusion, the gap between his facades and his inner world growing wider and wider.  My husband was “living in a state of self-imposed chaos, lying and hiding and keeping secrets and feeling trapped, absolutely trapped, in the whole mess”

What intrigues me is how low did he let himself go before he made the decision to stop the adultery?   How bad did things have to get?  The elevator metaphor is used with alcoholism and can serve adultery too.  The adultery elevator only goes in one direction – down.  The good news is that you can get off at any time after you’ve got scared enough or desperate enough.  It’s a choice – get off or keep going till you end up without your home and wife.  Hitting bottom is normally preceded by a long slow fall.  I think I witnessed this in my husband.  Finally, the “impulse to control, and to worry, abated.  Fuck it.  It’s like the deepest part of his soul just said that – fuck it – and he plunged, justification in his hand like a passport to self-destruction.”  He decided not to sleep in our bed and that was the final straw for me and I insisted that he left the home.  He kept on saying “I can’t be here”, “I can’t be here”.  I said I HEAR YOU – so go, leave me alone and I don’t care where you go.  He left me and went to stay with Pig Shit!

It was like he was semi-conscious of taking this plunge and semi-conscious of his determination to keep falling.  I think that abandoning himself to a woman that he was being unfaithful with felt like survival to him.  He actually told me that in his head he was thinking that by going to stay with her he could work on leaving her.  Go figure!!!!  I think he thought he was trapped in quicksand and any move would threaten to drag him down further so he just stopped struggling to be with me and resigned himself to a form of inertia.  Anyway, at last, reality set in and started to chip away at his denial.  He was stuck between his marriage and his adultery and now incapable of being honest.  He was in a mess.  He must have had a split within him and he had to deal with it.  He never stopped being in contact with me and within days he was begging to come home.  I didn’t allow him to return for another month.  I thought he was staying with a friend.  Had I have known at that moment in time that he had had an adulterous relationship and was now staying with the woman it would probably have been a very different story.

Almost three years post D-day we are discovering a blueprint for monogamy.  I think we both missed some crucial hand-out at some time in our lives that could have educated us on the demands of faithfulness in marriage.  Adultery remains everywhere still, but not in our marriage.  Not at the moment and hopefully never again.  Monogamy is a struggle and doesn’t happen by chance.  Sometimes long-term relationships become mundane at times, it’s inevitable but we have to make decisions that determine how we see ourselves from moment to moment.  We live in an adultery-saturated world; it’s simply impossible to avoid it, but the havoc it wreaks is absent.  Adultery is a struggle with self-loathing.  My husband’s self-loathing that compelled him to get involved in adultery and betray me does not vanish overnight.  He has a lot to do if he is to feel proud of himself.  It was my husband’s opting for the trappings of intimacy whilst shielding himself from its warmth that characterises the year of his betrayal.  I sometimes wonder if he was uncomfortable with our comfort together.  We certainly had a comfortable life before the adultery and we certainly experience and appreciate our comfort in our recovering marriage.

Personal growth is something that we actively choose and adulthood is less a chronological state than an emotional one in which we decide, through understanding our choices, to enter and maintain.  My husband’s decision to return home and to face the consequences of his adultery is I believe his first truly adult decision.