This 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.