I discovered that I had been betrayed by my husband on August 3rd 2012. That’s just over three years ago. So, for over three years (1,095 days) I have been navigating my way through a marriage that I have no map for. I never imagined for one minute, that my lovely husband, with all his boyish charm, would commit adultery. But he did. And I have had to accept this because, what other options are there? “Loving you was like going to war, I never came back the same” (Warsan Shire)
Having my husband commit adultery was worse than I would ever have imagined, and to poach some prose from the acerbic and eloquent PJ O’Rourke, I would say that I have felt like I have confronted an enormous piece of machinery that I can’t comprehend and don’t know how to operate. In fact, I feel like I’m being run through that machinery. I am wheat, rice and corn being delivered to the Nabisco factory, and I’m going to come out the other end definitely toasted, possibly shredded, and if I believe my husband’s affair can become the best thing that ever happened to me, then maybe even coated with sugar!
As Joan Didion notes in her wonderful book, The Year of Magical Thinking, “Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant.” My life changed fast when I read the words on my mobile phone which my husband’s slut decided to send me when he dumped her. Up until this instant, I had thought that my husband’s increasingly bizarre behaviour was due to some kind of mental breakdown. A mid-life crisis of sorts. Once the truth came out, everything that I thought I’d figured out about life unravelled and there I stood, alone, isolated and broken. How I wish I had known then, what I know now. Betrayal hurts like hell and it hurts the betrayed spouse more than anyone who hasn’t experienced it can imagine. The response is visceral. It is as incapacitating as physical illness and I am sure that it has damaging effects on our health. The anxiety that arises from the loss of one’s ability to trust or feel safe is all encompassing and impacts upon every aspect of our life. “The ache for home lives inside all of us, to be able to return to our safe place and not to be stressed and burdened by the world. Home.” (José N Harris)
My response to my husband’s betrayal has been to stay together and work towards a recovery of sorts. My marriage is recovering but it is quite different now. It would have to be wouldn’t it; I’ve changed and so has my husband so our relationship follows suit. I’m tougher than I was (I don’t believe that life gets easier or more forgiving, it’s just that we get stronger and more resilient) and husband has joined the ranks of the grown-ups. I mostly now grieve; for what we both lost by his decision to betray me. When I realised I’d been deeply betrayed, grief was not part of the initial landscape. It’s only over time that the fear, anger and frustration have given way to disappointment and disillusionment. We are now a marriage that includes adultery and this will never, never, never change and it will always hurt. Even though we are growing roots around it, as Byron lyricises “’Tis but as ivy-leaves around the ruined turret wreath, All green and wildly fresh without, but worn and grey beneath.”
I do not regret my decision to stay with my husband. From his actions over the past three years I am acutely aware of his remorse for what he did. His remorse along with his acceptance of responsibility to help me to heal has been the golden glue that has held us together. I’ve learned that my husband is a flawed human being but this has not stopped me from loving him. As strange as this may sound I now know that he really loves me. When I look back at our relationship before any adultery took place he never showed his love in this way. I guess I wasn’t looking for it and he didn’t feel the need to demonstrate his love. Or maybe, just maybe, he had no idea just how much he loved me and how his world needed me in it. The real threat of losing me seems to have removed an emotional blockage in him. We are not out of the woods yet by any means but I reckon that even with the adultery that we’re dealing with, we may possess a stronger and happier marriage than many, with or without adultery. But my loss of trust and safety, hopes and dreams must be acknowledged and mourned. But I share these losses with so many of you.
Here in the blogging world of betrayed wives I have discovered a private cemetery that contains a secret mass grave of shared hopes and dreams and a seemingly worldwide refusal to acknowledge its existence. I read repeatedly of the pain of betrayal both from wives who stay with their betrayer and wives who don’t. The pain is the same although the responses and remedies as varied as the personalities involved. Adultery is a tragedy not a sexual activity.
Tragedy in life normally comes with betrayal and compromise – by trading in our integrity and failing to treat life and others in our life with respect and dignity. That’s really where the truest and the most tragic failures in life come from. They come from making the choice to betray another soul, and in turn, giving up a piece of your own. (José N Harris)
In all of the blogs I read, written by betrayed wives, clear threads of thought link them all together. They all recognise and share the tsunami of the experience of betrayal and irrelevant of whether they’ve stayed or left their husband they all categorically view adultery as WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! They empathise and sympathise with other betrayed wives, knowing the familiar pain first hand. By being betrayed, we have joined a club and we are all on the same side and all trying to make sense of the non-sense of adultery. But, are we in a bubble? I imagined that we were just the women at the top of the iceberg. I suspected that many many more women were like us, just not writing about it. But might I be wrong?
You see, I now can’t bear to hear about adultery. I’m currently reading a biography about an artist I like Georgia O’Keeffe. Love her work. Value her individuality and the grace in which she aged. However, I find out today that her husband was married to someone else whilst embarking on a relationship with her. Granted it was an unhappy marriage and they were not together as such, but it got me thinking. Trust me, before I experienced betrayal I would never have given a second thought to his unhappy first wife – but now, it’s become a mental marker for me. I started to wonder if all betrayed wives would be as sympathetic as me and I found a contradiction immediately. On my very own adultery doorstep!
You see, Pig Shit is a betrayed wife!!! She is a woman who has had a husband commit adultery including the time whilst she was giving birth. They were later divorced. She has also had a two year relationship with a man end because he ran off with her best friend. So please, could someone explain why she would CHOOSE to have relationships with married men, hoping that they will leave their wives? Explain why she would want to text me as soon as my husband dumped her?
What type of response to adultery is this?
Did she not feel the pain that we feel? Is she one of a few or part of an army of betrayed wives NOT like us who respond to betrayal by making matters worse for others?
Image Credit: Cry Face by holohololand freedigitalphotos.net