An affair I’d like to forget.

Via Lynn Hasselberger
on May 9, 2011
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I’d try almost anything to obliterate it.

Photo: Corey Holms

Some bitch hussy chick found my husband to be charismatic, wonderful, funny and, apparently, pretty sexy. Qualities I hadn’t bothered to notice in a long time. Probably because he hadn’t been exuding these qualities. Around me.

But I digress.

He really is a great guy. No more, no less perfect than I. We have a beautiful, funny, caring son; two cuddly cats; a modest home in a pleasant wooded neighborhood. There’s even a white fence. No, it’s not picket. Split rail. An omen perhaps?

A winding paver stone walkway leads from our front door through some unkempt flower beds to our driveway. It has subtle curves. Much unlike the careening 19 years of our marriage. We’ve had good and bad times. Highs and lows. Like any marriage.

The trees stand haphazardly in our yard. Most have withstood violent storms. The only casualty in the 13 years of living here was a large maple struck by lightening a few years back. Perhaps a sign of personal torment ahead. I’m not exactly good with metaphors. Damn. I’ll just spit this whole thing out.

I overheard his phone conversation one night last fall. He was in the basement and I was on the 2nd floor where he thought I’d settled in for the night. He didn’t count on me venturing downstairs into the kitchen for a snack and, either way, must have assumed the sound of the game–football or baseball, I don’t recall–would drown out his voice. Apparently, he was too caught up in his repartee to detect my footsteps.

It’s not unusual for him to call his brother during games. But his tone was flirty lusty. I edged closer to the top of the basement stairs to hear him reminiscing about the last time he saw and made love to her. (choke). Laughing and telling her he missed her. Approving the naked photo she texted over. I stood, shaking, at the top of the basement stairs and listened long enough to a) confirm it wasn’t some sick joke, b) make sure I wasn’t sleep walking and c) collect evidence before flicking the light switch on and off to signal my presence. “I can hear you, you know,” I said.

My world collapsed.  That was almost six months ago—just days after our lackluster 19th anniversary and a few days before my birthday.

My forgiveness. A work in progress.

It wasn’t immediate, but I forgave him. Or so I thought. I have my moments days of second-guessing myself. Should I have let him back in? What if I hadn’t found out? Does he truly love me? Will there be another? Do I really still love him? Here are 7 things that kept me sane.

  1. I fell in love once while married. It happened during a very rough patch in our marriage after the last of 6 failed in vitro fertilization attempts. By rough patch, I mean complete disconnect. Ships passing in the night. Each of us coping in our own ways after the very clinical, frustrating, painful process of trying to make a baby. I was depressed to the point I could hardly speak–and I had a full-time job that required verbal communication. I’d drive home balling my eyes out to the theme song from the Titanic. But along came my life saver. A man who made me laugh with his Jim Carey kind of hilarity. Even funnier, I found him arrogant, jerky and unattractive up until this point in my life knowing him. But the constant laughter he elicited from the depths of my broken heart did it for me.  I felt alive and became addicted. I sensed the funny man’s attraction to me, but neither of us admitted our feelings until some time later. The fact I had these feelings for someone else helped me relate to my husband’s behavior and put this blow (no pun intended) to our marriage in proper perspective. The glaring difference between our dalliances: mine didn’t involve sex. One make-out session end of story.
  2. We have a son. This speaks for itself.
  3. We were friends a year before we dated. We met in August 1989 and I really liked this guy as a person before he got the nerve to ask me out a year later. But I wasn’t into ‘nice’ guys at the time and I came very close to backing out of the date. But I went and that was it. Stuck like glue, married in 1992. (If that’s not a song, it should be).
  4. My husband’s string of bad fortune. A serious car accident about 3 years ago screwed up his left wrist. He’s left-handed. He could’ve been killed—both cars involved were totaled. One month later, appendectomy. Then there were 3 wrist surgeries. A layoff. Spiral leg fracture. Almost deadly infection. He was laid up off and on for months. Then he broke both wrists after flying off his bike to avoid crashing into our son who was on his bike. Did I mention the layoff? All of these health issues undermined his motivation to find a new job. Then he had to have the titanium rod removed from his leg because it was painful and possibly infected. Another surgery. Fun times. I’m sure I’m forgetting something.
  5. Compassion. One never knows how one will react until the situation smacks you upside the head. But somehow I had an open heart and mind. Yes, I was hurt. [I found my way back to the bedroom, picked up my book and stared at it. Moments later, my husband appeared. I looked at him and said, “It’s over.”  He gave me a blank look then left. I’m not sure how much time had passed before he reappeared sullenly. “When do you want me to get my stuff out of here?” ASAP, I said.] Pretty compassionate, eh? [After packing a make-shift overnight bag–was he going to see her? who was she?–he went into our son’s room. His voice was low. “WHY?” our son cried. “Why Daddy?” I couldn’t sit there and listen to my son’s heart break so I made my way downstairs to the kitchen. It was impossible to ignore the anguish that poured out of my son’s room. My son–9 1/2 years old at the time–came downstairs in despair–“Why, Mommy? Why?”–and fell into my arms. “I don’t know, sweetie.” He wanted to know if we’d still be a family. Or would he be like his friend, Jon, who was shuttled back and forth between his parents. “I don’t know.” My husband kissed us both good-bye, told us he was sorry and walked out the door]. But…
  6. I love him.
  7. He loves me. I believe that in my own insecure way.

Oh, one other thing that does not deserve its own number: She seemed a bit loopy. This helped. But it also made me wonder why he would go for a loopy gal. What did that say about me?

The haunting.

Okay. I have to admit. Trust issues? I had ‘em even before this  “affair”…so the real-life affair, unlike those that I created in my imagination, really did me in. But we sprang back to life without even planning to because I let him back in the house so he had somewhere to sleep. Our collective finances would not allow for an indefinite hotel stay—Holiday Inn Express or not. I let him back in as a friend, not sure of what I was doing. I felt bad for the guy. He messed up. He wanted to make things right. I didn’t know how I felt about that, whether I could remain married to a man who toyed with my trust in the worst possible way.

Before we knew it, it was like we were back in our 20’s. Friends. Accepting each other despite our flaws. Talking. Actually talking about meaningful things. And we fell in love all over again.

A few weeks ago I found myself in trapped in affair paranoia relapse. I’m not sure whether this is the clinical name for such suffering, but it will have to do. It crept up on me like a poisonous snake then swiftly, suddenly took hold.

  1. The honeymoon ended.
  2. Every time he looks at his cell or texts a friend, I wonder—is it her? Or someone else?
  3. We don’t have a lot of deep things to discuss since we’re together all the time. (He’s still unemployed).
  4. He had sex with her. Our sex had a blip of make-up wowsa.
  5. All of my prior relationships were with jerks who treated me like crap and I wonder if all this time he’s been posing as the nice guy.
  6. I’m insecure. Really?
  7. I’m 21 months older than the hubby. She‘s 13 or 14 years younger than him.
  8. A few years ago, a friend (now ex-friend) came onto him blah blah blah when she was wasted on martinis and he was about to walk her home. Also drunk, he was taken off-guard. Her lips landed on his. He told me about it first thing the following day. I can’t shake the idea that he’s decided never to tell me what ‘really‘ happened [His affair prompted me to finally tell him about my own “love”… and gave me an opportunity to question, once again, this story] since that he knows damn well that knowledge would compromise the already fractured trust. The stories I make up in my head are much more vivid.
  9. A good friend is going through a divorce and suspects cheating; a good friend who has already divorced suspected cheating; a neighbor around the corner is getting divorced and recently moved out of the neighborhood. It’s like post traumatic stress syndrome only worse.

The little reed, bending to the force of the wind, soon stood upright again when the storm had passed over.
~ Aesop

I have to make a choice, I know. Forgive him the entire past for once and for all. Or end the relationship. It can’t go on like this anymore. He got his hair cut today and when he returned I said it seemed he was gone pretty long. Something going on with the stylist? I don’t care if she just got married.

Do I love him? Yes. I mean… I think. Sure.

Can I forgive him? Yes.

Can I trust him? Uh… I need to or our marriage will dissolve on its own. He’ll get tired of me asking who he’s texting or why he’s been gone so long when he just went out for a hair cut (even though, as it turns out, he was back in the right amount of time) or why he’s not paying attention to me or why he moved his foot away or forgot to kiss me goodbye.

That’s it. Starting today, I’m making the choice to shove all of this in the past and let go of the blame and anger. Clean slate. Besides, who else will accept me on the days I wear sweatshirts or feel down or say something ridiculous? Who else will laugh at my non sequiturs? Who else can I trust more than I trust him?

Photo: flickr.com

NOTE: This is easier said than done, but I am committed. I’m trying.

 

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About Lynn Hasselberger

Lynn Hasselberger is co-founder of GDGD Radio; The Green Divas Managing Editor; and Producer of The Green Divas Radio Show. She's also a mom, writer and award-winning cat-herder who lives in Chicagoland. Sunrises, running, yoga, lead-free chocolate and comedy are just a few of her fave things. In her rare moments of spare time, she blogs at myEARTH360.com and LynnHasselberger.com. A treehugger and social media addict, you'll most likely find Lynn on twitter (@LynnHasselbrgr @GreenDivaLynn & @myEARTH360), instagram and facebook. She hopes to make the world a better place, have more fun, re-develop her math skills and overcome her fear of public speaking. Like her writing? Subscribe to her posts.

Comments

158 Responses to “An affair I’d like to forget.”

  1. Sammee says:

    oh my…..
    Are we living parallel lives?
    You just wrote my story!
    You are me 6 years ago……
    My now ex and I have the same history. He cheated on me in the beginning with his loony ex, he had trouble letting her go and she was relentless, but I gave him space to sort out his feelings, I KNEW he was worth it, and after a few hiccups we embarked on what I thought was a partnership for life.
    6 years in and 12 failed IVF attempts we finally fell pregnant with our delicious son, only for me to find out that he has been having an affair with a friends wife for 11 months! IVF changes you, it changes everything, and only a strong relationship will survive the trials and tribulations it throws in our paths. He was full of regret. I took him back. The next 5 years were fraught with trust issues but we approached them together, as a team, and I thought we were ok.
    So we embarked on some life changing business choices. Established a business, working together really hard for a common goal for early retirement and a better lifestyle….life got really busy. Raising our child, long hours, financial concerns….things weren’t great, but it was end game stuff. Eye on the prize and all that….
    4 weeks ago I found out that he has been sleeping with a woman he hired in our business, a woman I begged him not to hire as I could see from the start what she wanted, him, and I knew he was setting us up in a very slippery slope of distrust. But he hired her. And I was right, and it’s been going on for a loooooong time…..
    I am now a single mom with a huge mortgage, trying to untangle the webs of what I feel now as a wasted commitment to a man who displayed no loyalty, no respect, no commitment to our union.
    He is a narcissist.
    And men like him do not change.
    While I was at home thinking that we were a team, he had left the building and shut the door on me and my son, basically because he was not the centre of our attention. He failed me over and over, when things got hard he never tried to find answers within our relationship, merely looked for a quick fix that made him feel good….
    He’s repentant
    He WANTS to come home
    I look at him and I don’t even recognise who he is, even after 14 years.
    I forgave
    I even tried really hard to forget, and gave myself a shelf life of 12 months to make a decision as to whether I could…and I did. I really did put it to bed.
    But round 3?
    I can’t be here again…..
    My son is distraught
    My future is hazy
    All I’m saying is it takes work on BOTH sides, and if you feel he does not have the capacity for the amount of work he will need to do on HIMSELF to make things right….then trust your intuition.
    Don’t be me, 6 years down the track, wishing you had been strong enough to make the right house at the right time
    I wish you live and peace
    And luck ❤️

  2. kimberly says:

    Hi, so I have a question. I found out about a month ago that my love of over 9 years had been sleeping with a coworker of mine for three months. I want to forgive him, but I dont know when forgiveness comes, and the anger and hatred goes. What was ypur timeline before you chose to forgive and move on?

  3. liz says:

    Cheaters will always cheat. You will live a life of always wondering. You’d be better off moving on and not having to think about what he’s constantly up to. This is why people cheat and keep cheating because people let them get away with it. He will just be smarter about it. And what a horrible relationship to put your son through. Getting a divorce and separated kids is kind of normal now. Don’t use your son as an excuse for not being strong enough to start a new life and move on. He’s learning behaviours from you and the father. That cheating is okay. I think you need therapy.

  4. Hey says:

    BOTH of you cheated. An emotional affair is still an affair. You BOTH need individual counseling to understand WHY you cheated and to fix what is broken in you. You both need at least 6 months individual counseling before even considering forgiving him. He hasn’t even had time to show true remorse hey. And what type is parent wakes their child up on the first night of something like this? No, just no. That was way too soon to involve your child. You should have made your husband leave and just said Dad was out for an appt or something in the morning until you had decided what was going to happen.

    Only after you both have spent several months in therapy should you then fop marriage counseling. Until that point it’s not even possible to determine if he deserves forgiveness or if you are in fact just rugsweeping.

  5. Laura Palmer says:

    Oh, good luck with that…14 years after his affair I still can not trust him…

  6. Salveena says:

    Such a honest article..
    Forgiving is easy, but trust.. So difficult!

  7. De says:

    This is a great article. As the other woman from an affair that lasted 3 years (and his wife knew about me), I have to say, he kept going back and forth and lying to us both and we both kept foolishly forgiving him. I wish I had told him to fob off sooner because it only prolonged the inevitable which made it so much more painful for everyone. He stayed with her in the end, more for a security blanket (avoiding an expensive divorce and threats of suicide). But, I know he will do it again to her because he did with 7 other women over ten years before me and I saw the evidence. I understand why he did and his codependence and maybe I was just a breath of fresh air for him but I also see now that it will never change. I cannot emphasise that enough.

    No one deserves to be made to feel like the other woman no matter which way they stand in a relationship (married or the other). I’m scarred for life from it, I even stuck up for his wife at times…they’d been together 14 years…. I will never forget it mostly because it was my first love and stings like hell and it was horrendously cruel what he did to us both and I feel so incredibly sad that they’re still stuck in that pattern…. but I did move on and I did find a happier, healthier love which is so much more enjoyable. I laugh everyday now instead of cry. I realised I deserved that kind of happiness…without the constant worry and mistrust. So hey if you can make it work, awesome!! But my advice is do it because you love yourself first and it’s what you want not because you love him. Also, don’t dismiss what’s she’s been through either…she may be being manipulated and too young to see it. After all, they will always tell you that we’re bat shyt crazy…but never the full details of what actually happened.

    It truly a difficult scenario and I wish you all the best.x