April 3, 2016

What Having an Affair with My First Wife Taught Me about Commitment.

I’m having an affair with my first wife.

I can guess what you’re thinking.

Before you jump to conclusions, please read my words carefully. You may feel differently—and I hope by the time I’m done, you think differently too.

I never thought I would be that guy—the middle-aged man who works too much and doesn’t have time for his wife. I swore that wouldn’t happen, but it did. Considering an affair is what other people do. I’m a good guy: I come home every night, spend time with my children and volunteer in the community.

I’m not the schmuck that cheats on his wife.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the woman I am married to now. We have been married more than 20 years and we’ve been through a lot. She is the mother of my children and a wonderful person; she’s the hardest worker I know, puts up with my flaws and cares about people. It’s just that after so many years, things got a little old.

Life gets busy, schedules fall into routine and the flame dies down. I needed a change.

I have history with my first wife. We were always good together and have remained friends after all this time. Most of all, she is safe. Starting a relationship with a stranger just has too many variables.

I don’t want a divorce—I just needed to spice things up, so one day I called her to see if she wanted to get together. As it turned out, she had a business trip in Palm Desert, so I told my wife that I had business out that way. I drive all over Southern California every day, so this wasn’t out of the ordinary.

We met somewhere no one knew us (because I know that people talk), had lunch and started catching up on life. We decided to turn our phones off. No distractions, pleasant conversation and a much-needed change of pace.

I don’t know if it was the allure of the clandestine connection or just the break of routine, but I felt good. There wasn’t any guilt because I wasn’t breaking any rules—it was just fun times with an old friend. What’s the harm in that?

Eventually, we started spending more time away. Business trips and lunches became more than business trips and lunches, and well, you can guess the rest.

I never thought it would go that far, but we had history and our history was good. Details aren’t necessary. I’m a gentleman—or at least, I thought I was.

Here’s the truth: I would do it again and I plan to.

I have no intention of leaving my wife. She is my best friend and the person I want to spend the rest of my life with. She knows me better than anyone. I am who I am because of her, at least the good parts.

I have no intention of ending this affair though. My wife is not the same woman I married years ago, but that’s okay. I love both these women.

And here’s the twist: my first wife—the woman I’m having an affair with—is the same woman I’ve been married to for 31 years.

We got married in college, two young people with few responsibilities, little history and our whole lives ahead of us. It was easy to have fun. Everything was new, so our relationship was about discovering life for the first time together.

Five years later, our first daughter came along and then when our second arrived, my wife quit working to raise them and the two boys that followed. My young bride was now a busy mom and I was the sole breadwinner. I was no longer the only one vying for her time.

I was now in love with a soccer mom and she was married to a guy who had to work more to make ends meet. Being together was now a group activity, so we had to look for time in between the kid’s activities to get to know each other in our new roles.

Fast forward 15 years and my wife has reentered the workforce and is now a corporate director for her company. I have changed careers and it almost feels like our roles have reversed. Now I’m the one making sure the kids are taken care of and she is working 60-hour weeks. Being married to an executive was a big adjustment, but I like this woman in a business suit.

We are no different than most other couples. Life gets busy and people change over time. I’m not the same man my wife married in 1985. We’ve had to get to know each other several times over the course of our marriage and continuously fall in love with the people we’ve each become.

Life doesn’t push relationships together—it pulls them apart.

Everyone wants a piece of us, everyone wants to talk to us. We have four kids, demanding jobs and phones that seem to never stop ringing. Most of the things tugging at our time are important and good, but on occasion, we need to get away and find time to just be together.

Keeping a relationship alive takes work and time and attention, but it’s worth it. The way I see it, I can either spend my time and energy on the relationship that has paid off for years or take the risk with a new and unproven one.

And affairs are expensive in so many ways, so why not have one with someone you already love? Plan secret meet ups. Quietly set aside money for weekends away. Schedule time for each other, but also be spontaneous with what you do

I realize that some marriages won’t stand the test of time. Not every couple is meant to stay together and people change in ways that sometimes warrant a move for safety’s sake, but many marriages end because people stop trying.

I’ve heard that a good definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results—what used to work in the past, may not work anymore with the people we have become.

Maybe it’s time to try something different. It won’t be easy, but nothing worth anything is easy.

Do you still think I’m a cad? I hope not. I hope this has offered some creative inspiration to keep your relationship alive. Over time, it’s important to change our thinking because we have changed, but that change can make for a beautiful affair.


Author: Jim Wern

Editor: Nicole Cameron

Image: YouTube screenshot

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