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Author’s note: the third article following on from “The Darkness of Being the Other Woman” and “Dear Unfaithful Man.” I was inspired to write this from the wives who reached out to me, expressing their stories. It’s been incredibly insightful writing about this complex topic from each perspective and I’m grateful to those who have openly shared with me.
“Sometimes your heart needs to accept what your mind already knows.” ~ Anonymous
You stand in the kitchen, absentmindedly, stirring the contents of the pot on the stove.
It’s getting late and that feeling is bubbling away inside of you. That feeling that something isn’t right.
He’s been late a lot over the past few months. Busy at work is the response you get when you question him. He’s preoccupied, perhaps a little distant. But he’s tired, he explains—after all, work is hectic.
He spends more time anywhere else but home. He needs his space and own hobbies; it’s good for his physical and mental health, and he implores you to be more understanding of the stress he is under.
But still you have that feeling.
Dear wife, I know you feel anxious—uncertain and a little scared. But your gut, your intuition…she’s trying to tell you something.
You can almost pinpoint the change. It wasn’t necessarily obvious. In fact, it’s some of the subtle changes that are bothering you the most. It’s the changes in mood. It’s the energy he has when he leaves home. It’s that dip in energy he has when he walks through the door. It’s the simmering frustration he seems to have. It’s the swing to kindness and caring when he feels you’re suspicious, or the defensive behaviour he displays when questioned. It’s the projection.
Dear wife, I know you feel like you’re going crazy. You’re not sure what’s real anymore. Don’t bury that feeling, that little voice.
Each night you go to bed and lay beside the man you gave your heart to. He’ll give you a cuddle, and you’ll feel relieved, like everything is okay. It’s just your imagination. You know he has a flirty personality, but he chose you, and you have a life together—a home, a family.
You’ve been together for years, so it’s only natural that things change. But you lay there in the darkness, staring into the abyss of black; you feel every single clenched muscle, every beat of your heart, and it’s not until a sob catches in your throat that you realise you are crying.
I know you are wondering what it is about you that is lacking. Is it ageing? The change in your body after having a family? Maybe you are no longer attractive to him? You torment yourself with questions about your worth. Has he found someone more exciting, prettier, sexier, smarter? Does he talk to another woman the way he used to talk to you? Is there someone else making him laugh and filling his needs? Is he having sex, or (and the thought of this makes bile rise) is he making love to someone else?
Dear wife, I know you are torturing yourself, wondering what the hell is wrong with you, but you need to understand it’s him. It’s his wounds, not you.
He gets up and leaves early again and tells you he’ll be late tonight. You lay there for the longest time, and you can’t work out if you are angry, depressed, humiliated, or just sad. But you know something is wrong. You just have to choose what to do. You’ve asked for access to his phone, computer, and social media, and you have a sense of control that you haven’t found messages or anything overly untoward.
Dear wife, I know you think this gives you some sort of security. But call records can be deleted. Messages can be deleted. People can appear as strangers on social media and in fact be close. If you need this sort of access, you are lacking trust, and without trust, what do you have?
You love him. You are terrified of your world crumbling around you. You would rather live in denial by believing him when you confront him and he denies it, even though your body knows the truth in every cell of your being. Even though your gut is getting louder and louder, you keep quieting her. You don’t want to hear what she’s screaming at you. You can’t listen to her. It’s too painful. It’s too hurtful. That truth is so damn ugly you don’t want to see it.
Until you do. Until that voice is deafening. Until the brutal reality has slapped you so hard across your face, you can no longer ignore it.
The realisation of what your husband has been doing is mortifying. Each breach of trust pelting you from every angle. Having sex with another woman will shatter your heart. The possibility of him sharing intimacy and loving another woman will be soul destroying. But the thing that will keep you in the pit of despair, the thing that will be what ultimately breaks you, will be the betrayal, the deceit, his ability to so easily lie to you, over and over and over again. That this man, this man you gave your heart and soul to, broke your trust in every way possible.
Dear wife, I know you feel broken. I know you have an agonising suffering coursing through your body. But with support and time, you can heal.
You have decisions to make. Do you stay? Or do you go? For some, infidelity is a deal breaker. Bags are packed, and it’s over. For others, they believe with hard work they can get through it, some do and some don’t. And for some, they stay, they do work on themselves, and they try and fully heal, but they never really do. Some things are buried and resentment builds. Growth is stilted and what’s been buried sits idle, just waiting for the inevitable explosion.
Dear wife, please know that you are whole on your own. You can put yourself back together, whatever choice you make. You may feel broken, but he was broken long before he broke you.
The pain of being cheated on is like a gunshot wound; you either make a choice that will encourage healing, or a choice where you slowly die inside. Because the pain of being reminded of that hurt every day, even if only small, is like constantly stabbing the same open wound that you are so desperately trying to heal. Only to realise that it will now take double the effort to heal.
Dear wife, he is deeply wounded, and he betrayed you, causing deep pain and hurt in the hope he could make himself feel better. It’s time for him to do the work, with or without you, because it’s not your job to fix him.
It was never your job to fix him.