I have been married for 20 years. To say “happily” would not be entirely true. We have had many happy times and many rough times. I think most marriages that last go through ups and downs. Being married is not easy – having kids is not easy and being with the same person for an extended period of time is not easy. But we all make choices and decide how we will live our lives.
My family is very important to me. I love my husband and I love my children and I love our family unit. I am, and have always been, fiercely protective of this unit and have had to make compromises and sacrifices to salvage what is most important to me.
Three years ago I found out my husband was having an affair. To say I was devastated would be an understatement. It was awful. He started an emotional affair with something at work. It began with harmless texting – “we are just friends” he would tell me. His phone would ding at all hours of the night and he would tell me that I was “crazy”. It was work related, she had a quick question, etc.. But I knew better. I watched the entire thing unfold before my eyes and was unable to stop it.
But then the texting stopped. And I thought it was over. Boy was I mistaken. It turned out that the “friendship” had turned into an affair and he was hiding it. The signs were all there – it just took me a while to piece them together. He used to leave his phone in the kitchen when he got home from work – it was now always on him. His password (which he had always shared with me) was suddenly changed. He began working a little harder and suddenly had many late night meetings.
When I finally realized what was going on – I confronted him and he admitted to everything. He was sorry, he made a mistake and he wanted to work on our marriage.
It was a dark time for me. I felt so betrayed and so alone. I chose not to share my story with anyone. Not my family, not my friends. I felt that the only way I could possibly try and salvage my marriage was to do it with no one else involved. My girlfriends were so well meaning but I knew they would tell me to leave. We had many conversations about “what would we do” if we found out that our husband was cheating us. We all said we would leave and criticized those who stayed. We judged others so harshly – which is so easy to do when your not in the situation.
I chose to stay and work on my marriage for a variety of reasons. I loved him and I loved my life. I saw us growing old together and was willing to work on trying to build the trust back. I had a part to play in the demise of our marriage and I knew that if we were to survive, I would have to own my part. This was not easy!
It took us a long time but it seems that we have figured out our issues. We are still in therapy (and will be for some time), but our relationship is definitely stronger than it ever was before. Trust is still an issue for me. I think it always will be -but they say time heals all wounds so I am hoping that is the case.
The one thing I know for certain is that had his affair become public I would have left. When I think about that it makes me wonder how many marriages have fallen apart based on the court of public opinion. Well meaning family and friends are so quick to show support but they ultimately judge. My husbands betrayal was awful for me – but no one knew. I was able to figure out what worked for me and us without the “noise” of well meaning friends and family. I could actually dial back my emotions and get to the root of our problems.
If my story was known, the “drama” that would have been associated with it would have been too much for me to bear. Having people look at me with sympathy in their eyes while gossiping behind my back would have forced me to become irrational and make choices based on how others saw me and not on what was best for me and my family.
My marriage is stronger now than it ever was. Our lines of communication are open and we have been able to move past his indiscretion.
It wasn’t easy… but whoever said marriage was easy?