I posted the first installment of Laura’s story November, 2014. Here’s another part of her journey re infidelity and her husband’s reveal of another woman. Disbelief, desperation, and denial. Sound familiar?
Vacationing with friends up in Sonoma County, my husband said to me one summer morning, “I think I am in love with someone else.” I dismissed it; I ignored it; I threw it back in his face with “Oh I’m sure you don’t, you must be mistaken.” We were sitting on the beach at the time, the Pacific Ocean not twenty feet away. After kicking a lot of sand around (childish tantrum? state of shock? normal reaction?) and throwing some bits of driftwood (okay, tantrum), I put on a Happy Face and walked further along the coastline where our friends were watching seals. They did not know what had just taken place.
A week or so later he brought it up again, telling me that he and this woman had shared a drink and a kiss. I felt the floor of my world drop beneath me. Someone had just thrown a grenade into my marriage. And still, I could not grasp fully what he might be telling me, what he might be asking for (help? divorce? forgiveness? therapy? permission?).
In couples’ therapy the next month, to work on some other issues in our marriage, we were vaguely hopeful. My husband had consented to this step, as I was so busy ranting and raving about everything – my lack of connection, his insane work schedule, our sexual frustration – that he was ready to tame my rage before a credible witness. And I figured a few counseling sessions would fix EVERYTHING.
We sat there. I stewed. He waited. We responded to a shelf of inquiries (how long had we been married, what was happening in the marriage lately, why had we decided to seek counseling, who was funnier, what was for dinner). Then the therapist turned in her deep leather chair and asked my husband if he were involved with someone else, “physically” is how she put it. He flinched. This is a man incapable of guile, a man who never lies, a man who cannot fake anything. Right then and there I knew it. I now understood that he was having an affair, which had started as an emotional involvement and turned quickly, headily physical, and that he had been telling me all along. I had refused to see it.
How can you be in love with someone else when you and I are supposed to love each other?!” I yelled, nightly.
“I don’t know,” was his constant reply.
“Do you want to divorce me and marry her?!”
“I don’t know.”
Back and forth. Round and round. I said that he was being illogical; he said of course I am but I still feel what I feel. I pointed out that he was confused and misled; he agreed of course I am but I still can’t stop. Or won’t stop. Somehow I thought that I could talk him out of his insanity, reason with him, rationalize, make a compelling argument for why he could not have deep feelings for this woman.
But I was utterly, foolishly wrong. Some notion from childhood about fairy tale princes and sugar perfect endings had lodged itself into my head, convincing me that we can love but one person at a time. It occurs to me now, three years after these incidents, that I was awfully naïve given my twenty-three years of marriage. Indeed my husband did love this woman, somehow. Indeed he was captivated by the possibility of being with her, some way. Eventually, I stopped trying to tell him how he felt. Eventually, he told me he did not love her anymore after all. Eventually, I was ready to hear him.
Laura took the time to seek help and listen, but in between, there was plenty of noise in her head and the household air. He made a choice, so did she, and eventually, they.
*(Laura S.: Executive Director, Infidelity Counseling Network)
**This post was originally published 8/2013 on http://betrayedwivesclub.blogspot.com/