M. R. allowed his wife’s affair for several reasons. His not uncommon backstory played an important role.
“A good test of a relationship is during downtime. True test. Being bored yet being able to adjust.” ~ M. R.
I met my future wife when I went to visit a friend in Oregon. I was twenty-one years old, she was a few years younger than me: underage. She made it very obvious that she was interested. I kept saying no, although I was attracted to her. At least I knew better than to start something that could potentially be an unlawful situation. We kept in contact after I headed home to Southern California. She was serious about me and moved to my area when she turned eighteen. I never thought it would actually happen, but because of her determined mindset, it did. We eventually got married. She was twenty-two, I was twenty-seven.
I was raised with a father who never showed affection to my mother or the kids. I vowed that I would not do the same. I wanted to be affectionate and wanted to make someone happy. But during my marriage, I fell into almost the same role; the male provider. I worked long hours at work and as a release, I played in a softball league. My wife was a stay at home mom to three girls, I was the breadwinner. I thought that was adequate. She tried to talk to me about my emotional unavailability. She would say we need to talk. I was too busy and I was also afraid to tell her how I felt – because I didn’t know how I felt. I really didn’t know how to communicate other than on a very basic level: work, love, sex, sports.
Occasionally I’d bring a friend home for a beer, etc. One particular co-worker came to the house fairly regularly. My wife became infatuated with him. Whenever he was around she dressed sexy and flirted. I felt what was going on but didn’t try to stop it. Eventually, they wound up having an affair. My wife wouldn’t be at home at certain times, so I’d drive to his house and there she’d be. I’d ask what she was doing. She’d say she needed to use his washing machine to do laundry. I never questioned him. We were co-workers and I didn’t want to bring my issues to work, plus, he still acted like a friend. The frequency of these incidents increased. There was no doubt about what was going on. We had horrible, ugly arguments that weren’t a part of our usual life together. Not our normal behavior. Ultimately I allowed the affair because I didn’t want to rock the boat, walk away or fail. That was big in the world I came from. No failing in marriage was allowed. I loved my wife and kids. The girls were so young at the time, I wanted the marriage to work. They were my whole world. I thought because of the job, house, wife, and children that I had accomplished the American Dream.
My wife continued to see this man. The affair lasted seven or eight years. The pattern was, during the week she was gone all night and returned in the morning right when I needed to go to work. She was also gone Friday in the p.m. until Monday a. m. At one point we still slept in the same bed but never had sex. Soon, I was totally out of the picture, but I still continued to work hard, take care of the girls and play softball. I wanted everything to appear normal for my children’s sake. It was extremely hard to keep it together emotionally. I never had an affair during this time. I never wanted to. I was way too busy trying to keep things going to think of anything else. No one knew what was happening for a very long time. I didn’t want it to go public and tried to keep it that way. Besides, if my family found out it would be an admission of failure.
Eventually, I moved out of the house and the other man moved in. One day I went to the house pretending I needed to give her money, instead, I started taking pictures. He was there and I told him I was going to take the photos to court. We had a confrontation. He said he didn’t want any part of it and that she wasn’t worth it. So, he ended it with her. She was deeply depressed when it was over.
My ex was really smart. Smart enough to do anything she could to get out of the marriage in other ways. She didn’t have money to get a divorce, but she found a way to force the issue. Sometimes she slept at a women’s shelter and would tell her lies in order to incriminate me. She had a restraining order taken out. There was no cause, she and her lawyer just manipulated the situation. She planned all this and it worked to her advantage when we eventually went to court for the divorce. Her father gave her the money to proceed. This made me sad because I had a really good relationship with my in-laws. I loved them but understood their position considering the source of the upset.
We were married for twenty-nine years. We’ve been divorced for twenty-one yrs. She never remarried. We communicate when necessary, cordially by text. I haven’t remarried either, but I’ve been in a healthy relationship for seven years. I knew from the beginning it was healthy. There is mutual respect and a connection where you – just know. Not without ups and downs, but nothing we can’t handle. I definitely see the difference and I’m thankful for it.
1. What would I have done differently? Be present, listen, engage. I would have given her more of me.
2. Advice to other men? Only the obvious. Find someone you like. Someone you really like spending time with, someone with intellect. Looks are just a plus, it doesn’t make anyone a good person. And of course, if the feeling is mutual. Respect and trust. Someone you want to grow old with, that’s the key.
3. Lesson learned? I think I learned a lot. The hard part is I haven’t been able to give that much of my heart away. I’m unable to invest as much as before. A defense mechanism I guess. I’ll definitely never marry that’s for sure.