Most of us head into marriage with delusions…er…illusions of “happily ever after”. We never really think about cheating because isn’t the whole reason we’re getting married because we’re DONE having sex with other people?
We step into this fantasy worl, which eventually gives way to the reality of mortgages and kids with ear infections. But that’s life, right?
Until the day we discover a hidden cell phone. Or graphic e-mails to an old girlfriend. Or, like my friend Vicky, we’re contacted by someone claiming to be in love with our husband…and telling us that he says we’re a nagging bitch.
Suddenly, our lives are upside down. Nothing seems safe. Nothing seems right.
The day I found out, I walked the house like Lady Macbeth. Wringing my hands, I moaned over and over: “What am I supposed to do?”
Angie vomited, barely able to breathe.
Debbie remained emotionless and stunned for days when her husband offered up the “we’ve grown apart” speech and announced he’d met someone else.
In the days following discovery of a partner’s infidelity, we often read from the same script. We weep, we beg, we scream. “How could you do this to me?” we wail. “I’ve been a good wife,” we protest. “What does she have that I don’t have?” we demand.
We contemplate our options, but rarely with a clear head. (On the advice of my lawyer, I’m leaving out the part where I contemplated running my husband over with my car…but homicide, too, is a common thought! For now, though, let’s keep revenge fantasies just that – fantasies. I don’t want to have to post bail for any of you.)
Suicide can also be a far-too-common consideration. If you’re in such pain that you can’t possibly see a way out, please call a crisis line, family member or good friend. You will find your way into the sunlight again. I promise.
Our emotions tend to center on feeling like this horrible miscarriage was done TO us. But the bizarre thing about infidelity is that it likely – honestly! – had nothing to do with us. We’re just collateral damage. And if you start from that point – accepting that the affair was HIS choice (regardless of how good or bad your marriage was) and that HE needs to take responsibility for his choice, you’ll save yourself a lot of agonizing and self-flagellation.
When I was scrutinizing myself for what possibly I was lacking (too old? Too thin? Too fat? Too blonde? Too smart? Too dumb? You get the idea…), I took solace in the fact that Sandra Bullock was cheated on (sorry Sandra!). So was Sienna Miller. And Halle Berry. And Téa Leoni. And possibly maybe Demi Moore. And a zillion other gorgeous, accomplished, smart women. Now, honestly, if Elizabeth Hurley gets cheated on, do you think it has anything to do with looks or success or sophistication or whatever else you think you lack?
Cheaters cheat because…well…because they clearly have boundary issues and, sadly, because they’re missing something that they think they can get from an affair partner…or at least distract themselves from its lack by the ego-stroking that an affair provides. But, while you can sympathize that they’re missing something – a good job? Good health? A red sportscar? Blind adoration that 15 years of marriage tends to wane? – the problem is theirs.
And – guess what? – if they’re unhappy with the marriage, it’s up to them to tell you so. And for the two of you, if you so choose, to fix it. Or separate. If affairs were a reasonable solution, they wouldn’t have to be secret.
To read more, visit Elle at www.betrayedwivesclub.blogspot.com