Debunking the myths of infidelity

In both my reading on the topic of infidelity and in my casual polls taken among friends, it seems there are many myths that come with the territory of infidelity.  Some of these myths are held by women, some by men, and some by both.   Some are held by mistresses, some by wives.  I’ve learned a lot this past year, and thought I would go over some of the more popular myths that exist and debunk them.

1. Affairs only happen in unhappy marriages.

While this does tend to be the reason why women cheat, it doesn’t usually apply to men.  Men who live in very happy, sexually fulfilling marriages have affairs.  For women, this is hard to understand because we equate love with sex, and if he is having sex with someone else, he must not love me.  Believe it or not, this isn’t true.  I wouldn’t have believed it a few years ago, if I hadn’t been on this journey myself.  I am sure his affair partner felt that he loved her.  As a woman, her paradigm is to believe that sex=love and so he must love her.  False.  He did, by his own admission, tell her he loved her in the midst of an orgasm, something he immediately regretted as the blood flowed back to the brain that has the higher functions of reasoning and intelligent thought.  Idiot.  I digress…

Women who are unfaithful have usually already fallen out of love with their partners, and have emotionally disconnected.  For many women, then, they feel they can justify their behaviour because to them, the relationship was already over – even if he didn’t know it yet.

Men have the ability to compartmentalize sex and love.  The two can coexist together, as they do when a man loves his wife, but they need not coexist all the time.  Men can have sex with a woman for the sake of the physical release it will bring, and nothing more.  Men don’t have to find her beautiful (although it helps if you have something nice to look at), and they don’t have to find her intelligent.   If you are the mistress, and your relationship isn’t a deep emotional connection, but just sex, then chances are he isn’t looking for you to satisfy his need for intelligent conversation – you fulfill a very basic need- sex.  That’s it.  You might as well wear a t-shirt that reads: “Have Vagina, will travel”.

2. Men cheat more than women.

As a society, men tend to be more outwardly sexual in nature than women, so we have an easier time justifying men’s behaviour when they stray, and assuming that they do it more often.  Men’s brains are very different from women’s, and they are hardwired to sexually pursue QUANTITY, while women look for QUALITY.

While the stats for infidelity may be tipped slightly more in favour of men, it is the REASONS for the infidelity that differ.  Women cheat because they are no longer satisfied in the relationship.  What was once a satisfying relationship has lost its glimmer, and it is safe to say that most women who cheat have already emotionally abandoned their primary relationship.  With men, this is not the case.  Men can be completely satisfied in their relationship, having frequent and great sex at home, and still take the opportunity to get a little more on the side, if the opportunity presents itself, and there is a low likelihood of getting caught.  He may be getting fine dining at home, but a little dessert would also be nice….especially if I won’t gain weight.

One key thing to realize is the different ways in which men and women view sex, and how these views allow them to cheat for different reasons.  More on that in a future post.

3. An affair is about sex.

An affair involves sex, but it is usually never ABOUT sex.  People don’t seek out affairs to get more sex, or to have better sex.  Sex is simply the natural progression that happens when someone seeks out a new relationship with someone of the opposite sex.  For men, sex is like a sport; something you enjoy that invigorates you, makes you feel energized, potent, alive.  For men, there need be no emotional connection whatsoever, and it has very little, if anything to do with love or emotion.  We’ve all heard someone say “He’ll have sex with anything that has a pusle”, and for many men, this may very well be accurate.  Men simply need an outlet, and who it is, or what she looks like has little bearing on why she was chosen.   Men don’t need love for sex, or sex for love – they need sex for sex.  Whether you are beautiful or smart won’t really matter….whether you are sexually available at the time will have much more of an impact.

So, if affairs aren’t about sex, what are they about, and what purpose do they serve?

Often times, men report that it wasn’t the sex that made them stray.  It wasn’t the beauty, intelligence, warmth, compassion, or personality of the woman he strayed with.  It was something about how he was FEELING while he cheated, and how the other woman made him FEEL when they are together.  The rush and the exhileration of knowing that they are doing something forbidden causes an endorphin rush, which amplifies and creates a rosy glow (can you say rose-coloured-glasses?) over the entire relationship.  She probably showers him with compliments, boosts his ego, tells him how smart he is, how powerful he is, how strong, fit, and capable he is…something that perhaps his wife doesn’t do as much as she used to now that their relationship has settled into a comfortable pattern.  Just like women need and want continuous feedback that they are valued, men also need this, although most won’t admit it.  They want to be told they are attractive, sexy, a great lover.  In marriages, however, we settle into a pattern of comfort and security and no longer shower each other with these compliments, even if we DO feel them. I guess the difference is that when women need to hear it, we find ways of encouraging our lovers to tell us, while men feel foolish doing so.  So, if a man is feeling needy for that kind of attention, he may never provide any clues.  So keep the compliments flowing…that is even more important than being sexually available – it tells him he’s important to you, that you love him, and that he still ignites that spark for you.

4. If a man is having an affair, it is due to a deficiency in the wife, aesthetically or sexually, and the mistress is seen as superior in these areas.

While this will always be the case for SOMEONE, it isn’t the case most of the time.  As per the above answers, men aren’t looking to improve upon anything, and having sex with the mistress didn’t mean there was a competition in his mind between the two.  Just like sex and love are mutually exclusive, so are the wife and the mistress.  So, if your husband cheated on you, it doesn’t mean he didn’t and doesn’t love you.  If you are a mistress to a married man, just because he is having sex with you does NOT mean that he loves you or wants to be with you long term.  You’re scratching a temporary itch, and yes he is having sex with his wife and enjoying it, which brings us to the next myth:

5. A married man engaged in an affair isn’t having sex with his wife.

This is completely false, although I am sure most mistresses would like to believe it.  Most affair partners are shocked to discover that the man they thought they were ‘stealing’ and ‘one-upping’ from the wife is actually engaging in regular sexual activity with her.  In some cases, he may be having more sex with his wife than with the mistress – she just doesn’t know it.  Married men sleep with their mistresses and return home to their marital bed every night.  They snuggle in with their spouse, they say “I love you” before rolling over, they hold each other in their sleep.   In fact, because an affair boosts a man’s self esteem so much, many have reported returning home from their rendez-vous with invigorated, excited, and ready to make LOVE to their wife.  Therein lies another main difference….he fucks the mistress, he makes love to his wife.  It makes sense because that is what each relationship is based on – casual meaningless sex vs sex for love.

Now that isn’t the case in ALL extra-marital relationships.  Some marital relationships may very well be on the rocks, and a man MAY turn to a mistress to satisfy the sexual needs that aren’t being met at home.  But, this isn’t ALWAYS the case, and certainly wasn’t the case for us.  We are very much “in love”, exchange kisses each morning before we part ways for work, affectionately greet each other when we return at the end of the day, find reasons to tell each other that we love one another, exchange playful sexual advances like we did when we were dating. But, I would wager a bet that his mistress wouldn’t believe it if he told her.  In fact, he DID tell her, and she didn’t believe it.  She accused him of being delusional, and then painted her own story that matched what she wanted to believe.

My husband made every attempt to paint a very clear picture for her about what this was for him.  “This is only about sex for me”, he’d said.  I was shocked to hear him say that because this isn’t something that I ever would have imagined him saying.  My husband is one of the most emotionally sensitive men that I know, and he very much equates love and sex….when it is between US.  “I love my wife”, “I love my children”, “I love and want my family”, “I don’t love you”.  All of these comments were met with resistance.  Resistance to believe that it could be true, when all of the signs she was seeing were pointing to the opposite.  I can’t blame her for thinking that – she is a woman and we equate sex with love…and that belief gets both the mistress and the affair partner into trouble inside their own minds when evaluating the affair and what it really meant.

In Shirley Glass’ book, “Not just friends”, she writes: “A distraught wife said to her husband, “How could you do this to me? You always looked down on those men who had affairs and broke up their family.”  The husband replied…”I was always committed to you.  I never once intended to leave you.”  She was enraged. “What do you mean you were committed?  How could you be committed when you had sex with another woman?”. He answered, “It never meant anything” (Emphasis added)

6. If a married man is having sex with his mistress, he must love her.  If he isn’t having sex with his wife, he must not love his wife.  He has chosen the mistress over the wife.

If I have learned any ONE great truth out of this whole year of discovery, it is that the differences between men and women are staggering.  We are so vastly different, and the ways in which we see and evaluate relationships is remarkably different.  We can’t evaluate a relationship with a man through OUR eyes, because our eyes are female.  The opposite is true for men.  We simply aren’t hard-wired to understand it from their perspective. Sometimes it takes a crisis to propel you to a place where you are forced to look at it, examine it, and understand it, and for that I am thankful to have had that opportunity – it has been life-changing.

When I first learned that my husband had had an affair, my initial thought was “he doesn’t love me anymore”.  For women, sex and love go hand in hand.  Women want to feel love in order to have sex (prostitutes and manipulative mistresses are the exception…but even then, deep inside they long for a loving connection too).  If we feel love, we will have sex, so if a man has sex with us, it means he loves us – right?  Wrong.  Men have sex for sex. It has nothing to do with love or emotion.  Men have the ability to compartmentalize sex into its own category, and love and emotion are not required.  A man can have sex with you without feeling an ounce of love.  A man feels no guilt about engaging in loveless sex because the two are mutually exclusive.  This is why he can have sex with the mistress and still LOVE HIS WIFE.

Once I learned and understood that he was capable of separating the two, it became much easier to understand his perspective and regain the faith that he may still love me.  There was a chance for us after all.

7. The mistress must be more attractive/smarter/more fit/more beautiful than the wife.

This is rarely the case.  In all of the reading that I have done, rarely is the mistress more beautiful than the wife.  Sometimes she is younger, but usually not prettier.  Because women fret about their appearance, and because we know men are visual creatures, our first fear is “he found someone prettier than me”.  This is rarely ever the case.

When my husband first made mention of this woman at work who was now working closely with him, my first comment was “oh a blonde woman working with my husband, should I be worried?”, said with a smile.  He replied with: “Oh goodness no, absolutely not, she isn’t even slightly attractive to me”.  Now, of course you are thinking “well he told you that at the time because he was DECEIVING you”, and I would agree, except that he still says it now.   When we talk about what led him to being with her sexually, he is stunned that he ever strayed towards her.  He doesn’t find her physically attractive or sexually attractive, he has no memory of what she looked like naked except for the fact that she had breast enlargement surgery and corrective surgery for inverted nipples.  He remembers these things because he found them odd, and yes, my husband prefers natural breasts thank you. The sex was “nothing special”, “not very good”, and he doesn’t remember any details about the actual sexual interactions they had together.

According to Shirley Glass, in her book “Not Just Friends”, she states that “outside observers will speculate unfairly and ignorantly that the betrayed wife must have been inadequate in the bedroom.

8. Once a cheater, always a cheater

This is one where there is no absolute answer. Heck, there isn’t an absolute answer to ANYTHING, but this one is truly variable.  Because men cheat for various reasons, the things that keep them cheating or not also vary.  If a man is incapable of fidelity, and has an inability to commit, then yes, he will likely re-offend.  When the infidelity is the result of a deeply seeded problem within him, it will take time and commitment to reversing it.  If it was an unfortunate set of circumstances that led him to make choices he normally would never make, or if he was in some way coerced or assisted by the affair partner into starting a relationship, that’s different.

When a man makes a pledge towards honesty, confesses the affair, and lays all of his cards on the table for scrutiny and examination, he has taken the first step towards earning back your trust.  Instead of more lies and covering up, he has chosen to tell you, and that is a good start.  When he chooses to enter therapy in order to better understand himself, you, your relationship and why the relationship was vulnerable to an affair, he is showing an interest in identifying and fighting the demons that led him down the affair path.  When he listens, when he cries with you, when he takes responsibility for what he has caused and feels true remorse, and when he puts himself into your shoes to feel what you are feeling, and to grasp the intensity of the pain that he has caused, you can now say that he truly GETS IT.  I would venture to guess that someone who knows the pain of infidelity from the other side, and who respects and loves the person to whom he is married, will not want to hurt her that way again…especially if he wasn’t aware, at the time, of the impact his actions were having.

Men can cheat once and never again.  Some men are serial cheaters.  Not all men.

9. Men initiate almost all affairs

Obviously in cases where the wife is the cheater, this doesn’t apply.  This response will be directed to married men having affairs. I think it can be true that men will seek out an affair, but I don’t believe that a man wakes up one morning, and says “Today, I am going to seek out a woman whom I can engage in an extramarital affair”.  It isn’t as much a CHOICE as it is a CIRCUMSTANCE they find themselves in.  Men who find themselves in affairs, sometimes do, not because they were actively seeking it out, but rather a set of circumstances presented themselves in such a way, at such a time when a man was vulnerable to an affair.

In our case, my husband did not seek out his affair.  He was ‘befriended’ by a woman at work, who soon became privy to the emotional turmoil he was going through.  Casting herself as his “friend”, and as his “ativan”, she justified her overly-caring behaviour as part of her ‘loving, caring, compassionate nature’.  Looking back at it now, my husband sees her approaches disguised as ‘friendly banter’ through a more informed lens, and feels conned.   Interesting when the betrrayer also feels betrayed.

My husband’s mistress set her sights on him early, and he was a target.  We are convinced that if it hadn’t been him, it would be some other high-earning professional in his office.  She set her sights on him, knew what she wanted, and made it happen.  She knew men love sex, so she outwardly professed to “never getting enough to be satisifed”, and how she would have sex “8-10 times a day if possible”. She catered to his male side, and painted herself as “every man’s dream”; sexually available, sexually interested, and no strings attached.  Unless you define a purposeful pregnancy which resulted in a baby, an attempted collapse of your family, manipulative threats toward your family and professional mobility, and a monthly child-support payment “no strings”, you’re right on.  Women who see what they want and go after it are very easily capable of igniting an affair with a man, as long he is in the right place from a ‘vunerability’ standpoint.

10. Infidelity means the end of a marriage.

I, and countless other women are proof that this is not the case.  Don’t get me wrong, this is the hardest road I have ever traveled, and I’ve logged many miles soaked in tears, but I will survive this, and our marriage will be better because we’ve been through it.  A compassionate and understanding husband who takes responsibility for his actions, open and honest communication, marital therapy to assist couples in communicating effectively and filling the potholes which made their marriage vulnerable – all of these things assist a couple in rebuilding the trust and intimacy of their marriage.  I am sure at one point, or maybe even at many points, I considered our marriage to be “over”, unsalvageable, irreparable.  With time I am starting to see that this affair, his infidelity and this crisis may simply be a catalyst for a new beginning.


Stalking, Slander, and Surreptitiousness

There.  I said it.  I have a stalker.  It is my husband’s ex-mistress.  I kid you not, she actually does stalk me.  Perhaps I should be flattered that someone has taken such a long-standing interest in what I do, where I go, what my family is up to, how my business is operating, and whether there is “trouble in paradise”, but I don’t.  Frankly, I just wish she would grow up and move on.

Now, when pressed, of course, she will feign ignorance (it is part of her passive aggressive nature), and claim instead that her “friends” are checking up on me, my business, what is going on in my life, all because they “care” about her.  Now I should be frank and say that I am not sure these “friends” actually exist.  I am not saying that to be mean, it is simply a contemplative thought because as a woman, us women tend not to gravitate towards those who manipulate, coerce, guilt, tantrum, rope-in and abuse the people they have relationships with.  Wonen like that are hard to get along with.  They are hard to be at ease around.  They put you on edge, make you walk on eggshells and are generally unpleasant.  A person who responds to situations with this kind of hatred, animosity, selfishness, ignorance and entitlement can’t possible have many people around them.

Long before the affair was admitted, she was interested in me.  Perhaps it is part of the mistress agenda to get to know as much about the wife (the competition) as possible, in the same way that the betrayed wife ends up wanting to know as much about the mistress as she can.  From a tactical perspective, it certainly makes sense, but it doesn’t make it any more acceptable to me.

It started when she saved joke emails sent by my husband  which had also been sent to my family members in unison.  Therefore, their email addresses were visible, and I guess she thought they would come in handy.  She would later use these emails when she created a fake email account  in order to divulge the details of the affair to my family members.  She started watching my twitter feed to see what I was posting and what we were up to.  Were we going away on vacation, were we having a good time, were we happy?  She needed to know, and twitter was the fastest way to gain that information.  While she never formally followed me on twitter (i.e. didn’t link our accounts to get auto-updates), she would check the feed manually, and often. Via twitter she was able to learn what I was up to, my state of mind…you get the idea.

Over the course of several months, while the affair relationship was ongoing, she visited my twitter feed often, learning little details about my thoughts, feelings, whereabouts, happiness in my marriage.  She probably felt like she was spying on us virtually.  I guess it’s a good thing I don’t post everything to twitter 🙂  I had once tweeted that I found it interesting that the Tiffany’s jewelry store has a wish list which you can create and then email to your husband/boyfriend so that he knows what you like.  “How convenient!”, I thought, even though I am not a big jewelry wearer.  My husband had indicated a desire to buy me a Tiffany’s key, which had led me to the site in the first place, and my observation of there being a wish list was simply my being impressed that such a thing was possible.  During the texting marathon that she and my husband engaged in in the wake of the affair disclosure, she commented: “Oh I am sure this isn’t bother [your wife] one little bit.  All it takes is some Tiffany’s jewelry, and she is satisfied” and some further comments about how shallow I am that jewelry will make this all better.  For the record, I don’t wear a lot of jewelry.  I have worn the same diamond solitaire earrings in my ears since 2001 when my first son was born.  They were a gift from my husband on the birth of our first child.  We called them my “push present”.  I thought it was adorable.  They’ve remained in my ears ever since, and it has now been 10 years. My watch was purchased for me on my 5th wedding anniversary and is the only one I own.  My wedding band and engagement ring adorn my ring finger, and the 4th finger of my opposite hand has a family ring that my husband bought as the ‘push present’ for our last child.  I never take any of it off.  I am not one of those who rotates her jewelry, or showcases various pieces from her collection.  I am far too low maintenance to “accessorize” – just one more thing to think about, so I don’t bother.  I never have.  Her comment about me being shallow could not be further from the truth, but what can I expect from a woman who has already painted me with her brush, and who will refuse to see any information that contradicts her fixed false belief.   To do so would be a waste of my time.  If she should ever read this, perhaps this will let her know that she was horribly inaccurate.

She then visited the blog that I maintain for my business, and attempted to leave a cloaked comment about her relationship with my husband because she thought my consumers might want to “support me”.  Her comment was never published. I moderate my blog for this reason.

Two days after the affair was disclosed, my husband and I decided we needed a night out to ourselves.  We’d just been through the ringer, and really craved some alone time, a place where we could talk – uninterrupted.  I tweeted that day that we were going on a date, and she later referenced that in a text, saying “You’re going on a DATE?  What, are you using me and this situation to IMPROVE your marriage?”.  The answer to that, a resounding YES.  We had a family friend come to watch the kids, and she called our home 27 times that evening, hanging up each time she reached voicemail.  Our sitter doesn’t answer the phone, and allows each call to go to voicemail, but after the 28th attempt, she picked up the phone in order to ask “what the heck is wrong with you that you are calling here so often?”, and our sitter was then treated to a monologue detailing the affair, what a bitch I must be, and how my husband LOVES her.  Interesting take on it sweetie.

Over the next few months, she was legally prohibited from contacting us directly or via email, text messages, because we obtained legal counsel.  She was asked to cease and desist, and threatened with court action if her behaviour wasn’t amended.  Being the sneaky conniving person she is, and believing that she outsmarts other people, she tried to find other ways of accidentally conveying information she wanted us to know, and ways to harm our family.  She emailed us the ultrasound images for her baby, and mentioned that she was keeping the baby now, based on some comments she’d heard me say about how “important family is”.  Whatever.  My husband never bothered to open the email, he isn’t interested.

A few quiet months went by with several cloaked attempts to contact us.  She emailed my husband a couple of times, trying to make it appear as though he was simply on her ‘distribution list’, and that his inclusion was merely an oversight.

She would later send another email, this time directly, telling him that she thought she was in the hospital for early labour and was going to put into effect protective orders for her and her baby into place, preventing him from accessing them, and protecting the baby from “his abuse”.   Along with our lawyer, we all got some pretty intense belly-aching laughs out of that one because, as our lawyer so gingerly pointed out, most women who are genuinely afraid of a potential attacker don’t typically send them an email telling them where they can be found.  These same people who are terrified of their aggressor don’t often also give the baby his surname.  She really thinks other people don’t see through her lame-ass behaviour.  It was merely an excuse to mention the baby, gain contact with him, and test whether he cares for her or not.  Newsflash: he doesn’t.

She decides to see how this whole Twitter thing works, and creates an account for herself.  Every tweet she makes is about the baby, how excited she is, how this is such a gift, how friends and family are chomping at the bit to babysit, yada yada yada.  She went on in later tweets to name him as the father of the child (when this had not yet even been confirmed), made mention of how everyone knew about the affair except me, and hoped that her daughter didn’t end up being an “idiot-savante” like her father.   We were actually impressed that she was able to use that word in a sentence.  Triple point score!  (She won’t get that reference either, so I will save her the trouble and mention it has to do with scrabble).  Words aren’t her strong suit.

Not satisfied that her twitter feed isn’t being read by ANYONE, and that I may never stumble across it, she decided to mention the usernames of some of my friends in one of her tweets.  I should mention, for those not well versed in twitter, that if you mention someone’s twitter username in a tweet, they will be notified that they were mentioned, and directed to the tweet.  So, she baited some of the people I have listed as friends on twitter (she looks at my account, remember), by mentioning them, and hoping they would come see her page.  They did, and I was immediately sent 5 emails asking what the heck was going on.  I simply told them it’s my crazy stalker causing trouble, and nothing was ever said about it again.  Obviously she thinks outsiders care much more about this situation than they actually do.  Truthfully, people are far too consumed with themselves to give due attention to anyone else’s shit.

Given that her behaviour in creating her twitter account was to slander my husband and I, and to cause us psychological harm, she was asked to disable her account and take down her tweets.  She feigned ignorance about how to do that, attempting to buy herself more time for the information to be publicly available.  I was asked to send her written instructions on how to disable a twitter account.  I was happy to provide the help, as I am always about helping those less fortunate than I.

She discovers, via Twitter, that my husband and I are throwing a holiday party in our home.  I tweet some images of the decor and preparations.  Within a couple of hours, she sends a text message to a friend of ours she suspects will be at the party to inform him that she and my husband had sex, and that she had recently given birth to a baby girl.  He received the text message, shook his head, and refused to reply.  He, like many others, simply didn’t find her worth his time.  He had worked with her and my husband, so she had obtained his cell phone by said means.  Given that she desperately hopes for her behaviour to have immediate impact, his apathy to the situation and lack of reply pushed her to try a little harder…she called and left a message at his home.  His wife, also our friend, heard the message, and not aware of who this was, or what this was about, called back in order to make sense of the ridiculousness of her assertions and winds up in a 10 minute conversation with her, where once again, she felt the need to divulge all of the details.  What she probably didn’t know was that our friend, and the woman on the other end of the phone, is a psychiatrist.   It certainly was interesting to hear, from a psychiatric perspective, what she thought about this woman.

Upset that her recent request to receive $3000.00 per month above the regular child support payment to cover the cost of a private nanny was denied, she decided to lash out.  She called my husband’s workplace and lodged a formal complaint about him.  She did so anonymously, but does she really think we wouldn’t know that it was her?   He doesn’t have any other crazy stalker mistresses out there with the same backstory…She mentioned in her complaint, that she had been employed by him, outside of this current job, that he fathered her child, and that he was defaulting on child support payments.  I should mention that her past point, about him defaulting on child support is completely false.  He pays each payment on time, by post dated cheques, and is completely fulfilling his financial obligation.  To say that he was not constitutes slander.  I am sure she has no idea she broke the law when she mentioned untruths in an attempt to tarnish his reputation. Her desire was to paint him as irresponsible and morally corrupt , and not deserving of a position of influence within the organization.  Her attempt failed miserably, as the complaint was directed to his colleague who extended my husband a great deal of sympathy, and admitted that he too had once had a crazy woman involved in his life, attempting to destroy his marriage.  He was familiar with the “type”, and would ensure that he would be personally  handling any further dealings with the complainant.

So here we are, in March of 2011, so what comes next?  Stay tuned to find out if the craziness continues.  This image so fits with her personality:

Two in the bed and three in the head

One of the most difficult things I’ve had difficulty with, on this journey to recovery from his affair, is seeing him naked.  His naked body reminds me them together, and that makes me enormously sad.  The intimacy and privacy that we once shared has been shattered, and I wonder if it will ever be the same for me.  My hope is that a year from now, or two years from now, or maybe 6 months from now, I will re-read this post and have to update it because my feelings have changed.  I hope.

He gets undressed in the master bedroom walk-in closet.  I have an unobstructed view from my side of the bed.  Under most conditions, you could consider that a “bonus”, but in my case, it is a catalyst for flashbacks.  I can no longer see my husband naked without imagining her underneath it, on top of it, it pressed up against or wrapped around someone else.  His nudity is now a trigger, and that makes me sad.  Married couples, in my mind, share the privacy of only being seen naked by one another.  For me, that is a thought that brings comfort because to me, it signifies the intimate connection shared between a husband and a wife.  I like the thought that no one has seen me naked but him and vice versa.  That reality is no longer, as I have shared my husband unwillingly with another.

I think the hardest part of losing the intimacy in a marriage is trying to rebuild it when your trust is shattered.  In the hours, days and weeks following an affair, it is very typical for couples to experience something called Hysterical Bonding, where they engage in frequent and rampant sex.  Couples do this for many reasons; for some couples it is a way of reclaiming their intimacy, intensely bonding over one another in the face of what could have been a near-loss, and for some betrayed wives, a way to emotionally connect to their husband and claim him back as her own.  I know that in the days and weeks that followed my husband’s admission of his affair, we were sexually active daily, sometimes several times daily.  We couldn’t get enough of one another.  Flirty text messages. sexting, graphic descriptions of what we hoped our evening would involve, emails and phone calls  replete with compliments and excuses to say “I love you”.  In the wake of such a horrible and devastating event, it was both the saddest time of my life, and the most sexually charged.  Bizarre co-existence.

The problem for me, over the course of this past year, is getting her out of my head when we make love.  Thoughts of him with her will flash into my mind, and I have to push them out.  Sometimes when we are together, I will fantasize that she has a bird’s eye view, and it is intensely satisfying.  I wonder if he is thinking of her, comparing us sexually.  Where do I rate?  Was sex better with her?  Was he more aroused with her?  Does he think about the times they were together, and do the flashbacks turn him on?  Is she a better fuck? (I was going to say lover, but it felt wrong because the love wasn’t mutual). I am slowly learning to vocalize these fears in order to help myself process, digest and heal.  It isn’t healthy for me to wonder about these things, question whether I am sexually satisfying to my husband, wonder if he has thoughts of her.  It only eats away at me slowly and causes me pain.  So, I’ve started asking very direct questions about it, and he is very honest in his answers, which helps me a great deal.

Thankfully, and for the record:

  • He doesn’t think of her when we are together sexually
  • He didn’t find sex with her gratifying
  • He finds sex with me much more fulfilling because we have an emotional connection that was absent with her, so it was empty
  • I have a higher rating in more ways than just sexually
  • Sure he was aroused by her temporarily, but in the long run finds me more arousing.
  • He doesn’t think back to the times that they were together and frankly doesn’t remember much.  The thought makes him physically sick.
  • He is willing to answer my questions about this, and assuage my fears and insecurities about this at any time.
  • Any flashbacks he has to her are non-sexual in nature, and are more traumatic, recalling the degree to which he was manipulated and threatened for the greater part of a year.  He feels free of her grasp.

I am sure that if she were to read this, being that she is entirely cynical of any feelings that he has for me, our happiness, or his preference to be with me, she would say “well of course he is going to tell you that to make you feel better, it doesn’t make it TRUE”.  Sure, I’ve thought of that.  I now question every single thing he tells me.  There is no more blind trusting.  However, I also know that he has been incredibly honest with me in answering all of my questions, even when the answers have hurt.  He has shown me over the past year that he won’t lie to make me feel better…it’s all coming out, good or bad.

I am sure, in time, that she will disappear from my head.  There will come days when she doesn’t come to mind at all, I hope. I can’t wait for that day because I’ve given her far too much of my time and energy already.  I am ready to release her.  If she were ever to read this blog, and that would require that she actually care enough to learn about infidelity from the betrayed spouse’s perspective (doubtful indeed), she would probably find a sick satisfaction in knowing that she has impacted me.   She would like nothing more than to know that she has caused pain, suffering and trauma to me.  I won’t give her that satisfaction – she doesn’t deserve it.

Stop this rollercoaster, I want to get off

Rollercoasters are wildly exciting, taking you on a high speed tumultuous journey of ups and downs where you feel completely disoriented and hang on by a thread of hope that you will survive. The rollercoaster that you ride in the wake of infidelity is anything but exciting, and while the ups and downs are the same, and you are also hanging by a thread of hope that you will survive, this was not a ride that you had ever willingly agreed to take.

In the weeks after the discovery of his affair, we sat in the therapist’s office, and I said that I felt as though I was in a speeding car, recklessly headed to a place I didn’t know, and holding on for dear life, hopeful that my family would survive this unscathed. When you are thrust into that car, that rollercoaster, that speeding train without having willingly placed yourself there, the mix of emotions that washes over you is like something I’ve never experienced.

Have you ever been sad and angry at the same time? Absolutely – we all have. But to look at your husband’s face, and to simultaneously hate him, wish hurt and pain upon him, love him, blame him, intensely crave him, despise every ounce of him, feel protected by him, feel abandoned by him, cherish every ounce of him….it is an incongruence I never knew was possible. How could these conflicting feelings all happen at the same time, towards the same person, in this one moment? Believe me, it is possible.

I liken it to a corkscrew. A corkscrew spirals around in a circular pattern, and if you follow the path of a corkscrew, you’ll notice it comes back around full circle, but when it comes back, it is in a slightly different place. Depending on whether you are following that corkscrew down or up, you will either be higher or lower than where you started. It’s familiar…but slightly different. Your perspective on that place is shifting.

This is how the emotional rollercoaster feels when you are on it. One day you hate his guts and wish him out of your life forever, and the next day you crave his closeness so badly that it physically hurts. An hour, a day or a week later, you are back to the same place of hating him, except this time, the hate is different. Maybe today the hate is mixed with sadness instead of anger, and instead of wishing him dead, you long to be held and comforted. The hate is still there, but what accompanies the hate has shifted. It’s kind of like ‘same entree, different side dish’.

For someone who lives for consistency, this back and forth unpredictable mood-swing-to-the-extreme experience is unsettling. I like predictable things, and I like to be predictable for others. This was as far from predictable as I’ve ever been.

A year later, my feelings are still inconsistent to a degree – I have good days, and I have bad days. The one thing that remains the same is my level of commitment to my marriage. I won’t give up on this marriage without a fight, and I am fighting hard – we both are.


Of the many things that plague me in the wake of my husband’s affair, the thing that perplexes me most is the sense of entitlement in his mistress.  How is it that someone can feel entitled to my husband? My family? My life?

A woman walks into a high end clothing store and after browsing around for a while, comes across a lovely piece that she admired from afar. She tries it on, and loves the way it looks on her and how it makes her feel.  She is determined that she MUST have this item – it was MADE FOR HER.  When she glances at the price tag, she is thrown into a shocked stupor when the price hits her in the face. Or perhaps that tag isn’t a price tag at all, but one that reads “sold”, or “on hold for Mrs. X”.  Whatever the scenario, the situation is the same: the woman loves this item, but all signs tell her that she can’t have it.  She decides that her needs and wants outweigh anyone else’s, she is going to rewrite the rule to suit herself, and she steals it.  She is now the proud new owner of an item that should not be hers, but in her mind it doesn’t matter – finders keepers, losers weepers.  But what if that item wasn’t a blouse, but was, instead, my husband, and what if I found him first and don’t intend to be the weeping loser?

Who, in their right mind, can decide, without any feelings of guilt or remorse, that they are entitled to another woman’s husband?  Isn’t there some kind of “woman code”? Some unwritten rule that has women looking out for one another, instead of competing and tearing one another down?  If a man is happily married, why would you seek him out?  Why would you try to poke holes in his feelings for his wife?  Why would you, upon seeing him vulnerable and at a low point, make every effort to swoop down like a vulture?  Why wouldn’t you just walk away, and find a single man who puts you first, instead of a married man who will ALWAYS put you second?  Aren’t you worth more than that?  Don’t you deserve more than that?

It is painfully obvious that my husband’s mistress suffers with low self esteem, is horribly insecure, and doesn’t come by love in her life very easily.  She manipulates to get what she wants because she doesn’t feel that she is good enough to ever come by it naturally.  She tears other women down because she feels inferior.  People don’t try and pull down those who they feel are already beneath them – they aim higher so that they can try and feel a little better about themselves.  In this case, I am not sure how she could ever possibly feel good about herself.  She tried to destroy a marriage – a family with three young children. She lay the life of her unborn child in the balance, threatening to keep the baby if he remained with me, and offering to terminate it if he left me.  Her child was disposable.  Sounds like a loving mother, no?  When my husband asked her why she was doing this (asking him to leave his wife and threatening to end his marriage), she told him it was for the best, that he obviously didn’t love me, and that she would be able to provide a better, more loving home for our children, in a home where the man and woman LOVE each other (he never loved her). In that scenario she painted where she was planning to take over my life, I think she neglected the part where a psychopath enters into their lives.

This woman is conniving.  This woman is sick. This woman is emotionally unbalanced.  This woman is manipulative.  This woman is threatening.  This woman shows no remorse for her actions.  This woman shows no respect for other women, the institution of marriage, or the importance of a stable home for growing children.  This woman…is now a mother.  It makes me sad for the child, to be quite honest.

A term often used for mistresses who attempt to break up a family is “home-wrecker”.  I don’t use this term for her – I never have.  She isn’t a ‘home-wrecker’ because she hasn’t wrecked my home, but she certainly has tried.  I think we could simply call her “an easy lay”.  Yes, that’s perfect.


The devastation of an affair brings about a sense of loss like none I have ever experienced.  In that one moment, when I’d realized that my husband had been with another woman, I felt like I’d lost everything that was important to me.  I lost our intimacy, the trust, the sense of ‘knowing’ the man I thought I’d married and started a family with, the loss of my identity as a loved and cherished wife.  It was all gone.

In many ways, I think death would have been an easier loss to handle.  When you lose a loved one, you have the comfort of knowing that their life was full, and hopefully they lived it well.  You miss them, and it is a daily struggle.  With death, you hopefully have many happy reminders of the one you lost which help fill the void.  With infidelity, you have flashbacks to the disclosure of the affair, images burned into your mind of their bodies intertwined while you were at home tending to the children, songs on the radio whose lyrics speak so completely to how you feel, or once felt when you were whole.  It is like being slapped in the face on a daily basis, the losses accumulating as you learn more details of the deception, the sequence of events, the lies you were told to cover up their actions, and the ways in which the mistress humiliated you, belittled you, and attempted to steal all that is dear to you.  It is an ongoing loss that stretches out so far ahead of you that you have no idea if there is an end to it – you just have blind faith that there might be.  Hopefully this blog will show others reading this who are going through the same thing, that there IS an end, and it WILL be found.  You will be whole again, and you WILL recover.  It takes time, there is no roadmap, you can’t compare your progress to others – everyone’s journey is unique.

I knew going into this that I was experiencing loss.   What I didn’t realize was that my loss wouldn’t be restricted to my relationship with my husband.  As a result of the disclosure of my husband’s affair, I’ve also lost the support of friends, and the enclosure of family.  It sounds weird, I know…how do you LOSE friends when your husband cheats on YOU?   Shouldn’t friends gather around you, support you, and love you?  Shouldn’t they try, in their own ways, to ease the pain for you?  You would think so, but this process has taught me that people react to crisis in varied ways, and the coping mechanisms that people have, whether healthy or unhealthy will either draw them towards you, or away from you.  You will only be as supported, as your friend’s/family’s minimal coping strategies will allow.

The first friend to learn of the affair was a family friend.  This woman has been a part of my family since before I was born.  She’d babysat me as a child when my parents needed relief, attended major holidays at my home, and was married in my childhood home. I was her flower girl.  We’ve always been close, but it was once I’d married and started to have children that our relationship bloomed.  We’d started having lunches together, celebrating Christmas with her and her son, dinners at our place, overnight visits for my kids at her place.  How beautiful, I thought it was, that she used to babysit me, and is now babysitting my children.  It was a neat cycle-of-life thing, and I enjoyed her company.   She was the first to learn of the affair because my husband assumed I would kick him out, and called upon her to come and spend the night with me.  I didn’t kick him out, so that was never needed, but in making the request of her time, he had to explain what had happened.  Within a week, the phone calls stopped, the visits slowed, and the emails (even the ones that were just jokes) vanished.  She was gone.

The second friend I told of the affair was the day after the disclosure. She was a relatively new friend of mine, whom I’d met in an exercise class.  We both loved fine dining, running, and drinking wine.  Really only one of our vices was healthy so we did it as often as possible to counteract the other two.  She has marital issues of her own.  For reasons unknown to her (or perhaps that she is not ready to share with me), she hasn’t had any sexual contact with her husband for 6 years.  Her husband moved into the guest room many years ago and while they are friendly, flirty, laugh together and co-exist under the same roof as parents, they haven’t slept together in a  long time, and neither one of them feels comfortable talking about the WHY, or the HOW to get back on track.  Her initial response in the first month after learning of the affair was that of support, caring and compassion.  She felt badly for me, and she made herself available, sometimes dropping everything to come by and check up on me.  That was mostly in the first week.  Beyond that, the calls started becoming less frequent, our runs more sporadic, and the interactions more widely spaced.  It will soon be a year since we’ve run together.  I miss that. She is drifting away, and I am not sure why.  Now, it is entirely possible that she would have drifted anyway.  New friendships need some time to settle in, and sometimes one or both parties discover that the relationship isn’t working for them.  It is entirely possible that it is all coincidental timing, but I am not convinced of that.  My therapy brain tells me that for her, talking to me about MY relationship issues, makes her think about her own, and she doesn’t want to – it hurts.  So, she is keeping her distance, and it hurts.

Long before friends were even made aware of the details of what had happened, my parents found out.  The mistress has taken it upon herself to email them the details, under the completely transparent guise of suggesting that I may need support.  My parents, with whom I have never been terribly close with emotionally, were now aware of a reality that I wasn’t prepared to share.  In fact, had it been entirely up to me, they would still not know.  We just don’t have that kind of relationship.  My mother suffers with a chronic disease which will eventually take her life.   I knew that this news was a stressor that would have far-reaching implications for her overall health and well-being.  Learning that her daughter was going through something so painful, she immediately started exhibiting signs of declining health, was hospitalized several times over the course of that year, and the therapeutic dose of what she is taking to stay alive increased three-fold.  The disease which is slow and progressive was suddenly kicked into hyperdrive, and she plummeted more in 6 months than she had in the last 5 years. It was a full blown crisis of epic proportions on a far reaching scale, and my mother was swept up into its vortex, against my will.  If my mother is to succumb to her illness within the next short while, I will be able to add to the mistress’ list of accomplishments that she also killed my mother.  I don’t think that will faze her in the least.  The heartless cannot feel.

Within weeks of the discovery of the affair, the checking-in that had been so pervasive in the beginning started to slow.  People started to resume their every day lives, and yet mine was still in shambles.  Where had they gone?

I am not one who asks for help easily.  Raised by two parents who were emotionally unavailable to me, and who taught me from an early age that you can’t rely on anyone but yourself, I am not one to come out and ask for help.  Watching my friends and family slowly recede was like the end of days for me.  Afraid to ask them why they were doing this, I just sit back and watch it happen.   At the encouragement of my individual therapist (yes, I have two; a marital therapist and an individual therapist), I will be asking them what is going on, and asking for an explanation.  My fear in asking why they’ve abandoned me is that I may hear things that hurt me further.  On the other hand, it is also possible that the reasons I am ascribing in my own head are far worse than what is actually going on, and I may be causing myself more undue harm by saying nothing.  It is something I aim to do…just not sure when.

This post would be incomplete without mentioning the friends who HAVE stood by me.  Two friends who were made aware of the circumstances never left.  They’ve listened, they’ve dropped by unannounced with wine, they’ve asked with genuine concern how I am, and I am forever appreciative.  My eyes are tearful as I type this because it feels good to have their support, and I am thankful for them.  If anything ever happens to them that rocks their world in the way that this has rocked mine, they need to know that I have their back and will share the load, not simply because of what they have done for me, but because it is WHO I AM. In the sea of loss, they have been my beacons, and I am thankful.

Getting help in the aftermath of an affair

There is no question an affair rocks your world.  It completely turns upside down all that you thought was relevant, and all you thought was real.  This person whom you’ve married is suddenly appraised based on a whole new set of criteria, and there is no doubt that it brings into question whether you really know/knew the person you married.  “Who is this monster that claimed to love me, and yet simultaneously systematically deceived me?”.  How could the person who I have devoted the last 14 years to deliberately lie to me and seek out a relationship with someone else?  My husband and I had discussed infidelity at length, and each voiced our opinions about it.  Our values on the subject were the same – it is wrong, and if you are so upset in your relationship that you are seeking something elsewhere, you need to get help or get out.  In our case, no one was unhappy in the relationship, and an affair still happened – that’s the terrifying thing.  I thought affairs only happened in unhappy marriages….I was wrong.

One of the first things I did, once I realized that I was on my own, was to mobilize my greatest resource – my brain.  I have always been resourceful, and research and knowledge is power and builds my confidence, so I set out to learn everything I could about infidelity, affairs, relationships, and mistresses.  Who was this woman who felt entitled to walk into my marriage and claim my husband as hers?  Who was this man who allowed himself to get wrapped up in her charms?  Where did I fit in all of this, and what did it mean when he said “I never stopped loving you”?

One of the first things I did in the wake of the discovery of his affair was to seek out a marital therapist.  I knew 24 hours after his confession that I wasn’t prepared to throw out our marriage – not without a fight. We have always been close, we have always been in love, and we have always considered ourselves so very lucky to be with one another.   After the childhood I had, I used to confess to him that he was my reward, and that I would go through it all again if it meant I found him in the end.  He felt the same way.  How does a couple like that find themselves in a situation like that?  Therapy was soon going to explain everything and help us to see where our pitfalls were so that we could patch the holes and affair-proof our marriage.

As a formerly trained psychotherapist myself, I’ve spent my share of hours on the other side of the couch in the role of therapist. I know from my experience that men feel outnumbered and ganged up upon when the therapist is a woman.  In this situation especially, when my husband was actually guilty of a marital offence, I imagined his defenses might be high, so I set out to find a male therapist – someone who could show him that he relates, something which would make him feel more comfortable, and apt to want to continue the therapy.  For me, it was important that the man be sensitive and soft spoken.  Within an hour, I’d located a local therapist whose website caught my eye, and later my heart.  I read his description of an affair, and how it feels in the aftermath, and he was RIGHT ON.  He described my feelings perfectly, and I immediately summoned my husband to come and check out his website.  He too felt very much understood in the therapist’s profile of the betrayer and how they are feeling.  That was it – someone who understood BOTH positions and who expressed our feelings with care and compassion.  I made an appointment request that evening through his website, and within a week, we found ourselves in his office.

I think the process was much easier for me in the beginning.  After all, I’d done nothing wrong and therapy was, in my view, a way to make ME feel better in the wake of this devastation. No one was going to point the finger at me, or blame me for what had transpired – I was the innocent party.  It was simply a soothing meeting for me, where I would be understood and validated.  This was not the case for my husband.  He had to sit there across from me and watch me reduced to tears, a weakened version of my original self, desperate for love, and an empty shell – and all because of what HE had done.  He was entirely responsible, and the process of sitting through an hour-long session was tormenting for him.  We would compare notes after our sessions, and he would tell me how hard it was for him, but that he was committed, and was going to see it through – for us.   In those early days, it is safe to say that he was attending our sessions “for my benefit”, and I would wager a guess that he no longer feels that way.  We now attend for US, and both get so much out of our meetings together.  Therapy has been transformative and wonderful.  I wish we’d sought it out sooner because it has pointed out some vulnerabilities in our marriage that are a consequence of the ways in which we communicate, which are an immediate consequence to the ways that we were raised as children in our families of origin.

I think therapy in the wake of an affair is crucial.  You need someone to set the rules of engagement on the battle ground, and assist you in communicating effectively during this horrible time.

An affair causes you to suddenly step into a role for which you are completely unfamiliar.  Both you and your betraying spouse are in unfamiliar waters, and trying to see the viewpoint of the other is hard.  Having someone there to guide you on what to say, how to say it, and how to get what you need from the other is imperative.  In fact, I don’t know how couples going through this do it without this additional support system.  Friends and family are one thing, but they are completely biased (despite their claims that they aren’t), and they will take sides.  They will also allow their own biases to colour their opinions, and what you really need is a blank wall to bounce your thoughts and feelings off of, not one with a soft spot for you – balls don’t bounce well in soft spots 😉

Speaking of friends and family, it is important to know that their reactions will be varied, and you may want to only tell those that are absolutely necessary.  As a betrayed wife, it is tempting to want to shout it from the rooftops and hang him on public for the pig that he is, but resist if you can.  Tell only those who can SUPPORT you and who are FRIENDS OF THE MARRIAGE.  Shirley Glass, in her book “Not Just Friends” defines a friend of the marriage as someone who despite all negative circumstances wishes the best for your union, and supports you both in doing whatever is right to restore your marriage.  If a person says to you: “You can do better than him, he is a bastard”, you are not speaking with someone who is a friend of the marriage, but rather someone who is going to allow their biases to colour their words when you need them to be as neutral as possible.   Friends can have an opinion, but a true friend of the marriage won’t try and sway you in one direction or another – they will just listen and support, knowing that what YOU decide is what is right for YOU, regardless of whether they approve or would do the same.

Go online and seek out a marital therapist in your area who specializes in affair recovery.  Remember though that your therapist will most likely concentrate most of the sessions on the relationship itself, NOT the affair.  The affair, in the grand scheme of things was merely a clue to a larger problem under the surface, and therapy will be focused on digging deep underneath to see what could have been stronger, and what you can learn to make your bond better than it was before.  It can be done, and according to Dr. Judith Hill, receiving marital therapy in the immediate aftermath of an affair is the single best predictor of success.


When the shit hits the fan A.K.A “Your plan backfires”

Like I said in the last post, all mistresses are working for one thing…destruction of the marriage. And yes, they are working. I liken it to an unpaid prostitute, except there is one main difference: prostitutes let go. Prostitutes fuck and move on, mistresses fuck and [want to] move in.

Some mistresses wait years for their married man to leave their wife. For months or years they are led to believe that the man intends to leave their wife, but have a trunkload of excuses for why they can’t. The timing isn’t right, the kids are still too young, once the youngest is in university, after I get my promotion, I just need a little more time. Let’s face it, they NEVER intend to leave their wives. For many of them, they are getting their cake and eating it too. They get all of the benefits of a secure marital relationship, and an exciting little fantasy on the side. Ideally, they don’t want to give up either one. So, the mistress either has to wait until her patience runs out, or find a way to implode the marriage so that she can grab the brass ring. In my case, it was the latter.

Ultimatums to the tune of “you will tell your wife, or I will” are probably pretty common in those circumstances when the mistress wants in, wants more, and doesn’t like playing second fiddle to the wife. “If he isn’t going to leave his wife”, she thinks, “I will make sure she leaves him”. This was the intent of my husband’s mistress when she sat him down and coached him on what to say to me, how to break my heart, how to make it really sting. “I don’t love you”, “I never loved you”. That’s what she wanted him to say, because that is what she wanted me to think. This wasn’t just about getting him away from me. This was about hurting me deeply, injuring my self-esteem irreparably, and damaging me to the point that I would be rendered me incapable of fighting back. Honey, you met your match 😉

He told me on March 18th, 2010. It was planned that he would tell me on the 19th, but he decided to tell me a day earlier to allow us to have privacy, knowing that if he did it a day later, our conversation would be peppered with text messages, emails and phone calls trying to get a court-side seat to all of the action.

She was shocked on March 20th that he’d confessed the affair to me 2 days earlier. She was even more shocked to learn that he was still at home….and so was I. She was shocked to learn that I hadn’t kicked him out, that he was playing with his children, and that we were committed to working on our marriage. She was furious. It was delicious.

What happened over the next 2 days belongs in a made-for-television movie.

It started with some text messages:

“How are you?”
“I am worried about you”
“Did you tell her?”
“Do you want me to meet you somewhere?”
“I’m sure you need a hug”
“I want to make you feel better”

With some coaching from me on how to keep it short and sweet when you cut the ties, his replies were:

“I am fine”
“I am at home. Playing with the kids, thanks”

“You told her?” she asked. “Yes”, he replied. “You told her EVERYTHING?” she demanded. “Yes. Everything”. What was heard then was the sudden realization that the plan she had worked towards for the greater part of a year wasn’t falling into place as she had planned. In fact, it wasn’t falling at all. It was growing…stronger. How could that be? It was like the ending of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” when the Grinch realizes that despite his best efforts to ruin Christmas for the Whos of Whoville that the love that they share and the warmth in their hearts defeats evil every time, and they will be better and stronger, and will overcome any obstacles because LOVE WINS EVERY TIME.

That’s where the Grinch similarity ends though….because in contrast, she makes the Grinch seem like a humanitarian saint. The only real similarity they share, I suppose, is that they are both green…in her case it is green with envy. She lost. I won. We won.

Not believing this could possibly be true, she accused him of not having told me. I mean, there is no way that he could have told me, and I didn’t kick him out on his ass, right? She threatened to tell me herself. He provided her with my cell number and email. She threatened to come over. He invited her to do so. assuring her that he had put all of his cards on the table face up, and there was nothing more to tell.

Angry and frustrated, she then drafted and sent an email to me disclosing some details of the affair, the sex, and how they both worked to deceive me. She told me how they would have sex for hours on end (lie), how they would make fun of me behind my back (lie), and how sex with him was truly magnificent (while I completely agree, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that this was also a lie considering she just lay there like a dead fish – remember…she was working). I replied to her email that I had all of the details, didn’t need any more from her, and she needn’t ever contact me again. I wasn’t angry, spiteful, revenge-filled, just matter-of-fact. Not satisfied that she hadn’t crumbled me to my knees, she tried to hit a little harder and a little deeper with further details, such as: “your husband thinks you’re fat” (lie), “your husband thinks you’re ugly” (lie), “your husband told me that he can’t get off having sex with you, and has to think of me to get off” (lie), “whenever your husband is with you, he is actually thinking of me” (lie).

I am hoping this paints a picture of who this woman truly is. I’d never looked pure evil in the face until that moment. It was…informative.

24 hours of text messaging back and forth, emails designed to hurt, maim, slaughter and destroy me, and she was only getting started. It really makes me ponder how someone can do that to another human being? It isn’t enough to try and take away someone’s husband, to try and ruin the lives of three innocent children, and to become pregnant by another woman’s husband, but one also has to kick her when she is down, cause more hurt, and inflict psychological suffering. What had I done to deserve this treatment? Nothing. Well…I guess I met and married the man she wished could be hers. Sorry sweetie….oh wait, no I’m not.

Hell bent on inflicting as much damage as possible, she decided that if we were going to remain together, she was going to cause us some ’embarassment’. She created a fake email account with an alias, and sent emails to my parents, my brothers, my husband’s co-worker, and his best friend to tell them about the relationship and her pregnancy. Of course she denied doing so, and claimed to not know anyone by the name of her email alias. It is interesting that someone she doesn’t know seems to know SO MUCH about her. Did I mention this woman is really not very intelligent? Truthfully, my husband could have done so much better. Oh wait, he did.

After the email tirade, it was determined that this relationship needed to be ended on multiple levels. My husband formally fired her, and asked her not to return to the office the next day. He told her that the police would be called if she set foot on the premises. She was given 15 minutes to collect her stuff, and never return. She asked him not to admit to the government that she had been fired so that she could obtain maternity leave benefits, and he told her he would offer her severance if she would just “GO AWAY”. She didn’t know what severance pay is, and he had to explain it.

We hired a lawyer who set into motion a ‘cease and desist” order to ensure that she would no longer communicate with our family. She was forbidden to send emails, call, show up, text message, or communicate in any other way. We finally felt safe, and the healing could begin.

An orchestrated seduction

There’s that saying: “In the right place at the right time”.  Apparently that’s possible.

At the time that the affair with his mistress started, my husband had been going through some personal turmoil that had left him feeling very alone and traumatized.  Our lives were so busy, each of us wrapped up in our careers, and simultaneously trying to provide so much to our children.  We rarely had any opportunity to focus on “US”.   At a time when he was scared and sad, she was fun and bubbly.  When I was wrapped up in the kids’ schedules, carpooling and busy dealing with the mundane side of raising a family, she was childless, carefree, and a bundle of enthusiasm.

In Shirley Glass’ book “Not Just Friends”, she mentions that forbidden relationships carry with them a magnetism and excitement that gives the affair partner (the other woman) a distinct advantage when comparing the two relationships.   She is careful to point out that it isn’t that the wives are dull and boring and that the affair partner is exciting and illuminating.  She goes on to mention that when comparing the two women, the betraying partner isn’t so much comparing the women as he is comparing how it feels to be idealized by her in a fantasy world they have created versus being in a reality-based long term committed relationship.   Marriage takes work, and involves many factors (mortgage payments, kids schooling, job woes, responsibilities and commitments…), while the affair is pure fun.  If the betraying spouse suddenly had his affair partner asking about money issues, issues with kids, questions about bills and home repairs, the relationship would suddenly seem less exhilerating.

She was in the right place at the right time, and knew all the things to say.  Carefully placed criticisms of me, playfully contrasted against opposing positive comments about her to force a comparison.  Suggestions that his life is stressful and difficult because of me contrasted against her easy-going, fun-loving, bubbly nature.  Knowledge of our planned evening of tax planning contrasted against her plans to frequent a martini bar with friends, carefully juxtaposed for effect.  It worked, and before he knew it, they were secretly sneaking kisses at work.  He should have told me then.  He didn’t.

Not too long afterwards, the sexual tension increased.  The mutual attraction was confessed, and texting turned into sexting.  Titillating messages back and forth at night before bed, or throughout the day aimed at increasing desire and maintaining interest.  Casual kisses soon turned to hotel room escapades after work disguised as meetings.  It was all very believable to me; he worked late hours, had multiple roles in his job which required late meetings or long days.  It certainly raised no red flags.  She made it all very accessible and easy when she said “If at anytime one of us wants out, just say so, and this is over…no questions asked”.

Before long, they both found themselves at an impasse where work was concerned.  She was let go due to friction with other co-workers, and he was itching to launch a new enterprise.  Having just been fired, she accused him of using her for sex.  When he explained that he hadn’t, she reached into the ‘girl-bag’ and pulled out the ‘manipulation’ card.  Knowing that he is an honourable man who would never want to cheapen someone’s sense of self worth, she played on that, and asked for proof that he cared about her and that she wasn’t being used.  He hired her, and offered her a job.  Her plan was falling together nicely, as they were now going to be working together one-on-one in a private office, on a project that they both felt mutually excited about.  His project was the construction of a dream, her project: the destruction of a marriage.

In the fall of 2009, my girlfriend confessed to an extramarital affair.  I was disgusted.  I was angry.  I felt intense pity and sadness for her husband who was clueless to the affair, but had just been informed that she no longer wanted to be in the marriage.  I came home to my husband and told him what I’d learned.  For effect I chose to add the comment “If someone ever did that to me [have an affair], you could be sure I’d be out the door before you finished your sentence”.  Knowing he was already embroiled in an affair, he was convinced I could never find out.  He had to find a way out of it without any collateral damage.

A few weeks into the new work arrangement, he said he wanted out.  It wasn’t right.  He felt guilty, and couldn’t continue.  He had, as he described it, satisfied his curiosity for what it would be like to be with another woman, and hadn’t really been interested in pursuing further hookups after the second or third time.  The sex wasn’t great, the guilt was too much to bear, and it wasn’t who he is.  He asked her to help him stop the affair.  After all, it had been her who’s said “If at anytime one of us wants out…”  He now sees that was just a way for him to feel comfortable.  ‘Make him feel safe, make him feel comfortable, and he will be more apt to jump in the car with me’ was probably her thinking.

When he continued to tell her he was done, and wanted out, she threatened to tell me all of the details, expose the lies, and ruin him professionally.  She claimed that she would charge him with sexual harassment in the workplace, and call his professional associations.  Fearing the loss of his family and his career, he carried on.  This pattern continued for seven months, with her advances leading to sex after work.  On the days when he would refuse to engage in sex with her, his evenings would be replete with angry text messages, expressions of hurt that he didn’t care about her, and threats to expose the relationship.  On a few occasions, I actually received text messages or emails designed to make me question their relationship.  They were obscure enough that he could probably explain them away, but all she wanted to do was plant a seed of suspicion in my mind….it would then grow and do all the work for her to implode our marriage.  It didn’t work.

Within a few weeks, the unborn child became yet another weapon in her master plan to control him.  As disgusting as it sounds, and as hard to believe as it is, she started using the child’s life against him.  “If you leave your wife to be with me, I will terminate this pregnancy”.  Now those of us with rational minds find this completely ridiculous, and barbaric.  He would tell her time and time again he didn’t want another baby, and would NOT  be involved in the life of this child if she chose to have it.  Since he was being given no choice in whether this pregnancy would continue, he made it very clear that if she is making this choice alone, she will also be raising this child alone.  Never having had any children, she had an unrealistic fantasy of what parenting would look like.  To her it was probably someone to love her.  I don’t think she feels much love.  Her behaviour and the way in which she feels she needs to manipulate in order to get attention and love tells me that she has never come by it easily.   I feel sorry for her.  That will be another post.

It was starting to become clear that he needed to tell me.  She was exerting pressure on him to do so.  The ultimatum was that if he didn’t tell me, she would.  All mistresses want the married man to tell the wife.  They think it will implode the marriage from the inside, the wife will kick him out, thereby opening the door for her to walk in and take her prize.  It is the moment they have been working towards and waiting for.  He had told her several times that he didn’t want to leave me, and that if I did leave him as a result, he was NOT going to be with her, and would likely never marry again.  He no longer trusted women, and if he couldn’t have me, he wanted nothing.  She didn’t buy it.

She walked him through, step by step, what he would say to me, how he would tell me.  She even rehearsed it with him.  He had no intention of saying anything that she was planting, but felt he had to play along with her to keep her calm.   As long as she believed he was on board, she wouldn’t snap, go off the handle and embark on a tirade of crazy.  According to him, the hardest part of all of that was to pretend to be on board, and to say the prepared words “I don’t love you.  I’ve never loved you.  I don’t want to be with you anymore”.  The words tasted sour in his mouth and made him sick to his stomach, but it was, in the end, all pretend.  He wasn’t going to tell me that way.  He didn’t feel that way.  She just hoped he did, and she wanted me to hurt.

Affairs are unfair on so many levels.  Not only do you lose the closed intimacy that you share with your husband, and not only do you now share his body with another.  You also have a person hell bent on hurting you, damaging you, desperately wanting you to feel intense pain, willing to do or say anything to make you go away. The hatred from the affair partner to me was intense.  The question I asked, and still do is: What did I do to deserve it?   Nothing.  That is the part I don’t think I will ever understand.

In recent discussions with my husband, now one year after the affair, he is realizing that he was targeted, and that this was all a plan from the beginning for her.  Here is this nice family man.  He’s sensitive and kind, and he loves his kids.  He’s a good looking, intelligent, physically fit man who, in my humble opinion, is a great catch.  He earns a great income, and supports his family with care and love.  Knowing that she was single, 34, with no man on the horizon, she decided that she wanted in on prize, and set her sights on easing him out of his current arrangement into one that included her.  Knowing he was going through a rough patch personally, all it took was her showing him some kindness, compassion, and pretending to be interested in his feelings.

He feels used, and taken.  I think it probably feels humiliating if I have to try and place myself in his shoes.  He was lied to for a year too…the difference was that he didn’t love her, while I did and DO love him.  It hurts to be lied to strategically by someone who purports to care.  It hurts a lot.

The first day of the rest of my life

The title of this post sounds overly dramatic.  It doesn’t make the statement any less true.  I honestly felt, upon waking on the first morning after the discovery of my husband’s affair, that it was the first day of the rest of a new life.  Life as I had previously known it was over.  The man I had married no longer existed.  Had he ever?  Was this the man I had married, and just hadn’t known this potential in him, or was this someone new?  It was terrifying.  Everything I thought I knew was now in question.  Reality didn’t seem real, and I no longer trusted my judgement.  And yet, despite all of this pain and anguish, I had small children who needed breakfast.  It was a school day, and I had to take them to school, and then head to work.

When I woke up and realized it was no longer a dream, there was no chance of falling back to sleep.  I was living the nightmare. I walked downstairs and found him sleeping on the couch.  I suppose the noise woke him, and he transferred himself upstairs to grab an hour of sleep before the work day began.  In the midst of getting the kids ready for school, I snuck upstairs to grab something from my room and saw him sleeping.  It was the first time since he’d confessed his affair that I was able to look him at his face.  I stared at him while he slept.  I examined every single part of his face -every curve, every line, every detail.  I looked at his lips and was suddenly swept up in a wave of enormous sadness.  “Those lips used to be mine”.  I now imagined them kissing another woman’s lips.  I looked at his hands, and thought “those hands used to be mine”.  I know saw them caressing another woman’s naked body.  Every part of him to which I’d had an intimate connection was no longer mine.  It was shared with someone else, and I was no longer special.

My husband called me mid-day and asked if he could see me.  He was going to leave work to come and see me at work.  We spent the afternoon talking, and I couldn’t look him in the face.  I wasn’t ashamed, nor embarrassed…at least I don’t think I was.  But, maybe on some level I did feel embarrassed.  I felt picked over.  I felt not good enough.  I felt like the rotten fruit you turn over at the grocery store and then put back because you’ve found a better specimen.  I was picked over in favour of this other woman, this woman who was nothing special….she isn’t pretty, she isn’t smart…what does that say about me if he’d chosen to be with her?

We talked for hours, and then returned home.  The kids arrived home from school, dinner was made, homework completed, bedtime rituals performed.  The kids were all tucked away in their beds, and we were once again alone.  We stood together in the living room in complete darkness.  It seemed appropriate.  He asked me if I wanted him to leave.  I didn’t.  He told me how sorry he was.  I stood there without saying a word, and then muttered “I feel so alone”.  He turned to me and said “I wish I could hold you.  I’d like to hold you, if you would let me”.  I didn’t move.  I just stared at the floor, feeling more empty and terrified than I have ever been in my life.  He asked me if he could hold me, and I nodded.  When he put his arms around me, the familiarity was so comforting, so secure, and yet the reality of what he’d done was impossible to deny.  I didn’t want him to touch me, and yet I wanted to be wrapped up in him at the same time.  We stood there with our arms around each other for what must have been 10 minutes.  I recall my feet becoming sore from standing.  We didn’t say a word, we just held each other.  He asked me again if I wanted him to leave.  I didn’t.  He asked me if I wanted him to sleep on the couch.  I didn’t.  He asked me if I wanted to stay in the marriage and work on it.  I did.  We went upstairs and got ready for bed.  It was the closest, and yet the furthest that I had ever felt from him.

We climbed into bed together, as we always do.   The light switch is on my side, so he had to reach over me to flip the switch.  We spooned together not wanting to let each other go, and soon I soon found myself desperate for him.  I turned my face to see him, and he kissed me.  What followed was the most emotional intense lovemaking I had ever experienced.  I felt protected and close, and simultaneously dirty, pathetic and weak.  I couldn’t believe I’d just sexually offered myself to the man who’d betrayed me.  How little self respect did I have?   How can something feel wrong and right at the same time?   I was confused, but all I knew was that I never wanted to let go.

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