I am not a woman to condone or excuse cheating. Ironically, however, I am under no illusion — had my husband not cheated, we would be navigating through the divorce process today. Let me say that again: If I hadn’t caught my husband cheating, we undoubtedly would have mutually agreed to and actively pursued a divorce. We were already riding the fast track toward dissolving our marriage, but when the court filing materialized into a reality, the divorce train quickly derailed.
I discovered my husband’s affair this past September. Secretly, less than 24 hours later, I hired an attorney who drafted and filed divorce papers within a mere four days.
For weeks, I tormented my husband every moment the kids weren’t around. He became haggard and appeared worn. He came home early every night. My verbal attacks and diatribes were relentless. I was seething with anger and hatred. The affair was a bitter betrayal, striking a blow right through my heart. Consumed by a spiteful rage, I plotted to cause as much pain and suffering to both him and his mistress, whom he immediately left when the affair was exposed. I developed debilitating situational anxiety, and my blood pressure skyrocketed.
During one of our countless arguments, I broke down crying — mentally and physically exhausted. A surprisingly civil dialogue ensued, and we spoke rather than screaming at each other. We calmly talked to each other, but more importantly, we heard each other.
Gradually, awareness of our misunderstandings and toxic behaviors dawned on us. We had fallen victim to the self-destructive cycle of not listening while subsequently reacting. Perception had grown further away from reality, resulting in us both feeling unappreciated, unloved, and disrespected. Loneliness had been magnified. Affection was gone. We neglected to nurture our personal relationship. We lost faith in each other.
I could empathize with his reasons for straying. In realty, I felt the same way. I confessed to my husband that I had also met someone over the summer with whom I would have liked to spend time. I didn’t because I was married. I contemplated it though.
During our discussion we reminisced about overcoming obstacles throughout our 24 years together, raising our family, and how we were once such a dynamic team. We remembered why we initially fell in love, and in the process, discovered the love hadn’t totally died. We cried together and forgave each other. My husband admitted he didn’t want a divorce. He wanted to repair our marriage.
My husband had an affair. And I, who always swore an affair would unequivocally terminate our relationship, willingly agreed to attempt to salvage our marriage.
Over the past five months, we’ve worked diligently to break destructive patterns, revive our relationship, and strengthen our friendship. Every day we strive to be kinder, attempt honest communication, and genuinely enjoy each other’s company. It’s an ongoing process, and admittedly there are lingering suspicions which occasionally rear their ugly heads.
Infidelity is a traumatic event, and rebuilding trust is a deliberate, tedious process. Reconciliation after an affair is most certainly not for everyone.
Ultimately, we were both guilty in neglecting our marriage. I wish he hadn’t cheated, but filing for divorce shocked us into reality, forcing us to grasp the monumental mistake we were on the verge of making.
Today, as we continue our journey forward, we understand that the pain of losing each other would have far outweighed the pain caused by the affair.