When you are faced with the knowledge that your spouse had an affair, one question is always in the front of your mind: WHY? You dissect all the information you are given, you play back your interactions with your spouse during the affair, and it’s still there in your head. Why, why, why? How could he do this to me? To our family? And often, as in my case, your partner will look you in the eye and tell you, “I don’t know.” After many months of discussion, I began to realize that Husband was just as dumbfounded as I was.
Of course, there were some reasons that our house was a bit more stressful than usual before the affair. To begin with, Husband was having a difficult time dealing with my illness. Truthfully, my health consumed me. I tried to include him in all the research and doctor’s appointments, but he seemed uninterested. He pulled away, because it was too overwhelming. In turn, I pulled away because I thought he was tired of it all. Instead, I became involved in support groups and hid a lot of what I was going through from him. I thought I was making him not have to worry so much. I thought I was protecting him. Money was (and still is) a big issue. We’ve always “just gotten by”. Suddenly, I had to leave my job and the medical bills were piling up. We didn’t have enough to pay them, and sometimes he’d slam them down. Along the same line, Husband has a job that he hates. With a passion. He has put energy into finding a new job, but we’re all well aware of today’s economy. Needless to say, finding something new that would pay enough to warrant a move hasn’t been easy. Put these issues with kids, dogs, the house, and life, and yes…it was a little stressful and depressing in our home. Does this excuse an affair? No.
The truth is, that Husband formed a relationship outside of our marriage for the same reason I imagine most affairs start: it felt good. Have a wife who is too involved in her own health? Complain about it to the other woman. No sex life? The other woman will sympathize. Feeling not so great about what you offer the world? The other woman thinks you’re incredible. She understands. She always understands. With her, you are young and invincible. With her, you are charming and witty. She hasn’t heard all your stories yet, but she’s dying to. She’s dying to know your views on politics, music, art, child-rearing, careers…she wants it all. And you want to be the person for her to bare her soul to. It makes you feel special and important. You are flirtatious, and it feels good to be desired so much. You have an emotional bond with this other person, and you fall in love. And there it is. Friendship turns into love.
Husband has a very difficult time with this. At first, I heard a lot about my illness. Then I reminded him that he was putting the blame on me, over a situation I had no control over. He said it was hard on him to not be able to fix me. I reminded him that if he was really so concerned about me getting better, he would’ve put effort into research instead of doing something that hurt me MORE than being sick. He said he needed advice on how to deal with the illness. I reminded him that he has yet to tell me one thing she advised him about. She wasn’t telling him to talk to my doctors; she was helping him focus on what a raw deal he got by having a sick wife. Now, Husband realizes that in fact, his affair was all about feeding his ego. It makes him feel like crap to know he put his family on the line for such a selfish reason, but he sees it.
Friendship turned into love. It’s a very dangerous game. We would all like to think there’s no harm in having friends of the opposite sex, but it’s playing with fire. Am I suggesting that you can’t speak with anybody of the opposite sex? No, but I am suggesting that you steer clear of anything intimate or emotional. An example: right after everything came out, I was speaking with a dear friend on the phone about it. She kept telling me how Husband was just caught up in a serious friendship, and I needed to let it go. She told me how she has had a male friend for a long, long time and they have always been “just friends”. He lost his wife over his relationship with my friend. Then, he lost his new girlfriend for the same reason. He finally talked his wife into coming back, but decided this time it would be safer to keep his “friendship” with my friend a secret. They just couldn’t see what was wrong with being so intimate with each other…after all, they hadn’t had sex! She lives in another state, so what’s the problem? I heard from my friend last night. After years of being “just friends” with him, she is now moving. To his state. Into his house. Wasn’t this the same woman who told me I was overreacting?!? There is no doubt in my mind that Husband’s relationship with EB would’ve eventually become physical. They were too invested in each other. My daughter once told me that the way she sees it, God gave us a gift in this coming out before it was so far gone that we had no choice but to leave. That’s one hell of a smart 13 year old. And I’ll bet once she finds her Prince Charming, she will be very careful about inviting friends of the opposite sex into her marriage. Let’s hope her husband will be too.
So, after six months of why, why, why, I am beginning to feel myself letting this go. I know why. Husband knows why. If it didn’t feel so damned good, he wouldn’t have ever put us through this. He got carried away in a game, just as he probably did a million times as a kid. He thought he could win and have it all. And then he had to learn the agonizing truth…that he is a man, and the stakes are much higher than pretend monies. Hopefully, both of us can forget the question, but always remember the answer, so we can protect our marriage from ever going through this again.