Your husband’s having an affair. So what do you do? Read him the riot act, tell him to shape up or ship out, and – what other cliche would my Mom use? – face the music? Or do you do what I did? After three nights of sleeping on the couch (I didn’t want to be in our room) I went back to our bed. I wanted to be held. I was hurting inside and I just wanted to be comforted.
He couldn’t hold me. He tried and couldn’t. I began shivering so hard, uncontrollably. It kept me awake half the night. My emotions were ricocheting off each other. Shattering into more and more complex feelings which only moved faster and crashed harder. I couldn’t keep track of how I was feeling. I should have matched shoes to emotions. Then I could have just looked down to know how I started my day. Because the end was always so different.
I dragged my wrecked body out of bed in the morning feeling like we were strangers. Two people who could barely make eye contact but are pretending things are okay for the sake of their children. For one week we meandered about, tending to the kids, and for three of those seven nights participated in a nice round of Cleo-bashing. Which isn’t to say I didn’t get in my digs.
I only wanted to know one detail about his affair with the Happy Dance chick. How long had it been going on? Easy to answer. One year. The balance of the conversations were about the problems in our marriage that led to the void which, as he says, “allowed him to let someone else in.”
That was my Giant Mistake…of that week. I should have made him go through every gory detail of his double little life. Made him relive it, lie by lie. He probably would have looked at me, shook his head and said I’m not gonna take any more of this, and walked out of the room. But if I could have pulled a Meryl Streep out of my very small (one six-week acting class, but I killed it) thespian hat, perhaps I could have lulled him into at least a good 30-minute episode of “This Is Your Affair!”, hosted by you, Loser.
Should we talk about the problems in our marriage? Yes. But I should have also drilled down, if you will, on the affair. I let myself down by not doing so. By focusing on our problems and putting the affair aside for the time being, I validated his justification for cheating on me. He did it to “fill the void”. I focused on finding out if I could repair our marriage and fill the void instead of why he choose to fill it by embarking on a fantasy relationship built on lies and deceit that had a real solid shot of destroying our family. Instead of, say, therapy?
The morning after I shivered myself down a dress size, I asked him why he wasn’t able to hold me in bed. “If you can’t even touch me how are we going to repair our relationship?”
I got flustered. I didn’t want to have…
He trailed off.
My eyes got big. I couldn’t help it. He noticed.
“You thought I wanted to have sex with you?”
I had minimized the affair so much that he actually thought I wanted to have sex with him. I turned to the coffee machine and mouthed a conversation of disbelief at the wall while I went heavy on the decaf. I was already jacked-up enough.
“No, I don’t want to have sex with you, and you’d have to get tested for STDs before I would even consider it.”
Gone was the desire to be comforted by him. I was starting to feel the strain. The high of family love and support had faded, and I was aching from the massive swings of emotions that blew through my body hourly. We needed professional help and he wasn’t asking for it. I was hoping he would be proactive and take that step, but we couldn’t wait any longer.
We were in full-blown crisis mode.