I recently met up with a friend who discovered her husband had cheated on her. She was devastated and cried through most of our lunch. By the time the second glass of wine had been poured, she admitted what weighed so heavily on her mind since he’d asked for a divorce. “I should have seen the signs of his infidelity.”
If you think about it, there are “signs” for nearly everything. Signs that you are getting sick, that you’re getting fired, that your mother-in-law is coming to visit. Yeah, all of these examples are ominous, but let’s face it – isn’t that what we do? We go through life, hoping for the best, but planning for the worst – fearing it will happen despite our best efforts to the contrary.
We scan articles hoping to strengthen our marriage, our friendships, our relationship with co-workers – all out of (likely) irrational fears that the worst could occur. Until, one day…our husband has to work late/take a weekend meeting/go out of town and it forces us to hyper examine our most basic fear; that all of our work and planning will be for nothing and we, too, will fall victim to the most painful of betrayals – infidelity.
When someone learns that my husband had an affair for 14 months prior to our divorce, without exception, the next question is, “Did you know beforehand?” Or, roughly translated, didn’t you see the signs? I mean, the connotation there is, “How could you be so blind as to NOT see the fact that was right in front of your face? For so long!” The answer is…easily. Because I was blinded by love and trust.
I am, by no means, advocating that you should distrust your husband’s actions or that he is guilty until proven innocent. I’m merely saying that, if you’re reading this to discover some secret method for predicting whether he is cheating, there is none. Any article that promises you they have “the secret” that you can use to tell if he’s cheating…well, it’s a myth. A punch line, something to draw you in and make you paranoid. Sure there are obvious, telltale clues…but every situation is different.
The truth is, it was little things. A weekly trip to Starbucks he took alone that took a half-hour too long. Then the inability to leave his cell phone out anywhere that anyone could see it. Deleting his browser after using the computer. Nothing glaring, nothing horribly conclusive. But after a few months, it began to worry me. And then came the questions. The accusations. The fights demanding to see his phone, only to discover that all the texts for certain (unrecognizable) numbers had been deleted. “Business” lunches that never showed up on our account – or his business account. All of these things – signs – that something was horribly wrong. But after fifteen years of marriage and two children…we had a happy life together. Maybe not perfect, but – I had thought – happy.
I recently met up with a friend who discovered her husband had cheated on her. She was devastated and cried through most of our lunch. By the time the second glass of wine had been poured, she admitted what weighed so heavily on her mind since he’d asked for a divorce.
“I should have seen the signs.”
Despite my protests to the contrary, she was adamant that she should have known, should have seen…somehow should have intuitively guessed that he was having an affair. I think, as a society, we are too anxious to cast that first stone. How COULDN’T she have known! Was it her fault? If they had been really in love, he wouldn’t have cheated! They couldn’t have been THAT happy if he chose to stray! That’s what we are afraid that people will say. And, sadly, people do. And their criticism is the poison that blackens our self-esteem.
The bottom line is this: if you have a feeling, an inkling, some horrible nugget of doubt that is gnawing its way through you…don’t dismiss it. Get to the bottom of it and find its root. It could be nothing. It could be paranoia or that that business lunch really IS for the merger coming up. I’m not saying that every stolen phone call or private lunch has the possibility of supporting your fears. I’m saying that you shouldn’t ever casually dismiss a gut feeling because you have no evidence to support it.
Marriage is a challenge, a crap-shoot, and a roller coaster ride. In hindsight, everything is clearer. Should I have seen the signs? Maybe. I suppose I wanted to believe the best of the person I trusted the most. Does that make me blind, gullible or naive? Maybe. It took me fourteen months to figure out the truth. Then again, just because we don’t see the “signs” doesn’t mean we can’t read.