I’ve been putting off this post for a week because I don’t know quite how to go about it. So, I’m just gonna jump in and say it.
My Husband cheated on me.
I’m not sure He really thought it was cheating at the time. The way He described it when He told me had the tinge of “but I was leaving…I was sure I was going to divorce you…I was done.”
And my internal reaction to that was “but we were still married…it’s still fucking HURTFUL and HORRIBLE and WRONG you MOTHERFUCKER!”
But I didn’t say that.
Instead, I remained calm on the outside as my emotions built from a small “what the fuck?” to a raging “HOW THE FUCK COULD YOU?” and back down to a “just leave me the fuck alone to process this…I don’t know how I feel right now.”
Let me take you back to the night I found out….
We were drinking and watching something forgettable on TV, just hanging out on a random Thursday night. Somehow our post TV-watching conversation went to talking about our past and talking about polyamory (I think) and talking about how difficult He’s finding it to locate a woman who is willing to enter an established relationship as a polygamous third (with HIM only, as I’m not really interested). He stated that maybe He just needs to focus on us and making us as strong as we can be.
The details are foggy, really, but in our alcohol-infused openness, He admitted that night to having a threesome with a couple we had both been sexually involved with a few times back in our swinger days. The threesome was during a time (years ago) when I’d basically told Him “go do what you want, but I don’t want to know about it.” So even though His admission sort of got my hackles up a bit, I felt I didn’t really have the right to be upset with Him. After all, I’d given Him permission AND told Him to keep it to Himself.
I know when He told me, I sat up and moved away from Him a bit on the couch as my emotions flared up inside of me. It took a moment for my brain to review the information and figure out what to do with it. It had to select the right reaction…the correct emotional response.
Since our relationship has been back on track (Decemberish 2018), after our 2nd close call with divorce, we’ve been doing a pretty decent job of communicating rationally and not fighting. So, inside, I really was trying to measure the moment and my response to it. And I quickly accepted the fact that I had no right to be upset. I simply told Him I found it a little disappointing that He’d never told me about it, since it had happened several years prior.
Then, I guess because He was on a confessional roll, and I asked Him if He’d done anything else I didn’t know about, He told me that when He went on a trip years ago (during our first close-call with divorce) to “clear His head and figure out what He was going to do,” He’d called up a woman (let’s call her A) we’d attempted to bring into a poly relationship before and took her with Him.
My fucking heart became a rock and sunk into the pit of my stomach.
I sat on the edge of the couch, leaning away from Him like a rabbit ready to bolt, my breath shallow, a rumbling beginning just below my skin getting ready to turn into full-blown earthquake.
This was not during a time of mutual “secrecy.” I had not given Him a “hall pass.” This was a time when things were just not going well in our marriage…and while, yes, I can agree that we were teetering on the edge, I, personally, was not pushing for divorce.
He just told me He needed to take a long road trip and figure some shit out for Himself. And so, He went. I stayed behind with our son and hoped He’d figure something out while He was gone. In fact, I spent most of that trip at home trying to do the same and crying myself to sleep, wondering where we went wrong and what we were going to do about it.
And Him? He spent those nights fucking another woman.
Now, I’m not trying to paint myself as the martyr here. Because a broken relationship is usually created by both parties. Our sex life was a pretty much non-existent and we were simply not on common ground at this point in our marriage. He probably spent the time He was gone doing a lot of thinking, as well.
But as He told me the story (not in great detail, mind you), my brain was a torrent of emotion. I held back the flood, though, trying hear Him out.
I asked Him a few questions…Why have you never told me? Were you in contact with her before that? Have you been in contact since?
His story fleshed out between us on the couch: He’d only been in prior contact a few times on Facebook (they are no longer FB “friends”) – nothing sexual – just friendly. (This woman had contacted me on friendly terms for relationship advice via my website at one point before hooking up with my Husband for this trip, as well. I’d had nothing against her, really. She was more a casualty in our mess of an attempt at poly than anything.) He said, when He left for His road trip, He decided to contact Her and asked if she wanted to go. Obviously, she said yes. Per His admission, “[They] rode around looking at ghost towns during the day and fucked at night.” And then toward the end of the trip, He realized that He didn’t want to divorce me…that He wasn’t going to find something “better” out there (I guess that’s what He was trying to find out with her?) and that this wasn’t what he really wanted…that He really wanted to be with me…that I couldn’t be “replaced.” So He stopped and bought me some wine, ended it with her, took her home, and came home to me. I’m simplifying, I’m sure. There was probably a lot of turmoil involved in His decision, but I’m not telling His story…I’m telling mine.
When He came home, He gave me the wine, showed me all his pictures (I’m still shocked that He managed to do this without ever letting on), and promised to work on patching things up. We recommitted, and He never told me about her.
Until last Thursday.
I asked Him…Why now? Why EVER? Does it make you feel better to get it off your chest? Because it doesn’t make me feel better knowing it.
I think it was hard for Him to not tell me…and just as hard to find the “right” time to do it. Because is there ever a right time to tell someone something like that?
The two things that pissed me off the worst were that, first, He was telling me like it was no big deal…like it equated with the threesome – which I’d basically given Him permission to do, and, second, that it was with her.
Why chose a woman who was at the center of so many trust issues between us already?
Like I said earlier, I didn’t (and don’t) hold anything against her. She’s more a pawn in this than anything. But years ago, He found her on Craigslist and began conversing before He’d ever told me about it. It was at a time when we had been actively swinging and He was searching for a second submissive. I was dubious but willing. We were 24/7 D/s and I was trying hard to please Him. It wasn’t something I wanted, but He’d convinced me that it would be okay. (We’ve done a lot of marriage therapy over this whole situation, so know that we’ve done our best to work our shit out about this.) He was tired of the disconnectedness of casual sex hook-ups and I was disillusioned with the male-halves of the couples we’d been with and no longer interested in continuing that path. This was His answer. And so, we tried.
It blew up in our faces, though, because I couldn’t handle it. I was jealous and unable to “share” Him with even the nicest, most workable woman on the planet. And I was pissed at Him for setting it all up behind my back and coercing me into it. It felt like a betrayal at the time, and when we dropped it, I not only felt angry at Him, I also felt guilty. I was terribly conflicted. I wanted Him to be happier, but I also didn’t want to have to do things that made me feel “less than” just to fulfill Him. I felt guilty about dragging her through our shit, as well, but…I wanted to be the only woman. And I wanted that to be enough, dammit.
There’s more to that whole story, but I’m not going into it right now. If you look at my archive starting in March 2013, you can see the beginnings of our 24/7 dynamic, my burgeoning considerations about monogamy, the beginnings and fears and the aftermath of this relationship with A (read My Letters to A).
I haven’t written much about it since, though it’s been a constant “thing” between us. It represents the first breach of trust (contacting and interacting with another woman before telling me), and the fact that the second breach was with the same woman really sent me over the edge. Especially since, just recently, he (jokingly?) asked if He could contact her again now that I’m okay with Him seeking an outside relationship (WTF? Is He pathological? And if she fell for His request…WTF is wrong with her? And at this point, if I allowed it, I’d deserve whatever I got.)
He assured me that she hates Him now (which makes me wonder why He would’ve suggested contacting her again…and which is about the only thing I’m still hung up on because He suggested it before He told me about His infidelity, but while fully being conscious of what He did back then and what that means for her. *head scratching*)
I can’t say that He doesn’t deserve it. How many times do you have to fuck with a woman’s emotions before she says fuck off? But then, I don’t know how invested she was in Him…how much she wanted Him. And I’ve asked that He promise NEVER to contact her again.
As I’ve stated before, I don’t hold any ill will against her.
But when He said she hated Him for “yanking her chain” again (basically using her for easy comfort, I’d say), he also mentioned that she (probably) hated me because I won.
Thanks for that. I’m not sure I won anything at that moment in time. I won a cheating fucker who gave into weakness and fucked another woman to feel better but then had a change of heart and came back home leaving the other woman to pick up the pieces of her heart.
Those were my emotions talking. And my brain was trying very hard to be rational…and understanding. We were having a difficult time back then. He sought easy comfort…which is weak but human.
Unfortunately, even my rational brain couldn’t make what He’d done okay, and the tears started.
He knew, the more He talked, I’m sure, that this was a big deal. Maybe a much bigger deal than He’d considered when first He blurted it out. Though subconsciously, I’m sure He was aware, or He wouldn’t have kept it from me for so long.
This was it…it was out. And now we had to navigate it.
I told Him I needed to just go to bed. He asked if He could come with me or whether I’d prefer He stay on the couch.
Quite honestly, Him sleeping on the couch sounded ridiculous to me. What was that going to fix? I was hurt. I was crying. And I needed to sleep. That was all. I wasn’t leaving. Even then, in the midst of my initial upset, I knew this wasn’t going to break us.
The next day, I really thought about it. I thought about what He’d done and why He’d done it. I thought about why He’d chosen not to tell me, and then why He did.
What it all came down to for me was that He was human and that He’d made a terrible mistake.
I had two choices, to turn it into a big deal, or to forgive Him and move on. I chose to forgive Him.
I’m not going to lie. It hurts. But, it would’ve hurt worse if I’d found out back then. I would’ve blown up and walked away. We wouldn’t be together anymore.
Keeping a secret like that has got to be hard. Especially when you know what you’ve done is wrong, that others have been hurt in the process, and that if you tell, it will continue to hurt others.
Telling a secret like that has also got to be hard. You know you are about to hurt someone, even if it means getting that weight off your chest.
No question, this was a betrayal, and I’m not about to find an excuse for what He did. However, I also understand the very human aspects of the situation not only because I know Him better than anyone else does, but because I know what we were going through at the time.
There are a million reasons people commit it.
And there are just as many reasons that people forgive it (or don’t).
Just because a person has been unfaithful doesn’t mean it’s the end of a relationship. Ours is going to be okay. Why? Because we aren’t the people we were back then. And because we love and accept each other despite our faults and weaknesses. We don’t run from them or excuse them or exploit them…we simply know they are part of us.
Is my trust a little shaken? Sure. Is my heart still a little raw. Yes it is. But my love for Him is bigger than this. And our relationship is strong enough to withstand a strong gust of wind…because that’s all this is…a gust of wind. And a good marriage is strong enough to bend.
We talked about it over dinner out the following day. I told Him I was hurt, but that I understood and I just wanted to forgive Him and move on. It’s in the past and there is no good reason to dig shit up and make a mountain out of things that rightfully belong behind us.
He apologized. Profusely. What more (besides never doing it again…which is an obvious expectation) can I really ask of Him?
No…I am not likely to forget. I’m not sure that would be possible. And this is not an instance of letting Him “off the hook.” But, really, at the end of the day, to me, we both had a hand in what happened. Unless someone is just a complete asshole (which He is not) and the other is just a complete doormat (I am not), then an act of infidelity like this is spurred by something that comes from a place of longing, hurt, weakness, and emptiness.
I found a great Ted Talk by Esther Perel that explains it better than I can (or want to):