My friend texted me last night saying “Old habits die hard…even on my birthday”. Along with this she forwarded the texts she found on her husbands phone between him and his sexting partner. I have been thinking about her all morning – knowing the feelings she is experiencing: numbness, anger, fear, confusion, embarrassment, and maybe most of all just a profound sense of disappointment.
She discovered similar texts/emails a few months ago. He cried and begged and apologized and she forgave him. They tried a therapist who wasn’t a good fit and didn’t look further to find one better suited to them. At the time of the last discovery, she contacted this other woman and said if she doesn’t leave her husband alone that she would “out” her affair to the woman’s husband and to her co-workers. She told her husband if he did it again she would leave.
So I think about my friend this morning as she tries to decide what to do. Will she carry out the threats she made? She may have to if she wants her words to carry any weight. The situation is the very reason why making a concrete list of boundaries and consequences is so very important.
We all want to believe that we will never be back in this horrible situation. But shit happens. Men fuck up. Addicts relapse. Wives/women/partners need to be prepared to take care of themselves if and when this happens.
I want to be helpful to her during this time. I will probably try to get her to take the focus off of this other woman. I’m sure her husband has no actual feelings for her – he just recognizes her as a chick with loose boundaries with whom he can share some texts to distract himself from the stress and boredom of marriage and fatherhood. Obviously this other woman has problems of her own or she wouldn’t be seeking inappropriate attention from a married man. We should worry about this other woman, pray for her if she feels inclined, but in the end the woman isn’t the problem.
I understand that the first thing everyone wants is a reason why the cheating happened – especially after he had been caught once. I don’t think her husband has any idea why. He can’t explain himself because he doesn’t know. The true reason is probably very deeply rooted and likely has absolutely nothing to do with this other woman.
For me, it’s been a rewarding and amazing journey to heal with my husband after our affairs. But it is loads of work, oftentimes filled with setbacks and fear. I don’t think most people are comfortable digging as deep as we have to fully understand ourselves and our behaviors. It’s much easier to leave, or to make excuses, or to scratch the surface and then stop when we hit the painful layer.
Once you truly venture on the journey of self-discovery you will not return as the same person. You will lose the person you have grown comfortable with. That’s not a bad thing, the unknown is scary, but you are not alone.