A blog for both the cheater and the cheated upon.

I certainly don’t claim to be an authority on the subject of marital infidelity, but I do think I offer a unique perspective on the subject.   My understanding arrived first as the unknowing wife who was cheated on – repeatedly – by her sex addict husband.  Second, as the lonely, confused woman who sought comfort in an affair in order to escape the pain of my husbands actions.

Many of those who follow my blog are women who themselves have experienced the unimaginable pain of discovering their husband has been unfaithful.  Another significant group of followers are men who are married but cheating on their spouse.  Interestingly, I also have women following my blog who are the the mistresses of married men.  I appreciate that there are people from all sides of this complicated subject reading my posts.   I have no ill will toward any of these people and I sincerely hope that once in a while something I say resonates with each one of you.

This diverse audience is the reason that I write in equal parts from the viewpoint of both the hurt wife and the cheating spouse.  It’s natural to just want to read the parts that you personally relate to – this selective reading provides support through familiarity but not necessarily any growth.  I encourage everyone to read both sides of my story, perhaps by doing so one can begin to find some empathy or understanding toward the other parties involved.  Trying to understand isn’t the same as condoning lying and betrayal  – but by examining the flip side of the situation I believe we can start to move closer to the goal of healing.

Here are some of the feelings that I have experienced over the past 10 years through my discovery of my husbands addiction, his acting out, his relapse, my affair and our recovery.   If you have felt any of these feelings then I suspect many of my blog posts could be of interest to you – no matter which side of the affair you fell on:

Humiliation, disgrace, embarrassment, denial, apathy, pity, anger, hatred, loathing, rage, contrition, revulsion, guilt, superiority, shame, wrath, resentment, pity, indifference, compulsion, disgust, preoccupation, fixation, anxiety, obsession, passion, longing, craving, desire, loneliness, controlling, fearful, comprehending, powerlessness, forgiving, compassion, understanding, gratitude, empathy, tolerance, trust, love.

How badly we crave what we don’t really have…the allure of our lovers

I am always astonished by my mom’s insightfulness.  We were speaking recently about how desire inevitably ebbs and flows in long term relationships.  During the conversation I mentioned that in my relationship with my ex-boyfriend the physical desire for him never wavered.  In fact, I said, it grew and grew over the years and when we finally broke up it was at it’s height.  I used this personal example to ‘prove’ that the curse of long term relationships to destroy passion wasn’t always the rule.

Once I finished telling her my thoughts she responded with an observation that had never crossed my rose colored mind.  She said “the passion lasted because you never really had him”.  Wow.  That is absolutely true and it took me over 20 years to learn it.

This is the ex I have written of before.  We met when I was 23 and were together off and on for 12 years.  We were serious for long stretches of time, then would break up, and eventually would find our way back to one another.  Sometimes the break up lasted a day, sometimes a few weeks, and once it lasted almost 2 years.  This is also the ex that I had an affair with once I learned of my husbands infidelity.  This “affair” was mostly emotional since he lives in another state but it had it’s physical moments as well.  I finally ended it for good almost 2 years ago.  21 years after I met him.  But my mom was right – I never really had him.  I always knew that he could walk out the door the next day.  I felt insecure in the status of our union and anxious about our future.  I never truly was able to depend on him and when I did he usually let me down.  It was that thrill and that uncertainty that kept the flame alive.

I think this is the case with most affairs as well.  We feel a heightened sense of passion because we know at any time the person is going to be pulled from our grasps.  We desperately cling to the moments we can hold them, touch them, see them.  And we are left longing for him/her in those long lonely nights when they are not with us.

This is a horrible way to live.  Always worrying that it’s the last time you will be together, wondering if the feelings are true, imagining them with their spouse and their families, knowing deep down that if they really wanted to be with us they would be.   We go days without hearing from them and our anxiety builds with each hour -then comes the thrill when they reach out again and this act calms all of our insecurities while setting us up for yet another round of passion followed by loss.  It’s a painful cycle.  We want so badly to believe in the fairy tale ending.  But at some point in our adult lives we need to accept that fairy tales are not true.  We do not have them.

Meetings of Two – rebuilding after an affair.

My husband and I have a weekend ritual when we sit down for a ‘check up’ with one another.  During this time we talk about how we are feeling about our relationship and ourselves.  We tell one another if we have struggled with trust, anger or resentment.  We announce the thing we did during that week that most improved our relationship and on the flip side the one thing we each did that hurt our relationship.  Sometimes the conversations are stimulating and go on forever – other times they are a little lackluster and neither of us have much to talk about.   I never know where these meetings will take us.

We like to go to our favorite coffee shop for these weekly discussions – it makes it feel more like an event or a date.  Since we had brunch plans with friends later this morning we decided to hold this weeks meeting at home, giving us the perfect opportunity to watch Esther Perel’s TED talk entitled “Rethinking Infidelity” about why people cheat.  This talk was such a great catalyst to conversation.  Both my husband and I found so much of what she said to be of interest.  It raised incredibly interesting points and questions and led to another very honest discussion about my husbands addiction-related infidelities as well as my own affair and what the two had in common.   We talked about how we felt during and after our trysts, we talked about the fantasy aspect of our actions, we talked about the power of our disclosures, we talked about anxiety and longing and desire and regret and sex.

Seeking out sources of smart, insightful information is so important when confronted with an issue such as marital infidelity.  I have gotten a lot of help from books and therapists in the past – but somehow, Eshter Perel can cut to the quick in a riveting 20 minute video.  If you haven’t already seen it, and are in a relationship, it’s worth watching.  I highly recommend watching with your spouse and see where the conversation takes you.

If he truly wanted to be with you, he would be…

I have pointed out before that in blogs written by those in the midst of affairs,  the underlying theme is almost always loneliness.  I recently read a sad poem from “the other woman” who mentions the pain she imagined in her lovers eyes when he left her to reluctantly return home.   There was another blog written by a man justifying the reasons why his married girlfriend couldn’t see him.  These posts are all too common.

Back when I was cheating, I remember telling my “boyfriend” how badly I wanted to be with him – that I was going to leave my husband – we would be together and live happily ever after.  blah blah blah.  It was all a lie.  It was fun for me to be wanted and loved by two men and by fully playing my role in each relationship I got what I wanted out of them.  It was completely selfish.  If I wanted to be with the boyfriend I would have been.  End of story.  There is no reason big enough to truly keep people apart if they don’t want to be.

In the moments that I was with my boyfriend I wanted to escape reality.  Not because reality was so bad – but because it added to the fantasy of the affair.  With my boyfriend I didn’t have to worry about the past or the future.   The past didn’t matter and the future didn’t exist.  In the times we were together, I would get carried away in the story of it all and let it play out in my dream world of unicorns and rainbows.  We would talk of love and dreams and vacations and memories. When we had to leave I would kiss him good-bye with tears in my eyes as he swore we would be together soon.  But by the time I turned away, both my mind and my heart were already back with my husband.  Exactly where they belonged.  The boyfriend was alone and out of my mind.

It’s not fair what I did to my boyfriend – how I exaggerated my intentions.  But in the moment, it didn’t feel like a lie.  It seemed like a true emotion at the time.  True, but not real.  My husband never had any emotional affairs, but his anonymous excursions were fueled by the same need for escape.  Pure fantasy with no expectations.

We have both come back to our senses and back to reality.  For those stuck in affairs leaving them wanting more it’s easy to believe every word your lover says, but maybe it’s time to read between the lines.  To look at actions over words.  Is he with you right now?  Or are you alone?

The incomparable attraction to a lover or a mistress

I follow some blogs written by “the other woman” or by people who are in affairs outside of their marriages and there is one common chord which almost always underlies the writing.  Loneliness.  It’s rarely the topic of discussion – unless it’s a holiday or other special event and the lovers aren’t together – but it is a constant feeling that something is missing from their world.

A quick history if you haven’t followed my blog – my husband started cheating on me about a year into our marriage, he is a sex addict. I reached out to an ex boyfriend who I had dated for over a decade for friendship and familiarity.  My ex and I eventually became physical/romantic.  My husband and I were concurrently cheating.  We both came clean and our relationship is now filled with love, honesty, compassion and I am completely grateful and satisfied.

When I was in the midst of my affair I spent my days longing to be with my ex.  I woke up thinking of him, went to bed missing him.  We would text how much we missed one another – how we needed to be together – how ridiculous it was that we weren’t.  We were constantly planning our next rendezvous (though in actuality they were very rare).  But now that I have stepped away from the fire and look back on that time, I see that that the relationship was actually just a fantasy to distract myself from the incredible pain of being in a marriage which lacked honesty and passion.  It wasn’t that I actually wanted to be with my ex – it was that I couldn’t bear to admit that there was nothing better in my future than a marriage to someone who could cheat and lie as my husband had.  I imagined that the ex would give me something else, something better, something to look forward to.  Of course he wouldn’t have.  I know that now.

I read words from women who are married but keeping a boyfriend – or single women who have fallen for a married man – and I remember those feelings so clearly.  The longing, the passion, the desire, missing him all day and all night, heart racing when you get a text or an email, relief when you are finally in his arms, tears when you say good bye.  It’s like a hollywood movie with all of it’s emotion and drama.  But for me, all of those feelings were simply a romanticized distraction to protect me from looking at my real life.  If I did look at my life then I WOULD HAVE TO DEAL WITH IT.  The relationship was a fantasy which helped me get through the day and ignore my reality.  The truest feelings during my affair were actually guilt, sadness, disappointment, fear, fear, more fear and loneliness.  I wasn’t physically with my lover and I wasn’t emotionally with my husband.  I was nowhere.

The remarkable thing about an affair is that both sides are so good at playing their roles in it…and when they do, love is actually never exchanged.  I didn’t REALLY expect my ex to give into his feelings because I knew he felt it would always be better if he remained alone, a hope that justified his inability to actually take me away.  And I could in return profess my love for him knowing he would never ask me to prove it.