I read a thought-provoking article in O Magazine the other day called "He Cheated, She Stayed: One Women's True Story of Getting Over Infidelity." It is written by an anonymous woman in a 12 year marriage with three children whose husband confesses to her that he had a three year affair. Shocking. The article goes on to detail how she moved on with her life, dealt with a wide range of conflicting emotions, and ultimately decided to stay married to her husband. They are currently trying to make it work despite definite low points and obvious trust issues.
This article really moved me. For one, it was interesting to read about a marriage that survived a pretty devastating affair. Staying together is not for everyone, but it worked for them. But really I think I was most drawn to her story because of the way she discusses her relationship with her husband.
He was a good guy.
By good, I'm saying that he wasn't one of those shifty eyed guys. I once dated a shifty eyed guy who stared at other women so much that I became an expert at noticing cleavages and long legs well before he did. Then I would attempt to distract him from the set of D-cups heading towards us by trying to get him to look the other way. Needless to say, it was exhausting. If that guy cheated on me, I might not be as surprised as I would be if L cheated on me. In my mind, the shifty eyed guy can't even be compared to L. Even when all the chips are down, and we are at each other's throats, I have never lost trust with L. If my husband cheated on me, I can't say exactly how I would feel with any real assurance, but I think I can understand how the author was completely blindsided. She never expected it. They had a pretty "normal" marriage filled with weekly date nights, open (but, obviously, not that open) communication, and family time. He was a good father and husband. She writes,
"When I told one friend about Sam's infidelity, I said, 'I know it's not like he's literally the last person on Earth you'd expect to have an affair....'
'Nope,' she cut me off, 'he pretty much is.'
And honestly? I'd thought so, too. I fell in love with Sam with the kind of total trust and joy a child feels when she jumps off a table into a grown-up's arms. I knew with utter certainty that he would catch me...
Sam's cheating on me was inconceivable..."
That passage has been in my mind for days, because it is exactly how I would describe my relationship with L.
The author freely admits that the crumbling of their marriage wasn't all his fault. She didn't cheat, but was guilty of taking the relationship for granted, and for resenting her husband for years. They had issues under the surface that weren't obvious or even noticeable in their day-to-day interaction. She describes it as,
"We were in a standoff—neither of us getting what we really needed, and neither of us willing to perform the first act of generosity. It felt easier—kinder, even (for the fight it avoided)—to give up, to just not care."This article has helped me to connect with the fact that infidelity is alive and well, and can happen to anyone. Good guys (and girls, for that matter) cheat. Solid marriages can slip away slowly and sometimes without a good excuse. The daily grind wears on all of us, and we forget that relationships take maintenance and attention. Having been married less than a year, I'm definitely no expert. I am continually on a quest to figure out the secrets to a fulfilling marriage, and in contrast, what can kill a marriage.
So far, I have very little figured out. But stories like this help me in this quest. Apparently you can never say never when it comes to infidelity. You just have to hope that you are doing and will do everything in your power to maintain your union.
Any newlyweds ever think about these things - infidelity, trust, fulfillment, etc.? If you have some spare time, go read the article. There is a lot that I didn't discuss above!