“I just want to be happy.”
I didn’t hear that from him, in fact, he and I have never spoken about it. However, I did see a private message between my husband and his brother right after we separated. His brother asked him if he was happy, he replied, “very, very happy.” Well, this was my husband’s whole premise to have an affair. The premise is simple: I am not happy in my work, my home, my marriage but I will be happy if I can be with Sharon. Typically, he believed that when freed from our marriage he and she will develop a new and blissful relationship with each other. All the problems in the world will cease to be, and they will live happily ever after with no repercussions from family, friends, children, grandchildren… Well, he has the new relationship, but is he really happy? Is she? Am I? Is her husband? Are her children? Are our children?
Let me make this clear….Sometimes a marriage should end. For example, it may be necessary to leave if a spouse or child is in danger. However, like mine, most of the departing spouses are not seeking safety; instead, they pursue an anticipated different life in which a new lover will make everything wonderful. However, in reality, the belief is a delusion. Unfortunately, for most of the cheating spouses, their anticipated “happily ever after” eventually evolves into “what was I thinking?”
More than seventeen years into our marriage, I learned about the first affair. And in typical fashion, he believed that she was the answer to all his problems. But, he claimed it was just a texting affair, that he hadn’t stepped over that line, that he wasn’t even actually having an affair it was just….just…. “Two troubled and depressed people talking”. He called an end to it. Over, she meant nothing. One year later, caught him AGAIN, with her, texting, he still claimed it wasn’t sexual. Guess what, he “ended it again” that was a lie, also it became sexual. It became “a relationship/affair”.
A Faulty Assumption
People seem to have an underlying assumption that after they leave their spouses, while awaiting the inevitable divorce, they and their affair partner will live happily ever after in each other’s arms — the lover of their dreams. Greener grass syndrome.
I’ve talked with many beautiful, intelligent women with great jobs and dazzling personalities who are alone, though that is not their preference, their husbands saw the “greener grass” and went for it. I’ve also spoken with many handsome, brilliant men with solid incomes and sparkling wit who dread going home to empty houses at night because their spouses “needed space”.
Before I chose to move out, and end the marriage, my husband had said many times that he was glad he didn’t have to be out in the dating world these days. He never would cheat. He loved me. After 20 years I “still turned him on”. He loved when I looked at him with my “breen” eyes and he could see the love in them. A little history, I was married for 10 years and had two children. That marriage ended in divorce so that my then ex could marry his then secretary/lover. My current husband of twenty years had also been married before. His first wife had left him and in his eyes had taken his young son. He was inconsolable about losing his son. He didn’t, his son was (and is still in his life) on a regular basis. But now, my husband says how sad he is that our daughter, who turned 20, wants absolutely nothing to do with him or his family. He has told her that he was selfish and had ruined everything, however, he also has chosen his selfish needs above his daughters and no matter what he says, our daughter looks at what he does, not what he says.
Well, back to the present. Every relationship carries risks. Solving your problems with the person who you took vows with 20 years ago is how I would have tried to handle things. I even suggested going to counseling after the first two times I caught him cheating (yeah, I know, sap me). He said he would go, but apparently that was another lie. I found out he was still in the affair of three years, and I walked out.
An Unexpected Future
If you are in the throes of an affair, or if you/he/she recently left a marriage for the “love of your life”, if you are thinking, “That doesn’t apply to me. I already found the person I will be with for the rest of my life”, perhaps you should think beyond the present. When you are in a relationship that began as lying and cheating, sneaking around and secrets, you are a little delusional and not nearly as secure as you think. I do not have the statistics at hand, but a twenty year marriage falling apart, and a ten year marriage falling apart due to affairs and seeing what happened after the first ex-husband’s affair marriage ended (what a bad divorce THEY had!) taught me that relationships that begin through cheating have a very, very poor chance of success.
My husband and his affair partner/lover likely thinks they are the exception. Everyone does…until the terrible day they discover that they are not.
My story began when my husband and his lover were talking about leaving their (yes she is married) spouses for each other, they developed their emotional bond and turned it into a sexual affair. They had known each other since childhood, married other people, she had actually dated his brother, but met back up on Facebook, eventually creating secret accounts on social media so they could communicate freely.
I am dying to ask either of them how they would know for sure he would never have another secret texting or Facebook account. And how could he trust her that she isn’t at home right now texting up her next affair? Actually, just this past week, she apparently either changed her Facebook account or added another because “all of a sudden” I was notified that she was checking up on me with a different account since I had blocked her under the name she used to have. Or, for that matter, how could she be sure he doesn’t have another. They probably think, “He/she would never cheat on me. He/she loves me. I would never cheat on him/her. I love him/her.” I would like to remind both of them that he/she felt the same way about our marriages about us/we the current wife/husband when he/she married him/her, yet they now were both cheating on he and I. Shew.
Let me make this clear, each of them have demonstrated that what they feel at the moment is more important to them than the vows we both made. Just think, emotions change. They did before; they can again. What happens then?
I can hear it now, “I thought I was in love when I married you, now I know what love really is and this love will last a lifetime.” Yet, he had said that to me. We had a saying, “rose colored glasses”. We both wore them, I wonder what color they wear and what little sayings they have? We both said we had wished we met each other first, that his/hers children were ours, as our youngest daughter was, I guess they say the same things to each other now.
With the exception of some of his family members, who stand strong with him (as to be expected) and against the advice of some of my “best intentions” friends, we are now separated. The state we live in says we have to live separate and apart for six months before anyone can file (unless I go with the adultery, which, for my own peace, and my daughters peace I am not going that route). It has been since October 9th – today is February 2nd. April is the earliest he can file for divorce on a non-contested divorce. Just last week I told him I am in no hurry to file because I have no intention of dating right now and there is no one in my life, and he said he is in no rush to do “anything drastic” either. We, my children and I, are doing just fine. I’m giving myself the time to heal, after twenty years. I guess eventually he will divorce me, and marry his lover? Or like his brother who said he’ll NEVER get married again. Just keep living together with his affair partner. Will it then be his girlfriend? Does the title ever change or will she forever be his mistress? And what do you call the male counterpart…the lover?
I wonder what will happen to my husband’s affair partner/possible new wife considering the divorce/split rate of affair partners is higher than 75%! My first ex-husband’s “affair” marriage made it nearly two years, his divorce from her lasted a whole lot longer. My current husband’s affair partner left a man who (according to her) had severe problems, he has a vicious temper fueled by alcohol. However, they were married over 20 years and have two children. If she had decided to get the help she and her husband needed, would she still be married to the father of her two children – hopefully happily married once they worked things out. If she had worked on her marriage and not gone looking for a “savior” to get her out of her unhappy union, if she had worked on herself and acknowledged her part in her marital problems would she still be with her husband? Would she have left my husband alone? I am not going to do the woman is a home wreaking evil person blaming it all on her. Yes, she knew he was married, yes he knew she was married. They allowed themselves to CHOOSE to have affairs, to choose to look outside their respective marriages for someone who could and would do anything for them. This is on the both of them.
A Fact of Life
In the beginning of a relationship, two people are on their best behaviors as they try to make the best impression on each other. They tend to listen more, be more generous and giving, and are more attentive to the other’s wishes. Psychologists call this the “honey moon stage”. In this phase each person feels “I want to do what makes you happy and avoid anything that makes you unhappy.” (Remember your first few years of marriage? Yes, the same stage.) Of course, we all know that isn’t reality, but to them, it was and is their reality. They still live in their bubble of a perfect relationship, but are the cracks finally showing, are they getting tired of picking up after each other yet, are the laundry piles growing with stinky socks and underwear? Are the bills getting paid? When will the honeymoon phase end? When will the bubble break and real life begin?
As time passes, in the real world, sadly we listen less, become less giving, and are more attentive to our own desires. Our relationships can evolve to what they call the “Attila the Hun” phase where each feels, “I want to do what makes me happy and avoid anything that makes me unhappy.” Whether that be because of the spouse or a job, children, finances etc. You don’t have to be in a “bad marriage” to have an affair. Depression and every day mundane duties can also work against a marriage. Especially when one partner is not telling the other partner their problems. And when an affair occurs, that affair partner is doing their best to make the new relationship seem like it was sent from God. Of course, when one relationship goes bad, it is easy to assume that we will find another that will be much better. However, assumptions have a way of leading to disaster. Things do not always work out the way we plan.
Every relationship and every affair has its problems. They start with rainbows; they eventually experience thunderstorms. Every marriage and every affair – even if he/she is getting out of a “bad” marriage – carries pain over time. An advantage to fixing problems in your current marriage is that you know what the problems are. You know your spouse and how they act/react in situations. You made a commitment and said vows before God to work on any problems that arise between the two of you. You promised to remain faithful in sickness (depression my husband’s excuse) and in health, you vowed to love and honor. While leaving one person may seem to be a solution to all your current difficulties, developing a relationship with a new person always leads to its own issues. In any new or relatively new relationship, problems will come; however, you do not know what they will be. And how the new person will react when faced with the real life, not the fantasy life of an affair.
Many unfaithful spouses have realized that the problems they left paled in comparison to the problems they encountered. Working things out with your spouse minimizes risk of even greater pain lurking over the horizon in a new relationship. But, as it stands right now, the only ones who are experiencing the reality of the affair and the pain associated with it are the “left” spouses and family members. I don’t know her husband. I don’t know if he’s happy or sad, thrilled or devastated If he wasn’t a (insert whatever words she described him as here) would he have kept her happy and she wouldn’t have gone looking elsewhere for companionship? If I had been prettier, skinner, nicer, smarter would my husband have not gone looking elsewhere? Or, if either of them had been stronger, more in touch with their own feelings, willing to put in some hard work in their current marriages, would we all still be married (happily)?
Was it worth it? We’re all still in the middle of separations and pending divorces. What we have now is, as my husband put on his Facebook page under relationship status (it’s complicated). But, wait it’s not complicated. I am separated and living with my daughter. He is separated and living with his mistress. She is separated and living with her lover. Her husband is separated and living wherever.
Our children have lost both parents living together as a family unit. I don’t know nor do I want to know or speculate about their two daughters, but my children (his/hers/ours) are all confused and mixed up. My two from my first marriage, one hates him, one wants to hate him but called him daddy since she was seven, his son from his first marriage said (this is f…..d up) and hasn’t reached out to me at all, and our daughter, well, she won’t even talk to him or anyone in his family and you can just imagine all of their feelings towards the affair partners.
What is complicated are two families who will be going through two divorces, settling property issues of 20 years, complicated family feelings, all the adult children affected by these separations/divorces, and the grandchildren. Her husband and their divorce is not on my list of things to worry about. My divorce could just quietly go through with little to no fanfare on either part. Or we could stay separated and apart for another six months, year, or whatever. Do I want to be almost 55 and dating? No, but will I become bitter and closed off? NO! (that’s a discussion for part three).
So to answer the big question, “Is he happy?” Is the grass greener on the other side? Is the honeymoon phase still happening? Is the new lover the love of his life (again)? Is he the savior to her miserable marriage? Was this a “get out of the marriage” affair or emotional affair, or one of the other kinds of affair? Did it serve its purpose? Is everyone happy? Is no one happy? Well, that remains to be seen.
Until next time……
Cyndie H. Bryant