We interrupt this love story for an intermission, recess or half-time (for all you football fans out there)...
I have a very close friend who is going through hell. Most of us have been there, done that, got the t-shirt.
Her husband had an affair. He says the affair is over and he says he wants to act like it never happened. He doesn't even acknowledge that anything happened more than one time (though hard evidence proves otherwise). He is insulting to her and she is extremely unforgiving to him, and always has been. Is there hope?
I know someone else whose husband just looked at her last fall and said, "I don't love you anymore."
He actually packed up his things and left her this weekend, along with their children.
An affair, perhaps? I don't know enough about them or her to comment. I do know that no one ever thought they wouldn't be together.
(People said the same thing about my marriage. It doesn't make you feel any better to hear that, by the way.)
I have a co-worker whose wife was seriously damaged during the birth of their twin daughters 7 years ago. He has been by her side and raised their children with the help of family, while she was basically bedridden and in and out of various hospitals. She is finally able to spend more time up and about. He is happy for her. However in the meantime, he has fallen out of love with her and is now having an affair. He is torn. He thinks he should divorce her but she is begging him not too, asking for another chance. He doesn't want the guilt on his hands, should he decide to leave.
The purpose of this post is not to man-bash or stir up anger or even generalize men. Or women. I promise. I am only speaking from what I've seen thus far in my life.
Ok now to the point:
In my experience, it seems that we don't want to talk about the unhappiness in our marriages. Maybe we aren't aware of our unhappiness or discontent until something seemingly better comes along? And then, do we make a decision to leave everything behind or stay? Is it too late after that?
Is it just that we do not know how to communicate to each other? Maybe, as women, we don't understand the way that men communicate their discontent to us? Maybe we think that we're doing everything we can to make them happy... why aren't they happy? Why don't they make us happy?
Are we communicating our discontent to them in any productive way other than nagging and being overly emotional?
I understand that no one can *make* you feel anything. I get that. But even still, in close relationships like marriage, we do ultimately hand over the responsibility for our happiness to our spouse.
I did it. I also had an affair. I wasn't planning on having an affair but we had been talking about trying an open marriage and we were very experimental with sex. A wonderful guy started showing me attention and I liked it. My husband traveled all the time. It felt good to be wanted. My husband only found out because I told him. His response, "Well, you weren't with anyone before me so I can understand why you'd want to try something else. Nobody's perfect, you know."
Then the guilt settled in. And I blamed him. Maybe I was unhappy? Maybe that is why I strayed? I still loved my husband very much and never once thought about leaving him. I didn't think I was unhappy. I was definitely confused. I take full responsibility for it now. I know that I wanted more attention, craved more love, and I wasn't looking in the right place for it.
We suffered no issues. Well, at least I thought we hadn't. If he was in pain, he didn't show it. We ultimately decided against the open marriage idea and decided instead to start a family.
My greatest fear was that he would have an affair too. I now know that he doesn't handle emotions very well. He kept whatever pain he did feel inside and as expected, he did have an affair as well. I offered him the same understanding as he offered me. His guilt raged into the situation much like mine did and he blamed me too. He threw the full force of his pain on me and my affair from 6 years prior.
We were blaming each other and neither of us knew what to do next. We struggled for an entire year before I realized that he couldn't recommit to me. He felt continuously judged by me. I was only focusing on myself, trying to reestablish my faith and something sturdy to stand on. My marriage was failing and there was nothing I could do. He couldn't stand to see me hurt, couldn't handle my tears, didn't know what to think of my frustration. He gave up and I asked him to leave.
This is very difficult for me to write about as it was one of the most painful times in my life.
Marriage. Is it an institution that can withstand things like affairs and loss of trust? Can you communicate your needs to each other and not blame the other person if your needs are not met? Do we all need a first marriage to figure out how to handle a second one? Or will we fall back into our same old patterns?
I've also noticed that some men won't leave a marriage unless there is another woman waiting for him. I have seen this countless times. And some women don't seem to mind ending a marriage and being alone. Of course, this isn't always the case. Some people would rather be miserable than alone.
This topic is something that I am still processing as my feelings grow stronger for my soldier. I look at my ex husband now and he is nothing like the man I was married to. Do we change that much over time?
Will there be a day when I look at my soldier and wonder: where is the man I fell in love with? Or will he ask himself that question about me first?