The Gray Side of Adultery

At this point, very few people know about my husband’s affair.

Very few…as in one other couple – the couple who is working with us (hub’s friend & wife), my counselor, one friend I work with (I knew she wouldn’t judge and I needed her support at work on my “mental breakdown” days), and 7 women from a retreat I recently attended…yes – I had a breakdown.

No one else knows.  Not my parents.  Not his parents.  Not my sister.  Not my brother. Not his sister.  Not our kids.

This isn’t to say it will always be a secret.  But now, it feels like the thing to do.

At first, no one knew because I simply couldn’t say the words “my husband had an affair”.

A week later I spoke the words for the first time, in my counselor’s office.

I didn’t say them again until 4 weeks ago.  I just couldn’t form the words on my lips.

I alluded to the problem with my co-worker, knowing I needed her to cover for me on those rough days.  She has been. She’s been great.  I finally said the words to her two weeks ago.  She already knew.  I knew she did.

To be honest, I’ve also been afraid of the responses of people.

It seems as though (and I’ve been guilty) people have a very black and white view of adultery.

I’m sure most will agree, that once you get your wits about you after D-day, one of the first things we scorned wives do, is get online.  We’re looking for help – “what do we do?”, “can I trust again”, “how long will I feel this way?”…and the list of search topics goes on and on.

In the searching is where I noticed the black and white thinking that most people have on adultery.  Here’s what I mean:

The wife must be an ugly nag, never gives him sex, doesn’t bathe, is grossly overweight, a slob, doesn’t take care of the children, or the home, and the husband feels used for his paycheck.  The other woman makes him feel like a man again!

VS

The poor, pitiful thing.  She was completely oblivious that anything was wrong in the marriage.  She was happy & smiling all the time, meeting his every wish.  She’s such a sweet, beautiful woman, someone out there will treat her like the jewel she is and will be blessed to have her as his wife!

– OR –

She should leave him!  He’s a dirty scum bag who doesn’t deserve a second chance!  And she’ll be happier with someone else.

VS

Why on earth would she stay with him?  Well, I don’t feel sorry for her!  She’s asking for trouble!!  She’s weaker than I thought!  No backbone!

Can you see what I mean here?

I admit, I have always been a black/white thinker.  In fact, I have made many of these comments.  When my brother cheated on my sister-in-law I said some of these same things!  “She should leave him!”.

…I don’t believe in Karma…but wow…life sure does have a way of making you eat your words, doesn’t it?

Through my husband’s adultery I have finally been able to see the gray areas of life.  And, you know, gray is ok.

There is truth to both sides.

Was I the perfect wife?  No.  I did nag.  I know I expected a lot of him.  I expect a lot of people in general.  Myself included. (But as far as the other things go, no – he was getting sex, I’m not homely looking, I shower – daily, I’m a runner – so no, I’m not overweight, the kids are taken care of, and I don’t need his paycheck…I’m college educated and I work outside the home.  Although the house probably is not as clean as it could be since I do work, but I don’t sit on my rear end in the evenings and let the dust accumulate either).

BUT, I wasn’t oblivious to our problems.  I knew something was wrong.  I just didn’t know what.

Do you see the gray?

Does he deserve a second chance?  I guess it depends on how you define “deserve”.  I think sometimes good people make horrible choices.  I think that’s his case.  And I don’t want people to hate him for making a string of horrible choices.  Would I be happier with someone else?  To be honest, if this were all to fall apart I don’t think I would get involved with anyone else.  At least not for several years.  The idea doesn’t appeal to me at all.  To put your heart out there again?  No way.

BUT, I’m not asking for sympathy.  I don’t think I’m asking for trouble either.  Am I weak?  No.

More gray.

I think women who stay are strong.  And I think women who leave are strong.  Either way, a woman has to deal with the same issues – the forgiveness, the fear, the insecurities, the triggers, and the hurt.  Whether we stay or leave, we still have to walk through the healing process.  And we do this alone.  No one can do this with us.  No one can do this for us.  It’s our process.

BUT, I also think that women who stay are weak.  And I think women who leave are weak.  We remember what we had.  We fell for those men.  They make us weak in the knees.  We love it.  And we hate it.  These men have either found our weakness (insecurity) or made it our weakness.  And now we have to fight through that on our own.

The decision to stay or leave is not an easy one.  But, it’s a personal one.  It’s a decision that people outside the marriage need to respect.  They need to only see the strength within that woman.  The strength she has and the strength she is gaining each day.  They need to respect that strength

Personally, for me, it would have been easier to leave.  It would have been easier to walk this process without looking at him each day.  I think it would have been easier for me to tell everyone what he did and move in to a different home in a different neighborhood.  Away from the memories and the triggers.

But, I chose to stay.  Not for the kids.  And not even for him.  And really, not even for me.  I stay for us.  Since we were together for 10 years before we had kids I know what we had before.  We had fun!  We click!  We were great together. We just go together.  We have something great.  And I want to see if we can find that again.

I don’t want people to hate him.

I don’t want people to feel sorry for me.

I don’t want people to think I’m weak.

I just want people to see that sometimes life is messy…and gray.  And that’s ok.

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3 thoughts on “The Gray Side of Adultery

  1. What an insightful piece. Thank you. I agree with you. This grappling with the grey is what the experience of infidelity pushes to your doorstep. There is no easy route out of the devastation. Leaving or staying is not a significant factor in healing ourselves. It is all so very complicated and we certainly draw the short straw in the recovery process following adultery. Your analysis helps.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I came to not define this or me by adjectives labeling strong or weak. They pissed me off greatly. My BIL said the sweetest thing to me. He told me as we hugged good-bye “What you are doing with your faith in God is inspiring.”

    I don’t ever think my marriage will be stronger. I don’t believe God ever called me to be strong when M told me this stupid statement “Our marriage can be stronger than it wasn’t before”. Which in my head meant it was weak or not as strong.

    I hate gray even being in here. Gray is stupid and pisses me off but so much of it’s gray for me in dealing with infidelity. I got tired of viewing my husband as weak, and of smaller mind. I am not weak or strong for loving my children. I can be labeled weak or strong for staying, homeschooling, being a stay at home Mom.

    Also I think somewhere things have gone awry in the real world sans celebrities that if your husband cheated on you there must be all these stupid reasons, homely, overweight.. It’s funny because when I mention Elizabeth Hurley, Uma Thurman, Halle Berry, Beyonce?? Yeah all cheated on. So doesn’t matter how pretty or rich you are. So it’s nice to have that ammo as back-up to people’s stupidness about infidelity.

    I never thought I would stay with my husband. I completely feel God helped me be the most vulnerable with M and I’m a homeschooling SAHM of 4 who can’t just up and go get a job too quickly without throwing my children for a talespin. Because I would have left my husband so quickly in any other circumstance and hurt my children deeply only thinking about myself and my pain.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. I have always hated gray. As I mentioned, I’m very black/white. But, that’s all this is – gray. It’s a gray cloud, it’s uncertainty, it’s gray feelings…there is very little black/white to this at all.

      And yes – the labels – ughhhh….why are we labeled? And who gets to decide what label we wear? As you & I have both said – we can be either strong or weak…I guess it depends on the person placing the label on us.

      Just like you, I never thought I would stay with my husband. In fact, I said many times, “I’ll be gone faster than you blink.” But, I honestly believe that while he was moved out, God was preparing me (I just didn’t realize it).

      Blessings to you as you continue to heal.

      Liked by 1 person

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