I met my husband when he was a 21-year-old college student. I was 23, living in my own apartment and working full time. He seemed fun and cute, but after our first date, I didn't know how I felt about him: he was young, very fun and still living out his college years.
But it wasn't long before he showed me what true love was supposed to look like. Six months into our relationship, I knew I'd marry him. He felt like home. He was quiet, I trusted him. He was nothing like the men I'd dated in the past. You know the type—playboys with wandering eyes.
This new partnership was foreign, but when I was with him, I had a feeling of self-confidence. Our relationship was drama-free. The bond we'd formed was built on safety and trust in my eyes. I got used to it very fast.
Unfortunately, I later discovered it doesn't matter who you decided to share your life with, how wonderful they are or how much you trust them. There's no assurance they won't hurt you later.
While I thought our friendship and trust was enough to get us through buying two homes, having three kids in three years, and many fights and dry spells, I was wrong. I thought it would be OK if I wasn't in the mood and we we didn't have sex for a few months—he was my guy. He would never break our bond to get instant gratification from another woman. That was something the men of my past would do, but never him. Never.
My feeling around this came from the type of man he was—the type of man he showed me. But, looking back, a part of me thought this way because I knew I could never do it to him. I would never do that to our family. No other man would ever be worth it because lust and passion can only last for so long. A family and marriage vows are forever. Of course he felt the same way, right?
When he told me he'd had an affair because we'd gone six months without having sex, he told me about so much more that had been going on in his head—things he'd never shared before.
Where I thought our bond was strong, he was unhappy because the passion we'd shared in the beginning of our relationship was gone.
Where I thought our children would keep us together forever, he admitted to feeling neglected and bored with our life since our youngest was born.
"It's like the movie 'Groundhog Day'," he said. " It's the same every day."
What I thought would always be enough wasn't even cutting it for him.
When he was telling me these things, it felt like there was a stranger in my home. Here I thought we were best friends, but he'd been stuffing his feelings. So, when another woman wanted to have sex with him, he took the chance without hesitation.
"I don't know what happened. I never thought we would have sex. I didn't think I could ever do that."
But he did. He did do that.
"I know what happened," I said. "You are greedy and selfish and put your dick before my feelings, before our family, before everything."
It wasn't my job to tell another woman he just couldn't have sex with her because he was married and had three children—it was his.
If someone had asked me before his affair if I would have stayed with him had he cheated, my answer would have been yes. But really, I wasn't qualified to answer the question. I didn't let myself think about it deeply enough because I believed it would never happen. Not in a million years.
When it did, it was so much worse than anything I'd ever felt. Yes, I'd been cheated on before, but it was always by a man you'd expect it from—someone who claimed they loved me but loved all women and craved their attention.
My husband wasn't like that. And it was one of the reasons I loved him.
So, that night when he confessed, I realized that I not only didn't know him at all, I couldn't trust myself and the way I felt about him. I'd been so wrong.
It wasn't my responsibility to get him to talk about, or show, his unhappiness in the marriage—it was his. It wasn't my job to tell another woman he just couldn't have sex with her because he was married and had three children—it was his.
I tried to fix us, I did. We both did. We tried and tried for six years.
It wasn't the affair that broke us. It was that he was so compelled to have it without ever coming to me to tell me he was unhappy.
He wanted to stay together, but I knew deep down he didn't love me enough to fight for me. He never came home and said, "I love you but I'm feeling lost, and you and I need to reconnect." Not before his affair and not after it.
Is he sorry our marriage is over? Yes. But he still believes it's because of that affair, despite the fact I've told him it was the lack of communication, the betrayal of trust by making me think all was well. It's for not letting me have a few months in which I didn't want to be touched. For telling me his life has been hell since we'd had three kids.
I told him all that many times throughout the six years when we were trying to work through it. But he didn't want to hear me.
So, yes, his affair got us to the reasons why our marriage was falling apart, but it wasn't the cause. It never is.
It definitely broke us, but I'm not angry or resentful because it's also the reason I am putting myself back together in ways I've never imagined. And I've never felt this happy.
* Editorial note: the writer name is a pseudonym. The author of this post wishes to remain anonymous.