*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
Loving someone and thinking about life together, a home, and kids, usually mean you want to commit for several years. But what do you do when everything you thought you knew suddenly changes and the way your partner behaves leaves you with no words?
Could you accept an affair and still love them? What kind of an affair would end a relationship with no chance of working things out or forgiving your partner?
My friend Andrea has been married to Sam, her husband, for 12 years. They have two daughters together, and Andrea is a housewife. She gave up on her job after their second daughter, Lina, was born and had been looking after their kids and their home in Phoenix, Arizona, ever since.
"I could handle working, keeping the house neat, and having a babysitter for Gina, our first daughter, but when Lina was born, it was too much. There was no way I could go to the office and also check on everything at home. And by the time I got back, I was too tired to start doing chores, dishes, or laundry. I left my job and have felt so much better since then," Andrea said.
Her husband could afford to pay for all the bills and other expenses from his salary, so they didn't have any money issues and could go on planning family vacations while getting groceries and taking their kids to all school activities.
"I was always thankful we could do that with no pressure. His parents also came by to help me when I needed to go shopping or run errands, so our little girls were always happy and well looked after," Andrea said.
While parenting and having a family and a nice home went well for them, Andrea did notice something different about her husband during the last two years.
"He didn't ask me out on dates anymore, and he didn't insist on a trip just for the two of us every few months. He was just ok with being a dad and helping me with whatever I needed around the house. But I didn't feel like he was in love with me anymore. We were both tired after work, but it wasn't about that," Andrea said.
At the same time, Sam also wanted to take up one bedroom in their home as an office and worked on some projects there. He also asked a coworker to help him, and they spent two hours together or more on some afternoons.
"Jules, his colleague, was very polite. He brought me flowers every time and also a cake or fruit baskets. I was just surprised Sam hadn't introduced us before. But he told me Jules had only recently become a part of his team. And if he was willing to deal with the challenges for their projects even after work hours, that meant they were a great team," Andrea said.
Unfortunately, Jules didn't come to their home only to work and support Sam as a colleague. Andrea realized what was going on one afternoon when her girls were with their grandparents, and she came back from work three hours earlier than usual.
"It was one of those days when you suddenly get time off, so I thought I should clean up the house and do the dishes before Sam got back. But when I got home, the front door was unlocked, and I could hear talking from upstairs," Andrea said.
At first, she thought someone might have gotten in, but then her husband's laughing voice made her realize there was no uninvited guest around. Sam and Jules were having drinks, and, for some reason, Andrea decided to be very quiet.
"I didn't say anything and just tiptoed up the stairs, making sure they didn't creak. I was stressed but also felt I was about to uncover something. And then I saw them. They were together, not like colleagues; they were behaving like a couple. In my own home," Andrea said.
She shouted at them and went into the bedroom and, as she came inside, she realized it didn't look like an office at all.
"There were several flower bouquets around and two beds. There was no table in sight, not to mention a desk. They'd been meeting up here all this time, and I had been too busy with the kids to see it," Andrea said.
The mom was thankful her daughters weren't home, and they didn't see what happened, but she still felt this affair seriously affected her marriage. She asked Jules to leave so she and her husband could talk about what they needed to do next.
"Jules didn't say a word. He got dressed and left immediately. Sam waited to hear the front door close and then asked me what I wanted to keep things quiet like this was about money or favors. We had been in love, and I didn't get how it could come to this," Andrea said.
She felt confused and kept asking Sam why he'd done it, but he didn't apologize. He only told her he'd realized what he wanted and that it wasn't her anymore. Even so, he doesn't want to get divorced and would rather stay with his wife and kids.
"He had an affair; I want to forgive him, but it was a man. And he wants to go on this way. He promised not to meet Jules in the house anymore, but I will still know what he does somewhere else," Andrea said.
She's not sure what she should do or if there's any way to make her marriage work again. She hasn't told her parents anything, and Sam said his mom and dad don't know about Jules either.
Their daughters still think their parents are happy together, and Andrea doesn't want to upset them. Still, she's not sure if forgiving this kind of affair is something she can do.
How do you think this situation should be handled? Is it ok for Andrea to give Sam another chance knowing what she knows for the sake of all the years they spent together and to keep their daughters happy? Should Andrea get a divorce and avoid getting upset about what happened and her husband's intention to keep on doing the same thing, even if in a different place?
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