Had we been childless, I would have left him after the first lie and never looked back.
Instead, I decided to forgive and move on. To allow myself to do this, I adopted a “fake it until you make it” attitude.
I concentrated on the good things; like our daughter, and what we had spent 15 years building together; a life made up a million different tiny moments, which up until my husband’s indiscretion was honest, and all and all, after 11 years married…pretty good.
For months we went to couples therapy, or if you live in Los Angeles, it’s sometimes called a relationship Guru, like a mentor or a life coach.
This can get expensive, and depending on how many years you let things…slide, can go on forever. If you have gotten so distant from one another and have not talked honestly about your relationship, and in our case, we allowed our needs to go unmet, and instead, kind of…put up with things, then therapy can be a daunting task.
You pay a lot of money to air your grievances to a therapist who doesn’t know you very well and does a lot of nodding.
My husband quickly became obsessed with a relationship Guru — I’ll call him Gerry — whose only degree was from Santa Monica College of Psychics. Convinced Gerry held all the answers, my husband started seeing him a lot.
Under Gerry’s tutelage, my husband was now practicing guided meditations with the aid of a crystal pendulum, asking the pendulum his most profound life questions, expecting it– depending on which way it circled, to the left or to the right — to come up with the answers. Soon, he started shopping at stores with names like The Crystal Matrix.
Being the more rational one, I was more than a bit skeptical, but went along to keep our marriage intact.
I kept my more traditional therapist, who has a degree in Psychology, but soon complied, and went to couple’s therapy with his Guru. My husband lit up like a glow worm when I agreed with his idea of hosting a ten-week relationship course in our home, led by Gerry.
Ten couples from our neighborhood now cram into our small living room each week and talk about their marriages. This is eye-opening. We are not the only ones in need of a marriage tune-up. We are not alone in our dissatisfaction.
Even with my husband’s affair consuming my every waking hour, I started thinking our relationship was relatively “healthy” after listening to these couples complaining about their significant other, none of them seemed to like each other much. They harbored so much hostility and disdain for one another. Hearing the innermost, intimate workings of their marriages and comparing them to ours made me feel there was more than a good chance our marriage would survive.
I did everything I could to “fix” it.
2. Spend Quality Time Together
During this time, my husband and I learned to engage with one another again, as much as we did when we first got married.
We made an effort, carving out time for hikes and movies and sitting on the couch at night, listening to Gerry’s CD’s — relationship workshops on what healthy relationships look like — or just talking over a glass of wine in our backyard as the sunset.
We hadn’t behaved this way in years, maybe since the birth of our daughter.
As time went on, I was no longer spending time with my husband and engaging positively with him for the sole purpose of keeping our family together and saving our daughter the experience of her parent’s separation. I was enjoying our time reconnecting, and I was reminded of why we fell in love all those years ago.
During the past five years, both of us had been on two parallel paths, my husband had been consumed with his music career, as much as I had been consumed with raising our daughter.
We put us dead last.
The emotional gap between us grew so deep that it became easier to give up on prioritizing time for each other, rather than try to bridge the gulf we had allowed to widen. We weren’t prepared, or rather, underestimated, how the addition of a new baby would disrupt our lives, how much it would strain our relationship, we underestimated everything positive and negative that comes with the arrival of a first child, that both of us started fulfilling out lives separately.
When we started purposefully making one another a priority, the distance between us gradually lessened, but it took some time to reacquaint ourselves, and what we wanted our relationship to look like in the context of a family that was no longer comprised of two, but three.
My “fake it until you make it” attitude is working.
3. If There Is Still Love Between You and Your Partner…Remember It
There was still love between us, which made the healing go faster and feel more real.
I was again seeing my partner as I did when we first started dating, and because he had recently lost weight — same old clichéd story; man hurling towards middle-age when found attractive by some other woman — other than his wife — starts exercising regularly. B-O-R-I-N-G. But true in this case.
My husband got a gym membership for the first time in his life. This should have been a red flag, but I just thought he wanted to be healthy. He lost 20 pounds to impress her, and he looked great. He was now more confident in his own skinnier-skin, and I liked his confidence. I started thinking our marriage was not only going to survive but thrive.
This shift in my mindset didn’t happen overnight. Experiencing betrayal, then immediate disbelief, anger, hurt, sadness, loss, fear, rage to understanding, gaining insight and taking responsibility for my part, to ultimately, forgiveness, took time and patience and more time.
We would get through this storm, and come out the other end closer. We were connecting in a way we hadn’t been in years. Maybe his affair was the wake-up call we needed.
4. Building Trust
This is a tricky one. When you have been lied to by the person you trust the most, it is hard to recover to a place of honesty; that space no longer exists because you can’t un-ring a bell. AND, not bringing up the lie of an affair while you are trying to reestablish trust again is nearly impossible to do.
Gerry, the Guru, suggested I check my husband’s phone along with our phone bill to make sure my husband’s promise of not having any contact with the woman he had the affair with remained so. My husband agreed to this.
This, however, is not me. At all. I am not a snoop or a spy, and if you tell me I can trust you, I will. Until I can’t.
Recovering from betrayal was difficult for me, the sting of his lies was hard to let go of, so I reluctantly went along with the plan of checking our phone bill for a few days. It made me feel yucky, but I did it anyway, twice.
I felt uncomfortable having to check up on a grown man, who I was trying to forgive, and trying to muster up enough respect for him again to want to have sex with him, checking his phone was a huge turnoff. It couldn’t have been fun for him either.
5. BOTH of You Need to Want to Save The Marriage
Here is the caveat to steps 1–4. You can’t do this alone. You need to do it together, to be on the same page, both of you have to want to stay together. I wanted to try.
I did check our phone bill, but only twice, and then I didn’t for months.
Until one day — out-of-the-blue — I looked at it, right in front of him.
I told him I was going to. I pulled up the account on my computer, and he froze. I could see his heart racing in his chest right through his shirt, and I knew what I would see when I looked at the bill, her number over and over again.
She started calling, texting, and emailing him constantly.
With her constant interference working on him, our working on our marriage came to an abrupt end.
She made it virtually impossible. And, let’s face it, he also did. He answered her calls.