My idea for this article was to examine and reflect upon myself as a cause for the breakdown of my marriage—to take some ownership for its failure.
I will begin with this: I have not always been as fiscally responsible as I should have. I had a period in my life about eight to ten years ago where I accumulated some debt, and my wife helped me with that. I was very grateful.
Second, I became a stay-at-home Dad by default, really. It was the recession, and the economic downturn was killing many of my paying clients. That’s also what helped me accumulate debt. So I focused on the kids. Health care insurance costs were skyrocketing, and our youngest was still a toddler, so it made some sense to let go of my struggling business. That had an effect on me over time.
I became intellectually bored over the next few years, and quite depressed. I think I was a little embarrassed about being the stay-at-home parent. I became less active, which made me gain weight. I drank a little more, I ate a little more to sooth my embarrassment. While I stayed active with a couple of remaining clients, having the charge of such young kids made it tough to expand my business when the economy began to improve again—I couldn’t promise anything to anyone, because the kids came first. They had to come first. That was my job, and I treated it as such. By that point, they were both in school (Sam for half-days, requiring pick-up before noon) and Leo was getting into sports. I gave them my all.
Third, I probably should have become more proactive again once the kids started full-day school, but I didn’t because I wanted to use the time to hone my skills as a writer and copy editor, and begin to make a career change. That was a mistake, in retrospect.
NOW FOR THE HARD TRUTH.
No matter how hard I looked for excuses about me and my actions, I found that there was no cause, no reason, no train of logic that could be used to excuse what my wife chose to do. NOTHING. NADA. ZERO. ZILCH. НИЧЕГО.
I’m paraphrasing what a lot of other writers have already said when I say that cheating is simply a despicable act which is based on a foundation of lies. The lies cause nothing but PAIN and AGONY. In fact, it is a tsunami of misery and destruction: huge, catastrophic waves radiate out from the center and reach surprisingly distant shores, in their wake destroying all trust, and forever changing the course of our children’s development and their relationships with us, their parents. It’s pain, agony, and nothing else but that.
I’ve watched this carefully: my wife has gotten some twisted logic into her head that makes her believe she’s entitled to cheat. Just like nations do in wartime, she has had to demonize me as an enemy in order to help her feel better about the pain she knows she’s causing. As you read my account, you will learn that there was a period of time (I call it the Process of Discovery), when I did indeed embark on checking up on what she told me—seeing where she was and with whom. She was caught at nearly every turn. Now, if I so much as roll an eye when she’s telling me where she’s going to be, I get called a “Controlling Tyrant.” I’m not that, of course. I admit that there was a time in the spring and summer of 2016 when I might have been characterized as that, but not since the fall—and certainly not in 2017. A new year. A new approach: I have ceased paying attention to her random comings and goings entirely. Still, she’s angry—angry mostly, I believe, about the fact that she was ultimately unable to conceal her defilement of our marriage and our family. She has always lived a highly-compartmentalized life, and I’m sure she thought that if she could keep her worlds separate, she would get away with it. (But that’s not what happened. Read my article on D-Day!) Maybe I shouldn’t roll my eyes. I dunno.
I can’t imagine the stress she’s under. She’s managing more people at work than she’s ever managed before (she went from zero to more than twenty in one job change); she’s under pressure to turn her part of the business around, stop it from shrinking, and keep it profitable; and she’s got to be constantly worried about hiding—hiding her illicit relationship from her coworkers, from me, from her children, and from the few friends left who haven’t found out. Even when she thinks she’s gotten away with something, I’m sure she even worries about whether she’s hidden things well enough. (She hasn’t done a very great job of it.)
The bottom line here: what happened wasn’t about me. It wasn’t about me at all. It wasn’t my fault. It’s only about herself. I can’t imagine what happens when she reflects on her own integrity, her own actions, her own lies. Imagine this: last summer, she went to one of her friends who was going on vacation, told her she needed a place to stay for a week for her “personal safety,” and then used that friend’s house to entertain her boyfriend! And what about when I took the kids to the midwest for Thanksgiving 2016, and she invited him into our home? Into our bed? What kind of person does that?
It’s a person who needs help—help with the deep scars her aloof and selfish parents caused many years ago, help with the profound sense of abandonment during childhood and again when each of them passed away suddenly in separate accidents. She needs help with her drinking, and help with relationships and intimacy. She needs help with her medical issues—things that I believe are part of the reason she’s become such a fatalist. She needs help finding her way back to being a role model, and she needs help looking me in the eye again. Cheating provides only a temporary respite from her issues and maladies—it’s a feel-good moment that ultimately destroys her in the end, because it destroys the closest relationships she has, and forever changes the way those people look at her… yes, even her children. And maybe I should say especially her children.
The day I finished this article (Sunday, Jan 29), she was so angry that she raised a fist and swung. I caught her arm. Then she spit in my face and called me a “worthless piece of sh!t” in front of our children. That was wrong in so many, many ways.