Having an affair can be a deathblow to a marriage. As a matter of fact, it has a high possibility of being the final nail in the coffin so to speak.
I was reading this article today on Focus on the Family’s website. The author is a wife who cheated on her husband and subsequently got divorced. (She describes the divorce here) As a husband who has been cheated on, this article resonates with me. The author, Cheryl, says this:
“I quickly developed a deep emotional connection with a man I barely knew”
You know, that kind of sums up the sheer pain that the faithful spouses go through in all of this. Our wife has shared intimate emotions and intimate sexuality with a complete stranger. And for no good reason. I mean, all cheaters have their “reasons” but affairs don’t even mimic dating. In dating, my wife and I were cautious with our hearts, our emotions, and our physicality. We waited for all three. We spent time with one another and learned about one another. I remember that we didn’t kiss for about 60 days after we’d first started dating. My wife was a virgin and we were cautious with that part of our lives. We broke a few months before our marriage and she shared her virginity with me. We spent 3-4 months before marriage making love and it was beautiful. We even had a private “ceremony” before our real ceremony so that she knew my intentions were to always be with her and her alone.
Just 12 short years into our marriage, Allie had affair #1 with a man she didn’t know. She’d met him mountain biking. Just a stranger she met on the trail one day. Soon, they were texting back and forth and Allie found herself telling him how much she was falling in love with him. They had several encounters, but Allie reports that they never had sex.
I gave her another chance. And here we are another six years later, Allie has had another affair. This time, sharing everything (and I do mean everything) with another stranger.
Sure, they spent a lot of time talking on the phone and texting. And they met up a bunch. But for all intents and purposes, he is a complete stranger. She doesn’t know him, they’ve never dated. They never spent any real time getting to know one another. Yet, Allie “fell in love” with him. We all know it is fantasy and Allie is becoming more and more remorseful every day, but for those two months, she was at it with this guy. If this were a dating situation, she wouldn’t do that. It is COMPLETELY out of character.
Now that Allie is super-remorseful and wanting things to work out in our marriage, I spend a lot of days very confused. I am thankful that she’s here and didn’t leave. I am thankful that she is remorseful and very upset with herself that she did what she did. BUT, I am having a nearly impossible time getting over the fact that she did it in the first place. She did it. No stopping her.
This is possibly the deathblow to our marriage for me. I have found myself wondering, even looking outside of our marriage. For the first time since that private ceremony where I committed my lifelong sexuality and faithfulness to her. I am considering other women. Even somehow welcoming the thoughts. Would I go through with it? Not sure.
Allie opened a door to our marriage and it’s like opening a porthole underwater. The water just keeps coming in. Even if you happen to get the porthole to close, it has already flooded the room you’re in. You’re going to be wading through water for a very long time. Every step you take will be in the flood waters and you’re going to be constantly reminded of how the water got there in the first place.
“It never crossed my mind to be cautious about my relationships with other men because I never realized I could be so vulnerable”
The author in the above linked article says that it never crossed her mind to be cautious about her relationships with other men. Interestingly, I warned Allie about being cautious with Mark. I saw the two of them laughing about something in the Crossfit class and I said that she needed to be very careful not to give off the wrong impression. The problem was that Allie was ALREADY looking outside of our marriage for affirmation.
Mark is a narcissist. That narcissism gives him the enviable ability to complement others and make others feel good. But those complements and affirmations are a means to an end for a narcissist. They aren’t genuine. Rather they are manipulative, cunning and sly. They are simply to satisfy themselves. Narcissists will freely give complements, attention and affirmations to get what they want. For Mark, it was sex with my wife. He used her. And she let him. She fell for the oldest trick in the narcissist book. Flattery. Allie falls all too easily to the narcissistic people of the world. Her dad was the biggest example in her life. Completely into himself and himself ONLY, he used manipulation to exploit those around him.
But Allie is married to me. A non-narcissist. I am skeptical. When I first met Mark, I thought to myself “that guy is full of shit…and himself. If he’s full of himself and shit, then the two must be related.” Is Mark pleasant to be around? Sure. In doses. He’s pretty funny, confident (as all narcissists are) and seems to be happy. But for those of us who can see through it, we’re quickly turned off by the superficiality of narcissists. Allie on the other hand, plays right into a narcissist’s hands. And as her husband, there is NOTHING I can do to stop it. If I try, I am just being an asshole.
There is the rub with the idea that our marriage can go on. I struggle daily with the idea that we can remain married. I am married to a woman who is completely vulnerable, easily tricked and willing to give herself over to another man. Scary huh?
But on the other hand, divorce effing sucks. I will lose 50% of my time with my kids simply because she couldn’t keep her clothes on? Not a great deal for me.